Paris Day 1—Disembarkation in Monte Carlo
Today our lovely sojourn on The Explorer comes to an end. Our bags were packed and left out the night before. Barbara and I went down to La Veranda for breakfast as the ship slowly warped into the magnificent harbor of Monte Carlo. Looking around, we could see to our left, the Pink Palace, the residence of the Grimaldi family, with the rest of the city in an arc around us.
Disembarkation was quick and efficient. We identified our luggage and went to our coach for the transfer to Nice Airport 35 minutes away. I had scheduled an early afternoon flight to Paris. However, we arrived early enough we were make a flight up to Paris which arrived before noon. Arrival in Paris was easy—a quick walk to baggage claim, out into the arrival lobby and in to a taxi for the ride in to Paris. An interesting note: taxi fare into Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport is now fixed at 50 Euros—a nice change since our last visit to Paris. It was good for us, but not for our driver as a bad accident left us in his car for about 2 hours.
Our arrival at Le Bristol was almost ceremonial. Once we were at the Front Desk, we were greeted in short order by the Reservations Manager, the Sales Manager and other members of the hotel team with whom I have worked for years and who I regard as old friends. We were offered a light lunch in the hotel’s wonderful bar before being shown up to our room—actually a spacious junior suite overlooking one of Le Bristol’s courtyards.
Barbara went out to reconnoiter the nearby shops on the Faubourg St.Honore while I did a little work before going down to dinner at Le Bristol’s brasserie, 114 Faubourg. This is the hotel’s more casual restaurant—which still has been awarded a Michelin Star (the other is the three-starred Epicurean Restaurant). We were given a wonderful table which overlooked the open kitchen on the level below us where we could watch the chefs prepare and plate every entrée. The dinner was sumptuous and the service a wonderful combination of professional, personable and warm.
Paris Day 2—On the Paris Boulevards
After a wonderful breakfast looking out at the garden in Le Bristol’s Epicurean restaurant, we toured the hotel, admiring the beautiful spa and the hotel’s unique swimming pool, Mrs. Oettker, the hotel’s owner, visits from Germany twice a month and clearly makes the decisions on everything including flower arrangements. Le Bristol is clearly a labor of love that is shared by all the staff.
We left the hotel and walked the short distance to the Tuileries and the courtyards of the Louvre. After the heat in the South of France, the light intermittent rain was pleasant as we walked through Paris to one of my favor locales, the Place des Vosges in the Marais District. Built in the early 17th century by King Henri IV and originally known as the Place Royale, it is an enclosed square with no automobile traffic and houses another favorite Paris hotel of ours, The Pavillon de la Reine.
The building housing the hotel was the pavilion or residence of Anne of Austria prior to marrying the French king. This is a perfect spot for anyone wanting a quiet, intimate hotel experience in one of Paris’s most interesting an historic areas.
From the Place de Vosges, we walked for a few minutes to the Musee Picasso—a must visit for anyone interested in the artists. Converted from a magnificent 17th century residence, the Museum has over 5000 works in its collection and tens of thousands of archive pieces.
After our Picasso visit, we had a quick lunch at a sidewalk café—a carafe of red wine, bread and cheese…….perfect……before returning to Le Bristol to get ready for our last evening in Paris—dinner at the newly re-opened Hotel Ritz.
The four year renovation cost an estimated €400m (~$500m US), well over the initial estimate of €140m.
The legendary hotel was founded by Swiss entrepreneur César Ritz in 1898, and is the basis of the meaning “ritzy.” The hotel is famed as the stomping ground of figures such as Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. You’ll find a dedicated Coco Chanel Suite, and Hemingway Bar in their honor.
The hotel now features the world’s first Chanel branded spa; an underground swimming pool with 800,000 mosaic tiles, and a revamp of the interior detailing that is iconic to the Ritz: delicate silks, draped curtains and gilded mirrors. Highly recommended stay, and worth the long wait. The Ritz Paris is running a few fantastic specials through the end of 2016 that you can view on our specials page.
If you would love to hear more recommendations for your time in Paris, please be sure to reach out to me by phone (805.969.7746) or email firstname.lastname@example.org