Looking to treat yourself to the perfect winter weekend trip? Where else to start but the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme?
Among the most iconic buildings that line rue de la Paix is the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme hotel, next door to what used to be the famous couture House of Paquin and sitting pretty on the quiet cusp of Place Vendome, far enough away from the cacophonous push and pull of the affluent 8th arrondissement’s bling-lined streets, yet still within reach of Galeries Lafayette and Opera Garnier. Walking through the hotel’s sliding door entrance, I receive a surprisingly warm welcome from the attentive concierge who leads me into the stunning reception. Imagine walking into all-white interiors, gleaming marble floors, towering ceilings, and tuscan columns, the property is a fascinating blend of stylish simplicity and modern architecture.
To make me feel right at home I am ushered into the hotel lounge to sample the surprisingly healthy and vegetarian-friendly bar menu, from which I choose a green juice of spinach, lemon, and kale. Seated in the midst of dealmakers and men in suits holding afternoon meetings, I am grateful for the glowing fireplace which softens the atmosphere, adding an extra touch of warmth, and making it more welcoming for the solo female traveller.
When I arrive in my hotel room, a Park Deluxe King room I am not disappointed, the aroma of fresh powder-based patchouli, Russian leather and orange fills the air. For a standard room, I am surprised by the 25sqm space featuring double sinks and a large white marble and gilded shower with a large soaking tub, and a powder area.
The sound of the streets, and busyness of the daily grind are muted in this space of modern simplicity, all worries cast outside my room door. A welcome treat of macarons tops off a feeling of calm in my new Paris residence.
What to Wear at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme: PARIS CHIC
Tuileries Garden and a Good Book
A few hours later, I head off to the neighbouring Tuileries garden crossing the Place Vendome and arriving in a few short minutes. I am careful not to be tempted by the Louvre museum, a prodigious monument to history that requires at least a week to truly appreciate. Instead, I sit with my book Ernst Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, and ponder the Tuileries garden stark in its fallen leaves. Unlike the more frequented Luxembourg garden, Tuileries is smaller and quainter (in my opinion), and exudes a deeply relaxing vibe where strangers sit and dream around the large pond, the garden’s centerpiece.
Window Shopping on Rue de Grenelle
Next, I head to rue de Grenelle, a hidden shopping gem brimming with upscale designer brands like Sonia Rykiel, Paul Smith, Agent Provocateur, Prada, and Celine, putting me at danger of wreaking havoc on my bank balance. Subsequently, I head to Hermes Flagship Store, essentially a work of art for a spot of window shopping. Designed by architecture company RDAI, the three-floor concept store contrasts original 1930s features with designer, Denis Montel’s imposing wooden cocoons. Wooden wave furnishings and blue tiles peeping out of the ground, reflects the remnants of an old swimming pool, the building’s original purpose.
What I Bought: PARIS CHIC
Exploring the Grande Epicerie
I can never get enough of this place. It’s like a mirage in the Sahara desert and fully deserves its name. The Grande Epicerie is housed in Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, upscale department store, and one of the least rowdy department stores I have ever frequented.
If there is something you can’t find in either Carrefour or Monoprix, you are sure to find it at the Grande Epicerie. The store is clean and bright, and the food, crisp, fresh, and of the best quality. I particularly love that there is a deli serving up Asian food, dumplings, fried rice, and sushi. The store also holds an enviable wine station at the mouth of the Bon Marché’s men’s section, on the very last floor. This place though pricey is a circus for the taste buds and well worth the visit.
The Art of Making Fine Coffee in Le Marais
Style and beauty can be expressed in many forms including in the form of a dignified passion for one’s craft and this is what I observe when speaking to the owner of La Caféothèque. Gloria Montenegro describes to me her definition of luxurious specialty coffee. She wants to ensure that specialty coffee is recognised in the same way that fine wines are, given an appellation, a legally defined identity for the origins of the product.
La Caféothèque is a place to not only sip delicious coffees sourced from over 86 different countries, but also to learn about the culture of coffee. Meeting the owner of this amazing coffee shop is a revelation.
An Evening at Candelaria
A few friends join me in the evening and we head to Candelaria, a Mexican bar serving surprisingly good cocktails and truly tasty tacos. The caricature of a hole in the wall, it is a crammed space housing a candle-lit bar cached behind the basic taco counter. It has a lovely, down-to-earth setting, with a relaxed vibe, a great place to make new friends.
Breakfast of Queens at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme
In the morning, I step into the contemporary white marble and gilded bathroom. A power shower and Blaise Mautin bath products make me feel like I am in a spa.
Afterwards, I savour the most scrumptious breakfast, which I order through room service.I have a choice of lemon juice, which is absolutely great first thing in the morning for detoxing, and freshly-made orange juice, which I have with a vegetarian breakfast of eggs, sauteed mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Relatively healthy and light before I ruin it all with fluffy pancakes doused in maple syrup, and all the delicious contents of the breakfast bread basket, with fresh fruit. Needless to say, I skip lunch.
