Paris, La Ville Lumière (city of lights)! It is One of my favourite cities in the world. Every time I visit this place I never get bored of its fantastic architecture, buzzing café culture, culinary treats and its melting pot of cultures. It’s no surprise that this city is also one of the fashion capitals of the world, each and every one of its buildings emulating models wearing the best couture and competing with each other’s beauty. Its centre radiates opulence and grandeur, its avenue’s open wide and stretch on for miles as if the space was created to give you no choice but to look at every inch of its of splendour. From its avenues are the spanning districts (arrondissement) that shine in a different type of glory. The narrowing streets teasing you in as if asking you to look up and experience the buildings more intricate and elaborate details. Paris has a presence that permeates through everyone and everything as if infecting you with its undeniable power and strength, yet through this dominant city lies a romantic undercurrent. With all of the city’s beauty you would think no one would be able to peel their eyes off it long enough to notice someone else, but with its meandering river arched by incredible bridges, beautiful parks and gardens and its cosy romantic eateries, it can’t help but make two hearts collide. It is after all known as the most romantic city in the world and if you don’t fall in love with someone here, you’re sure to fall in love with Paris.
Here are my #high5 of the wonderful city of Paris:
The Palais Garnier Opera House built in the 19th century and created by Charles Garnier is located in the Place de l’opera area in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. It is with regret that it wasn’t until my fourth visit to Paris that I eventually managed to go inside this magnificent building but they do say good things come to those who wait. With its domineering exterior of columns, arches and gold leafed figures, this building commands the situation in which it stands as if keeping the other buildings at bay in order to show of its splendour like one of its singers.
As you walk in you are greeted with its lavish Beaux art style interior and the most amazing spectacle of the Grand Staircase. Made with a mixture of Italian, French and Swedish marble this sweeping staircase oozes with sophistication and glamour. The staircase was originally created to emulate a theatre in itself, an escalating stage where the well to do can display their latest couture before attending one of the exquisite opera shows.
The next vision is the Grand Foyer, an expansive room made to resemble the gallery of a classical Chateau. This 54 metre long room is emphasized more with its abundance of windows and mirrors and the rows of beautiful chandeliers are simply breath-taking. The ceiling is 18 metres high and painted by Paul Jacques-Aime Baudry and portrays themes from the history of music.
The main hub of the building is of course where everything takes place, the Auditorium. In a horseshoe shape this luxuriously decorated theatre is out of this world. Seating nearly 2000 people and covered in a beautiful deluge of reds and gold’s, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Commanding this room and weighing an incredible seven tonnes is the enormous bronze and crystal chandelier that adds the final awe inspiring touch to this magnificent building.
Scoop Me A Cookie
Created by Laura Petit is her fantastic cookie establishment ‘Scoop Me a Cookie’. Laura identified that most countries had their own versions of this American treat however Paris seemed to be exempt from this. With this in mind it was Laura’s idea to bring this treat to the streets of Paris. After months and months of testing she finally had the chance to sell some of her cookies within her friends frozen yoghurt establishment ‘It Mylk’. She then went on to sell some in the famous department store ‘Galleries la Fayette’. Paris is usually all about fussy patisseries but due to Laura’s constant strive for perfection and her consistent quest to find the best organic ingredients Laura has managed to create an American cookie but with a certain je ne sais quoi that the Parisians have welcomed with open arms (or mouths). After three years she finally opened her own establishment in the Menilmontant area. Its contemporary and fresh design is perfect to display her assortment of sumptuous gourmet cookies. They have become so popular that Laura has now opened a second establishment in Batignolles area.
With a large display of flavours such as Banana & Dark Chocolate, Peanut butter, pretzel and milk chocolate and Chocolate & caramelised almonds and sea salt you have more than enough to choose from. My personal favourite has to be the ‘Matcha Light’ green tea with milk chocolate and of course the ‘Wee Treat’ oozing with chocolate and pieces of candied orange. There are countless more that I have yet to try as Laura is constantly thinking up new creations. A definite must for anyone visiting Paris is to try these tasty good quality treats and you are sure to say “au revoir” to any other cookie!
When in Paris or France for that matter you have to try their macarons and every time I go I always have to visit Pierre Hermes to taste a selection of these gorgeous little treats. Now don’t get me wrong I used to frequent Laduree as its reputation for macarons was well known but because its become so familiar you can’t help but notice the slight decline in its appeal and quality. Yes, the interiors of its stores exude quality and you certainly feel special once you get seated past the droves of tourists but that certain je ne sais quoi has disappeared, turning into more of an overpriced touristic merchandise rather than a tasty quality treat.
Pierre Herme however offers slightly less opulent surroundings but brings macaron’s into the 21st century. Its boutiques are more contemporary, simple and chic and designed to be all about the macaron instead of the luxury dining experience. Because of this they power all that luxury into making some beautifully flavoured macaron’s with a great customer service. With exciting flavours such as match green tea & black sesame crisp, pistachio with ceylon cinnamon and morello cherries and vanilla with violet and blackcurrant these small melt in your mouth treats are jam packed full of flavour. My favourite however is Jasmine with its simple and delicate floral taste.
