Paris on the cheap

Bud­get-friendly ex­pe­ri­ences OUT AND ABOUT: DIP YOUR TOE INTO PARISIAN GLITZ

The Citizen (KZN) - - Travel - Amy Tara Koch

Headed to Paris? Even if you don’t have the bud­get to book a room at one of the city’s sump­tu­ous five-star ho­tels, you can still dip your toe into Parisian glitz and glam­our by splurg­ing on one of these on-prop­erty ex­pe­ri­ences.

Din­ner: V Restau­rant at Ho­tel Ver­net

Seated in one of the leather ban­quettes be­neath the stained-glass dome de­signed by Gus­tave Eif­fel, it’s im­pos­si­ble not to have a pinchme-I’m-in-Paris mo­ment.

With only 35 seats, V Restau­rant is a paean to the tal­ents of chef Richard Robe, a mas­ter of French gas­tron­omy who coaxes in­tense flavour from sea­sonal prod­ucts and de­lights in reimag­in­ing his­toric dishes for con­tem­po­rary din­ers.

This win­ter, à la carte high­lights in­clude the V pie – a puff pas­try filled with a sa­vory mélange of duck, foie gras and porcini mush­rooms – and a mod­ern take on an 18th-cen­tury recipe, Lievre à la Royale: slow-braised rab­bit stuffed with foie gras and a roulade of Parme­san-crusted can­nel­loni pasta brim­ming with stewed meat and crushed ju­niper berries.

The seven-course tast­ing menu (€95, or around R1 520) deftly bal­ances rich­ness with lighter, acidic dishes: think cray­fish carpac­cio with av­o­cado and pas­sion fruit purée, risotto laced with chanterell­e mush­rooms and chorizo, and “Le Choco­lat” puffed pas­try for dessert.

Cock­tails: the Duc de Morny Li­brary at La Réserve Paris

Tucked into Av­enue Gabriel in the tony 8th Ar­rondisse­ment, a brush with Belle Époque glam­our can be had at La Re­serve, a man­sion-turned-ho­tel orig­i­nally built for Napoléon III’s half brother, the Duc de Morny.

The bar is one op­tion. But, the splen­did li­brary, a jewel-toned nook with cof­fered ceil­ings, her­ring­bone par­quet floors and deep green fur­nish­ings set off by walls lined with 3 000 an­tique books from the 19th cen­tury, of­fers more of an in­ti­mate, feels-like-home am­bi­ence, es­pe­cially if you nab a seat in front of the (orig­i­nal) wood-burn­ing fire­place.

Here you can en­joy a sig­na­ture cock­tail (the li­brary opens to the pub­lic at 5pm daily) like the Femme Fa­tale – Cham­pagne mixed with lime, cu­cum­ber and el­der­flower liqueur, or the Bain de Folie, a sweet blend of rasp­ber­ries, lime, Hen­drick’s gin, Cham­bord, egg white and fresh mint.

Cook­ing class: the Ritz Paris

Don a toque and take a half-day course at the pres­ti­gious Ritz Es­coffier cook­ing school (in­side the Ritz Paris ho­tel) and then con­sume your cre­ations en­sem­ble with the chef and new­found friends.

The three­hour, sweet-ands-avory course (€150 per per­son) in­volves dishes like roasted duck­ling filet with quince and creamy po­lenta, along with desserts like warm choco­late cake with or­ange cus­tard or roasted mango or hazel­nut crum­ble with yo­gurt sor­bet.

If pas­try is your pas­sion, there are classes fo­cus­ing on Madeleines, mod­ern tarts, mac­arons and all things choco­late (€110-140 per per­son). You’ll go home with printed recipes and a chic Ritz apron.

The Ritz’s François Per­ret was re­cently named best pas­try chef in the world by the pres­ti­gious Gran­des Ta­bles du Monde.

Art ex­pe­ri­ence: Le Royal Mon­ceau

With its own 99-seat cin­ema and avant-garde art­works in­stalled through­out the ho­tel, this fives­tar prop­erty has firmly staked its claim as the “artsy” one.

On Sun­day evenings, non­ho­tel guests can at­tend a pri­vate screen­ing at Katara Cin­ema (€40 per per­son), which in­cludes a glass of Cham­pagne and a cone of caramelize­d pop­corn by the ho­tel’s ac­claimed pas­try chef, Pierre Hermé.

Or pop out­side to the hol­i­daythemed Win­ter Ter­race for a Veuve Clic­quot tast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in an alpine-feel­ing chalet.

Af­ter­noon tea: Four Sea­sons Ge­orge V, Paris

From the mo­ment you strut through the grand wrought-iron door, past the fairy tale flo­ral ar­range­ments and set­tle into a perch at La Ga­lerie as a pi­anist plays, you’ll feel the force of swank à la française.

With tea or, bet­ter yet, Cham­pagne (€60 per per­son), you’ll en­joy a se­lec­tion of scones, fi­nanciers, art­ful pas­tries and savoury bites like blini with salmon and cau­li­flower cream.

For the hol­i­days, the new pas­try chef, Michael Bar­to­cetti, has de­signed a spe­cialty tea fea­tur­ing Candied cé­drat pie with lemon caviar, Parisian flan, spiced quince pas­try and the pièce de ré­sis­tance, an or­chid-shaped Yule log fash­ioned of al­mond bis­cuit in­ter­laced with a thin layer of crunchy hazel­nut with vanilla scented cream (€95 per per­son).

Roasted duck­ling filet with quince and creamy po­lenta

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