Somewhere For The Weekend: Indulgent Paris

A visit to the French capital is always delightful, says Cathy Packe, but factor in a chocolate festival and life doesn't get any sweeter. Go on, spoil yourself...


WHY GO NOW?

WHY GO NOW?

From tomorrow until Sunday, Paris is celebrating chocolate, in all its forms. The Salon du Chocolat (00 33 1 45 03 21 26; www.chocoland.com) is an annual event held at the Carrousel du Louvre on the rue de Rivoli, in the centre of the city. There will be exhibitions, chocolate sculpture, chocolate face-painting for children, demonstrations by chocolate-makers and – most importantly, perhaps – opportunities to taste and buy the stuff. Tickets cost €10 (£6) for adults, €5 (£3) for children, and the Salon is open from 10am-10pm on Friday, until 8pm on Saturday, and until 7pm Sunday.

DOWN PAYMENT

Eurostar (08705 186 186; www.eurostar.co.uk) services from Waterloo will get you to the Gare du Nord in just over three hours. Return fares this weekend start at £240; (much cheaper fares are available if you book in advance). BA (0845 77 333 77; www.ba.com) and Air France (0845 0845 111; www.airfrance.com/uk) fly to Charles de Gaulle airport from a wide range of UK airports; Air France also flies from London City to both Charles de Gaulle and Orly. BMI (0870 60 70 555; www.flybmi.com) flies from Heathrow; Buzz (0870 240 7070; www.buzzaway.com) from Stansted, and bmibaby (0870 264 2229; www.bmibaby.com) from East Midlands. The airline claiming to offer the lowest fares is easyJet (0870 600 0000; www.easyJet.com) from Luton and Liverpool. Travelling out on Friday and back on Sunday, you might pick up a return ticket from Luton to Paris for £115. The easy way into the centre is on the RER, taking about 30 minutes and costing €7.70 (£5) each way.

INSTANT BRIEFING

The main tourist office is at 127 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8e (00 33 8 36 68 31 12; www.paris-touristoffice.com). Pariscope and L'Officiel des Spectacles, both available at newspaper stalls, have detailed listings. If you are going to use the Métro, it's cheaper to buy a carnet of 10 tickets. Serious sightseers can buy a Carte Musées et Monuments, which allows free entry to 70 of the city's attractions. Cards are valid for one day (€15, £9.50); three days (€30, £19); or five days (€45, £28), and are available from Métro stations, tourist offices, and also at the attractions themselves.

REST ASSURED

The Hôtel Costes (239 rue St-Honoré, 1er; 00 33 1 42 44 50 00; www.hotelcostes.com) is the trendiest place at the moment; it's also very luxurious. Rooms from €300 (£200). The elegance of the Marais district is best enjoyed from a room at the Pavillon de la Reine (28 Place des Vosges, 4e; 00 33 1 40 29 19 19; www.pavillon-de-la-reine.com). Rooms from €330 (£207). A lovely small hotel in a central location is the Hôtel Stendhal (22 rue Danielle Casanova, 1er; 00 33 1 44 58 52 52), which has been converted from the 19th-century writer's home. Rooms from €229 (£144).

MUST SEE

If you are familiar with the main sights of Paris and prefer to hang out with the locals, the 11th arrondissement, between the Place de la Bastille and the Avenue de la République, is the place to go. An area once avoided by tourists and Parisians alike, it is now one of the city's liveliest neighbourhoods. A more cultural indulgence is a visit to the Grand Palais (Place Clémenceau, 8e; 00 33 1 44 13 17 17; www.rmn.fr; open daily except Tuesday 10am-8pm, Wednesday to 10pm; entrance €8, £5). An exhibition of paintings by Constable has just opened here, the biggest collection of his work ever to be exhibited outside Britain, selected by Lucian Freud.Coinciding with the Salon du Chocolat, and in honour of the 500 years since Europe discovered chocolate, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (107 rue de Rivoli, 1er; 00 33 1 44 55 57 50; open Tue-Fri 11am-6pm; Weds to 9pm; Sat, Sun 10am-6pm) has a chocolate exhibition, too.

MUST BUY

For more luxury food, try either Fauchon (open 9.30am-7pm Mon-Sat) or Hédiard (open 9.30am-8pm, Mon-Sat), both in the Place de la Madeleine, 8e. A cheaper gastronomic option is the Grande Epicerie in the Bon Marché department store on the rue de Sèvres, 6e (Mon-Sat 9.30am-7pm).

MUST EAT

Among the many top-class restaurants in the centre of Paris, nine have three Michelin stars; one of the most popular of these is Taillevent, at 15 rue Lamennais, 8e (00 33 1 44 95 15 01; open Mon-Fri). Bofinger (5 rue de la Bastille, 4e; 00 33 1 44 18 98 39; open Tue-Sat 12-2pm and 7.30-10.30pm), the oldest brasserie in Paris, is still a stylish place for a night out. Founded in 1862, the elegant patisserie Ladurée in rue Royale, 8e (00 33 1 40 75 06 75; open Mon-Sun 7.30am to midnight; see website for other outlets: www.laduree.fr) is still famous for its fabulous cakes, macaroons and chocolates, and chic clientele. A more modern experience is dinner at Spoon Food & Wine (4 rue de Marignan, 8e; 00 33 1 40 76 34 37; open Mon-Fri 12-2.30pm and 7-11.30pm), the new, more affordable restaurant opened by the top chef Alain Ducasse. The elegant Train Bleu (Gare de Lyon, 12e; 00 33 1 43 43 97 96; open daily 11.30am-3pm and 7-11pm), with its belle époque decor, is one of the most romantic restaurants in Paris. It used to be where travellers would eat before boarding their train. And Angélina (226 rue de Rivoli, 1er; 00 33 1 42 60 82 00; open daily 9am-7pm, Sat and Sun to 7.30pm) serves the best hot chocolate in the city.

INTO THE NIGHT

The upstairs bar at Terence Conran's Alcazar (62 rue Mazarine, 6e; 00 33 1 53 10 19 99; Wed-Sun 8pm-2am) is a popular place for a late-evening drink, especially on a Friday night, when the atmosphere is particularly laid-back. For a really late-night experience, go clubbing at La Flèche d'Or (120 bis rue de Bagnolet, 20e; 00 33 1 43 72 04 23; Wed-Sun 10am-2am; Tue from 6pm).

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn