Saturday, 4 June 2011

Paris ♥ (avec trop de photos)

I love France and the French.  I like the culture, the food and wine, their style and their general way of life.  I especially love the language.  I studied French at A-Level and had to complete two weeks of work experience in France.  I had the best time, stayed with the most lovely family and by the end of the fortnight I was thinking and dreaming in French.  I had considered a French degree but a boy got in the way and I gave it all up.  My only regret and it's a huge one.

I first went to Paris about ten years ago and go back whenever I can get away with it.  Andrew proposed to me there.  Whilst on our little engagement honeymoon we vowed to celebrate our engagement anniversary in Paris every year.  So that's where we've been this week - c'était parfait!

We always stay right in the heart of Le Marais at the Hotel Bourg Tibourg.

It's on a narrow road (the Rue du Bourg Tibourg) lined with gorgeous shops, cafes, restaurants and apartments.  Just at the bottom of the road (by the tree) is a pretty little square with a few good cafe bars and an amazing boulangerie.

It's a beaut of a hotel, sister to the fab (pricier) Hotel Costes in the swankier part of town.  It's teensy tiny, dark and smells like heaven everywhere - Hotel Costes candles are burned all around the hotel and I am sure the fragrance is piped via the air conditioning.  It's a heady, musky, sensual scent and totally adds to the ambience of the hotel.

There is no restaurant but you can have drinks in the lounge:

Or in the tiny courtyard garden (there is only one small wrought iron bench and table so you'd better be quick!..).

Breakfast is served here:

Or, more lazily, here:

Everything about this hotel makes me feel totally chilled and relaxed.  I love the decor, the ironwork and the low lighting (gorgeous fringed lampshades):

The service is impeccable, the receptionists are coolly beautiful, the fragrance of the place is divine and the music is fab.  (Listen here to a track from one of the Hotel Costes albums - I have them all.  Bar chill seems to suit all of my moods.)

And, of course, the location is fantastic.  We mostly skipped the tourist attractions this time and stayed within a half hour walk of the hotel (although I did insist on walking past Notre Dame which always takes my breath away).  Just strolling, eating, drinking and shopping.

Loved up.  And beardy (him) so I know he's taking real time out! 

I bought a few bits and bobs.  I came back with too much stuff from L'Occitane (absolutely not cheaper there, nor exclusive to France but this shop is one of my all-time faves and I simply cannot resist).  I picked up a lovely old milk bottle from the kitchen antiques shop (I am developing a bit of a thing for old-fashioned glass) and some wonderful tea from Mariage Frères.

I bought some Earl Grey French Blue loose leaf tea and a box of Earl Grey teabags (gorgeous little muslin bags with the most beautifully fragrant tea).  LOVE.  I've discovered I can buy it online too.  LOVE MORE.  It's quite a funny little shop, very old-fashioned, and the men behind the counters wear white coats.  They all wore little trendy black framed specs too, although hopefully this is just coincidence and not part of the uniform.  The tea is in rows and rows of big black urns behind the counters but you're not allowed to take photos indoors (boo).  So here's a photo of the miniature tin that I came home with.

We ate at lunchtime, which is unusual for us, so in the evenings we just had a light snack and a bottle of wine in one of the pavement cafes.  Le Marais, as you probably know, is kind of the gay capital of Paris.  It was full of very cool gay men and very chic skinny girls.  The nightlife was positively buzzing.  We were there on just a Tuesday and Wednesday night but it was like a Friday or Saturday night in London!  Cox, I believe, is the hottest gay spot in town.  By 7pm at night it was ram a jam and it seems that people are perfectly happy to have their tipple on the street outside (you can see it's roped off).  [edit:  I have just been advised that this bar is probably the one in town which has 'men in showers' for the entertainment instead of the - obv passé - dancing boys/girls.  That would explain the queues.] 

I have to say that my favourite bar was the next one up the street.  Not so popular, but drinks are served by a topless man in a blue sequin bow tie and there was an old fella in hot pants, vest and boxing boots having a little dancing party for one.  Wish I'd got a photo.

We got back late on Thursday night and I'm back on the diet and getting ready for work on Monday morning.  Completely blitzed the house today so we're sparkling clean, windows have been flung open and I'm hoping for a spot of hooky tomorrow (in the garden if the weather is good enough).

Sorry for the enormous post, but y'know, I'm still on a high after my trip. 




  1. Wow! What a lovely post to read through..
    It looks like you had a really great time and I love the photo's! The effect you use on them is so nice and has such a vintage feel..

    Ashley xxx

    P.S - I'm so glad someone else has the same
    fear of walking up the stairs in the dark..!

  2. I love Paris - only been the once though I'm afraid......daft as we are just a hop and a skip across the channel!

    I just wanted to pop in and say 'Hi' and thank you for your lovely message - welcome - and you must give the shortcake a try, it is lovely.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

    Nina x

  3. Bonjour my fellow spoonie! Fabulous pics!

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog, it is really appreciated! Love Annie xx

  4. Lovely post and photos Nicki,We have just decided to drive over to Italy this summer,stopping off just outside Paris and staying in switzerland with family,We cant wait!xxxx

  5. Welcome back! Ooh it all sounds like you had a gorgeous time in Paris. Still trying to remember the name of the hotel we loved in Marais. Can't think of the name right now.
    So glad you have had a great time. Am off to bed as have a mega sore throat and losing voice (hubby looks delighted at the latter!!!!)XXX

  6. What a wonderful time you have had and sounds like you were there longer than what you were. Paris would have to be the second place on earth that I want to visit, followed by Italy and Greece. I figure if I come over to the UK to visit I may as well do the rest. The photos are gorgeous (so are you and your man)
    x Sandi

  7. Ah, le Paris c'est bonne, n'est pa? (Typing that has cracked me up, I'm so NOT a linguist - that's probably just embarrassing gibberish!)
    It sounds amazing and you both look so happy and relaxed. We've been away over half term and so my blogging's a bit behind itself at the moment, but I am finally nearing the end of the mammoth springtime throw and next on my 'to do' list is...the treat scarf 'how to'...sorry it's taking so long, life keeps getting in the way of crochet, dammit!
    Emily x

  8. Firstly, woah, that second pic is FABULOUS. What are you using to edit your pics or do you have a seriously swanky camera? I have been using Camera+ on the iphone but I don't think I could get anything like your second pic. I mean they're all great but that one especially so.

    I have never been to Paris, and funnily enough we were talking about it with some friends the other day. You have certainly done a good job selling it to me. Glad you had a lovely time :) x

  9. I meant to thank you sooner for my blog award but have only just fathomed how to comment again. You both look so happy in your pic, a lovely couple. It looks like an amazing place, one of the places I would love to visit. It was interesting to hear that you studied French. It sounds like you have an affinity with the place. xx