Tuesday, 17 January 2017

PHOTO DIARY: Paris, January 2017

Last weekend I spent a lovely 24 hours in Paris with my Mum. We usually visit for a day every year but this time decided to stay overnight. Thanks to Eurostar Snap we picked up some super cheap train tickets and before long the day came to catch our train. It was a bitterly cold day with a pathetic drizzle of rain, but we made it work. We've been to Paris loads of times so this particular trip was mostly about food with a little shopping thrown in for good measure.

I booked a double superior room at Hotel Paradis Paris as it wasn't that much more than the classic double. The hotel is a gorgeous, boutique oasis only a ten minute walk from Gare du Nord. Our bed was exceedingly comfortable and we had a lovely view over a typical Parisian street. I can't recommend this place enough as it fits my affordable luxury mantra perfectly.

Our first stop was lunch as Les Papilles where we enjoyed an incredible four course set menu. Les Papilles is a classic French wine bar that serves simple and delicious food. The set menu is excellent value for a leisurely lunch time meal.

By the time we finished lunch is was 3pm and sunset wasn't far off. We walked through Jardin du Luxembourg en route to Le Bon Marché, a beautiful 19th century department store. You might recognise the famous escalator design. The store reminds me of Liberty London and whilst it's full of high end brands, it a gorgeous place to just wander around.

We visited City Pharma to pick up a few of our favourite beauty products and finally managed to pick up a box of macaroons from Pierre Hermé around the corner.

Whilst I've walked past Notre Dame many a time I've never made it inside as there's always a queue. We must have arrived at the right time as we managed to walk straight in. The cathedral is gorgeous and I'm so glad the Christmas decorations were still up as the place looked beautiful.

We normally try to visit a museum or gallery every time we're in Paris. Instead of finding a new spot on this trip we made it over to the Pompidou as I wanted to check out the Cy Twombly retrospective. The Pompidou is my favourite building in the city so I always like to pay it a visit, even if I'm just walking past and checking out the wonderful façade.

Dinner was a smaller affair but still delicious. Juveniles is a wonderful French wine bar with a Scottish twist. It does a great haggis and mash whilst also sticking to that simple but quality ethos of French cooking.

Our final stop of the night was a cocktail at Harry's New York Bar before heading back to the hotel. We had to catch an early train the following morning so we didn't have time for a Parisian brunch, instead we stopped by Dishoom in King's Cross for bacon and egg naans. We had a wonderful 24 hours in Paris and whilst we didn't get that much done it was nice to have a chilled day visiting some new places and eating wonderful food. I'm hoping we visit Paris again later in the year as I've still got a long list of French wine bars I want to visit.

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Sunday, 15 January 2017

HOTEL REVIEW: Hotel Paradis, Paris

My recent 24 hours in Paris meant I was able to continue my search for an affordable luxury hotel and I think I hit the nail firmly on the head when I found Hotel Paradis Paris. This small boutique hotel is located in the 9th, a 10 minute walk from Gare du Nord, which means it's a great spot for those arriving in the city by Eurostar. There's a ton of metro stations in the area as well as a huge selection of bistros and bars.

When it comes to design Hotel Paradis is awash with vibrant wallpaper, mid-century furniture and splashes of fun accessories. The overriding colour scheme is navy and light grey with wooden furniture making the space feel relaxed and comforting.

There's a few different room options with prices starting at €68 for a single and €81 for a classic double, however this does increase a fair bit come the summer. Come the less popular months this is a fantastic deal for such a well situated and unique hotel. We actually booked a superior double as it was only €10 more than the classic but promises more space and a sofa.

The king size bed in our spacious, superior double room was incredibly comfortable with a perfectly squishy duvet. The compact bathroom had a powerful shower and a lovely selection of Malin + Goetz toiletries. We even had a lovely view over the classic Parisian street with one of those tiny, barely-there balconies.

I really enjoyed our stay in Hotel Paradis Paris and it was a real shame we weren't there for longer. Breakfast isn't included in the room rate but for €12 you can enjoy a continental spread in the morning. The staff were extremely helpful so if you can book a room when the price is at the lower end I promise you that you'll be in for a great stay.

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Friday, 13 January 2017

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Juveniles Wine Bar, Paris

My trip to Paris at the weekend was such a foodie affair. After a huge, two hour lunch at Les Papilles we weren't that hungry come our 8pm dinner reservation. Fortunately Juveniles offers an a la carte menu as well as a set menu so we were able to keep things reasonably small. Juveniles is a classic French wine bar with a Scottish twist, thanks to owner Tim Johnston, a Scotsman, who has subsequently handed down the reigns to his daughter and her boyfriend.

As with our lunch, the walls are lined with bottles of wine for you to choose from, however the menu does include wine per glass as well. We asked for a recommendation (again) and were given a bottle of François Crochet, Sancerre Blanc, Millésime 2015, a light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It was very nice.

Wanting to keep things small but still try a selection of courses we decided to share a starter. We went for the calamari risotto which was heavenly. The risotto was buttery with a refreshing hint of lemon. I enjoyed the deconstructed style of the calamari, butternut squash and parmesan. Any remaining risotto was mopped up with the crusty bread served on the side, this was an incredibly delicious dish.

My Mum knew she wanted the haggis as soon as I told her we were going to a French / Scottish bistro. Apparently she's been craving it since Burns' Night 2016... The mash was the creamiest I've ever tasted and the haggis was perfect. This was a huge portion of food and Mum was a little disappointed to not finish it.

I ordered the guinea-fowl with sweet potato, kale and almonds. The meaty was gamy and perfectly cooked. I really enjoyed the selection of winter vegetables plus the almonds gave this a nice crunch.

As soon as I spied a chocolate dessert on the menu I knew I wanted to order it. Rich, gooey and utterly moreish, this was a perfect way to finish our foodie, French day.

I thoroughly enjoyed Juveniles and would recommend it to anyone looking for a reasonably priced French wine bar that serves excellent quality food. The atmosphere is pretty casual but you can tell it's a really popular joint, I don't think a single table was empty during our meal. As with many French bistros, the food is simple but done well. I love this style of cooking and am ever thankful that Paris isn't too hard to reach from London.

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