When contemplating a visit to a popular city like Paris it can be hard to know where to start. There are obviously the incredible restaurants, mesmerising art galleries and museums as well as iconic landmarks to take in, but what if you want to avoid the usual tourist traps and get under the skin of the French capital? Culture Trip caught up with Jean-Luc Naret, Executive Director at The Set Collection, who hails from Paris tells us about his favourite spots in the city.
With more than 30 years of experience in the international hospitality industry and now looking after a portfolio which includes properties in Europe, The Middle East and Asia, Jean-Luc has travelled over a million miles to some of the most exotic places in the world. His wealth of knowledge is particularly relevant when finding out more about Paris and as you can tell from his picks, its not just the obvious guide book recommendations he’s highlighted for us.
Le Lutetia as this is the only Palace of the Left Bank. This hotel has so much history and as soon as you approach this fabulous building you are astonished by the façade and the outside décor. The location cannot be better as you are right in St Germain dès Prés, the real neighbourhood where the chicest Parisians live. Either at the impressive Bar Josephine or the Brasserie Lutetia you will see locals enjoying the hotel as they feel part of the community. The décor created by the talented Jean-Michelle Wilmotte is perfect to enjoy a memorable stay in your suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
The JK Place. This is definitely one of the smallest hotels in town. Located in the 7th arrondissement in a small hotel particulier, it recreates the perfect Italian spirit of the brand in a Parisian location. The restaurant Casa Tua is a dedication to Italy and the Negronis T the bar worth the trip and the cosiness of the place.
La Réserve is the smallest Palace of Paris. Located just a few steps away from the Champs Elysées, it has the charm of an old Parisian home designed by Jacques Garcia. The library and the courtyard is the best place to alternate between the seasonality and to enjoy the fabulous food of Chef Jerome Banctel, one of the most creative Michelin Star Chef in Paris.
As you know Paris is the perfect place to eat and sometimes just pick up any local bistro and you will not be disappointed by a local “croque monsieur” or even the “steak tartare” as French love to enjoy.
There are too many restaurants to choose from but let me give you my favourite ones of the moment:
Le Bon Georges is the perfect French bistro where Parisian and foodies love to go for lunch or dinner as their food is based on the products they found with niche suppliers. The wine list is one of the best in Paris and received many awards and you can discover incredible wines by the glass.
If you like oysters you can order them from any Brasserie in Paris where you will notice a banc de l’écailler outside and of course La Brasserie du Lutetia is one of them. If you prefer to discover them in one of the smallest restaurant of Paris, you should try Huitrerie Regis which had only 8 tables but has the most fresh oysters arriving daily from the west. A great selection of white wines and a good cheese plate to end your meal as real Parisian do.
For the most romantic dinner, you have plenty of choice between the Jules Verne by Frederic Anton at the Eiffel Tower, or Guy Savoy at the Hotel de La Monnaie with a fabulous view of Le Louvre or even a simple table at one of the Costes restaurant Le Marly with a view of La Pyramide du Louvre. Your choice as Paris is the perfect romance city in the world.
In the summer, terraces are out and the most incredible ones are Loulou at Le Louvre, Giraffe at the Musée de l’Homme and Gigi above the Theatre des Champs Elysées.
The hidden gem in the summer is the Ralph Lauren inside courtyard of the eponymous shop in St Germain des Pres.
The best time to visit Paris is anytime. The city is always stunning and beautiful but obviously anytime between spring and autumn is the best. A secret tip is to come during August as most Parisian are out on holidays and the city is quiet.
My favourite attractions which are not the obvious are the Musée de l’Orangerie to see the Monet in this fabulous natural lighting, the Bourse du Commerce where Francois Pinault has created the best modern art exhibition and also the Fondation Vuitton.
The secret spot in the smallest Place of Paris is the Place Furstemberg in the 6th arrondissement and also the Place du Palais Royal where locals enjoy the quietness of this square with no car.