Life is stressful, we all know it, and sometimes all we need for a bit of rest and relaxation is a weekend away. With a whole load of city breaks for great prices at the tip of our fingers, the world really is our oyster when it comes to escaping for a long (or short) weekend. This time, our search for the perfect weekend getaway takes us to Paris.
Macaroons from the Ladurée on the edge of the Champs-Élysées, the whipping breeze on top of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling atmosphere of Le bistro as you wait for your Croque-monsieur are just some of the notions we picture when we think of Paris. Paris provides for every type of person: the foodies, the fashion enthusiasts, the culture keen and even the serenity searchers. From incredible food and wine to impressive architecture and beautiful hotels, take a look at our recommended weekend away in Paris.
Where to Stay in Paris
Hotel Le 123 Sebastopol
Figuring out where to stay has got to be one of the toughest factors of organising a weekend away. Which areas are best? What kind of hotel are we looking for? And in a classic British style, can we trust the TripAdvisor ratings? Well, we thought this was mission impossible, too, however, after endlessly browsing multiple hotels across Paris, we finally - and thankfully - came across Astotel.
Like every great story, Astotel starts with a family. Starting in 1961, one man bought one hotel, followed by the purchase of a couple more in the following years by his brothers. The story continues to today, where Astotel now owns 16 glorious three and four-star hotel across all of the best parts of Paris. With so much rich and personal history behind the company, Astotel has aced the art of customer service. For example, no matter which one of the 16 hotels you stay in, if you happen to pass another Astotel on your travels, you can pop in for free drinks to refresh and replenish. Are you sold yet?
So, which one of the hotels did we choose? Well, with a whole load of destination choices - and choosing which Astotel hotel was hard - we finally opted for the Hotel Le 123 Sebastopol, and we couldn't have been more pleased.
Located at Boulevard de Sebastopol, the district of Marais, next to the Réaumur-Sébastopol metro stop, the Hotel Le 123 Sebastopol is a hotel that celebrates everything great about French cinema. The hotel was designed to encompass the heart of classic French film with contributing room designs from the greats of Jean-Paul Belmondo, Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Elsa Zylberstein, Danièle Thompson, Ennio Morricone and Claude Lelouch. This hotel is magical; from the moment you step through the doors and are greeted with the rich red carpet to the realisation that every floor is decorated in the style (and with the help) of one of the above film greats, you are dazzled by its excellence and elegance. The hotel even has its own private cinema!
With 63 unique rooms, the hotel offers free (soft) drinks at all times, a cocktail bar, a gym, a private terrace and an incredible breakfast that offers plenty of delicious food to set you up for an action-packed day. The Hotel Le 123 Sebastopol acted as the idyllic base for a weekend of packed activities in Paris. In close proximity to public transport and even walking distance to some of the main landmarks, we found the hotel convenient, clean and comforting for every well-deserved break.
Where to Eat in Paris
Deciding where to eat in a new city is never an easy task. There's the constant fear of either receiving a very sub-par meal or being extremely overcharged for something just because you've fallen into a 'tourist trap'. Luckily, we visited some highly recommended spots during our stay in Paris, and now we're going to recommend them to you, too.
Although you might want to try your hand at some authentic French food, the first eatery on our list is this authentic Italian restaurant that goes by the name of Gambino. Let's face it, wherever you are, you simply cannot go wrong with Italian food. Whether it's pizza or pasta that floats your boat, there's plenty of both options right here (and it certainly doesn't disappoint). We sampled two pizza's upon our visit, and it's safe to say they were up there with the best we've ever eaten. Also worth a mention was the restaurant's amazing service; we were made to feel welcome from the very start and, although when we first arrived without a reservation we were told there would be a small wait for a table, we waited no longer than five minutes before being seated.
Now we're moving onto the more traditional French food. We were advised by the extremely helpful concierge desk at our hotel to check out Pramil - a small, family-run restaurant tucked away on the back streets of Paris, only walking distance from the hotel. Upon first arrival, the restaurant was very intimate and also extremely busy, it seemed to be full of locals (so we knew it would be good). The staff were incredibly helpful and showed no hesitation ushering us to our table. Then came the food which was an absolute treat from start to finish. We opted for the veal and mashed potato, and the traditional rabbit. Both dishes were outstanding and offered an inside eye into the dining experience of the French. For a welcoming and authentic experience, you won't get better than here.
What to Do Whilst You're In Paris
Now, we're certain you're all aware that there's a hell of a lot to see and do whilst in Paris, and at first it can certainly seem daunting. Thankfully, we've covered the distance of the city and highlighted the real gems that you absolutely can't miss. There are some obvious ones here but also others you may not have thought of. Paris definitely hosts something for everyone...
The Louvre Museum
It may seem obvious to some, but if you've never visited Paris before, the first thing you need to check out is the Louvre. Whether you're interested in art or not, the museum itself is a spectacle that can't be missed. It's regal and grand in appearance and can make for the perfect Instagram photo if that's your sort of thing. Once inside, you can view thousands of classic and modern artworks, including the world-famous Mona Lisa. It's also worth noting that you're entitled to free entry if you are a young international with valid ID.
Jardin du Palais-Royal
Being a fashion orientated publication ourselves, we can't help but slip this one in there. Just one of Paris' many amazing shopping districts is the Jardin du Palais-Royal. The beautiful gardens obviously take the centre stage here, but what we're more concerned over is the great range of luxury boutiques that surround the said garden. Rick Owens, Stella McCartney and Acne - to name just a few - all hold flagship stores in the area. If you're into your luxury garments like we are, you'll be able to spend hours browsing the selection here. Be warned though, you better be bringing some serious cash with you if you plan on having a shopping spree - luxury doesn't come cheap.
On That Note
If you're planning to visit Paris anytime soon, you should be more than ready for the trip after reading our guide to just a few places to visit. All of the usual fears when it comes to a trip away such as where to stay, where to eat and what to do will no longer be a worry. Overall, we found the city to be one of the best we've visited in a long time, and there really is something for everyone to enjoy. There's a hell of a lot more than what we've covered too, so as well as checking out our recommendations, we also suggest that you do some exploring of your own - there's plenty of hidden gems to be discovered.