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Home » Travel » Destinations Guide

Paris: the perfect romantic getaway

Getting there

Transport is hassle-free, fast and glamorous from the start as you arrive at London’s St Pancras for the Eurostar.

Faster and easier than taking the plane, Eurostar also allows those of us who pack a week’s worth of clothes for a weekend away a little extra luggage room too. Bonus.

We arrived in glorious sunshine as temperatures hit 27 degrees on the continent. And just a ten minute stroll from the station was our home for the weekend: Hotel de Nell.

Hotel de Nell opened in spring 2013 after Design Hotels bought a former two star hotel and spent two years completely rebuilding, redesigning and refurbishing it to transform it into a luxury five star property. Light, airy, spacious and set in a great location in the heart of Paris, it’s an ideal place to stay for a weekend stopover.

A cool oasis from the heat, our Prestige Room overlooked the Church of Saints Eugène & Cécile (a huge and impressive gothic building constructed in 1855 by architect Louis-Auguste Boileau) and the view could be enjoyed through three sets of French windows opening up onto a balcony.

The brand new rooms are beautifully designed with superking beds, Japanese baths, marble sinks and flat screen TVs mounted on the walls.

And the staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful, with managers and concierges on hand to cater to guests’ every need. One guest called up asking for good restaurants near the Eiffel Tower while we were in the lobby and the manager readily had several at his fingertips to reserve on his behalf.

We dropped our bags and headed for a saunter down to Le Louvres and St Germain.

St Germain

The Left Bank of Paris is filled with art galleries, pretty restaurants, bakeries and cafes, including the infamous Bar du Marche, and boutiques including Isabel Marant’s fashion store.

An ideal place for a long, lazy lunch and a spot of people watching is Le Pre Aux Clercs (30 Rue Bonapart, 75006), a great little bistro serving divine meaty salads, steaks or simple chicken and chips with plenty of outside tables.

The Right Bank

After lunch, take a pleasant stroll back over La Seine to the pet shops along the Quai de Gesvres, where you’ll find irresistible pets on display and it’s hard not to want to take them home. Here fluffy puppies, kittens and bunnies are available for purchase at suitably pedigree prices by Paris’s elite.

The interiors stores along this riverside walk are also fabulous for home furnishings, with chunky wooden kitchen tables, smart leather sofas and original lighthouse lanterns all refurbished for swanky apartment living.

A stroll through the back streets of Paris to Le Marais takes you along the Rue de Rivoli, where Parisian department stores can be found alongside the likes of H&M and Zara. A good place to shelter from the sun for a quick rest is in the gardens of the Saint Merri, on the busy street of Rue Saint Martin, where you’ll find an impressive 16th Century Gothic church.

Paris by night

 

Shopping

Le Marais

Over in Le Marais it’s boutique central for shopping fans. Check out the many beautiful Parisian independents alongside the likes of Maison Scotch (where prices are cheaper than in the UK) sit alongside American Vintage, Sandro, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Zadig & Voltaire – and for those with cash to splash, Vanessa Bruno (booking by appointment essential).

By now you’re likely to be in need of some refreshment and a small American diner by the name of Breakfast in America does the best rootbeer floats and ice cream shakes. Owner Craig Carlson launched the diner with the backing of some big players in Hollywood after coming to France as a student and falling in love with the country.

Colette

The coolest store in Paris is without doubt, Colette. The concept store is the Paris shoppers' paradise for fashionable luxury goods and features handpicked collections from designers such as Sevigny, Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons, Emilio Pucci, alongside make-up from Topshop in the beauty department.

Set among the Chanel, Prada and Gucci stores of the rue Saint-Honoré, Colette is definitely worth a visit for taking in the high-end fashion in Paris.

Dining out:

For dinner, we booked a week in advance, which I’d strongly recommend in order to get a place at the best restaurants in Paris. Time Out have a very handy guide: 50 Best Restaurants in Paris.

For those wishing to dine in the centre of Paris, Bistro Volnay (8 rue Volney, 2e) is an excellent choice. Popular with businessmen at lunch and tourists in the evening, Volnay's intimate little dining room offers a great set menu for 38 euros, featuring delicious fois grois, excellent steaks and  a wicked chocolate fondant.

For those wishing to venture out of the tourist areas, it's well worth hopping in a cab and heading to the outskirts of Paris to La Fourchette du Printemps (30, rue du Printemps, 17th arrondissement). A fabulous restaurant where the Parisians choose to dine away from the hustle and bustle. The cooking is outstanding and has earned the restaurant a Michelin star. A set menu is available for 49 euros and we'll definitely be going back again.

Useful sites:

HoteldeNell.com

Eurostar.com:

Travelling by Eurostar:

Check in just half an hour before - and don't forget your passport!

Paris

Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris with return fares from £69. Fastest London-Paris journey time is 2hr 15 minutes. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.

Child fares start from £49 return and children under 4 years-old travel free (not allocated a seat)

Standard Premier

With the option of flexible fares, Standard Premier offers the freedom to work, think, or simply unwind. You will be presented with calm, spacious surroundings with on-board staff offering a light meal and a selection of magazines.Standard Premier fares start from £189 return

Business Premier

Business Premier customers can enjoy fully flexible fares, 10 minute express check-in and business lounge access, along with the perfect working environment in dedicated, comfortable surroundings onboard and onboard menus.
Business Premier fares start from £450 return

Eurostar Plus

Eurostar Plus Culture is a unique partnership between Eurostar and some of Europe’s most popular museums and galleries in Paris, Lille and Brussels. Travellers simply present their Eurostar ticket to take advantage of 2-for-1 entry into paying exhibitions.
Paris galeries include: Musée d'Orsay, le Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, le Jeu de Paume, la Cité de la musique,les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Le musée du quai Branly

 

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