It’s strange. Somehow, after a very successful jaunt to Paris as a teenager (speaking French almost fluently, making friends, navigating the city transport solo) I let the mental connection drop and subsequent trips have been so whirlwind as to feel disjointed…
[ezcol_1half]So I decided to rectify the matter by taking a weekend break to reconnect with the city, doing what feels the most natural and walk around as much a possible! I had two focal points – arrive by Eurostar to Gare Du Nord and stay at a little boutique hotel on the Left Bank, Hotel Recamier – part of i-escape’s handpicked portfolio. I gave myself no other targets than to get where I needed to be and let ‘come what may’ unfold in between.
[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]Travelling light as I am apt to do when solo these days (one small roller; this Briggs & Riley carry-on has been doing excellent on a number of short trips recently and one roomy handbag; can’t go wrong with a bucket bag and in keeping with the trip’s theme it’s by French favourite Sezane) meant I was fully mobile and when I decided on arrival to walk it, despite impending darkness (read: less light to take photos, oops!) I was able to. [/ezcol_1half_end]
My last walk to Gare du Nord on a day trip saw me rushing through goodness knows what streets (although I got some nice pics!) but I couldn’t tell you where exactly I marched, relying on Google Maps to get me to the train station! This time, I decided to take the obvious route all the way down to south of the river where I would find my hotel. And I’m so glad I did!
From Rue du Faubourg Poissonniere through the bustling cafe-lined Rue des Petits Carreaux onto the historic market street and once oyster capital of Paris, Rue Montorgueil. Replete with every picturesque shopfront, cafe, restaurant, flower stall and icecream stand just calling out to locals and visitors alike! Onwards and over Pont Neuf into the 6th arrondissement, very chic with a pleasing mix of second hand bookshops, galleries and designer boutiques.
Arriving at Hotel Recamier (just by Saint Sulpice, the city’s second largest church) was like being welcomed into a cosy but incredibly chic Parisienne townhouse B&B; benefitting from a renovation in 2009 that has transformed this 24-bedroom building into a sweet haven with low lit gentle vibes and extremely well attuned staff, from the front desk to the team responsible for room service.
Paris hotel rooms tend to be rather bijoux in my experience, but a corner room at Recaimer is pretty spacious and beautifully turned out with Art Deco accents in the bathroom (with a full size bath!), velvet armchair and sweet little side tables. One of those rooms you want to spend as much time in as possible to get the full benefit! Which I did with a very delicious tray of soup, red wine and Stranger Things!
Breakfast In Your Room
The intimacy of Hotel Recamier really stands out. It feels like you are staying in a friend’s lovely French townhouse, encouraged to make yourself completely at home. The staff are wonderful at putting you at ease and readily make it clear they are there to look after you and even get to you know you a little through your short stay. It feels nice to feel familiar!
Although I’d had some lovely café recommendations from friends, they were dotted all over the city and I was determined not to go rushing helter skelter around town. So not even looking at Trip Advisor we did it old school and looked for the busiest bistro clearly a favourite with the locals joining the queue once it didn’t look quite so scary, having staked out at cafe just across the road!
It paid off and once we were ushered inside (the outside tables fully occupied) we looked around at the other diners’ plates and immediately went for the delicious looking salade Nicoise and the waitress’s recommendation of the pureed sweet potato. So delicious. As it transpired, Le Comptoir is highly rated on TripAdvisor – a fun marrying of the IRL world and digital. In the end, we have to remember we are the ones who feed in all the information and inflates the digital landscape with the good things!
In The Heart Of Saint Germain
Nestled in a paved square next to Saint Sulpice, from the hotel you can be in the heart of Saint Germain with its many cafes, designer boutiques (eek, hello Maje!) bookshops and the Odeon theatre in minutes.
The rest of the day we walked and talked (our jewellery collaboration is very near its launch!) and soaked up the St Germain vibes – I could people watch forever! – before returning to Recamier in the dying light for afternoon tea. Again, the inviting vibes of the tearoom come living room (right next to the covered outdoor terrace filled with plants and rattan tables & chairs) made us feel so at home and relaxed and it was an effort to leave to see Bianca to the Metro. 😉
The next morning I decided to walk back along the route I had taken on my arrival to see it all in daylight. It took me an hour but I could have easily meandered at a much slower place photographing every single thing a long the way. I got some shots in of course, but as ever, cursing never having enough time! Need more time… it should be my strapline!
Worth The Wait!
You know it’s the busiest places populated by locals that are the ones worth paying attention to. None the wiser to its Tripadvisor high score, we decided to join the shortish queue for Le Comptoir after bypassing half a dozen perfectly good looking cafes. Certainly worth the wait for a delicious salad Nicoise from the brassiere menu with a mouth-watering pureed sweet potato. The vibe was busy but respectful, to staff and clientele alike and I spied in the corner of the tiny space (not more than 10 tables inside!) a corner nook table space which is exactly where I would try and sit the next time!
The ancient street market of Paris, Rue Montorgueil to this day bustles with countless bistros and shops selling everything from cheeses to wines, vegetables, flowers and more – and really feels like a wonderful promenade to be part of. Yes, there are tourists, but there are all the real Parisiennes too, cycling, walking mini dogs and picking up food supplies for the day. Cock an eye to the famous L’Escargot and oyster restaurant Au Rocher de Cancale.
Stylonylon was a guest of Hotel Recamier & i-escape – see more handpicked boutique hotels over at i-escape.com
All photography on Olympus Pen F