The 8.02 to ParisOctober 4th, 2011
I began my trip to Paris with a pleasant journey on the Eurostar train. At 08.02 am, this service is characterised by a lot of business travellers, and the plethora of suits surrounding you in the carriage gives an air of importance and purpose! It’s a good idea to get a coffee and pastry in the stylish restaurant car, have these at the bar, and watch the scenery fly past. Returning, I travelled in Standard Premier, Eurostar’s interpretation of 1st class, with a light meal, ample legroom for my 6”5 frame, and a bottle of Bordeaux. I arrived relaxed and refreshed into London St Pancras. This was well worth the upgrade.
Most of my time was spent travelling around the city for viewing appointments with our partner hotels. I did however manage to squeeze in a leisurely walk around Paris, taking in the Notre Dame, conveniently located down the road from my hotel “Le Jardin de Cluny”, the Eiffel tower, Bastille, and the remarkable Pompidou centre, a building which has quite literally been reversed from the inside.
I ate at a lovely restaurant close to the Jardin de Cluny; Balzar’s Brasserie is a friendly establishment serving a steady stream of Parisians, and serves a range of a wide range of traditional French dishes. No doubt these are home-style favourites that attract the regulars sat on the outside porch. As part of my “Menu Gourmand”, I chose a straightforward option of foie gras to start, duck confit for my main, and a fig tart for dessert. I would certainly recommend this restaurant, with its friendly and attentive waiting staff, to any visitor to Paris. Notably at the restaurant, I encountered a friendly group of retirees from Virginia in the United States. This all-female group became my new friends for the evening; I discovered they were embarking on an adventure by rail, via Lyon, to Geneva in Switzerland. Testament indeed to the increasing popularity of holidays by rail!
The Jardin de Cluny is a charming hotel, with friendly staff and a good range of facilities. The design is a tasteful blend of classic and modern, with a wonderful dining area located in a restored 18th century cellar. This little establishment is a favourite of regular visitors to Paris, and with good reason. The guided tour of the hotel by seasoned member of staff Andre was an experience in itself, making me feel at home and completely informed of every facet of the hotel. I haven’t yet touched on the location, which must surely be among the best in Paris. Situated in the fashionable and distinct Latin Quarter on the Rive Gauche, the Notre Dame cathedral is a short walk away, as well as other notable attractions such as the afor-mentioned Pompidou Centre.
Of the hotels I visited, my favourite in the 3* category was the Jardin de Cluny, I would suggest this is ideal for couples and anyone looking at a short visit. For families, the St Paul is a unique option which provides and homely environment and children’s books on demand! A good 4* option is Le Terrass, for those looking at a hill-climb in Montmartre, this hotel features, as the name suggests, a roof terrace with a spectacular view of Paris (Eiffel tower included). Our 5* option is the Sofitel Arc de Triomphe. This is the benchmark for luxury and is in a superior location.