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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory