Paris. The city of love, art, cheese, the most extraordinary bread (and more bread),food, wine, fashion and French smiles. We arrived after a long journey (via Helsinki) on Wednesday mid morning to our wonderful apartment on Rue Mac Mahon (17th Arr). Located a croissant’s throw from the Arc De Triomphe, it is the perfect base for our week stay. There is an old world cinema on our left showcasing Audrey Hepburn films (Nat is delighted) and a Chinese foot massage place located on the right (Dave is delighted). Our host Yael met us at the apartment, gave us a quick tour with some city handy hints, a fridge stocked with cheese , milk and jam and bid us farewell. Nat’s mum Vera flew in from Budapest as well to join us for the week and it’s great to have her here (her tour guide skills are very much appreciated!).
So far, we have visited the magnificent Luxembourg Gardens which incidentally is very entertaining for the kids (heaps of fun activities), participated in some great tours including a behind the scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower (we went underground to look at the hydraulics/machinery), a ‘Big Bus’ tour to see the sights and get our bearings (to Edith Piaf background music) and a food and gourmet tour hosted by the lovely and energetic Antionette from Paris Personalised. This indoor/outdoor market tour has been the highlight for me so far over the past few days during our stay in Paris. We caught the Paris Metro to Ledru-Rollin, met Antionette and were escorted to the delectable Marche D’Aligre. More popular with locals and away from the tourist crowds, I was in absolute heaven and wanted to taste and buy everything in sight. After an hour or so drooling over the breads, cheese (well over 500 varieties), Jewish Chicken (ham), french condiments, terrines, veges and fruits, we decided to base ourselves in a little local park and eat cheese, bread and olives for lunch. A quick afternoon to visit the Pompidou Centre followed by a walk around St Germain and dinner at Mandarin Oriental Paris with Mon Cheri Natalie finished a perfect Parisian day.
The location of this hotel (99 rooms and a handful of suites) in the fashion heartbeat of Paris is perfect for the corporate and leisure traveller. Lovely rooms which all face inward to the inner garden sanctum are bathed in purple and olive colour tones and of course the fittings and fixtures are what one would expect from this wonderful hotel group. Just like its sister properties in Hong Kong, there is something very special about Mandarin Oriental Paris. Perhaps its the fact that this property is SO quiet and a little oasis from the busy streets bustling about outside. We walked ‘home’ up Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore where all the top French fashion houses are located. Dior, Hermes, YSL, Gucci, Chloe, Chanel, Dior etc. You name it, they are here. I love how much the French love their fashion. The passion they feel is intoxicating. They love to love. Why not? Couples smooching on every street corner, little lap dogs at most cafés or bistros we walk past and lots of ‘errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ this and ‘errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ that. The French language is so beautiful to listen to. I really wish I could speak it although I am getting by pretending
( I think). We also caught up with Ans and Damo Wikinson and kids from Sydney. So good to see them and have a laugh and giggle over a glass of chilled wine and saucisson. Today I turn 41 and so happy to spend this day with my loved ones in one of the most glorious cities in the world. Lunch at W Opera followed by a visit to Montmarte is the plan for the day. Au Revior