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Destinations

Paris is calling: How to holiday in style in the city of love

From any angle and at any time it is simply magnificent.

By Rebecca Rac
There comes a point in every one’s life when Paris is calling.
She may be calling for the very first time,
Or, like me, she is calling you back, and when traveling to the city of love there is inevitably that most iconic of towers that sits toward the top of the bucket list.
From any angle and at any time it is simply magnificent.
It is everything you see in a postcard, every note of an Edith piaff song and when walking the streets, passing a patisserie that you smell before you see, you understand why this international, eclectic and truly beautiful city sits on a pedestal in the eyes and minds of so many.
Until next time Paris! Merci Boucoup.
Where to stay:
This time in Paris I was lucky enough to stay at the Shangri La hotel, one of the closest hotels to the Eiffel tower, and walking from the immaculate reception to get into the thick of this grand city, she acts as a constant reminder that YOU ARE HERE, finally.
It had always been a long shot bucket list plan, to stay in a room facing the Eiffle tower, sipping French Champaign as the sun set across Paris, France. Some bucket list activities are fully realised as soon as they begin, whereas others take time to wash over you, and only on reflection and contemplation do you grasp the significance.
Somehow, at the Shangri La I experienced both these feelings. As we were shown to our suite, the build-up and anticipation was similar to a master magician conditioning you for the final act. We talked of our previous travelling, our plans for Paris and the many facilities we have access to at the hotel. With anticipation brimming we entered the room and were shown the bed, the storage and finally, the same way David Copperfield had summoned an elephant into a packed arena, the curtain was pulled to reveal the Eiffle tower in our suite! So close you could reach out and touch it. The shock and awe and excitement was overwhelming, and I needed intermission to recover.
The room had 3 French windows opening to the tower, letting in the summer light, smell and sounds enter this glorious suite, and as you sit on the bed or endulge in a bath (directly facing the tower) you can simply not look away, it is literally the best seat in the house (the house being Pairs).
I found my spot, by pulling the recliners to the window, a small drinks table to the right, and some fresh fruit from the complimentary basket, we popped the cork and toasted to Paris. J'adore.
Day trip:
While staying in Paris it's tempting to don a beret and live off baguettes, cheese and espresso as you window shop along the famous boulevards, however France is not just about wee Paris.
Viator offer a wide range of tours to fit all budgets and tastes. I was on a brief (and not as divine as it sounds) pilgrimage to pay my respects to a devoted monk whose teachings have spread across the world.
In a small town roughly an hour's drive from Paris is a small chapel on a hill, Were it not for the small white head stones along the way, you would be forgiven for thinking you had made a wrong turn, for this is where Dom Perignon himself lived, worked and perfected the art for which this region is so famous, Champagne.
I was surprised there was no gift shop, no tacky souvenir stand or any attempts to cash in on this fame. Instead we strolled through the quaint little town, picked and ate grapes from the vines of all the internationally renowned Champagne houses, and ate at a wonderful restaurant serving only locally sourced ingredients from the region, while leaning (through tasting, of course) the intricacies and craft of French Champagne.
We continued our personalised tour to Reims which bought us to one of the oldest and most renowned Champagne houses, Tattinger, where we were guided deep into the chalk catacombs and introduced to the miles of Vintage bottles, from piccolos to double magnums, all being stored at the perfect temperature and being hand turned by a master turner (3/4 clockwise, 1/3 anticlockwise and able to turn 2,000 bottles an hour).
After the tour you arrive at the tasting room where you enjoy the fruits of this Labour while looking upon the manicured gardens or placing orders for delivery.
The beauty of a small group tour with viator was not only the extensive knowledge of our guide Pierre (actual name), who makes wine in the far south of France, but also the unique access to the smaller Champaign houses. We journeyed through the magnificent valley of Epernay, passing row beyond row of grapes absorbing the European sun, to arrive at the Salmon Champaign houses. 3 generations of the Salmons are working daily to produce this world class drop, and Mr Salmon himself (though he speaks no English ) greets us in the tasting room and guided us through the entire production process, aided by Pierre as translator. From grape press to bottling station we saw the importance and care of each element working to produce their annual vintage.
For me, this was the best part of the tour, with Mrs Salmon making cameo appearances and telling animated stories (all in french despite our best efforts to communicate je ne parlay france'), and seeing the paddock-to-plate equivalent of my drink of choice.
