TRAVEL: PEACE IN PARIS

Known as one of the world’s most bustling cities, search and you will find a quiet, ro­man­tic corner...

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - EDITOR'S LETTER - WORDS GRACE CAHILL

It was Hem­ing­way who wrote that there are only two places to live happy – home and Paris. I read A Move­able Feast in uni­ver­sity many moons ago and through­out my early 20s, be­fore vis­it­ing, I lived vi­car­i­ously through the writer’s early 20th cen­tury mus­ings. Paris, in my mind, siz­zled. It was dark and gloomy with smoky jazz cafés and glitzy the­atres where cre­atives, artists and writ­ers roamed and lived a care­free, bo­hemian ex­is­tence.

When I scram­bled enough money to­gether for a EuroS­tar train from Lon­don af­ter grad­u­at­ing, I re­mem­ber chas­ing lit­er­ary nos­tal­gia along the Seine where Hem­ing­way fa­mously sat, and get­ting a bus across the city just to walk by Gard du Lyon. Nowa­days, of course, fleet­ing trips to the city of light play out dif­fer­ently. They marry work with rushed shop­ping trips or a stolen morn­ing at the Lou­vre be­fore throngs of tourists ar­rive. But ev­ery time I visit, the city gen­er­ates a new story in my mind. There is al­ways some­thing else to dis­cover in Paris. Be­hind its grand palaces and boule­vards, there’s al­ways a hid­den gem: an in­ti­mate court­yard or gar­den; a lo­cal craft and food mar­ket that has sprouted up be­hind a his­toric gallery or build­ing. Ev­ery time I re­turn, dis­tricts have changed or been re­stored and new ar­eas like Seine Rive Gauche have been built, or the old artsy hip­ster hang­outs in Mont­martre have been el­e­vated by Miche­lin star restau­rants and lux­u­ri­ous boutique ho­tels. There’s al­ways a bar or res­tau­rant to dine in, a new de­li­cious bak­ery, the lat­est gallery.

This time around, I ded­i­cated 24 hours to ex­plor­ing Le Marais, the quaint Jewish district where a myr­iad of dinky cafés, wine bars, mu­se­ums and gal­leries have now made the neigh­bour­hood

one of the busiest places to stay in Paris. Small in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques, pâtis­series, and cheese, bread and wine shops line the crooked me­dieval lanes while rus­tic, artsy ho­tels dot ev­ery corner. Place des Vos­ges - the old square that was once home to Parisian aris­toc­racy – is a five-minute walk away and at the heart of it, is Pav­il­lon de la Reine. You don’t get much more peace­ful than this quaint re­fined man­sion. It’s hid­den be­hind mar­ble gates and nes­tled amongst tow­er­ing trees and shrub­bery and yet you still get a feel for Marais’s ro­man­tic 17th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture. The dé­cor is grand and el­e­gant but not stuffy, re­vamped by in­te­rior de­signer Di­dier Ben­derli last year. The lobby and res­tau­rant com­bine an­tique grandeur with flashy con­tem­po­rary touches like yel­low vel­vet arm­chairs scat­tered among mar­ble fire­places and maple book shelves. It feels warm and sump­tu­ous - a homely, coun­try­side vibe de­spite be­ing smack bang in the cen­tre of Marais. The ser­vice too is at­ten­tive but not over­bear­ing – rare and won­der­ful nowa­days for a five-star prop­erty. The ho­tel’s pièce de ré­sis­tance now is Anne – its new and much an­tic­i­pated gas­tron­omy res­tau­rant, which has at­tracted a chic, buzzy crowd who can be seen din­ing on the ho­tel’s ter­race court­yard when the weather is sunny. The per­fect an­niver­sary or birth­day night out – or even if you sim­ply feel like splash­ing out on a Satur­day evening in ‘Gay Pa­ree’.

■ Stays at Pav­il­lon de la Reine cost from €330 per room per night, based on two shar­ing on a B&B ba­sis. To book, visit pavil­lon­de­lareine.com or call 0033 140 291 919. Anne is open for lunch and din­ner, Wednesday to Satur­day, and for Sun­day lunch. A la carte menu from €68,

The Pav­il­lon de la Reine is a stun­ning boutique ho­tel in the heart of Paris’s La Marais district

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