You have eyed the grim gargoyles adorning Notre Dame, and completed multiple shopping sprees along the Champs-Élysées, but there’s plenty more to discover in the city on the Seine.
From bustling brasseries and fine-art galleries to those quirky corners only true Parisians know about, it’s time to rendezvous at some of the most charming, little-known places in the French capital to eat, stay and play.
Where to stay
“It is not the size of the room but the spirit of the neighbourhood,” says Laurence Guinebretière, general manager of Hotel Montalembert. This recently revitalised Left Bank boutique legend, built 90 years ago, is a stylish 50-room, eight-storey building set in the 7th arrondissement. Rooms aren’t massive but the sleek new interiors and brass lighting gives the space a warm and restful glow. The stripy carpets (grey and yellow or grey and red) plus the impeccable ebony folding screens, acting as headboards, allude to the hotel’s illustrious neo-Art Deco past.
On the top two floors, the suites and their large windows open up to spectacular views of the capital. The Eiffel Tower rises above ever-so-French rooftops coated in baby blues and greys. With Hotel Montalembert’s wonderful location in the heart of Paris, guests can easily explore the city’s grandest and most fashionable spots, as well as its village-like allures, such as bookstores, quaint cafés and quirky antique shops.
But before you go about your day, a must is to sit at the hotel’s restaurant that occupies the ground floor, with outdoor pavement tables available in warmer months. Facing the chic street of Rue du Bac, the terrace has been a favourite haunt among artists and intellectuals that swamp the vicinity and who are loyal to chef David Maroleau’s low-calorie dishes and aesthetic styling of food, showcasing organic products.
After breakfast, chat with the amiable multilingual staff, who are clearly familiar with the neighbourhood and more than delighted to provide directions to nearby attractions or designer stores. A private insider tour of the sophisticated area can also be arranged by the hotel. As we walked around the 6th and 7th arrondissements, the pace of Parisian life is noticeably relaxed. We visited an incredible taxidermy shop named Deyrolle that’s been open since the early 1800s; grabbed some freshly piped, chocolate-filled choux (pronounced ‘shoe’) buns; and sniffed intriguing perfumes through photosensitive light testers, when sampling Olivia Giacobetti’s niche line of body and home fragrances.
Over on the Right Bank, another gorgeous lodging gem meshes 1930s oriental furnishings in a veritable Parisian pied-à-terre. The Far East and French fusion surprisingly works for Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris, a tastefully exotic 56-room establishment. This is exemplified in its Grand Historic Suite, filled with listed ceiling frescoes of cloudy blue skies and flowers, restored intricate gilded mouldings, Versailles parquet floor and stately works of art. A luxurious central bathtub sits next to a granite fireplace and a psychedelic painting of Buddha that seems to be staring down at you.
According to communication officer Emmelyne Imbert, the artworks found around the hotel are regularly on rotation. Just a couple of blocks away, Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris’ official art partner, Opera Gallery, is where Imbert selects most of the contemporary sculptures and paintings that adorn the hotel’s interior.
Where to eat
The central point of Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris is a snug private courtyard. Enclosed by the charming façade of its 18th century townhouse, the space is dotted with black furniture, giant red garden umbrellas and white lanterns. Every Sunday, between 12pm to 4pm, Parisian foodies flock to enjoy an exclusively themed Sunday brunch based on the four elements: water, earth, air and fire. The delights in store include a mixture of French and Asian flavours, including a sushi bar; scrambled eggs presented in shells; dainty French pastries and an à la carte menu of hot dishes such as lamb chops and cod in miso sauce.
For a bohemian
yet quintessentially Parisian night out, check out the Chez Papa Restaurant and
Jazz Club on Rue Saint-Benoît in the 6th arrondissement, home to the atmospheric
Saint-Germain quartier. The late-night hotspot for locals is low key and
oozes sensuality with exposed beams and walls that have been scribbled on by patrons, including celebrities.
For city-centre to city-centre travel, get on a high-speed train with Eurostar. Business Premier customers likewise enjoy 10-minute express check-in, exclusive lounge access, and a three-course meal served at the seat from a menu created by renowned chef Raymond Blanc. Fastest London-Paris journey time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Business Premier fares start from £245 one-way based on a return journey. To purchase tickets, please click here.
Hotel Montalembert and Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris are members of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX Collection. Preferred Hotels & Resorts represents the world’s finest hotels and resorts with an extensive global collection representing more than 85 countries.