We heart the Mandarin Oriental’s view-tastic rooftop terrace
The thing to remember about Paris is that you don’t have to see everything to experience the Parisian way of life. Leave time in your schedule to stroll about – have long lunches in cafés, mosey about in the local boutiques and check out the farmers’ markets. If you end up on Rue de la Bûcherie, just opposite Notre Dame, pop in to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop – all low ceilings, timber frames and swinging ladders, it’s a sweetshop for literary lovers. You can buy a new book (or a first edition of your favourite novel) and have it stamped with the official Shakespeare and Co emblem.
The suitest thing. A luxe offering from the Mandarin
Room for romance
It’s the little things that make a big impact. At the Mandarin Oriental, Paris – which celebrates its first anniversary this month – it was the flat-screen TV above the bath and the heavenly scents of Diptyque pampering products. We came back late in the evening to find slippers by the bed, the sheets turned down and relaxing spa music in the background. With fashion power houses, Chanel and Dior nearby, the address – Rue Saint-Honoré – is central to everything. The Tuileries Gardens are minutes away (perfect for romantic moonlit walks), as is the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, not to mention plenty of gourmet restaurants.
Sip cocktails by candlelight in the Mandarin Oriental’s garden
Wine & dine
Arola restaurant at the W Hotel, with its views of Opéra Garnier and the labyrinthine Parisian streets below, is totally luxurious. Tapas-style dishes – ideal for sharing – whipped up by Sergi Arola, a renowned Spanish two Michelin-starred chef, included suckling pig, mini caesar salads and our personal favourite, Las Bravas De Arola; deep-fried potatoes, filled with a spicy tomato sauce and topped with aioli.
Far from the long queues that snake around the Eiffel Tower, on an avenue hidden behind lush green trees, you’ll find the Place des Vosges. One of Europe’s prettiest squares, it really is a pocket of tranquility. Pack a blanket and enjoy a picnic here surrounded by fountains and pretty flowers – we ate lunch as two musicians strummed on guitars under a large oak tree.
We don’t love…
The unpredictable Parisian weather – one minute the sun is shining, the next it’s pouring with rain. The solution? Wear layers so you can alternate and pack a brolly. The good thing about cooler temperatures though, is that it makes sight-seeing (and queuing outside) more bearable.
By Eurostar: Book in advance and land a £69.99 return deal – it’s also cheaper if you opt for non-flexible tickets (eurostar.com)
Flights to Paris: Return flights from London airports to Paris Charles de Gaulle start from £50.52 with easyJet.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Paris: Superior rooms for two adults sharing start from £614 per night on a room only basis. For further information and bookings please call +33 (0)1 70 98 78 88 or visit mandarinoriental.com/paris. If the budget doesn’t stretch to more than one night, spend the rest of your stay at Hotel Esmeralda (hotel-esmeralda.fr) – it’s quirky and fun, and right in the centre of Paris with all of the main attractions within walking distance (rooms from £92, per room, per night).
Words by Stephanie Stafford