We returned to the Shangri la in the late afternoon, with a few "souvenirs" and as we got to our room the tower was waiting. As this was our last night at the Shangri La, we arranged to have breakfast served in our room in the morning.
Where to eat:
Breakfast- Shangri-La La Bauhinia
When in a suite looking directly at the Eiffel tower, where else would you rather be? We climbed out of bed (big enough for 10 people) to the knock of room service, who wheeled in a full American breakfast with the most perfect truffled eggs Benedict, fruit salad, pastries, coffee and everything you can think of, parked the trolley by the window and with "will that be all Madam" left us to enjoy the best breakfast of my life.
The Peninsula
When planning a tour of Paris, there needs to be at least one indulgent night where you get glammed up and experience the finest of French cooking. For me, the top of the list was the recently opened L’Oiseau Blanc, positioned on the rooftop of The Peninsula Hotel.
To ensure decadence was of the top order, we arranged to stay at the newly renovated luxury hotel, prolonging the grand experience for as long as we could.
The Peninsula places you on the elegant Avenue Kléber in the 16th arrondissement, a short walk from the Arc de Triumph, a leisurely downhill stroll to the Eiffel tower or a short cab ride to the louvre, however you may wish to spend your time acquainting yourself with the many world class facilities on offer in the hotel.
When you think of silver service, you assume attention to detail, anticipation of ones needs and a wholly enjoyable experience. On this scale, the peninsula ranks in Platinum status.
The meticulous 4yr renovation has retained the original grandeur of gold leaf architraves , marble floors and the grandest of staircases in the main lobby (designed and built by the same company that built the Eiffel tower) and teleported the customer experience to the 22nd century.
This would have to be the best in-room guest technology in the hospitality business. Though small, Peninsula is the only major hotel brand with its own R&D lab, and develops propriety products to make the guest experience much better. With an in room tablet that controlls everything (lights, air con, tv, block out shutters) they have anticipated the need of their clientele to a point where you wondered how you lived without it.
After settling into our suite (request a room facing Avenue Kléber for wonderful afternoon sun) it was time to primp and preen for a night at L'ouseau Blanc.
Chef Sidney Redel oversees the menu at L'Oiseau Blanc. His approach brings traditional French cuisine into the modern day with delicate flourishes in a hip ‘bistronomy’ concept.
Sidney's signature is his use of only France’s finest produce and seasonal ingredients which he crafts into a daily-changing 3 course set menu for €99 pp.
The true craft was realised when we requested a vegetarian option for the main course. Our head waiter asked a few polite questions about type of vegetables, flavours and flowers we liked. Armed with this , he consulted with the chef who produced an array of 6 vegetarian tapas style dishes, all complimenting each other and singing the praises of the local regions.
Fennel done 3 ways, sweet pea puree with charred snowpeas, champignon with botanicals and the most incredible creamy mashed potatoes with flecks of crispy fried spud to add texture.
Sipping an incredible bottle of red, recommended by the sommelier, and staring directly at the Eiffel Tower as the summer sun set across this magnificent city, its easy to see why the Peninsula, Paris is creating so much excitement across the globe.
Arriving back to our room after one of the most satisfying experiences of our trip, we found the room had been reset and prepared for slumber, with the bed turned down, slippers and robes waiting and bottles of Evian waiting by the bed (complimentary of course, as is all in room beverages and snacks)
The following morning we arose to enjoy our American breakfast in the grand, gold guilded dining room, The Lobby, I had what can simply be described as the world's best pan au chocolate!! World class pastry chefs are working daily to produce these for the guests and this is a triumph of texture and taste, with melty oozing chocolate filling and lightest, crispiest pasty I had ever experienced!
We spent the day strolling the neighbourhood, taking in the iconic sights of The Arc De Triomphe and window shopping along the Champs Elysee.
Night life:
The Peninsula is poised in an affluent tree lined area with tall hedges, Wright iron fences and grand chateaux, which seems a strange setting for a red light cabaret though the crazy horse cabaret is definitely not to be missed.
The whole show, though quite raunchy with not left to the imagination, is accessible to everyone 18+. We sat in the front row, with a family of parents and teens to our right, a couple on a date to our left and an elderly couple behind, who were having the most fun of anyone there, sipping their (very overpriced) champagne and cheering and whooting as the show went on.
The girls are incredible and after the initial shock of around 20 beautiful, tall, leggy and naked women parading themselves in front of you, you see the show for what it really is, an expression and celebration of the female form.
Strong, sexy and thrilling, the lights, music and costumes (that all end up on the floor) are a grand spectacle and the most fun you can have with your pants on.

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