Half of the CTTW team are just back from a scouting trip to Paris, and we are smitten with the City of Lights. Admittedly, the cheese and wine have a good bit to do with our enthusiasm, but then, there are the cafes…the tree-lined boulevards…the museums…the markets. Quelle magnifique! There is also a renewed buzz about the city with the completion or near completion of several recent hotel renovation projects and museum openings. What follows are our trip takeaways:
Paris can be a quick, long-weekend getaway, especially for those of you lucky enough to live in an airport hub city. Four days on the ground are plenty to experience the essence of the place – and make you want to go back.
You will save your sanity along with a good bit of time by investing in an airport VIP Meet and Greet at Charles de Gaulle, where the security and customs lines can be endless. With the meet and greet, you will be munching a croissant in a corner café before your fellow passengers have exited the airport.
Paris is divided into the Right and Left Bank of the River Seine. You can easily access either side as Paris is quite walkable, but when deciding on a home base – the Left Bank tends to be more artsy with smaller rues (that’s street in French), while the Right Bank is where you’ll find the major tourist sites along with high-end shopping. (Interesting foodie fact: Ina Garten’s apartment is on the Left, close to the Boulevard Raspail Market, where she must surely shop for Jeffrey’s favorites.)
Also on the Left Bank, there’s the charming Relais-Christine and the much anticipated Hotel Lutetia, a legendary hotel reopening this spring after an extensive renovation. We enjoyed a sneak-peak, hard-hat tour (amusing photo op) and expect Lutetia’s bar will be THE place for drinks.
After a four-year renovation, Hotel Ritz Paris on the Right Bank is a big WOW. With two Michelin-Star restaurants, Escoffier cooking school, and Chanel spa, you wouldn’t need to leave the hotel, but do as it’s smack dab in the center of great shopping and places of interest. The Ritz offers flexible check in and that coveted VIP meet and greet as part of its Virtuoso amenities. Also on the Right bank are two of our favorite classic hotels, Le Bristol, which was featured prominently in the movie Midnight in Paris (we recommend it to anyone going or hoping to go to Paris) and Le Meurice with iconic views overlooking the Tuileries and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
For fun, we suggest touring Le Marais district as it blends history with a fun, contemporary vibe and unique shopping. Or how about a wine-tasting lunch hosted by our vin experts, a delightful and knowledgeable Parisian couple, in their shop/cellar? Enjoy this experience early on, and you will be able to order with aplomb (and without embarrassment) for the duration of the trip. Don’t miss dining at 114 Faubourg, and for more casual restaurants consider Le Willi’s Wine Bar and Breizh Cafe. The crepes there are tres bon.
While the Louvre is the granddaddy of Paris museums, there are other, more accessible museums requiring less time. For a quick art fix, pop into L’Orangerie to see Monet’s incredible Water Lilies or the Jacquemart-Andre house museum, currently showing a Mary Cassatt exhibit of great interest to the French when we were there.
Obviously, this list is just the tip of the baguette as there’s plenty in Paris to delight repeat as well as first-time visitors. You might want to pick up a copy of a newly released book we like, Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, and let the dreams begin.
Caroline Travels the World…And So Can You.