April 26, 2019
Paris is always a good idea, but in Spring its a special place. We took the Eurostar straight into Gare du Nord in less than three hours from London (quick shout out to St. Pancras Hotel for a superb pre-trip stay, where you eat breakfast in the former booking office overlooking the trains patiently waiting to depart.)
Where to Stay
We checked into Shoreditch-born hotel The Hoxton, a new addition to Sentiers, the textile district not dissimilar to London's trendy East End. The Hoxton is known for its interiors and hipster clientele, but with two teenagers in tow we also found it a fantastic family hotel with a casual stylish vibe and friendly English-speaking staff.
Rooms are not huge, but really comfortable and complete with good en suite and morning paper bag breakfasts of granola, banana and fresh OJ. With good coffee facilities in the room its all you need before you hit the streets of Paris.
If you fancy a bit more the luxe hotel brasserie serves breakfast and the welcoming courtyard cafe offers great cappuccinos and pastries - although I'd save that for the early evening when it gets busy with stylish 30-somethings meeting for a post work aperitif.
Where to Eat
If you fancy staying close to the hotel for an easy stroll back to bed (or the speakeasy bar) join the queues at Poppolaire just 5 minutes away at the top of Rue de Monmartre. The queues are worth it (they move quickly) as this is one of the most stylish and delicious pizza places in all of Paris, and its cheap.
If you want to splash out, make a reservation for Buddha Bar just off the Champs d'Elysees. When you step inside, its dark interior and DJ beats make you feel you're in a club, until you descend the steep staircase into the belly of the restaurant presided over by a giant bronze buddha.
We were happy to see couples and families enjoying it alike, and the service was immaculate. We chose the family banquet so we could enjoy the pan-Asian menu by trying things we might not usually choose. It was delicious and even the teenagers piled in to the sushi and thai curries.
Top tip - the wine is reasonable and Whispering Angel rose a great choice - but the spirits are very expensive even though the Japanese gin was to die for.
Where to Shop
We decided to avoid the big shopping districts and explore the independent quarter Le Marais - which by the way doesn't wake up until 11am so have a lie-in.
From jewellery stores to patisseries, its a pretty sequence of streets all have a delightful cafe on each corner for that all important espresso stop.
Where to Visit
Every trip we make a journey to Musee d'Orsay and again this time it did not disappoint. Top tip - kids under 18 go free in all Paris art galleries and museums and if you keep your Eurostar ticket Musee d'Orsay gives adults 2-4-1.
For art lovers it has a wonderful permanent collection of mainly French artists and you won't be disappointed by its classics. Make a trip to the top to take in the beautiful cafe, and get a photo in front of its beautiful clock face.
Despite visiting Paris over three decades I have never made it to the Eiffel Tower, so we decided to hire one of the numerous electric Bird scooters dotted along the Seine, and scoot all the way along the river to the city's top landmark. They are really easily to unlock with the phone app, and actually simple to drive - totally worth taking the river's edge route and saving your feet.
The Eiffel Tower is stunning, but surrounded by high fences and queues and so we decided to avoid the trip up and just enjoy it from the ground.
Sacre Coeur is another pilgrimage we took on for the first time, nestled high above the city in Montmartre. We took an Uber for under 10 euros and enjoyed a relaxed journey through the mad busy city streets, with our driver telling us where to shop and how to get to the Basilica more easily.
We exited at the Place de Abesses and enjoyed a stroll through the lovely streets looking at the indy shops, enjoying 'une glace' and climbing the steep steps to go inside this beautiful church.
Wear trainers - you'll walk for miles
Say bonjour/bonsoir and merci even though the locals will all spot you are British and speak English immediately (they secretly appreciate the effort)
Choose the house wine - it will be far superior to home and much cheaper
Download the Bird app before you go - and scoot through the crowds
If you book museums or attractions on Booking.com - you have to go to the office tourisme for a proper ticket. Just go direct to the venue website as pre-booked tickets have much smaller queues.
Dress classic and casual - Parisian style is laid back and simple. Heels are just not in their vocabulary, but a red lip is always chic.
Steak frites or the french grated carrot salad and vinaigrette are all you need for a happy life.
January 06, 2020
September 15, 2019