We’re feeling enamoured by all things French after watching Woody Allen’s new film – the wonderful and whimsical Midnight in Paris. So, dig out your Breton stripes because we’ve been busy eating lots of bread and cheese researching over in Paris and here are the our top five things to do in the city of lights.
1. Go for drinks at ECC – the Experimental Cocktail Club. A small, stylish and exclusive speakeasy cocktail bar, that oozes 1920s-style charm with dimmed mood lighting and velvet-covered seats. The bar is hidden behind an unmarked door at 37 Rue Saint Sauveur and true to its name, ECC expert mixologists laugh in the face of a Cosmopolitan and create clever, unexpected and delicious cocktails – such as the Experience #1 (gin, elderflower liqueur, lemongrass, lemon juice and basil).
2. Walk around Le Marais. This was once (and still is) a predominantly Jewish district that became a home to the bohemians, artists and creatives of Paris. Today it’s a chic, quirky and interesting area of charming cobbled streets – that are filled with independent boutiques, surprisingly cheap vintage shops, galleries, bookshops, stylish bars and amazing places to eat.
It’s a great area to buy unique gifts that you won’t find anywhere else in Paris and the perfect spot for people-watching. In the historic Jewish quarter of Le Marais you’ll find the best falafel in Paris (just look for the queues down the street). Carnivores should try Robert et Louise (64, rue Vieille-du-Temple) – an incredible little restaurant with vaulted ceilings and bags of rustic charm. They specialise in meat and will cut your steak fresh and cook it on an open wood-fired grill in the corner of the room right in front of you. The menu is simple but everything they serve is absolutely, outrageously delicious.
3. Have a romantic stroll around the Jardins du Luxembourg. It’s the second largest public park in Paris and a beautiful open space full of perfectly manicured gardens, flowers, plenty of trees (essential for autumn leaf-kicking), beautiful sculptures, fountains and an impressive palace.
When you’ve had enough fresh air and romance in the gardens to work up an appetite, then take a short stroll to Bouillon Racine (3, rue Racine). This is beautiful restaurant dating back to 1906 that will make you feel like you’re in a Parisian movie. It’s a listed building and a stunning example of Art Nouveau décor with luxurious, original interiors. The food here is excellent, though if you have a sweet tooth you must try the crème brulee waffle (a treat just as heavenly as it sounds).
4. If it’s your first time to Paris and you want to tick off all of the major sights but you’re limited for time, then hop on a boat trip down The Seine. Head to the Eiffel Tower and once you’ve taken enough photographs to fill a memory card, then find the ticket booth by the bridge right in front of the tower. Tickets are inexpensive (around £11) and the boat leaves from the port, just down the steps to the left of the ticket office. The tour is a great opportunity to put your feet up and feel the wind in your hair as you enjoy an hour-long leisurely trip down the river, taking in many of Paris’ key sights as you go.
5. Paris is famous for its fine patisseries and there are many top-notch, lip-smackingly delicious places to get your fill of Millefeuilles, tarts, éclairs and macarons, but here are a couple of the best. Laduree (on the Champs-Elysees) is a chic place to sit down and enjoy a spot of tea from a delicate china cup and nibble delicious rainbow-coloured macarons in the candy-striped and luxuriously plush maison de tea setting. If it’s pastries you’re lusting after, then you have to try La Patisserie Des Reves at 93 Rue du Bac. The name very aptly translates as ‘the pastry shop of dreams’ and once you try the beautiful, exquisite cakes and pastries in this ultra-contemporary bakery, you won’t want to wake up. From la tarte au citron de saison to le fruitier, each pastry looks like a work of art. They’re displayed just like art too – each one sits prettily under a glass bell jar, with a label describing the contents.
Sleep? If you’re going to be working your way through our top 5 things to do in Paris then you might need somewhere to stay. We suggest you take advantage of our offer of 49% off at The Apostrophe Hotel. A stylish, luxurious design hotel with 16 individually designed rooms and a choice location near Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Luxembourg Gardens, so now you have no exuse not to try those creme brulee waffles…