There is no doubt that Paris reigns supreme as the most sought-after travel destination in Europe and indeed the World. Why? Because Paris takes romance and magic to another level. The city has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable trip that fits everyone’s definition of romance.
If you want to catch a real glimpse of the really authentic and glamorous hidden Paris then there are plenty of secret spots in the City of Lights just waiting to be discovered. Forget about the old clichés such as a cruise on the Seine or kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Here is my selection of the most glamorous and relaxing hidden places my beloved city has to offer.
Musée de la Vie Romantique
A tribute to the dramatic emergence and tradition of 18th-19th century French Romanticism, the Musée de la Vie Romantique boasts a free permanent collection. Specifically focused on French Romantic writers, and more specifically to the ideas and life of prolific writer, political thinker and libertine George Sand, this quaint museum is housed in a 19th-century residence at the foot of Montmartre called the Hôtel Scheffer-Renan. For me, this is one of the most relaxing and mysterious places in Paris.
The Montmartre Vineyard
Located at the corner of rue Saint-Vincent and rue des Saules in the 18th district one of the best kept secrets of Paris lies here since the 1930’s: the only remaining vineyard called Clos Montmartre. The Montmartre Vineyard has been in this area of Paris for over 800 years and is now the last active vineyard in the whole city. Most tourists pass by the Clos Montmartre vineyard unaware of what it is. But now you know – and you should visit.
Le Bristol Paris
Where do I start? The Bristol Palace is the reference for “French Art de Vivre”, the Parisian feel. This hotel is unlike any other hotel in Paris. It is a very special place where old Paris and old-fashioned elegance meets modern comfort and refinement.
The hotel opened in April 1925, when the Roaring Twenties were in full swing: it was the heyday of Josephine Baker, Sydney Bechet and the Charleston. I also learned that when global conflict loomed, an air raid shelter was added. As the only hotel in Paris with such facilities during World War II, Le Bristol Paris became the official residence for US nationals in the capital, following an agreement signed with the neighboring United States Embassy. At the end of the war, the world would learn that during all these years, Le Bristol secretly sheltered individuals who were assisting persecuted people to leave the country. Interesting, right?
My favorite part of the hotel is the sublime pool designed by Professor Pinnau, architect of Onassis’ yacht, which looks exactly like a relaxing boat sailing in the Mediterranean warm waters. There, you will quickly lose all notion of time and be transported in another wonderful maritime world. I also particularly enjoyed the sublime French garden of the hotel, located at the center of the hotel where I was able to fully relax surrounded by natural beauty.
What makes this place so unique is the feeling of being immediately at home. The rooms are elegant, spacious and very comfortable. Each room hides a little secret. Take suite 1925 for example: it has photographs taken at the hotel of Josephine Baker, an habitué of Le Bristol Paris.
Moreover, whether you stay at Le Bristol or not, I recommend trying one of the hotel’s restaurants. After working in the most prestigious hotels, the chef, Eric Frechon, joined Le Bristol Paris in 1998, taking full control of all its kitchens. Since then, he has been ranked by Le Chef as one of the greatest chefs in the world. Epicure restaurant, 114 Faubourg brasserie, Café Antonia, all come under Frechon’s orchestration. Frechon is a champion of French terroir, and while his inventiveness, generosity and desire to share unfold in his virtuosic cuisine, he abides by one absolute rule: to respect the essence of each ingredient. His ambition is to make every dish an unforgettable experience- and it is truly unforgettable. I highly recommend trying the madeleines. They are truly the best I have ever had and I can assure you that I have had many…
La Maison du Chocolat
If you love chocolate as much as I do, you must go here. Founded in 1977 by Robert Linxe, one of the top French artisan chocolatiers, the chocolate brand La Maison du chocolat is especially renowned for its dark chocolate selections. Dark chocolate ganache, truffles, chocolate bars: the gourmet chocolatier creates unforgettable delights prepared in the French tradition of culinary excellence. La Maison du Chocolat has boutiques in Paris as well as in New York. A must go place! But don’t tell anyone.
Mariage Frères Tea Salons
Mariage Frères is a French gourmet tea company, based in Paris. It was founded on 1 June 1854 by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage. These tea salons offer a unique environment combining prestige, refinement and tradition. Mariage Frères’ golden rules are rigorously applied to the most refined and precious infusions for the enchantment of tea lovers, like me. I was told that in order to best preserve the tea flavors and aromas, purified water is used! The tea salons are decorated with antique furniture which creates a peaceful environment where tea lovers can succumb to both sweet and savory temptations. Bon appétit!
Paris is everything you’ve seen in films and paintings and much more that you have yet to discover. With these recommendations, I hope you will discover another part of the city.