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Our “In 10 Photos” essays include tips on exploring destinations, redeeming for hotels and flights and more. TPG Contributor Lane Nieset takes us to the City of Light to see what the French capital has in store for travelers this year, taking us for a look at all the latest happenings through text and photos. (All photos by the author.)
My love affair with Paris began almost 10 years ago, during my time studying abroad, and I’ve returned each year since. Happily, much of Paris never changes, which means you can always visit classic cafés like La Coupole and Café de Flore, as well as famous institutions like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. But Paris isn’t afraid to twist tradition, either, throwing fusion onto its restaurant menus, adding modern spins to historic architecture and introducing new attractions that celebrate the city’s spirit of joie de vivre. Here’s a look at some of the most glorious newcomers to the Paris tourist scene, which I hope you’ll love as much as I do.
Last summer, the five-star Peninsula Paris opened up near the Arc de Triomphe, becoming the luxury brand’s first hotel in Europe. Following a six-year restoration of the historic 19th-century Haussmannian building, the guest rooms are now gorgeous, but the view from the rooftop restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc is even more stunning.
The Haussmannian building is where Henry Kissinger negotiated the Paris Peace Accords and George Gershwin wrote “An American in Paris,” but in its incarnation as the Peninsula Paris, it still makes a statement with touches like the 800 hand-blown glass leaves hanging in the center of the lobby. (And if you get stuck inside on a rainy day — like I did on my latest trip — you could always pass the time in style with a visit to the spa.) Rooms start at a cool €1,150 (about $1,299) per night and the Peninsula doesn’t allow points redemptions, so be sure to maximize your spend with a card like the Citi Prestige, which offers a hotel category bonus of 3x points per dollar.
If you’d rather experience Paris like a local, check out Oasis Collections, a new type of apartment rental that’s similar to Airbnb and HomeAway and just expanded from Latin America and Miami to Europe. This brand of “curated home stays” recently launched in Paris, and has its own concierge service —available 24/7 via phone or Whatsapp — to take care of check-in/check-out, make restaurant recommendations or offer suggestions. The reservations team helped me pick out a spacious one-bedroom with a super-modern kitchen (both rarities in Paris) set in the residential Bastille area of the fourth arrondissement. This experience was a nice mix of apartment living and a hotel stay; for instance, when I ended up checking out early in order to explore the city, the concierge stored my luggage for the day.
It’s not every day Paris gets a new museum and monument, which is why the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton (which made TPG’s list of Cultural Hotspots to Visit in 2015) was built on the outskirts of the city in the Bois de Boulogne. The 12-sail “vessel” is made up of 3,600 glass panels with 11 galleries tucked inside, as well as Michelin-starred chef Jean-Louis Nomicos’ restaurant, Le Frank. Entrance tickets range from €5-14 ($6-16) per person, and if you buy your tickets with the Citi Premier Card, you’ll earn its 2x bonus on tourist attractions.
The working-class neighborhood of Belleville (childhood neighborhood of chanteuse Édith Piaf and setting for much of the animated movie Triplets of Belleville) is becoming more of a destination these days, thanks to street art lining the rue Dénoyez, and artsy cafes that draw poets and writers. The coffee scene is also on the rise here, with roaster Belleville Brûlerie setting up shop and craft-coffee spot Cream opening up between the quartier’s signature Chinese markets.
Craft coffee is making a splash in the third and fourth arrondissements, too. Wandering through Le Marais, I was happy to come across Boot Café, which opened up last year in a former cobbler’s shop (or cordonnerie, as you’ll see on the sign above), and is known for serving its coffee to go — a rarity in Paris.
The brunch trend is sweeping over Paris, and one of the spots that does it best is the Melbourne-style HolyBelly in Canal Saint-Martin, a 10th-arrondissment, right-bank neighborhood made famous by the movie Amélie. Not only is the coffee here top-notch — using locally brewed beans from Belleville Brûlerie — the Franco-American fusion menu is also spot-on, including pancakes with bourbon butter and more traditional, homemade lamb and fish dishes.
Just down the street from Holybelly in Canal Saint-Martin, celebrated boulangerie Du Pain et Des Idées recently switched to using all-organic flour for its bread. Going organic may be the trend du jour in the US, but it’s still slowly evolving in Paris, especially in more authentic spots like this one. The original bakery dates back to 1889 and baker Christophe Vasseur took over the space in 2002, keeping traditional bread-making alive in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood.
Last year, Top Chef contestant Pierre Sang opened a sister spot next door to his already popular Oberkampf-area eatery in the 11th arrondissement. Set in a former printing shop, Pierre Sang on Gambey’s Korean-French fusion plays on market-fresh flavors with surprise tasting menus, which seems to be another trend in Paris lately. Dinner is a six-course menu, but the spot is also great for lunch with three small courses mixing meat and seafood into Asian-inspired dishes.
While in Paris, charge your food and drinks on a no-foreign-transaction fee card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns you 2 Ultimate Rewards for each dollar spent on dining.
My first view of the Eiffel Tower was from Paris’ only skyscraper — the Montparnasse Tower. Most Parisians see this modern building as an eyesore, but the 689-foot tower shows off some of the best views of Paris’ landmarks from its 360-degree viewing platform on the 56th floor. While it’s certainly not new, it’s definitely worthwhile for first-time visitors in Paris — or if you’ve never seen the city from this spectacular vantage point.
If you plan to hit up a lot of landmarks on your trip to Paris, consider purchasing the two-day Paris Pass, which costs a whopping €122 ($138), but covers everything from the metro to museums. Charge your pass to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Premier or no-fee Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and you’ll earn 2x points for each dollar of your travel/tourist attraction spend.
Getting to (and Staying in) Paris on Points and Miles
Paris is home to two major airports: Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY), though the latter largely caters to intra-Europe flights. When flying into CDG from the US, you have your pick of carriers within every major alliance:
American AAdvantage: One-way from 20,000 miles (economy), 50,000 miles (business) and 62,500 miles (first) on American Airlines.
Delta SkyMiles: Round-trip from 67,500 miles (economy) and 272,500 miles (business) on Delta, nonstop to CDG from New York-JFK.
United MileagePlus: One-way from 30,000 miles (economy), 57,500 miles (business) and 110,000 miles (first) on United.
Additionally, you can catch flights from several US hubs to CDG on Air France with FlyingBlue Classic Awards, which start at 50,000 miles round-trip in economy, or 125,000 miles round-trip in business. If you want to snag a bargain and save your points for hotel stays in Paris, La Compagnie flies from Newark (EWR) to CDG. (For more information on flying business on this route, see TPG’s Flight Review: La Compagnie Business Class, Newark to Paris.)
There’s no shortage of points hotels in Paris, but here are a few tried-and-tested spots where TPG and/or his team have stayed:
- Le Méridien Etoile: Starwood Category 5 hotel near the Champs-Élysées that requires 12,000-16,000 Starpoints or $243 per night.
- Westin Paris – Vendôme: Starwood Category 6 hotel with views of the Eiffel Tower that requires 20,000-25,000 Starpoints or $394 per night.
- Park Hyatt Paris – Vendôme: A Category 7 hotel set near the Place Vendôme that requires 30,000 Hyatt points or $682 per night.
For more tips on using points and miles for travel to Paris, see 6 Tips for Using Points and Miles to Visit London and Paris.
What do you love most about Paris? Which hotels are your favorite in the city?
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