No other city does romance quite like Paris! It is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, a wonderful patchwork of eclectic villages, fine museums, manicured parks, Gothic cathedrals, wide boulevards, Sunday flea markets and pavements cafés. It is also a compact and manageable city to explore, so ideal for a short break.
No matter how many times I visit Paris, I always find it fresh and exciting, but I’ve never really got to know its neighbourhoods. I decided therefore to concentrate this time on Le Marais, a beautiful quartier on the right bank of the Seine. It’s a bit avant-garde with a boho vibe, but new and old sit happily side by side here amidst its winding cobblestoned streets, hidden corners and antiquated buildings. I particularly loved the Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo once lived. Make sure you visit his apartment overlooking this very pretty square.
Where to stay in Paris?
Favourites of mine are Hotel Le Meurice, a picture perfect French palace located in the heart of the city opposite the Tuileries Gardens (and just steps away from the city’s best chocolatiers!); Le Bristol, close to the Élysée Palace with a stunning manicured garden, rooftop spa and swimming pool; and one of the newest luxury boutique hotels on the block, the Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal, just a few minutes from the Louvre and a little gem full of Parisian chic.
Champagne region - an easy day trip from Paris
The Champagne region is just a 45-minute train ride away from the capital, but don’t just visit for the bubbles. The area is so rich in history that you’ll wonder why it's taken you so long to discover it.
The gateway to Champagne is the town of Reims, home to some of the world’s most famous brand names such as Mumm, Taittinger and Lanson, but also to a beautiful Gothic cathedral. With 81-metre towers and magnificent Marc Chagall stained glass windows, Notre Dame de Reims has played a starring role in French history and every single one of France’s 33 kings have been crowned here. The town itself is small but well worth a full day’s visit, ideally in the company of a professional guide.
Jetting to Monaco
A short flight from Orly Airport to Nice and then a 7-minute helicopter hop took me just as easily to Monaco the following day. The only way to arrive perhaps into this glamorous world of Formula 1, grand hotels, mega yachts and fairy-tale princesses!
Monaco may be the second smallest country on our planet after the Vatican City, but it is packed with things to see and enjoy - the Napoleon Museum, Japanese Gardens and Saint Nicholas Cathedral, where the dashing Prince Rainier famously married Hollywood actress Grace Kelly. The daily changing of the guard ceremony at the Palais du Prince is also a must-see.
As one might expect, Monaco is not short of uber-luxury hotels. Take your pick from the likes of the Hotel de Paris, Hotel Hermitage, Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo and The Fairmont Monte Carlo and indulge in the glamorous opulence that is unique to this extraordinary little principality!
View our holidays to France and Monaco here.