We chat with Christian Boyens, general manager of the Paris Ritz, about the real sites in the City of Lights.
Paris is much more than a tourist mecca. Beyond the iconic historical monuments and luxury shopping districts, there are countless hidden gems within The City of Light. To uncover an unexpected side of Paris, we have enlisted the help of a well-connected insider. Read on to see the romantic metropolis through the eyes of Christian Boyens, general manager of the recently revamped Ritz Paris — as he reveals his favourite local spots and daily rituals to fall in love with the city all over again.
1. Have A Perfect Parisian Morning
"Start with a typical Parisian breakfast, rich coffee and freshly-squeezed orange juice in a local bistro - I'd always choose the Matins de l’Espadon, because of its unique setting. Then, visit one of the famous Parisian markets - like the Rue de Levis in the 17th arrondissement. Take a little walk through of one of the beautiful Parisian parks, such as the Jardin du Luxembourg or Parc Monceau."
2. For A Quick Pick-Me-Up
"The Bar Vendome serves an excellent coffee. With the sunrise and a newspaper, it's a great way to start the day."
3. Skip The Louvre, Explore Elsewhere
"I have a weakness for some of the smaller and more intimate museums: Jacquemart-Andre has a unique collection and a great bistro restaurant in the museum. Musee Rodin is perfect if you like sculpture and statues, with a beautiful park and nice cafe where you can enjoy the gardens. If you are interested in Auguste Rodin, then Maison de Balzac where he used to live is an unusual but charming place to visit."
4. For The Best French Cuisine
"For bistronomy, I love Verjus on Rue de Richelieu. They have an innovative fresh farm menu and the restaurant captures that quintessentially cosy and intimate Parisian setting. For the adventurous diner, Septime on Rue de Charonne helps you discover amazing food you would never order yourself. Both
SMA and Sola serve Michelin-starred Japanese cuisine with a very French touch. And if there's one place you have to eat during your Parisian stay, you should enjoy the spectacular cuisine of Nicolas Sale at La Table de l’Espadon. It's one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris - candles, high ceilings and surrounded by the history of l’Espadon."
5. Rest, Relax and Reset
"I think everyone wants to stay somewhere that is personalised but discreet, warm without being informal. The atmosphere we create at The Ritz Paris makes it more than just a hotel. First of all, it is the last family owned hotel left in Paris in our category (non-chain, non-collection). It's located in the heart of the city, overlooking historic Place Vendome and within a five-minute walk to all of Paris's biggest sites: from the Louvre and the Seine, to the Opera Garnier and shopping at Rue Saint-Honore. With a wide selection of restaurants, bars and spa facilities, you might not want to leave the hotel, though."
6. If You Have An Afternoon To Spare
"If you like food, don't miss out on taking a short cooking class at the Ritz Escoffier School. It actually overlooks the kitchen of the Ritz Paris, with its 120 cooks - so you get to witness plenty of arguments and action. If you want to pamper yourself after, take a loot at the first ever Chanel au Ritz Paris, which offers luxurious massages and facials. "
7. Get Out Of The City
"Paris is actually a surprisingly small city. The neighbourhoods are easy to walk around, and if you have time, it's a great base for day trips: Champagne is only 45 minutes by the TGV, and Loire Valley or Bourgogne are an hour or two drive."
8. If You Want To Clear Your Head
"If you like sport, running is a great way to explore Paris. My favourite routes are the roads around the art quarter and Sacre Coeur where you can see the whole city, and also by the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Bois de Boulogne. If you want something lower energy, a stroll in Jardin du Luxembourg is a great way to clear your head and discover this beautiful city."
9. Shop 'Til You Drop
"Unless you have never seen the Champs-Elysees, stay off the beaten track. Paris has so many more charming and intimate shopping districts - the 11th, around Canal Saint-Martin is great for boutiques. For some really unique finds, don't underestimate the little Parisian markets, either."
10. The Best Thing About Paris
"The French people, and the food. You've got to love the French, and Paris is a fantastic, dynamic city with a romantic and beautiful culture. And with over 14,000 restaurants you could live here for 40 years and never eat at the same restaurant twice."
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com