We at Unmissable HQ love Paris! It is a city that never fails to surprise us, no matter how often we go. One of the things we love about Paris is that no matter who we speak to, they always give recommendations of places to check out. Here are some favourites from our guest blogger Adam Jacot de Boinod, who has recently come back from the City of Light.
As soon as I arrive in Paris I always pop straight out for a short walk beside the riverbanks of the Seine. Paris is such a fun city to experience by foot. Taxis, it’s true, are reasonably priced and come with all the renown ‘hauteur’ (disdain) of the driver. The ‘Metro’ underground certainly has all the character of the city’s underbelly and cycling is now well catered for in the central expanses. But to stroll beside the Seine has a pace of its own.
I was staying nearby at the stylish Le Saint Hotel in the Saint-Germain district. It’s blissfully silent and very well-kept. Real ‘townhouse chic’! I visited the beautiful Sainte Chapelle on the Île de la Cité. It looks amazing as the sun streams through the stained-glass windows. Behind it and the stern of the island, is the Place Dauphine, unknown to tourists. Itis a perfect triangular spot for my picnic of crispy bread and pungent cheese. A real find!
My first night was spent at the hotel’s Kult restaurant, which has a refreshingly short and confident menu. And it was just great to enjoy its snug atmosphere after all the travelling. It was here that I learnt about how the French combine their cheeses with Sainte-Maure de Touraine for goat’s cheese, St. Nectaire as the semisoft, washed rind cheese and the Camembert au Calvados as the utterly delicious softer variety.
Staying in this Saint-Germain ‘arrondissement’ (district) has long been a favourite of mine. It has its own distinctive, luxuriant vibe with clothes, scent, chocolate and cake boutiques. The doors and gateways are often harmoniously colourful with jade green celadon a favourite. So on I went past Frederic Malle’s first scent salon, a veritable boudoir complete with smelling vacuums. And then into a Maison Pradier cafe, offering freshly made eclairs.
I visited many of Paris’s lesser known museums and they are relatively unknown to tourists. The painter Delacroix’s house in Saint Germain is very intimate, whilst the Jacquemart-Andre on Boulevard Haussmann exemplifies the glory of French interior decoration in the 19th century. The Marmottan on Rue Louis Boilly, alongside the Bois de Boulogne has many special Impressionist works including Monet’s “Sunrise: An Impression” from which the movement derived its name.
I ate that night at Georgette on the Rue d’Assas. It’s right by the Jardin du Luxembourg and has ample ambience. Here you can observe all the characters amongst the local clientele, consisting of birthday groups and romantic couples. It’s a friendly welcoming place with simple décor and delicious, honest food. Great for watching the Parisians at play.
The next morning I took a trip up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Haussmann, the renown town planner, paid great attention to straight lines leading up to public monuments at focal points. I followed the brilliant straight line that starts from the centre of the Louvre, past the Roue de Paris, which is the tricolour Ferris wheel, and through the Tuileries Gardens. I continued onto the wonderful expanse of the Place de la Concorde with its romantically cobbled paving stones and green and gold lanterns. And on I went past the truly triumphant Arc de Triomphe, the circus of all roundabouts, to the modern arch lying in the financial district that is La Défense. Some sixteen miles or so!
I visited the Louis Vuitton Foundation, an art exhibition space in the Bois de Boulogne, the city’s central wooded park. Having given up on getting in, I looked online to discover that if you go via the children’s theme park you can join a much shorter queue (thank you Trip Advisor!). In I got and what a joyous structure the Foundation is with a broad fountain of cascading waves in front and strong coloured roofs above.
My final wonderful meal was at Le Lobby in the Peninsula Hotel on Avenue Kléber (off the Arc de Triomphe). It’s confident, stylish, classy, lavish and splendid. The dining experience is set in a hall bedecked with chandeliers and the frescoed ceiling reigns over the luxuriant tropical plants. Take a loved one here to celebrate a very special occasion. Or perhaps this is a must for those seeking a very luxurious experience.
Here I enjoyed ‘le poireau cuit en papillote’, a hollowed leek filled with ginger-scented king crab, wakame and sesame seeds. It was intricately served alongside an amazingly presented salad of lettuce, shaved vegetables including daikon radish, with mango and mango dressing. All followed by a beef fillet with agria potatoes, cadoret oyster and gravy. For dessert, I indulged in ‘l’emotion chocolat’, a grand crus chocolate and macadamia nuts with Macaé ice-cream. On the hour, I popped upstairs to the roof terrace to watch the Eiffel Tower glitter and dazzle as it does for several minutes hourly at night.
All over the City of Light
Paris awaits. Go on, any time you wish!
What you need to know:
Adam Jacot de Boinod is the author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books.