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Christmas Sparkles in Paris

Sun 04 December 2011

, Nicole Bader, Charming Travel Choices

At least once a year I try to go to Paris to enjoy the breathtaking city sights, the newest exhibitions in museums, beautiful theater performances, amazing food in fantastic restaurants, find out the latest trends in fashion and look for some new spots for my website Charming Travel Choices…

So off I went to Paris end of November for 4 days. Every time this charming ‘City of Light’ manages to capture and impress me. Each Christmas season, elegant lights adorn several quarters and historical sites in Paris, bringing the city out of the November gloom. Upon my arrival, the inner city was already transformed into a Christmas wonderland. The majestic Avenue des Champs-Elysées flooded in light drenched trees stretching all the way from the Arc de Triomphe to the Ferris Wheels at Place de la Concorde, including Christmas markets and indoor ice skating. Moreover, the windows of department store Le Printemps and the famous Christmas tree in the adjacent store Galerie La Fayette were spectacular.

This time my ‘home base’ in Paris was hotel Chateaubriand, a super charming boutique hotel located in a side street of the Champs Elysees. A perfect start for a city trip. It is always great to stroll along the Champs Elysees, have a tea at La Durée with the famous macarons, a hot chocolate at Angelina’s, enjoy some shopping in the Rue Montaigne and Rue St. Honorée and admire Paris as it sparkles.

Having lunch in one of the restaurants of the Costes brothers is a treat. The two brothers own a good 40 hotels, cafés and restaurants in the city. They’ve got Café Marly in the Louvre Museum overlooking the glass pyramid, restaurant Georges atop the Pompidou Center where diners overlook the city through giant windows and L'Esplanade the only café on the magnificent Esplanade des Invalides.
However for me the best and at the same time my absolute favorite restaurants for lunch in town are Hotel Costes and L’Avenue. The restaurant in Hotel Costes is spread over the hotel lobby with its best seats in the charming inner courtyard. Here, as well as on the outside terrace of restaurant L’Avenue you enjoy delicious food in a great environment with a super atmosphere.

Before going to Paris, I read in magazines that the Rodin Museum and the Louvre have great temporary collections worth visiting. So I booked my entry tickets to both museums in advance through internet, in order to avoid queues on the spot. No matter how often you go to the Rodin Museum, the exterior and the beautiful garden with the bronze and marble sculpture of The Thinker (Le Penseur) remain impressive. The exhibition ‘Capturing the Model’ with 300 drawings of Rodin’s last thirty years as well as the ‘Forbidden City - Emperors of China and Kings of France’ in the Louvre were both beautiful.

There are many great restaurants for dinner in the city and I always love to try out new ones. However this time, as my trip was more private than business, I decided to have dinner in my favorite restaurants Kong and Pershing Hall. Kong is housed at a unique spot on the 5th and 6th floors of the Kenzo store overlooking the Pont Neuf. The bar on the 5th floor is impressive, but the terrace with observatory dome covered restaurant on the top floor is spectacular. Here you literally dine under the stars while you enjoy the most delicious dishes of French and Japanese fusion cuisine. The restaurant of Hotel Pershing Hall is unique in Paris. I you are lucky you have a seat in the inner courtyard, which is surrounded by balconies and a wall filled with four hundred plant sorts. The ambiance and light in the restaurant changes throughout the evening and the atmosphere is filled with whispers and music by Paris most innovative DJ’s.

To conclude my great few days in Paris, I watched the Cendrillon Ballet from Rudolf Noureev in the Opera Bastille, a classical ballet performing a modern version of the Cinderella story. Paris has two famous opera houses: the historic Opera Garnier and the modern Opera Bastille and they both guarantee a fantastic evening out!!

Nicole Bader - Charming Travel Choices