If you want to avoid crowds but still want to visit one of the most popular cities in the world, then you’re probably planning an off season winter break. There is a way to experience the ultimate weekend getaway to the French capital, however, and still bask in glorious sunshine along the Seine. Here’s a guide to taking it slow and making the most of a short break in Paris.
With air travel still proving to be a tricky prospect this summer, your best bet to getting to Paris is taking the Eurostar into the heart of of the city. You cut out all the potential pitfalls of busy airports and with a few simple checks can board a train without too much hassle. The journey is peaceful and quick, and you can go from King’s Cross to Gard du Nord in less than 3 hours. It really is the common sense way to travel (if it is an option) as you are also cutting down on your carbon footprint by quite a big margin. The regularity of the service is also a bonus, so you can really make the most of a long weekend by working on the train if you need to on Friday and getting an extra night away without eating into your valuable holiday time. That’s what I did anyway, and the wifi was as good as I get at home!
Where to stay in Paris
The colourful, fun and quirky hotel group Mama Shelter have understandably made Paris their home. The Trigano family opened their first Mama property in the east of Paris and soon followed it up with another hotel in the west of the city. Now with a number of iconic properties in France and beyond, their latest opening brings them back to the city they know so well.
You might wonder if Paris actually needs another Mama Shelter. Thankfully each property has a unique creative vision and style, so no two stays are ever the same. This time around, you’re also in a different part of town with Mama Shelter Paris La Défense taking you to the Business District. This area has changed significantly in recent years and is no longer just a corporate area. There are glorious apartments and houses along this side of the Seine and the retro Americana vibes of the hotel itself are a welcome addition too.
Housing 211 guest rooms across 14 floors, three restaurants and a rooftop area with breath-taking views over the whole of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, Mama Shelter Paris La Défense is a cool way of avoiding large crowds and tourists. You’re still within easy reach of all the major attractions, but you’re also in a destination already, with the hotel proving to be a big hit with locals. This is similar to one of the other Mama Shelter properties I have visited in the past, where locals in Rome have flocked to the hotel for its restaurant and rooftop bar.
From the space-themed lobby’s carpet – created by designer Baptiste Vandaele – to the intergalactic-travel inspired ceiling prints, and dark lifts decorated with neon lights, meteorites, shooting stars and planets, Mama Shelter Paris La Défense will stay true to the offbeat, warm and truly authentic Mama Shelter brand identity. The sports bar was a personal favourite and you get a chance to down a few drinks whilst talking to like minded fans from Paris.
The 14th floor is where Mama Shelter Paris La Défense really pulls out all the stops! The panoramic restaurant, with its rooftop terrace, will offer guests a timeless experience. Here, they can enjoy a lively, colourful break surrounded by a busy but clever layout consisting of the open kitchen, the backlit baby grand piano and the inspired patterned decoration that will remind you of the bazaars in the capital’s multicultural districts. Stunning panoramic rooftop views include the Louis Vuitton Foundation, the Eiffel Tower, the Montmartre village, and the Cité de la Justice.
Expect to find one of the best parties in town, right here on the top floor!
Things to do in Paris
There’s an almost endless list of things to do in Paris. From high end restaurants to sunset strolls through the cobbled streets of the city, you’ll easily find enough to fill many weekends, let alone a tight 48 hours or so.
Taking a cruise along the river is a surprisingly efficient way of seeing a number of the main attractions. The Eiffel Tower is as statuesque as ever and serves as an excellent reference point to get your bearings. You will also be able to see how renovation efforts of Notre-dame are going following the devastating fire that ripped through the famous building in 2019.
One of the newer additions to the city which deserves your attention is the Louis Vuitton Foundation. This modern art gallery is a bold presence on the Parisian skyline and one of the first things you can see from the Mama Shelter rooftop. In fact I was lucky enough to get one of the rooms that face in the direction of both the Eiffel Tower and the Foundation building, so I was able to plan a walking route to take in both locations. It was a pleasant experience and also a great way to walk off some of the excellent food I tried at the hotel.
I could cram your itinerary with a few more suggestions but to be honest if you have a weekend to enjoy in Paris, your best bet is hopping on a train, picking a suitable place to stay away from the crowds and going with the flow.
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