The bread basket comes with a selection of delectable apricot and peach jams from Le Potager Sucré, and honey from Miel de Maquis de Printemps.
Visit to the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Despite the cold, I make the journey to one of my favourite art galleries, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, designed by the Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and located in the 16th arrondissement. The impressive structure stands next to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a ghost town in the winter and certainly not my favorite place to visit to be honest. Once a human zoo (not kidding) organised to exhibit non-European indigenous peoples in the 1800s, it now plays host to slightly worn-out rides for families desperate to find amusement for their kids, as well as quaint pet farms. I strike it off my list.
Louis Vuitton Foundation is presenting until February 20, 2017 Russian businessman, Sergei Shchukin’s modern art collection, a selection of works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Aristide Maillol, Vincent Van Gogh, among many others. To get to there, take metro Line 1 from Hotel de Ville to Les Sablons. After that, it’s only a 10 minute walk.
A Visit to the Musée des Arts décoratifs
On the way back, I stop at the private museum, Musée des Arts décoratifs located not too far away from the Tuileries garden to find an exhibition on fashion and style,“Tenue correcte exigée! Quand le vêtement fait scandale” translated “as dressing correctly, when outfits become a joke”. A hilarious must-see, revisiting fashion caricatures from the 14th century to today. The exhibition runs until Apr 23, 2017.
Sunset at the Cafe Marly
Just next door is delightfully posh Cafe Marly, where I have a glass of prosecco. Cafe Marly is a great location for a pre-dinner date, and for greedily observing fellow diners.
Dinner at Restaurant Le Florimond
In my search for a hearty homemade dinner, synonymous with those you will find in granny’s kitchen, I come across Le Florimond on Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, which serves sturdy, mouthwatering and satisfying French winter dishes, stuffed cabbages, quinoa risotto, and duck confit dot the rich menu. The care in which the restaurant’s waiters treat every single diner is shockingly impressive for Paris. Definitely going back.
Address: 19, av. de la Motte-Picquet. 75007
Lunch at Marché des Enfants Rouges
While in Paris, I often head for the cobbled streets of Le Marais for its delightful cafes, restaurants and boutique stores. Cafe Pinson, Nanashi, Candelaria, are among my favourite hang outs. But while walking down rue Charlot on the way to Cafe Pinson, an intense, delectable, mouthwatering aroma hits me, jolting my animal instincts into full gear. I swiftly hunt down the origins of this delicious fragrance and find a rustic cooked food market hidden behind a wall, which I had never noticed before – Marche des Enfants Rouges, a food stall comparable to the ones you would find in Singapore offering Japanese, Moroccan, and Italian cuisines at an affordable price. I couldn’t believe my luck!
Tea at Ralphs
There’s nothing better than a nice cup of tea to warm you up on a winter’s day, so I head to Ralph’s restaurant on Boulevard St Germain, my usual hangout for its comfy sofas, outdoor heating and intimate ambiance. I never order a dessert here since candied popcorn is served with every hot beverage.
Off to the Opera
Palais Garnier is a splendidly ornate theater that would take your breath away. Named after its architect, Charles Garnier and completed in 1875, the interior is characteristic of Baroque opulence, rich in velvets, gold leaves, cherubs, nymphs and stunning gilded ceilings. In this setting, I attend the famous Czech male ballet dancer and choreographer Jiří Kylián’s Bella Figura now showing at the Opera Garnier, an interesting spectacle of topless dancers, dressed in paniers, taking us into a surreal, fantastic world.
Tickets are still available on December 31, the last day of the show : https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/ticketing/199-jiri-kylian. It would be a pity to miss it, but if you do, don’t despair, Opera de Paris has a plethora of performances taking place in 2017 at the Opera’s Bastille location.
What I Wore: What to Wear to the Opera
Adieu Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, My Flight Awaits!
After the performance, I arrive at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme’s cocktail bar, Le Bar with my companions and I am surprised to find a welcoming, dim-lit speakeasy, a place where even a solo female traveler can visit and feel at ease. It’s a fully equipped bar that would rival any establishments in New York or London, and has a handsome selection of cocktails and mocktails. The waiters are always hovering around in a light and gentle way, enough to feel constantly taken care of. Overall, I am quite impressed by the staff. I find that I can already recognise the staff by name and they already appear so familiar to me. Competing luxury hotels can definitely take a leaf out of Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme’s book in this regard.
I order a mint tea from the bar’s Mariage Frère’s selection of teas, which comes with a generous portion of chocolate covered almonds, which I devour promptly before going for the ones my friend cast aside because she’s on a diet.
On the last day, I am not looking forward to leaving, but time is up. As I head off, I pop my head round to visit the spa, which I didn’t have time to try and I am surprised to discover a stunning, delicately decorated, restorative space, taking me back to luxurious spas in Phuket and Koh Samui. The spa offers exclusively La Mer skin products in its treatments. It’s a pity I have no time to try it.
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