They may still deliver the wow factor but we’ve all done the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre more times than we can remember. For a trip to Paris with a difference, brush up on your rusty GCSE French and soak up the city’s vast cultural history while indulging in world famous patisserie, wine and chocolate.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Jump on the Eurostar from St. Pancras on a Friday afternoon and a little over two hours later you’ll be in Paris in time for a glass of champagne before dinner. You can bring along more luggage than you typically can on a flight, too (two cases plus hand luggage), so there’s no need to stress about the enormous box of pastel-coloured macarons you’ll want to bring home.
WHERE DO I STAY?
A stone’s throw from the Champs Elysees, Le Pavillon des Lettres is a privately owned boutique hotel with just 26 rooms, each corresponding to a letter of the alphabet and each dedicated to a different writer. I stayed in the plush but understated Henry James room, with a volume of his work beside the blissfully comfy bed and his quotes hand stencilled on the wall.
It’s a bookworm’s dream! The hotel offers an extensive library and a literary room service menu to order some bedtime reading. Book in advance and they’ll even arrange for a French tutor to visit the hotel for a two hour lesson of your choice, depending on ability and interests. Mine dusted off my woeful conversational français, then gave me a guided tour of the Left Bank including a visit to the city’s best chocolate shop, Un Dimanche á Paris, and Sartre and Hemingway’s favourite café, Les Deux Magots. There, she insisted I try out my new found skills ordering croque monsieur and melt-in-the-mouth tarte au citron after a quiet word of warning in the waiter’s ear.
WHERE SHOULD I EAT?
Book a table at Le Market, five minutes walk from Le Pavillon des Lettres, which offers outstanding Asian-French cuisine including the bavière beef tenderloin with gingered mushrooms, asparagus and soy caramel sauce. Share The Black Plate to sample a selection of the chef’s handmade sushi, then fight over The White Plate for dessert, offering slivers of warm chocolate cake, opéra, salted peanut sundae, crêpe cake and heavenly crème fraîche cheesecake.
The hotel can arrange a local photographer to give you a customised tour of anywhere you choose in Paris, offering tips and tricks to capture the most Instagrammable images of the city’s landmarks. Not that you want to make anyone jealous…
NEED TO KNOW:
A one night stay at Pavillon des Lettres is from €330 based on two sharing a Superior Room on a B&B basis. Price includes a private two hour French lesson with a trained tutor. Visit pavillondeslettres.com or call 00 33 1 49 24 26 26. Eurostar runs 21 daily services from London St. Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord. Fares start from £29 one way based on a return journey. For more information and to book tickets visit eurostar.com or call 03448 224 777