Although Paris and the South of France have completely different vibes—Paris offers a fast-paced, city life ambiance and numerous attractions, while the Riviera emits a quieter, laid-back lifestyle—we recommend you pair this handsome duo into a fabulous getaway, and for a truly immersive experience, throw in accommodations at Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) properties.
le pavillon de la reine & spa
Paris, much like many big cities, is defined by its neighborhoods, and the 17th century Le Pavillon de la Reine & Spa is tucked away behind the Place des Vosges in the uber-trendy Le Marais. This SLH hotel’s entrance is easy to miss…and that’s a good thing. Walking into and through the courtyard to the vine-covered property, the hotel seems like a secret hideaway you just happened upon. Despite its location near the busy square and trendy boutiques in Le Marais, the 56-room property is like an oasis with a tranquil garden, terrace and salon.
Named after Anne of Austria, who stayed in the wing linking the hotel to the Place des Vosges, it’s no surprise the rooms seem fit for a queen.
We called a jr. suite home for our weekend rendezvous in Paris, and considering the city is notorious for European-style hotel rooms (i.e. small), we were pleasantly surprised with the size of our suite. The room’s decor—think French countryside meets Louis XIV chic—features exposed beams, velvet curtains, plush linens, patterned wallpaper and a four-poster canopy bed, with plenty of closets and storage space (ladies, you will be very happy!). The sitting area is also perfect for relaxing after a long day of sightseeing and shopping around town.
Speaking of which, there is plenty to do in Le Marais alone. Stepping out of the hotel, your clients are in a prime location for visiting landmarks like the National Picasso Museum (closed for renovation until the end of 2013) or the contemporary art museum, the Centre Pompidou. Le Marais is also filled with chic boutiques and shops like Sandro, The Kooples and the concept store Merci, as well as cute cafes and restaurants.
While the hotel itself doesn’t have a restaurant, it offers room service and a buffet breakfast in the salon (the full buffet breakfast is 34 euros, which translates to about $44 at press time), which features coffee, juices, pastries, fruit, meats, cheese and yogurt.
BOOK IT: Add even more romance to a Parisian getaway with the hotel’s Romantic Break package, starting at 650 euros (about $834) per night. The package requires a minimum 2-night stay and includes accommodations in a jr. or duplex suite; buffet breakfast for two; a bottle of champagne and macaroons upon arrival; and a 1-hour treatment or massage pp per stay at the hotel’s Spa de la Reine by Carita.
About an hour-and-a-half flight from Paris, and a quick drive from the Nice Cote d’Azur airport is Chateau Eza, another SLH option you can recommend to clients looking for a true local experience. Driving along the winding roads to Eze Village is half the fun of getting to this hotel, which is located between Nice and Monaco in the South of France.
The 12-room Chateau Eza is built into the walls of a thousand-year-old medieval town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, with the rooms spread out throughout the top of the village. It’s easy to forget you’re staying in a hotel since each room feels like its own sanctuary, tucked away in the narrow stone passageways and intertwined with the shops in the village.
The 400-year-old chateau was the one-time residence of a Swedish prince and still maintains its grandeur, from the moment guests are swept in and greeted to picturesque views of the French Riviera and a champagne welcome drink, to the delights they’ll enjoy at the Michelin-starred restaurant.
We stayed in La Suite aux Deux Cheminees, or “the suite of the two chimneys,” which is just as charming as it sounds, with deep-red walls in the bedroom, gold accents, a private balcony with sweeping views of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and the Riviera’s coast, and, of course, two chimneys with fireplaces—one in the bedroom and one in the bathroom.
While the hotel maintains its medieval charm, it also offers modern luxuries such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, and something most North American travelers will appreciate—North American electrical outlets and built-in converters in the bathroom. The bathroom, with its stone walls and windows facing the cobblestone streets, also juxtaposes medieval and modern touches with L’Occitane amenities, a large shower, a marble jacuzzi tub and a candle nearby for those wanting a candlelit bath, which seems de rigueur here.
Eze is a lively village during the day with plenty of places for your clients to explore, with two perfumeries, artisan shops, restaurants, an exotic garden and even a trail leading down to the beach. The town becomes sleepy at night, so recommend making dinner reservations at the hotel’s restaurant, either on one of the terraces or inside with 180-degree-views of the Riviera. The view alone is worth it, although the French and Mediterranean cuisine at this Michelin-starred restaurant is just as delightful. If a couple is seeking privacy, they can arrange for a private chef or in-room spa treatment (the hotel doesn’t have an onsite spa).
Since the village is in the heart of the Riviera close to nightlife hotspots like Cannes and Monaco, the hotel can arrange a car service, or even a helicopter, if your clients want to go out on the town.
BOOK IT: Rates start at 450 euros (about $577) per night in high season for a standard room, and 1,300 euros (about $1,668) per night for a suite.
A number of airlines offer direct flights from the U.S. to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (CDG), including American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa and U.S. Airways, while OpenSkies offers direct flights from Newark and Washington, D.C. to Paris Orly. Delta offers direct flights daily from New York City (JFK) to Nice Cote d’Azur Airport (NCE). Air France, meanwhile, offers direct flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly to Nice.
Whether your clients are first-time visitors to Paris or well acquainted with the “City of Light,” the Paris Pass makes getting around town and hitting the sights a cinch. With the 2-, 4- or 6-day pass, your clients will have access to more than 60 attractions in Paris, as well as unlimited access to the metro, buses and RER; discounts on meals and shopping; and priority access, helping them skip the line at some of the busiest sites (this really comes in handy for tourist attractions!).
We took a spin around town on a 2-day pass, visiting some of the top attractions like the Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou and the Arc de Triomphe, loving the priority access to the museums and attractions. While we didn’t have enough time to visit all of our favorite sites, the pass makes it easy for travelers to pick and choose what they want to visit—and makes getting to the destinations even easier with the unlimited pass for the metro.
The 2-day pass is $143 for adults, $83 for teens (ages 12 to 17) and $47 for children. The 4-day pass is $209 for adults, $112 for teens and $60 for children. Paris Pass is part of the Leisure Pass Group, which offers trade partnerships and competitive commissions. parispass.com or leisurepassgroup.com/sell-our-passes