Since my first school trip visit, Paris has become one of the greatest influences in my life. Despite my feeble attempts to learn French, it’s by far my favourite city in the world. From the shiny tourist beacons such as the Eiffel Tower to the off the beaten track narrow streets of the Latin quarter, Paris never fails to inspire or move me. Every inch of it oozes a cocktail of art, history, creativity, romance and adventure. All that before we even get to the smell of fresh croissants that curls out of the cafes each morning.
I like to stay somewhere new each time I visit and this time around, as the grand finale of our French road trip for my friend’s wedding in Loire Valley, I chose Hotel Henriette. Hidden down a cobblestone street in the 13th arrondissement it lies far enough from the crowds whilst still remaining within walking distance of many of my favourite nooks of the city. If you’re not a walker, there’s a metro stop nearby and provided you can read a map you can access the entire city easily this way. Failing that there’s always Uber.
Henriette is my favourite kind of city shelter – a boutique design hotel. There are just 32 quiet rooms, each one complete with beautiful interiors to inspire. Our room was small and didn’t have a balcony but the lust worthy windows complete with flower boxes more than made up for it. The tucked away location felt as though we’d found our own slice of quiet and tiny touches like Nuxe toiletries were an unexpected treat.
Things to do nearby
Enjoy the idyllic vintage courtyard at the hotel – discovering hidden Paris remains a treasure hunt of sorts to me. I’m always on the look out for an abandoned garden, off the map courtyard or left open gate into the unknown to explore. We didn’t have to look far this time as Hotel Henriette has its own secret garden that’s open to guests all day. Enjoy a coffee here in the afternoon or a full French breakfast in the morning – the croissants were a 10/10.
Shakespeare and Company book shop – the 13th arrondissement fringes the Latin Quarter so you’re never far from old picturesque Parisian streets to explore. Visiting the historic Shakespeare and Company book shop is one of my favourite things to do in Paris. Even after I’d rummaged through the books, stared out of the window in front of the little writing desk long enough and had my book fix, I still wasn’t ready to leave. With this being a slower paced trip we decided to wallow away a few hours outside at the adjoining cafe. The people watching and the tea are both excellent.
Place Saint Sulpice – my favourite part of Paris and the centre of the Patisserie scene. There may or may not be a queue outside Pierre Herme, but if there is – trust me, it’s worth it. Take your treats back to the hotel with you for later or sit on the fountain across the road and enjoy some of the best people watching Paris has to offer.
Jardin du Luxembourg – it was 28 degrees during our time in the city and this royal garden felt like the perfect place to escape the heat with its water features and abundance of shade giving trees. Bring a book, pull up a couple of chairs (a recliner to sit in and an upright for your feet), take a deep breath and relax. This garden is just as beautiful in the winter, with a good selection of cafes bordering it. Angelina’s sits by the entrance, where you can sit in or out with the dessert of your choice (the eclairs were delicious).
Place Georges Moustaki – we stumbled across this little oasis by accident – the best way to find any new watering hole. A short walk from the hotel you’ll find a cobbled roundabout overflowing with flowers. Surrounding this centrepiece is a collection of cute cafes filled with locals and serving excellent breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks all day long.
Hotel Henriette made the ideal retreat at the end of a day spent exploring. Right now it’s one of Paris’s best kept secrets and I’d happily return in a heartbeat.