A Brief Encounter with Paris

When a  friend asked if I wanted to go to Paris for the day to celebrate her upcoming Birthday, of course I jumped at the chance.I did however, think she was slightly insane not wanting to stay in Paris and did try to convince her otherwise (I was keen to stay at the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal).

Needless to say, Birthday girls should always get their wish – she wanted to stay the night before in London & get the Eurostar first thing in the morning, returning later the same day. She was drawn by the whole decadence of the day trip & the freedom of not being burdened by any luggage. So that’s exactly what we did (and yes, it was great not having any luggage!).

For ease of travel, we stayed the night before at the Renaissance St Pancras. (This is a great place to stay if you’ve got an early train to catch as it’s only a few steps away from the station.) The bedrooms are a bit dull unless you pay a lot of money but the location is second to none and staying in such a beautiful building is such a privilege.

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The area around St Pancras & Central St Martins is great. There are some stunning buildings there & the area has a great feel to it. We had a fantastic meal at Dishoom (go early to avoid the queues) which I’d definitely recommend – they have some great cocktails & a wonderful gluten-free menu. (It was so good but unfortunately too dark to take pics).

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We then retired early & set our alarms in time for a good hotel breakfast!

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It was soon time to board the train to Paris & our first stop was the Mandarin Oriental.

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As our trip was fairly last minute we couldn’t get into a few of the restaurants on our wishlist but high up on the list was this exquisite garden in the middle of the hotel.

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It was absolutely heavenly & the service – impeccable. After a few glasses of champagne we were seated in the restaurant area for Saturday Brunch. The Mandarin has another restaurant which is also meant to be excellent – but Camelia is more informal and the garden is such a pleasant place to sit. I pre-booked & requested a garden table which I would recommend as you get your own cabana!

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The brunch consisted of a buffet with some great salads, cheeses, cold meats etc followed by a choice of hot made-to-order dishes. As I was unsure as to whether the waiter understood my allergy I choose the safest option of a green curry. Not particularly Parisienne but it was fantastic! Just the right balance of flavours.

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After spending way too much time in this little slice of paradise we ventured out onto the Place Vendome & did a spot of window shopping.

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I am proud to report that no serious damage was done to our respective credit cards on this trip (partly due to the fact that LV & Chanel were closed for refurbishment, rather than us being virtuous!).

The next thing on our wishlist was to go somewhere amazing for cocktails with a view. The Concierge at the Mandarin was extremely helpful and called a few places to see if their rooftop bars were still open – top of our list was the bar at the Raphael Hotel and The Peninsula.

As luck would have it, The Peninsula rooftop was still open – I was so pleased as I really wanted to eat at the restaurant there but it was fully booked – so off we went and wow, it exceeded my very high expectations!

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I love the fact that it is so grand but not chintzy. It’s so beautiful and typically French art-deco. Upstairs is the icing on the cake:

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I will definitely be more organised next time and book lunch here before I book my travel arrangements! The bar area is only tiny and the rooftop is quite planted up, so you do need to stand up to get these views – but wow, it really did take our breath away.

We stayed here for as long as we could before heading back to the Gare du Nord, promising ourselves that we would be back soon!

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