je t’aime France

Bonjour. What an extraordinary country this is. Since my last post we have experienced so much French culture, cuisine, art and experiences. It’s easy to understand why so many customers of Goldman Travel return to this wonderful cultural playground year after year. Paris certainly continued to sparkle and we spent the last few days doing so many things. We had a lovely lunch at W Paris – Opera Hotel. Located near the Opera Garnier, this 91-room (85 rooms and 6 suites) hotel feels part art gallery, with cheeky W touches all over the property. Past the historic facade, guest rooms blend old and new Paris style, with Louis XV-style chairs in wonderful fabrics, pillows designed as a nod to Marie Antoniette and other famous French figures and quirky illustrations located throughout the hotel. It has a real fun feel and the location couldn’t be better. We had lunch at Catalan (modern French food) and it was absolutely delicious. Thanks to Cecile for arranging this (the W ‘Insider’ (concierge) who can pretty much arrange anything you need in Paris – anything is possible!).

I decided to also go back to one of my favourite properties in Paris, Le Meurice (118 rooms, 42 suites) the Grande Dame of Rue Di Rivoli. Part of the lovely Dorchester Collection, Le Meurice appeals to art history lovers: contemporary sculpture, antique furnishings, and attractive murals are spread around the rooms, corridors, and stunning dining areas. As we entered the foyer, it was impossible to not touch the oversized “frozen mirror”. This mirror actually beckons guests to interact with a gold-framed frost panel as an experiment in art. French designer Philippe Starck is the brains behind the exquisitely creative decor in the lobby, lounge, restaurant, and spa. Classic rooms have a gilded Napoleonic Empire style, with antique furnishings covered in elegant French (and Italian) fabrics. It really is so French. Goldman Travel are proudly a ‘Diamond Club’ member of The Dorchester Collection. This once again means that our customers can get some wonderful value adds when it comes to this property (breakfast, room upgrades and room credits).  After a lovely dinner at Dali Restaurant (Alain Ducasse), we headed back home up the Champs-Elysees and fell into a rosé wine induced sleep. What a day.

Paris would not have been complete without a visit to The Louvre. I wanted to make it kid friendly so did some research and found a wonderful company (Paris Muse) who arrange kids tours. We were met under the The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel by our guide who focused all her energies on the kids and the impending ‘treasure hunt’. We didn’t have to wait in a line to get in the Louvre (big PLUS already). The kids received a book for a treasure hunt with clues inside. The guide,Inge, was very knowledgeable and would talk about something educational and then have the kids find it in a painting.For example, with the Mona Lisa, she told the kids about the tricks they used to make Mona Lisa’s eyes follow you. When we looked at the Egyptian area, she told us about what life was like during that time period. Two hours was a perfect amount of time to keep the kids engaged. At the end of the tour, after they had all the clues, they found a ‘prize’.  Worth every cent. Sasha is still talking about it. http://www.parismuse.com.

We also spent quite a bit of time in the lovely Marais (trendy shopping and bars), had the obligatory Laduree macaron(s), jumped on the rides at an amusing fair that is built for the Europe summer holidays (Fete des Tuileries), sealed our ‘love’ lock at Pont des Arts and visited Montmarte (to buy some art and eat some delicious felafel) which we really enjoyed. Lovely catching up with Mike Penny and The Cohen’s. I love catching up with friends when travelling. I think it really is nice to experience a foreign city with people you know and feel comfortable with. Everyone has different expectations and things they want to see. It makes for a richer experience for all! My greatest food find in the Marais was the Marché des Enfants Rouges. This indoor and outdoor market had so much food on offer I was almost having a food coma without even eating. All I could think of was how my brother would have spent days going from stall to stall. Of course I had the best Moroccan food I have ever tasted (with a glass of sweet rosé). Highly recommended. I had booked a wonderful kids Summer Fair in the Renoir Gardens in Montmarte however due to rain it was cancelled sadly. We still visited the museum (Musee de Montmartre) nearby and look forward to returning to this activity during our next family holiday in Paris (yes.. already planning that one). http://www.museedemontmartre.fr/museum-gardens

We bid farewell to Paris a couple of days ago and we are currently settled in a wonderful resort in the South of France called Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort.  We flew from Paris Orly to Marseille where we picked up our car and drove about 2 hours to our base in Provence. Located only 35 mins from Cannes, this property is set on 750 acres of lush gardens (full off lavender, roses and pine trees). This all suite and villa property is modelled on a Provencal village with pathways and interesting art sculptures scattered throughout the resort. So far it has been a beautiful stay and I will write more about it in my next post (we are here for another few days). We have also visited the quaint and chic villages of Callian and Fayence and feel so happy and grateful that we have this experience to share with the kids. A morning visit to local markets in Fayence was a real highlight. We purchased fresh bread, olives, cheese and meats and brought them back to the hotel for lunch (and will be possibly dinner as well). A thunderstorm in the distance approaches.

plus à suivre…

3 thoughts on “je t’aime France

  1. Glad you all had so much fun in Paris ! Hard to lose weight when you spend a little time there…
    Le Meurice also one of my favourites and Franka Holtmann a gem… I have know her for many years. She did wonders for le Crillon and for some years now has done the same with le Meurice.
    Now you are entering my territory…
    Terre Blanche used to be Sean Connery’s property (and private golf course!) for many years.. Was then bought by hotel consortium and they have made a heaven of it.
    While you are there you may be able to spot Brad and Ange, the chateau they live in is close by….
    Am so homesick… but will be there in 2 weeks, so no complaint there! Hope the weather holds, it does not look tooooo hot so far.. some very heavy storms around, be careful.
    Enjoy!!

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