Paris might be the city of romance but most of all it’s the world’s gastronomic center. The restaurants topping the list of the world’s best might not be in Paris anymore, but there’s no denying that it’s been the epicenter of haute cuisine for hundreds of years and is still as relevant as ever on the global fine dining scene.
The French are very proud of their history and culture and have for a long time avoided speaking other languages and picking up international customs. This has changed in recent times and nowadays you’ll go by just fine only speaking english in Paris. Even though it’s a big city most of the inner city is accessible on foot and the Metro works really well.
Hotels & Accommodation
The city of Paris is very cleverly organized into “arrondissements”, a low number denotes a central area and a higher number an area further from the Louvre, which is the 1st arrondissement. The most known attractions are quite spread out in the city, so the choice of area for the hotel will mostly come down to what’s convenient. There are nice, inexpensive design hotels close to Gard du Nord and the Bastille, within walking distance of different areas of the city. Hotel breakfasts in these establishments are generally a toast with jam, it’s better to just go outside to a café.
On the upper end of the scale there are some spectacular hotels dripping with history and provenance, like Hotel Plaza Athénée which first opened in 1911 and was totally renovated in 2013-14. Within its roofs is both Alain Ducasse’s flagship restaurant and a Harry Winston shop.
Eat & Drink
Paris is the home of gastronomy and lavish meals, but also the home for love for cooking. Many chefs that used to work in the star kitchens have now broken away from the demands of Michelin stars and are free to create in a more relaxed setting. Highlights of the bistronomy movement is for example Comptoir de Relais Saint Germain, L’Os a Moelle and L’Ami Jean.
For the ultimate culinary experience there are few places that can beat the exclusive and customized experience at L’Astrance, Alain Ducasses Plaza Athénée and Le Jules Verne or Pierre Gagnaires flasgship restaurant at Hotel Balzac.
- L’Astrance: 4 Rue Beethoven
- Le Jules Verne: The Eiffel Tower, http://www.lejulesverne-paris.com/en
- Pierre Gagnaire at Hotel Balzac: Hotel Balzac, http://www.hotelbalzac.com/dining/pierre-gagnaire-restaurant/
- L’Ami Jean: Cosy restaurant with incredible love for the food. Reserve well in advance. 27 rue Malar, http://lamijean.fr/
- L’Os a Moelle: Exciting bistro food in the outskirts of Paris. Well worth the trip. 3, rue Vasco de Gama, http://osamoelle-restaurant.com/
- Comptoir de Relais Saint Germain: The chef, Yves Camdeborde, is the creator of the modern bistronomy movement in Paris. Reserve table for dinner well in advance, meet up for lunch 30 min or more before opening to get a seat. 9, Carrefour de l’Odeon, http://www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com/
- Macéo: Budget, white tablecloth dining. A great introduction to french cuisine. 15 Rue des Petits Champs, http://www.maceorestaurant.com/maceo_paris.html
With Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier calling Place Vendôme its home and almost all majors brands represented, such as Harry Winston, Richard Mille, Chanel and others, its one of the major hubs for jewelry and watches in the world. Some of the stores are not as fancy and spectacular as newer ones elsewhere, but having their ateliers close by (in the same building for Van Cleef & Arpels) lends a very special atmosphere and a feeling of actually being close to the artistry and craftsmanship.
A very special boutique is Chronopassion on 271 Rue Saint Honoré, an independent watch retailer run by Laurent Picciotto. It had a major part in creating the market for modern independent haute horologerie brands, including Richard Mille and Urwerk, and is still a major force. They have a spectacular selection of special and limited watches from already exclusive brands. In addition the staff is very knowledgeable and will happily show whatever they have in stock. Out of all high-end watch boutiques visited in the world, the staff at Chronopassion is the most forthcoming and friendly.
Galeries Lafayette on 40 Boulevard Haussmann was one of the original upscale department stores. The domed roof and balconies from 1912 are still some of the defining features which leads to a classic, refined experience unlike newer developments.