April in Paris can be a reality for you this spring with a little planning. Whether you choose to spend a long weekend or a week, you are always in for a treat in the City of Lights.” Here are my suggestions of where to stay and eat and what to do and where to go.
Le Hotel du Petit Moulin
Le Hotel du Petit Moulin was conceived by the French haute courtier Christian la Croix, whose lavish Mad Hatter sensibility is on full display throughout. Located in Paris on the Rue de Poitou Le Petit Moulin is one of the Small Leading Hotels of the World’s inimitable gems privately owned by the Chevalier family. There are only 17 rooms in this luxury boutique residence and each is one of a kind, like a collection of la Croix’s extravagant evening gowns. These are not rooms for minimal design fans as they are layered wonders of fabrics, patterns and surprising color combinations. La Croix compared his creation to “a child’s dollhouse where every space is unique. Each room had to tell the beginning of a story, a story to be completed by the travellers themselves,” he said with a naughty twinkle in his eye. He explained the whimsical décor by saying, “We go from rustic to Zen, from masculine to feminine, from flowers to stripes, from ancient gold to fluorescent green all warmed with Venetian mirrors and panoramic wallpapers. ” This is a romantic and theatrical experience for lovers, adventures and fashionistas. Juliette Lewis, Michael Stipe and Stella McCartney ‘s atelier are among the hotel’s habitués.
Located in Paris’s third arrondissement, Le Petit Moulin is surrounded by the Picasso and Carnavalet Museums, the Opéra Bastille, Victor Hugo’s house and edgy art galleries, boutiques and cafés. During the 15th century, the King took up residence here, building the Saint-Pol Hotel. A turning point in the district’s history was the appearance of Place Royale at the start of the 17th century, the district’s renown is due to this square, now called Place des Vosges. Le Petit Moulin was originally the oldest bakery in Paris, dating from the time of Henry IV. The facade was renovated in 1900 and has remained unchanged to this day. European film stars, models, stylists and soccer players are among the guests you will share the elevator with or greet in the stylish Art Moderne breakfast room, where the friendly staff serve up fresh fruit, coffee, tea and croissants in the morning. Just outside your front door you will find stores like Helmut Lang and an entire street dedicated to trendy men’s clothing. As for restaurants, try Les Bouquinistes where Chef Guy Savoy creates contemporary French fare in sleek rooms in shades of chocolate and cream. Order the roasted scallops or the Langoustines and then dig into the suckling pig with black garlic dressing. Finish with a “Vacherin poire.”
One of my favorite rooms at Petit Moulin had a mirrored “oh-la-la “ ceiling and zebra carpeting on the walls juxtaposed against a huge floral motif and stripped wallpaper. There are spacious high tech bathrooms with tubs for two. Expect the unexpected as each magical door is opened. The junior suite had a skylight straight from the set of La Bohème to nurture your artistic side. This styish hotel is also a rare example of what could be called affordable in the City of Lights with rooms ranging from 200 to 450 Euros a night. hotelpetitmoulinparis.com
The Eiffel Tower’s Le Jules Verne Restaurant
Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, Katie Holmes, Mariah Carey and Tom Cruise are among the VIP’s who have made the pilgrimage to Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred culinary mecca Le Jules Verne atop the Eiffel Tower. There’s a palatable air of anticipation from the moment we step into the glass elevator to make the 40-story ascent to this legendary restaurant, which floats on top of this iconic symbol of France. Upon arrival, we are greeted by a friendly staff dressed in uniforms by Lanvin, who speak more than a dozen languages.
Here, over a magical lunch or dinner you will find unforgettable views of Paris. After Chef Ducasse took over this national treasure eight years ago, he and designer Patrick Jouin transformed the restaurant’s decor with a chic chocolate color palette with black accents and amber lighting. This sleek minimal ambience puts the focus on Ducasse’s and Executive Chef Pascal Féraud exceptional cuisine. The dramatic glass windows lining the restaurant do not reflect light so that the 360 degree views are uninterrupted at all times of the day and night. Once seated, you see why Paris is called the City of Lights as a twinkling panorama of urban expanse is revealed from every seat.
I detect a tiny bit of envy from other diners, as we are lead to a prime window table. Through a honeycomb wall you can catch glimpses of the chefs in their white hats creating wondrous delicacies in the kitchen. Look up at the fibre-optic network of lights on the ceiling, which recalls the interlacing streets of Paris. Consider chatting with the guests at the table next to you; everyone’s happy to be here and eager to share the moment and make recommendations on the dishes they have just savored.
The blue lobster amuse bouche is heavenly, the simmered langoustine mouthwatering and the foie gras arrived looking like a Miró painting. Try the sweet breads with slivers of carrots or the sea bass that was so savory it melted on your tongue. Desserts at Jules Verne are in a world of their own. The decadent l’ecrou au chocolat tower bolt, a signature dish, is as sinfully delicious as it sounds. I had the pear soufflé and I’ve never tasted a more delicate confection anywhere in Europe. Share the dark chocolate praline with hazelnut ice cream, a grand finale to dining amidst the stars. Ask the sommelier to pair every course with the perfect wines or keep it simple and just sip vintage champagne from start to finish. No clunky silver ice buckets here. Bottles are kept in insulated compartments at optimum temperatures inside consoles integrated into the dining room. Tres elegant.
There are two seating’s at lunch but in the evening, the table is yours for the night. There are only 120 places available and there is always a waiting list, so make your reservation way in advance so that you don’t miss this blissful moment in the sky.