Raise a glass to cocktail hour in Paris
Saturday 10 May 2014
I make my way through a labyrinth of corridors and creaking staircases up to the attic suite at the summit of boutique abode Hotel Petit Moulin (00 33 1 42 74 10 10; hotelpetitmoulinparis.com) at 29/31 Rue de Poitou. Set within the shell of an old boulangerie in the heart of the Marais, with interiors designed by fashion guru Christian Lacroix, this is one the most chic addresses in town. There's something wonderfully novel about waking up in the building where Victor Hugo bought his bread. My room is a heavenly mix of cream hues, rustic white wooden beams and a splash of Lacroix theatricality thrown in. But this is Paris and I have exploring to do.
Myriad stylish Marais bars offer the ultimate grown-up playground. First up is the century-old, pocket-sized Le Petit Fer à Cheval (00 33 1 42 72 47 47; cafeine.com) at 30 Rue Vieille du Temple, where I quickly polish off a couple of glasses of vin rouge and test my rusty French with the bar staff. Then, with the cocktail hour imminent, I make the short walk over to Le Sherry Butt (00 33 9 83 38 47 80; sherrybuttparis.com) at 20 Rue Beautreillis. Hidden down a Marais sidestreet, Le Sherry Butt offers leather sofas and cocktails crafted using homemade syrups and inventive flavour combinations. It would be easy to spend the entire night here, but just as the DJ begins to crank up the volume, I make an exit for dinner.
Across the river in the St Germain-des-Prés district, I enter the polished glamour of L'Hôtel (00 33 1 44 41 99 00; l-hotel.com) at 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts. The final home of Oscar Wilde, this Left Bank landmark also houses the renowned Le Restaurant. The dining room is strewn with colourful velvet-covered armchairs arranged in intimate pairs, making the space more like a living room than a Michelin-starred restaurant. I tuck into classic French fare deconstructed and reworked into modern masterpieces. After the fifth course, and feeling a little fuzzy in the head, a nightcap in the next door bar seems appropriate. One more cocktail before bed.
The next morning – after the gentle knock of room service at the door – I leave the comfort of my Marais bolthole behind and head across town to the Le Royal Monceau (0033 1 42 99 88 00; leroyalmonceau.com) at 37 Avenue Hoche. Here I make a somewhat shaky approach through the Philippe Starck-designed lobby and under sparkling chandeliers to the only Michelin-starred Italian restaurant in Paris: Il Carpaccio. Set within an airy conservatory, it's the ideal antidote to my sorry state.
After a first glass of champagne, things start to look up. Chef Roberto Rispoli's menu re- invents classic Italian dishes using only the freshest, seasonal produce. Pierre Hermé is in charge of the desserts: I leave room for a white chocolate panna cotta, served with crushed red berries and a dusting of lemon popping candy. Then, close to bursting, I make my way back to the Gare du Nord.
A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For further information, see hg2.com
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