Sweet treats and Doriss Dancers steal the show in beautiful Paris
I’ve scaled the Eiffel Tower, visited historic Notre Dame Cathedral and marvelled at the iconic Arc de Triomphe.
Paris sightseeing done, you might say, but something keeps drawing me back to this fascinating place.
Is it the conveniently short flight, the romantic French charm or the hugely-impressive gastronomy offerings?
I’m not sure, but I was keen to discover more during my latest visit to the ‘City of Love’.
We only had 48 hours during a whistle-stop stay, so good planning was essential for such a short time-frame …
WHERE TO STAY
Even though the Eiffel Tower wasn’t on the ‘to-do’ list, being able to see it from our hotel bedroom window was special.
A privilege room at the four-star Mercure Paris Centre Eiffel Tower Hotel gave us the perfect view of France’s ‘iron lady’ which loomed large above us.
Just a stone’s-throw away from the Champ de Mars and Bir Hakeim train stations, it’s a great base for getting around the city and is popular with both pleasure-seekers and business-types alike.
The hotel boasts many amenities including a fitness centre, spacious bar and lounge and modern-style restaurant with terrace, which serves an excellent breakfast to set you up for the day.
As well as its top location, what also stood out was the friendliness of Mercure staff, who were more than happy to help with queries and restaurant recommendations.
WHAT TO DO
With a patisserie seemingly on every street, Paris is the go-to place for those with a sweet tooth.
There’s nowhere else in the world like it for sugary treats, and this was further reinforced after spending a few hours with Le Bon Paris Tours for ‘A Macaron in Paris’.
As the name suggests, this was all about one thing as we set off to visit five of the finest gourmet macaron shops in the city before ending the tour with a judging contest.
Strolling along the back streets of the chic Saint Germain quarter with our guide, we happily digested the interesting history of the colourful meringue-based confection while nipping into shops bearing high-end names such as Richart and Laduree.
With chosen macarons in hand we headed to beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, which was the perfect setting for the all-important tasting. Just for the record, ‘yuzu’ was the victor.
Remaining with the sweet treat theme, the next day took us to Edwart Chocolatier, close to the renowned Place de la Concorde.
There we immersed ourselves in chocolate heaven for a couple of hours during an Atelier Alchimie workshop, where we made delightful dark chocolate bonbons while learning about the intricate processes of chocolate production.
Creating the silky ganache and luscious hazelnut praline is a chocolate-lover’s dream, but although the workshop is fun you realise it’s a serious business in Paris because perfection is the only way.
My only tip would be to enjoy yourself, but remember to wear short sleeves as you can easily get carried away with all the dipping and rolling.
WHAT TO SEE
If you’re a fan of the stage, then no visit to Paris would be complete without a trip to the Moulin Rouge Feerie show, which attracts an amazing 600,000 spectators a year.
A short train journey from the hotel, the hustle, bustle and bright lights of the 900-seat theatre immediately struck as we appeared from Blanche station.
Escorted to our table by one of the 120-strong team of maitre-d’s and waiters, we settled down for an evening of legendary cabaret, sipping champagne while watching the world-famous Doriss Dancers and the French Cancan.
With 80 performers of 14 different nationalities, the show is high-octane energy and what makes it even more remarkable is that it is performed twice a day every day of the year.
It’s no wonder I was left feeling a little exhausted, but for me, it was an entertaining end to a flying Paris visit.
Mercure Paris Centre Eiffel Tower: Rooms from £161.
Le Bon Paris Tours: ‘A Macaron in Paris’ costs £39 for adults and £26 for children.
Edwart Chocolatier: Classes range from £41-£91 per person, depending on content, type and number of participants. Private workshops start at £146.
Moulin Rouge: Tickets for Feerie start at £80.
Holiday Extras: Booking airport parking and a lounge ensures that you can enjoy more of your holiday without the hassle. Eight days’ parking at Manchester Airport’s multi-storey car park costs £73.99 and entry to the Escape Lounge at Terminal 3 costs £28 per person. Visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 3165678.