Being a huge advocate of anything French, or anywhere in France all while, can you believe it, a Paris virgin, I was abnormally excited about this surprise weekend. I had just two days notice to hassle friends, family and Paris aficionados for tips to make the most of the trip and, this is how it panned out.
Touching down at 8am Saturday morning, we jumped in a cab and dumped our bags at ‘Hotel Le A’, a beautiful, charming chic hotel just off the Champs-Elysees, booked through Mr and Mrs Smith – my most trusted booking service for decent hotels.
We got out and walked for a while planning on stopping when we saw a good looking brunch spot. Turned out this was an ill educated plan, we had no idea what we were doing, where we were or where to stop. This was the one bit I hadn’t planned. After two hours, our dream Parisian brunch remained undiscovered (essentially a posh Cafe Rouge if i’m honest). We ended up famished. Desperate, we spotted busy cheap and cheerful café, packed with an army of lost tourists, probably in the same lost boat. We settled down to eggs, coffee and a croquet monsieur, appreciative to be fed and of the friendly staff who were suspiciously, overly friendly.
Upon leaving, the truth about clueless Londoners in Paris unfolded. We’d been charged no less than €22 for two (small) bottles of water and €21 for a Croque Monsieur! Too proud to return, we’d been put in our place. Dumb Londoners 0, Parisians 1. Listen, always make a plan…
To cheer ourselves up after being outsmarted by slime-ball Parisian waiters, we indulged in the most spectacular gold-coated éclairs from Fauchon which I’d recommend to anyone. Shuffling across the beautiful Place de la Madeleine we went to oogle at the food in Hediart – a luxurious deli which makes Fotnum’s look like Lidl. Then keen for some retail therapy, we jumped in an Uber (no time to waste, Uber are fantastic in Paris and good value) to Citadium – a classic Parisian department store, offering every shop imaginable.
Arms loaded with shopping bags, we hopped back into an Uber to undoubtedly the most gorgeous square in Paris; Place des Vosges. Having explored the shops under the stunning arches; perfumeries, jewellers, contemporary art, leather work and clothing, we sat down to lunch at Ma Bourgogne. Sitting on the pavement at one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, we enjoyed Tuna Nicoise, a supreme Steak Tartar, and drank a couple of bottles of really decent Bordeaux, content with watching super cool Parisian people, families and the regulars come and go from this uber stylish square.
The Parisian style of service is an interesting one. By interesting I mean cripplingly rude. Our waiter at Mr Bourgogne rolled his eyes when we asked for wine and food arrived slammed in front of us. It was as if we’d asked for his lunch. I show the French nothing but love, and so far, all I’ve had is a bad attitude…. Though, despite their bad attitudes, I was still totally in love with Paris the two hours spent in this square were my favourite of the weekend.
Next, we Uber’d down to the river, and walked and walked and walked covering I’isle de Seine, Notre Dame, crossing at Pont Neuf (love padlock central), rue de Rivoli, Louuvre through the gardens and up to Place de la Concorde to greatest hotel in Paris for a cocktail – Le Crillon. At this point, I was smitten with this city. In fact, I was sure I could start developing ‘The Paris Whistler’ – it could work couldn’t it? Perhaps not, I’m not angry enough to exist here, and I’d miss the Kings Road.
Dinner on Saturday night was at the painfully cool Hotel Costes. Boasting a speakeasy bar, a grand conservatory dining room, private dining areas, and velvet walled boutique rooms, the entire establishment was a luxury. We drank at the bar awash with those of real wealth, fame and fortune before moving through to a glamorous, spacious semi-private space in a library-esq room. The classic French cuisine was faultless (be warned a salmon fillet will set you back €38, a house bottle of rose €65). Despite that, and an unhealthy level of self-conscious posing happening on leather sofas, I loved this restaurant – the style, the importance the atmosphere. I enjoyed ignoring the price tags enjoying the finer things in life, no holes bared. Particularly important when in Paris!
That night we went on for drinks at Cafe Germain on rue de Beci, a street of casual bars, with a Soho-esq busy, drink on the street vibe, full of party hunters.
Fancying a change of scenery, we headed to a super cool Asian fusion restaurant/bar; Miss KO. The interior design inspired by Pokemon, each table was packed with high-fashion Parisian socialites. Don’t be surprised when your bill for two G&T’s comes in at €60 + service. When we asked the waiter to kindly check extra drinks had not been placed on our bill, he replied ‘this is the most expensive part of Paris darling’. Ok then! Hanging out in the trendiest bars in Paris is back-breakingly expensive. Alas, when in Rome. And, inebriated.
To finish off the night, we headed for “Le Titty Twister”. An underground club recommended by numerous people, ‘think Paris chic meets Lower East Side rock’n’roll’. It was brilliant fun with its weird paraphernalia, neon pop art signs, pool table and pinball machine. Rammed with models and uber-rich youngsters, dress to impress or you’re in danger of being turned away.
Part two coming up…