Hotel Félicien is a hotel located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. When staying in Paris I have only ever stayed in traditional hotels to the centre but while doing my interior design course I was interested in staying somewhere different so I opted for this hotel created by fashion designer Olivier Lapidus. After being greeted by very friendly staff you are taken onto a clear glass elevator where as your rise past each floor, works of art would cascade past bringing a torrent of colour and interest.
As a fashion designer he created the hotel as if he was creating a fashion show and each floor was given a different colour or couture related name to emulate different styles of clothing. Black, Flannel (Olivier Lapidus’s favourite material), Ruby, Couture, Pearl and Sky, the hotels website explains it beautifully and shows that a lot of thought process was put into the design of this hotel
I stayed on the ruby level and quite surprisingly the room was a decent size in Paris’s terms and extremely comfortable. With its deep dark metallic and matt ruby walls contrasted with charcoal and grey embellished with oversized artwork of the same colour, the room really made an impact.
Another experience is the beautiful dark bar that serves amazing cocktails and nibbles and of course its highly fashionable breakfast room that is filled with light, fashion model silhouettes and contrasts of white, red and black. The spa is rather small but it is perfect if you have the place to yourself as we did. With its light up Jacuzzi swimming pool and sauna and steam room it’s a perfect way to wind down after a day of sightseeing. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you want something unique and different and if you have an interest in design.
Another highly designed hotel which must be visited is Le 123 Sobastopol, this hotel which is centrally located in the Réaumur-Sébastopol area pays homage to the movie world. But don’t screw your face up at the thought of this as the design is in no way tacky and has been thought out remarkably well. As soon as you enter the hotel you feel like you are walking into a very fashionable cinema. With its popcorn machine, cinematic posters and highly lit reception its difficult not to be impressed by the hotels concept.
The lower ground floor looks spectacular, with white vaulted and exposed stone walls but in no way feels dark or dingy. In this area there is a fully-equipped projection room with seating for up to 20 people and very interesting lighting design.
The bar is open and light and has again continued the cinematic feel with director chairs, theatre lighting, red carpet and sells a tantalising array of tasty cocktails. It opens up to a lovely glass roofed seating area where you have the option to sit inside and listen to the tinkle of the piano or outside on the terrace to enjoy a peaceful outdoor drink away from the busyness outside yet still so close to the centre of the city.
The rooms on each floor of the hotel are beautifully designed each paying homage to composers, actress’s, screen writers and French cinema. I was lucky enough to get a tour around the hotel when it first opened and you certainly will not be disappointed if you stay at this hotel.
Entering the building you would think it is just like any other normal hotel, but when the elevator whisks you up you are transported to what I think is the most amazing panoramic view of Paris (that is inside). Bar La Vue is located on 34th floor of the hotel Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile. It is rather expensive for drinks but if you’re in Paris at the colder times of the year and don’t fancy climbing the iconic Eiffel tower, it’s the best place to get a view, drink/eat and keep warm at the same time whilst being surrounded by a contemporary and cool vibe. The array of drinks are delicious and the bar is famed for fantastic cocktails and at the weekend if you want to take the vibe up a little a DJ is on to get the party started.
Situated about 12 miles from the centre of Paris the Chateau de Versailles is easily reached by any means of transport. Every time I have visited, it has been by train and it has been no problem at all. This is a great trip if you want to escape from the city for the day yet still enjoy the grandeur and opulence that Paris’s architecture and design offers. Be prepared to queue for the palace, being one of the most visited attractions in France it does get a tad busy but its usually very well organised so your visit experience isn’t destroyed by the abundance of people.
As you are slowly filtered through each room you are completely gobsmacked at the grand opulence of the building. The most impressive for me is the Hall of Mirrors. This hall gives off a certain magic as you enter, the light from the windows bouncing of the 357 mirrors contained here, it’s no surprise it was used for the Dior J’adore advert where Charlize Theron sachets through this hall.
As you finish your tour of the building and walk out the other end your breath is taken away from the spectacular panoramic view of the large expanse of gardens.
This 18th century UNESCO world heritage site has over 250 acres of landscaped gardens with manicured lawns where you can spend all day wandering. You can’t help feel like you have stepped back in time when you are here, I often selfishly wished that I could be there on my own and take in every detail without disturbance. The large marble monuments and fountains blend seamlessly into the exuberance of the place. Being one of the biggest gardens in Europe it can take a while to walk its grounds but don’t worry, if your legs fail you there is a small train that carts tourists to and fro from the palace.
For a truly magical experience a further stroll to the bottom of these gardens is Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet. With thatched cottages, a mill and tower and a dovecote it’s as if you have walked into some sort of elaborate movie set. From the grandeur of the palace this area is the complete opposite, with rose gardens, farm animals, orchard and vineyards and a gorgeous lake I almost felt I wasn’t in France and instead taking a stroll in the English Countryside.
There is far too much to see and do in this amazing city to contain in this short blog post but I guess by now you don’t need any more persuasion. Take a quick look at other wonders in Paris;
Paris is a place that I hold very dear to my heart, where I have met some beautiful friends and created wonderful memories. Like everyone, I was very upset to see the latest atrocities unfold. To anyone who has suffered due to these recent terrorist attacks in this beautiful city, I offer my sincere condolences to you and I only hope and pray that the city only gets stronger and it’s amazing citizens come together at such a sad time.