Luxury and elegance in wonderful Paris...
Explores city’s breathtaking beauty
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