Lux­ury and el­e­gance in won­der­ful Paris...

Ex­plores city’s breath­tak­ing beauty

Middleton Guardian - - TRAVEL -

PARIS seems at its most beau­ti­ful when strolling along the banks of the Seine in the dusky sun­set of spring.

Dur­ing my whistlestop tour of the French cap­i­tal, many Parisians are in a ju­bi­lant mood just a day after the elec­tion of their new Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron.

French flags stand tall and proud along the length of the Champs El­y­sees and a huge tri­color blows gen­tly in the wind, hang­ing from the spec­tac­u­lar Arc de Tri­om­phe.

All across this beau­ti­ful city, trees and flow­ers be­gin their bloom - Paris has been re­ju­ve­nated, it seems.

The city has suf­fered more than its fair share of tragedies over the last cou­ple of years and this has no doubt had an ef­fect of the tourist in­dus­try.

But this most won­der­ful of Euro­pean cities has enough beauty, el­e­gance and glam­our to keep tourists com­ing back again and again.

And how could they stay away when Paris has so much to of­fer?

It is full of trea­sures - Notre-Dame Cathe­dral, the Lou­vre, the glam­our of the Champs-Elysées.

It would be im­pos­si­ble to rec­om­mend just a few things on a trip to this won­der­ful city, but the best ad­vice is to steer away from long queues.

Art lovers can’t go wrong with the Lou­vre and the build­ing’s glass pyra­mid is rea­son enough to visit.

But those keen to see works by the im­pres­sion­ist masters Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec should head straight to the grand sur­round­ings of the for­mer rail­way sta­tion Musée d’Or­say.

The Grand Palais, too, is a good start­ing point for art lovers. The palace is cur­rently host­ing an ex­ten­sive ex­hi­bi­tion of Rodin’s work to mark to cen­te­nary of his death.

If you’re look­ing for some­thing with a lit­tle more of an edge, then take to the streets where you can find an abun­dance of graf­fiti and street art up and down the city.

In­vader’s video game-in­spired tile­work can been seen across Paris, while a trip to the bo­hemian neigh­bour­hood of Belleville, once home to Edith Piaf, throws up a wealth of street art.

No trip to Paris would be com­plete with­out a trek up the hill to the an­cient quar­ter of Mon­temarte.

Swarm­ing with tourists and job­bing artists, this pa­rade of sou­venir shops and over­priced cafes can be a bit of a cat­tle mar­ket - but it’s worth vis­it­ing if only for the breath­tak­ing views across Paris. What could be bet­ter?

The Shangri-La Paris - the for­mer home of Napoleon’s great nephew, Prince Roland Bon­a­parte - is a lux­u­ri­ous five-star ho­tel of­fer­ing el­e­gance, pri­vacy and a to­tally unique ex­pe­ri­ence for its guests - al­most ev­ery one of the 65 guest rooms and 36 suites has an ut­terly breath­tak­ing view of the Eif­fel Tower.

In fact, it is only Prince Roland’s room it­self which lacks a view of the iconic sight.

The Prince, like many Parisians at the time of its con­struc­tion, hated the sight of the gleam­ing tower and quite lit­er­ally turned his back on it.

For me per­son­ally, open­ing the win­dows on to the glo­ri­ous view of Alexan­dre Gus­tave Eif­fel’s ex­tra­or­di­nary feat of en­gi­neer­ing leaves me breath­less. And I’m not the only one.

Amongst the A lis­ters who have been drawn to the op­u­lence and glam­our of this won­der­ful ho­tel were Bey­once and Jay-Z.

When the cou­ple hired the ex­clu­sive, €20,000-a-night rooftop suite, Bey­once was so taken with the view that she posted her fam­ily snaps posed in front of the iconic struc­ture to her 104 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers.

But the views are not the only lux­u­ries on of­fer at the Shangri-La. The re­splen­dent for­mer palace is also home to the achingly cool Le Bar Botaniste, where guests can tickle their taste­buds with one of the many hair-brained and bizarre cock­tails cre­ated by head bar­man Cle­ment Emery.

This mous­ta­chioed mixol­o­gist has cooked up some in­cred­i­bly bold drinks dur­ing his short time here with many of the de­li­cious bev­er­ages link­ing to Prince Roland’s famed botan­i­cal col­lec­tion.

In the lush sur­round­ings of this chic bar you many find your­self sip­ping tequila from a cac­tus plant or vodka from a trio of Rus­sian dolls - it’s a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lo­cated in Paris’ fash­ion­able Tro­cadero district, the ho­tel is close to the beau­ti­ful Jardins du Tro­cadéro and is just a short stroll across the river to the Eif­fel Tower.

The Shangri-La boasts no fewer than three Miche­lin stars. Two of these have been awarded to the won­der­ful fine din­ing restau­rant L’Abeille, named after the Napoleonic em­blem of the bee.

Din­ing here is an ut­terly won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence - a whirl­wind of gas­tro­nomic de­lights. I barely had time to take a breath be­tween each course, as plate after plate of the most mouth­wa­ter­ingly de­li­cious food was pre­sented to me - each with its own artis­tic flour­ish. From Co­tentin spi­der crab with cu­cum­ber and caviar to a hon­ey­comb dessert com­plete with a pollen gar­nish, each plate was a work of art.

It’s tes­ta­ment to Chef Christophe Moret that our chatty ta­ble of guests fell al­most silent as each ex­cep­tional course was placed in front of us.

But if you fancy some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, the Shangri-La is also home to France’s only Miche­lin-starred Chi­nese restau­rant, Shang Palace. A de­light­ful lunch of Chef Sa­muel Lee Sum’s sump­tu­ous dishes, from Can­tonese style duck to red-rice flour rolls, is the per­fect way to spend an af­ter­noon The won­der­ful flavours in this authen­tic Can­tonese cui­sine are fresh and vi­brant and will de­light gourmets look­ing for authen­tic Chi­nese food. The ho­tel also in­cludes the splen­did La Bauhinia, where din­ers can en­joy French and Asian dishes, or af­ter­noon tea with a range of beau­ti­fully del­i­cate pas­tries be­neath the stun­ning glass “cupola” which bathes the restau­rant in light.

With all this on of­fer within the con­fines of the ho­tel, you may find it hard to drag your­self away from the pala­tial glory of the Shangri-La. But if you can man­age it, pop down to Mon­sieur Bleu. This sunny restau­rant on the banks of the Seine is a lovely spot to en­joy a lunch of tra­di­tional French fayre, in­clud­ing frog’s legs, es­car­gots and steak tartare.

A room with a view at the Shangri La Ho­tel

The Shangri La Ho­tel

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