Spending a luxurious 24 hours in Paris was definitely one of my highlights this year so far. We chose to spend the night before our departure in the Ashford International Hotel, as its convenient location was only 45mins away from the newly opened Ebbsfleet International Station and perfect for our early start the next day. After a long day in the office I was pleased to step foot inside this modern hotel with vibrant décor. The rooms were a generous size and we received a warm welcome from the reception staff – we felt like our holiday had already started!
I wish we`d arrived earlier so we could have been fully pampered before dinner in the spa but after numerous times of studying the menu we were ready to eat.
I had dined at similar looking restaurants before and to be honest I had the same expectations of over priced, tasteless food but when we were presented with our starters I knew we were in for a treat! I have to say the tiger prawn starters were delicious and the rib eye steaks with peppercorn sauce and lamb steak main courses were absolutely divine in every way.
Our early start was hassle free and we arrived at Ebbsfleet in plenty of time. For those of you who haven`t travelled by Eurostar before I`d recommend this station, as it`s a pleasure to get to and parking is so easy. Our train was on time and we soon arrived at le Gard du Nord.
Our hotel The Victoria Palace was a metro ride away and a five-minute walk from the St Placide metro stop, it couldn`t have been easier to get to and we didn`t even have to change lines. The hotel itself had a welcoming Parisian charm and since 1913 it has always been a landmark of the 6th arrondisment of Paris. Perfectly situated for exploring the enchanting boutiques in the Saint Germain shopping district and Quartier Latin neighbourhood the hotel is located just off the bustling Rue de Rennes combining luxury with understated Parisian classic style, which is how the owner likes to maintain it. Our Junior Suite was traditionally styled and the walls covered in beautiful stretched fabrics.
It was our mission to discover this stunning old Parisian neighbourhood and we found ourselves following the food trail mastered by local craftsmen who invite you to taste their gastronomic food creations from the best cheeses, bread and selection of cold meats. Our favourite haunts, which we stumbled upon were called Kit a bien Manager (Rue de Berite) a novel concept providing customers with ready-to-cook meals using the freshest ingredients and Charcuterie Gilles Verot (3 Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champes) the finest for pates, hams and sausages – perfect food for a picnic on the lawns of Jardin du Luxembourg!
Also hidden amongst this district we found a traditional brasserie called Le Nemrod, which was a stunning recommendation from the hotel, found on Rue du Cherche-Midi. We can certainly recommend Nemrod`s sausage and mash called Saucisse Rotie Aligot if you`re lusting after a traditional French dish with heaps of flavour. After lunch we followed the streets through St Germain towards the Seine where we browsed independent boutiques, high-end designer stores, antique shops, galleries and finally street sellers stalls. We meandered towards Notre Dame where it was the perfect photo opportunity with the sunshine in the background and with surprisingly very little tourists.
We headed home to the Victoria Palace to freshen up for the evening and after much deliberating we chose a bar called Kong to sample cocktails and to have dinner at. As it had been reviewed in several magazines and as the view from the rooftop restaurant had been raved about surely there wasn`t anything we couldn`t find tempting, was there? As we stepped out of the lift on the top floor of Kenzo`s designer store we were acknowledged and after settling in the bar whilst our table was being prepared we ordered a couple of favourite cocktails. The bar was empty yet filled with a handful of `the beautiful people` of Paris, model and creative types but it lacked atmosphere and the charming ambience we`d been accustomed to throughout the day had suddenly disappeared within a few moments of arriving. Having glanced at the cocktail change we received back we soon realise we`d been short changed and as we questioned the money, there was no mistake the waitress had purposefully tried to pocket the money for herself. Our mood changed and we decided not to eat there – there were definitely more charming places to spend our 24hrs in Paris.
Our treat for the evening was yet to come so we overcame that last experience quickly and regained some excitement for Le Crazy Horse Paris show. The cabaret show started with the scantily clad group of Buckingham Palace `guardsmen` catching the attention of onlookers – God save our bareskin! The dancers performed unique shows of their own including a symmetrical ballet routine and a stunning ancient goddess appearing and disappearing illusion full of fantasy.
Our second day in Paris would be hard to beat our first but after a delicious breakfast in the hotel we checked out ready to explore the district towards the Eiffel Tower. As we approached this tourist attraction it was heaving with tourists and beggars so we skipped through and found the Musee du quai Branly to explore. The architecture of the building itself caught our eye and its great geographical regions in which the Musée du quai Branly`s remarkable collections originated: Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas caught our eye. Each visitor makes his or her way fluidly across these areas, taking in the major crossroads between civilisations and cultures: Asia-Oceania, Insulindia, and Mashreck-Maghreb. The 3,500 artifacts are presented so as to highlight the historical depth of the cultures that produced them, and the many different meanings that the works themselves possess. It was one of the most interesting museums I have visited with so many artifacts to see – an interesting must-see place to visit in this magnificently chic city.
Our time was nearly up so we headed back to the hotel to pick up our belongings and jumped on the metro back to Le Gard du Nord, our Eurostar train was on time so we made our way back through the tunnel to Ebbsfleet. During our stay we devoured luxury, understated glamour and experienced the old part of Paris, which was our very aim from the outset. We caught a glimpse of where the Parisians really do enjoy spending their time and we took part in their laid back sophisticated approach to life for 24hrs.
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