Pressed for time, but want to make the most of the City of Lights? You can take in some of the best of Paris from the 1st arrondissement.
The opulent Le Meurice Hotel is nestled in between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Le Meurice has 160 lavishly appointed rooms, including 39 suites, one of which takes up the entire seventh floor and boasts a 360 degree view of Paris. Diners are similarly spoiled for choice: the hotel has the three-Michelin-starred Meurice Restaurant, helmed by chef Yannick Alléno, and Le Jardin d'hiver, a more casual restaurant crowned by a beautiful Art Nouveau glass roof. For those who wish to escape for a few hours, the hotel also features a Caudalie vinothérapie spa and the glamourous Bar Fontainebleau, where you can imbibe any one of its 50 whiskies and malts. With truly flawless service, it's little wonder that this hôtel de luxe is a favourite of royalty, artists and well-heeled travellers alike.
From Le Meurice, take a short walk down the Rue de Rivoli and dash across to the Musée du Louvre. Once a royal palace, the museum is vast, housing 35,000 pieces of art across eight major collections, but you can visit one or two departments within a few hours. The rooms devoted to Egyptian antiquities, French paintings and Greek sculpture are particularly breathtaking. There is also a 90-minute introductory tour for those who wish to see the Louvre's masterpieces, including the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Try to go during the week if possible to avoid the crowds, although ticket machines have greatly relieved the queues. The adjacent Jardin de Tuileries is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Open Wednesday-Monday.
Acclaimed international fashion and design shop Colette recently celebrated its 10th birthday, and there are no signs that its star is fading. Spread across three levels, Colette stocks an eclectic but well-chosen selection of clothing, beauty products, accessories and books. On the lower level, you'll find rare and limited-edition magazines and books, along with CDs, DVDs and high-tech gadgets. (Try out the music first on the iPod wall!) Further along the floor, there are a dazzling array of beauty products and fragrances. The first level features the very best of men's and women's ready-to-wear, from established fashion houses as well as up-and-coming designers. There is also a specialist street wear section featuring limited-edition trainers, t-shirts and jeans. Should you need something to slake your thirst and hunger, head downstairs to the 'Water Bar' and choose from over 100 water brands. The food menu features light snacks and dishes, perfect for a post-shopping pick-me-up. And to top it off, Colette has its own gallery, with exhibitions by world-renowned designers, artists and photographers. Tragically hip? No...Colette is the just right side of being too cool for school. Open Monday-Saturday.
'Pinxo' is the Basque word for 'pinch', and dishes at this eaterie are served tapas-style, in three small, elegant portions. The restaurant is sleek, and is attached to the modern Plaza Paris Vendôme Hotel. Starters include sautéed baby squids with garlic crisps and an inventive goat cheese and eggplant terrine. For the main course, plump for the Aquitaine beef sirloin steak or the exquisite tendron veal with chanterelles mushrooms. Arrays of succulent desserts follow, including Baked Alaska Grand-Marnier pancakes.
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