Some like it haute
The gilded version of Paris shines for refined travelers
What can be said about Paris that hasn’t already been said? City of Light. One of the world’s most romantic destinations. Fine wine. Famous art. Luxurious lodging. Home of haute couture and haute cuisine. In fact, it boasts the third-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (after Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan).
Maybe you backpacked through Europe once upon a time, or spent your junior year in college abroad, taking in the city in only the most glancing way. But now that you’re a full-fledged adult, it’s the ultimate place to return to if you’re looking for 24-karat gold experiences. Stay in an art-filled, 8,700-square-foot home on the Seine, dine near the top of the Eiffel Tower at tony Le Jules Verne restaurant or schedule atrès luxemassage treatment at the lavish Chanel-designed spa at the Ritz.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – only Bangkok and London draw more visitors – Paris demands you enjoy the good life. Part of thissavoir vivre– French for “knowing how to live” – is appreciating the city’s beauty; you’ll find 3,800 historical monuments and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and around the city.
In addition to its other charms, Paris enchants travelers by making even simple things magical. You don’t just take a walk, you stroll along the Left Bank, stopping at Musée d’Orsay to see the works of Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Or you cruise down the Seine sipping Champagne, or take a limo tour of the City of Light after dark, as its iconic landmarks are illuminated.
It’s also a great place to splurge on a shopping break: Paris is a fashion capital, home to labels such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint-Laurent, among others. It’s also a brilliant mix of department stores, flea markets and boutiques that specialize in a broad range of accoutrements: Looking for designer hats, books about angels or collectible cat figurines? They’re all here.
There’s never a lack of something extravagant and exciting to do in Paris, any time of the day or night.
Putting on the Ritz
If you’ve always dreamed about stepping into the pages of a Victorian novel, the Ritz Paris is for you. The hotel offers the perfect stage for a high societytête-à-têtein elegant surroundings. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote to a friend: “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.”
Last summer was a reason to celebrate for the Ritz and its legion of followers. That’s when it reopened after a four-year, $420 million renovation.
The hotel, on the Place Vendôme in the city’s First Arrondissement, is more storied than most. Since its opening on June 1, 1898, the Ritz Paris has been a symbol of elegance and the French art ofjoie de vivre, drawing royalty, artists and writers.
Among its fans was Hemingway, who claims to have liberated the hotel from the Germans in World War II: The hotel’s Bar Hemingway is a handsomely decorated watering hole and an iconic stop for cocktail lovers.
Another famous name associated with the Ritz is Coco Chanel, who was a resident for
Plan on spending a few hours at the hotel’s new Chanel-designed spa, which features frescoes, gilding, silk fabrics, a famous neoclassical swimming pool and five treatment rooms, where you can choose massage oils named after her iconic perfumes (5, 19, 22). Try the Grand Soin Chanel, which combines the invigoration of facial therapy with the muscle relaxation of a massage. Spa Chanel at the Ritz Paris, 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris
Life on the Seine
When tennis champ Novak Djokovic, winner of 12 Grand Slam titles, looks for an exclusive place to stay during the Paris Masters, where does he drop his racket? At the former Vuitton family home on fashionable Île Saint-Germain.
The 8,700-square-foot home, on an island in the Seine, sits just beyond the Paris city border, close enough to take the estate’s launch for a quick ride to the Eiffel Tower, but far enough away to avoid the craziness of the city.
The luxurious home, which is used for films, is one of those imposing private residences that beckon those who seek exclusivity. Sculpture and works of art crowd the walls, the swimming pool vanishes into a dance floor, and a chef awaits to plan your next meal. Thinking about inviting a few friends in? It can hold 150 for cocktails or 80 for dinner.
Called La Maison, the four-story home was once owned by Arnaud Masson, scion of the Vuitton family. It was purchased by his business partner Laurent Gilbert, who now rents it to visitors. There are five bedrooms, a music salon with a Steinway, a gym, large chef’s kitchen and a top-floor master bedroom that overlooks it all.
La Maison, 1 Allée des Moulineaux, Île Saint-Germain, 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux
Dinner at the top
It goes without saying that Paris offers gastronomes some grand experiences. With 600 Michelin-starred restaurants in France, it isn’t difficult to find truly excellent cuisine. But some dining rooms offer an experience beyond the food. Le Jules Verne, 410 feet above Paris in the Eiffel Tower, is one.
Tucked away in one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions, the restaurant is notable for both its food and its views. “French culinary heritage is the focus here, where classic dishes are accompanied by some excellent wines,” notes the 2016 Michelin guide in granting the Alain Ducasse restaurant a star.
The dining room is above the viewing platforms near the top of the tower, but guests don’t need to mingle with the mass of tourists who cluster near its base. There’s a private entrance and windowed elevator to whisk you to the top, where the spectacular view makes you catch your breath.
Whether you watch the Seine weave its way toward Notre Dame or look out over the Trocadero, Le Jules Verne offers visitors an unforgettable experience. And if you’re lucky enough to dine there at sunset, you can catch the views both before and after dark.
Reserve well in advance of your visit; ask for window seating at sunset. Book through the website up to three months
Le Jules Verne, Restaurant Tour Eiffel, Avenue Gustave Eiffel, 75007 Paris.
Five Beloved Hotels
The City of Light offers some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Hotels.com put together a list of the five most extravagantly priced – and best-loved – hotels in the city, based on base-level room rates and ratings given by Hotels.com guests:
Hôtel Plaza Athénée – This opulent hotel is on Avenue Montaigne in the Eighth Arrondissement, one of the toniest addresses in the city. It’s a five-minute walk to the Avenue des Champs Élysées. Guests rate it 4.7 (out of five); rates start at $998 per night.
Mandarin Oriental Paris – Not far from Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries, expect understated luxury and elegance at this rue Saint-Honoré hotel that has a verdant courtyard garden. Guests give it 4.4 (out of 5); rates start at $974 per night. :: mandarinoriental.com/paris
The Peninsula Paris – This glamorous hotel occupies an entire block near the Arc de Triomphe and is known for its spacious rooms. Guests rate it 4.9; rates from $848 per night.
Shangri-La Hotel Paris – Find great views of the Eiffel Tower from the windows of the Shangri-La, which originally was a Bonaparte family mansion. Guests rate it 4.7; rates from $755 per night. :: shangri-la.com/paris
Le Meurice – Refurbished in 2016, Le Meurice is a grand palace overlooking the Tuilleries and close to the Louvre. Guests rate it 4.7; rates from $722 per night.