Ahh, Paris, Paris.
I’ve been to the French capital four times, each a very different kind of vacances.
My first visit was with a pal on a last minute getaway for which my lasting memory is being followed around by an oddball near the Louvre one evening to whom we, as mere youths, gave too much female attention because we thought he was trying to chat us up, which then ended up with us pegging it in a screaming teenage fashion to be rescued by the Maître d of the nearest restaurant.
The second trip was with my mum on a coach-trip for people “over-a-certain-age”. We got off to go to the loo near the Eiffel Tower and came back to find the coach had driven off and left us. And because I was under the age of fifty, the entire coach party thought I’d come along with my mum because I was too young to be left home alone and persisted to ask me how school was. I was twenty-four at the time.
The last two ventures to Paree have been with Mr B. Our first jaunt in our boyfriend/girlfriend days on a romantic excursion to see our favourite band play at Versailles then returning four years later as Mr & Mrs B on our honeymoon – a grown-up version of our former selves.
La Manufacture Hotel was our first hideaway - a cute 3-star boutique hotel in a prime spot in the Latin Quarter. The hotel has a minimal style but with real thought and care for detail – it’s not over-spilling with luxury mod cons or unnecessary fancy fineries but there’s a homely touch to the furniture and decor and a tasteful air about the place. The location is perfect for whizzing about the city – right next to a Metro station – take note London (Boris), late-opening bars and late-running underground is so much more fun – and a perfectly pleasant no-frills option for a French weekend.
Hotel du Petit Moulin is a bit further up the decadence scale though and our most recent foray into Paris overnighting. It’s a sumptuous little hotel designed by Christian Lacroix (very Ab Fab), tucked away in the trendy Marais district. Each of the sixteen rooms is distinctly styled to appeal to those not afraid of bold, daring, colourful riots of design (if you prefer beige walls, all-in-one shampoo + body wash and a travel kettle in the corner, you will be disappointed) and as Monsieur Lacroix describes, “each room had to tell the beginning of a story, a story to be completed by the travellers themselves.” Ok, so that sounds a tad pretentious but you understand his meaning once you step inside - this hotel was exactly what I had been looking for - somewhere I would open the bedroom door, smile and instinctively feel like I was transported to a wonderland of a holiday far far away from home.
There’s a basic little coffee and bar area downstairs but as Mr B aren’t the breakfast-in types on holiday, preferring to avoid the uncivil pre-10am time slots and instead locate our own croissants on our wanders, we made use of it for an evening tipple instead before venturing out for the evening (all this before Mini B of course, when our days out didn’t have to finish by 6pm on the dot).
Hotel du Petit Moulin is the perfect spot to sleep in style rather than an all-encompassing accommodation to hole yourself up indoors with room service, concierge, gym and cruise-size restaurants – it’s unassuming classy exterior disguised as a cute Boulangerie lends itself well to the arty, fashion atmosphere where its located and if you like the sweet things in life like I do, it’s akin to opening up a tin of Custard Creams and finding a pile of Godiva truffles inside. C’est magique!