IN the early seventies two sisters from Ireland spent a wonderful time in Paris. It was their first trip abroad and the plan was to study at the Sorbonne and improve their use of French.
In those days getting to Paris from Northern Ireland involved buses, trains and two planes. But as the highlight of the travels of these two students was a day trip to Dublin, they we were thrilled at the prospect of needing a suitcase, a passport and foreign currency, and even a printed tour guide!
It took the girls many hours to circumnavigate the vast distance to Paris and they landed at Orly airport, armed only with a phrase book, two bus tickets, yes more buses, and a lot of trepidation, but they we were almost in Paris!
The two students had been allocated accommodation with other international students in rue du cherche midi, under the watchful eye of the nuns! Now as parents, both of the “girls” realised they had in fact been in very safe hands, although at the time I’m sure they didn’t see it quite like that!
When asked the “Ladies” explained, “Paris is the most beautiful vibrant and enchanting place you could imagine. We explored the museums , watched the sunset over the steps to Sacre Coeur, climbed the Eiffel Tower and hunted for treasures in the Marche des Puces. The food markets were a revelation, so many different types of delicious cheese and the patisserie was exquisite. We sunbathed in the parks between lectures and spent hours with new friends in the cafes and streets around the university. Suddenly we found it was easy to speak French and it felt odd to switch to English when we phoned home. But all too soon it was time to leave Paris and we promised ourselves we’d come back”.
Little did they know that it would be 40 years before they managed to recreate that memorable visit Paris together again? That had always been their goal and in August this year I sent them back to spend four days in Paris on their own thanks to the hotel Pavillon des Lettres.
This time the journey was simple and hassle free with a direct flight from Belfast with www.EasyJet.com.
Instead of the bus the “Ladies” opted for a shuttle transfer from the airport to their hotel and no, they did not stay with the nuns this time!
Paris has about 2000 hotels and it can be difficult to choose where to stay if you aren’t familiar with the city.
This time they wanted to stay in a quiet area within walking distance of major attractions and it was important that they were close to public transport links.
After a some searching on the web, a thing not even invented on their first trip, they chose the area close to the Champs Élysées, why there I ask, Shoes and handbags peut-être?
After some refined searching, and I mean refined as looking for a super hotel, they chose the hotel Pavillon des Lettres a 4* boutique hotel in the rue des Saussaie. At the heart of the prestigious neighbourhood of the Elysée Palace and just a few steps from the Place de la Concorde, the Grand Palais, and the Champs-Elysee the Pavillon des Lettres is excellently located.
Close by you’ll find the Rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honoré, symbol of haute couture and refinement with its luxury shops and art galleries. The Pavillon des Lettres is a truly unique literary hotel. Each of the 26 rooms and suites of this beautiful hotel reflect the creativity of a different author – one for each letter of the alphabet.
Extracts of their inspirational text are printed on the walls and each room provides the perfect setting in which to appreciate the power and inspiration of the written word. The harmony of colour, light and texture in the rooms is restful and restorative which is a rare experience in a busy city. The air-conditioned rooms feature an iPod dock and free Wi-Fi, top quality bed linen and a fabulous bathroom which will please the most discerning traveller.
The hotel lounge is a popular meeting place where you will find an honesty bar provided for the guests, which also combines as the room is where breakfast is served each morning.
Interestingly the “Ladies” were delighted to find that to have breakfast in your room there is no extra charge! Needless to say they both agreed that was an excellent way to start their day, and far better than the cold dry toast that was served up on their former trip.
My intrepid re-visiter’s tell me the hotel staff are super friendly and efficient, particularly the charming lady serving breakfast! They also found that the concierge was extremely helpful with suggestions for restaurants and exhibitions and a mine of useful information about street markets, walking tours etc. So if like my two ladies, you want to revisit your past, in the most beautiful city in the world, but want to ditch the student look and live life to the full, give the Pavillon des Lettres (www.pavillondeslettres.com) a call and maybe you will be able to revisit your memories, more beautifully than before!
PAVILLON DES LETTRES 12 rue des Saussaies 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 49 24 26 26 Fax : +33 (0)1 49 24 26 27