I posted daily on Instagram during my recent trip to France and had several requests to detail the itinerary. What started off as a whim of an idea to see Elton John in Paris turned into a family vacation extending to St. Tropez and Cap Ferrat. In this post, I’m sharing some highlights from our four days in Paris with a focus on dining and our lovely hotel. With literally pages of restaurants friends shared with me yet limited time, I narrowed my options by location and cuisine. I wasn’t interested in fine dining establishments on this trip preferring a casual atmosphere and authentic ambience that spoke to location.
photo courtesy of Girafe
Girafe: With an outdoor terrace facing the Eiffel Tower, excellent service and superb food (a focus on seafood), you can’t miss here. Girafe is still very much on everyone’s restaurant list. Reservations are accepted two weeks prior to dining date and I recommend the hotel concierge book the table for timeliness. Along with the view, the people watching was top notch and the Joseph Dirand designed interiors are stunning.
center photo courtesy of L’Avenue
L’Avenue: We fell in love with L’Avenue. So much that even during our short weekend in Paris, we ended up there twice. Once for a fabulous dinner outside on the patio and another for a late night after dinner drink and dessert. The interiors were candlelit, moody and beautiful. Conveniently located within a short walking distance from our hotel was a plus. Great people watching and buzzy at all times day or night.
photo courtesy of La Fontaine de Mars
La Fontaine de Mars: An old-world bistro serving French classics since 1908. Checkered tablecloths, wicker chairs, tiled floors – the restaurant feels authentic to the core along with unmissable steak-frites, coq-au-vin, and casseroles. We dined outside under the awning covered patio but the interiors looked charming as well. We ate here our first night and it was a great way to kick off the trip and take in the Parisian vibe.
left photo courtesy of Le Petit Lutetia
Le Petit Lutetia: A friend just returning from Paris highly recommended this spot so we cancelled another reservation to dine here on our last night. No regrets. I had one of my favorite meals (the pasta pictured above) dining in this classic brasserie which was packed on a Sunday night! The ambience felt very authentic and there didn’t appear to be a tourist in sight.
photo courtesy of Hotel San Regis
Hotel San Régis: I had never heard of the Hotel San Régis in Paris, but my travel agent highly recommended it based on the criteria I provided – boutique hotel, in a great neighborhood, classic decor, excellent service. We were all beyond pleased with this choice as it hit all the marks on what I requested.
The family-owned property is a former mansion built in 1857. Opened as a luxury hotel in 1923, it has maintained a residential ambience while keeping updated with modern amenities. Each room is individually decorated blending period furnishings with original artwork and elegant wallcoverings. With no more than five accommodations per floor, the boutique atmosphere I desired was met.
We booked a Family Suite consisting of two rooms connected by a living room. The arrangement was perfect for morning coffee, pre-dinner drinks, and a relaxed setting to chat about our day. Large windows opening to the quiet street below faced an architectural beauty while peering to the right presented a view of the Eiffel Tower.
The prime location within the Golden Triangle was ideal for walking from the quiet streets of the neighborhood to the luxury boutiques on Avenue Montaigne, elegant cafes and the Grand Palais. The concierge was excellent in suggestions and securing reservations for us.
Breakfast was served under the glass roofed courtyard with an adjacent chinoiserie papered room anchored by a fireplace. There’s a small black lacquered bar serving cocktails which can be taken in a beautifully decorated pale wood paneled salon.
We will most definitely be returning to this hotel.
Activities and Shopping:
We like to walk…everywhere. We have all traveled to Paris before and wanted to take in the city as opposed to seeing attractions. Our days were spent simply exploring neighborhoods, visiting flea markets and dining. We like to keep our plans flexible. One of our most memorable meals was stumbling into a neighborhood cafe after making the decision to leave an unimpressive (but highly recommended) restaurant. For a step off the beaten path, explore the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood.
We went to the Elton John concert at La Défense Arena and were very impressed with the ease of access and organization. The metro line was a quick and direct shot from the 8th arrondissement and Elton John was fantastic! Seeing a concert in a foreign city was a highlight and one I hope to replicate on future trips.
I hadn’t been to Paris in years and was looking forward to shopping in some of the iconic boutiques. But the days of spontaneously stepping into a Chanel, Dior or Goyard boutique are gone having been replaced with long lines or committing to an appointment. Even before stores opened, tourists queued in front of the stores. Not only a disappointment but an unexciting time to shop. I had one lucky moment late in the afternoon walking by the Dior boutique a block from our hotel and was permitted to immediately walk in. Le Bon Marche was fabulous with no waiting and a number of labels to shop under one roof. The shopping experience was much better in the south of France, specifically St. Tropez.