TV presenter Lisa Cannon takes a trip down memory lane in the City of Love and explains why Paris will always have a piece of her heart.
Paris, Oh Paris. I think every girl in the world dreams of jetting away for a magical trip to the City of Lights and ever since I worked in Disneyland Paris as a young woman of 17 on the rollercoaster Space Mountain the French capital always been one of my favourite cities in the world.
From my last minute favour as an AuPair to seven children (The Sound of Music springs to mind…!), to my late 90’s stint as a terrible waitress in Planet Hollywood on the Champs-Élysées, to learning French cramped in a tiny apartment for four months with my best pal whilst studying at Trinity College I can honestly say that each time I’ve gone it looks even more beautiful.
I got engaged to Richard there in the Royal Palais Jardin in 2013, with an epic romantic proposal with my mother’s ring and we stayed at Le Bristol Hotel. It was the stuff of legends but even after all the unique and very different experiences of Paris over 30 years – from a young girl to a woman saying ‘yes’ to the man she adored – the sparkling city and streets just seem to always look different with more to explore and discover. What can I say? I’m an adopted Parisian girl at heart!
One of my all time favourite trips to Paris was a stay at the JK Paris 5* Hotel for our wedding anniversary which has properties in Capri, Rome and (where we got married) Florence. We chose to go back to Paris and stay in the JK Place Paris as it’s the same Italian hotel group which we hired out the night before our wedding for our 100 guests in Florence right on the Piazza and, in one word, it is MAGIC!
I adore this stylish boutique hotel group and for me it encompasses everything that chic and cool should personify. The hotel is an abundance of art and is just impossibly stylish with Taschen coffee table books to die for and a subterranean pool that will even out any wrinkle of stress.
Without a doubt the staff help to make the experience so unforgettable. In particular the great Andrea, who was there creating breakfast and dinner creations that are simply masterpieces and Caroline and Benjamin who are so helpful and kind.
Casa Tua, its signature restaurant, is set to become one of the best Italian restaurants in Paris. Expect ricotta gnudi with pine nuts and velvety black-eyed peas or a bistecca crowned with caramelised foie gras and lobster like you’ve never seen it before.
I was treated to champagne and cake on the morning of our anniversary and Riccardo Ortogni, the manager, took great care of us putting together a list of some of must-see spots on our whirlwind four nights, including Le Girafe Restaurant overlooking the Eiffel Tour and the Alain Ducasse Boat Experience sur Seine, which was simply breathtaking.
From the Sisley Spa where we reveled in massages, to the time we spent taking endless pictures of the hotel, in particular the marble claw-foot fireplaces (where you would often find me with a glass of rosé wishing I owned the place), JK Place Paris made our anniversary so special.
Set in the 7th Arrondissement you are minutes away walk from Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre so you can ramble around and soak up the sights before having a picnic at the Tuileries Gardens or walking a few more yards to the legendary luxury hotel Plaza Athenee Paris, a 100 year old landmark that has seen everyone from Jackie O, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City, to John Lennon, Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada and Elizabeth Taylor stay there.
It’s the epitome of French elegance and if I was you I’d take a lunch break at the Le RelaisPlaza which is haute couture cuisine, opened in 1936 and flanked by Christian Dior, Chanel and Harry Winston Jewels stores on the street.
You’ll feel like glamour personified. My advice is go for the rose champagne and the Beef Tartare which is made up in front of you by the chef in white gloves – to die for! Richard and I sampled some high octane delicious cocktails in its signature Le Bar. With its modern blue resin ceiling it boasts the best Bloody Marys and Whiskey Sours I’ve tasted this side of the pond!
Richard and I took in many of the sights at our own leisure and one that I would have to recommend was the Alain Ducasse Sur Seine Experience. We started the cruise at 8:30pm and docked around 11pm so it was ample time to see the glorious sights of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tour lit up at night. Everything is picture perfect. We quaffed Moet champagne and delicate wines to accompany the food designed by one of the most celebrated chefs in French cuisine.
For me the highlight of the trip was simply wandering the city and relishing in all the places I had visited before. We went to the location we got engaged, savoured the fun of all the street performers in Montmartre and admired the painters in the Musee d’Orsay from Van Gough to Gaugain, Monet & Renoir.
We made it a cultural and foodie experience with some top notch luxury. One of the most special evenings was an anniversary dinner at Le George the signature restaurant at The Four Seasons Paris. This was like something out of a dream. Head Chef, Simone Zenoni has worked under Gordon Ramsey in London for years and, having spoken with him at our table, he is funny, gregarious and everything you’d want from a top chef, but the food is beyond something of an experience – it’s stratospheric!
If you do one thing in your life make it dining here and enjoying every minute. We stayed for four hours and took pictures of every course. It was truly manifique! The dining experience of a lifetime and one memory of Paris I’ll always hold dear. It was beyond brilliant and I’d go back in a heartbeat for another anniversary or big birthday because it’s a level of service and cuisine that will make your toes tingle with excitement.
Even though it was only a few days we loved our stay at JK Paris, not only was our room incredible (there are only 29) but the beauty of the furniture and perfect interiors makes it so unique. It is however the staff that shine the brightest here making you feel like a movie star and helping you get the most out of your trip, it really is La belle vie, meets la dolce vita.
Richard and I held hands through the city and soaked up the September Sun, reminiscing about our wedding in Florence and how we all had the time of our lives, like everything in life – a moment never to be forgotten. Truly special, just like the city of Paris!
JK Paris Hotel http://www.jkplaces.com/it/jkparis.
Plaza Athene Hotel https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/paris/hotel-plaza-athenee/
Four Seasons Paris ‘Le George’ http://legeorge.com/en/home/
Alain Ducasse dur Seine https://www.ducasse-seine.com