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Paris and London in May

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by hopkins_student, Oct 21, 2012.

  1. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    My wife and I were originally planning a trip to Paris and London during this past September. Unfortunately that didn't work out, so now we're thinking May. How are those cities that time of year? We've never been to Europe, so we really don't know much about what to expect in terms of accomodations while we're there. We're thinking a 9 day trip, 6 or 7 in Paris, 2 or 3 in London. The Dorchester in London seems nice and not horrificly expensive. The brief research I've done pointed to the Plaza Athenee, George V, or Hotel Le Meurice as the places to stay in Paris, but looking at the prices now, they're all >1000 euros. Are prices likely to change between now and then (for the better) or should I find another hotel? Do you have any recommendations for nice and reasonable places to stay in Paris?

    I'm also interested in hearing your recommendations for dining in London and Paris, particularly for at least one high end restaurant in Paris.

    Thanks, h_s.
     
  2. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It's a beautiful time. I recently came upon a hotel in Paris I'll be staying at in the future. It is called Pavillon de la Reine and while not cheap, it is more like $500 or so than $1k. Normally I stay at the Relais Christine, but I like this location better. A few doors down is l'Ambroisie, which is a wonderful three star restaurant. The only one I think is better is l'Arpege, which I think is probably the best restaurant I've been to. Arpege is best for lunch, in my opinion, as the dinner menu is 360 Euros and the lunch menu is like 125, but the difference is like one course, you get a meat and a fish instead of a meat or a fish. Really great place. If you went to Arpege for lunch one day and Ambroisie for dinner another you would probably be in heaven.
     
  3. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    Thanks Matt. I had a feeling you'd have some good advice re: this subject.
     
  4. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Do you really want to spend a week in Paris? That's a long time.
     
  5. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    The Dorchester is nice, I'll put in a good word for The Chesterfield Mayfair. Exquisite service, close to everything and a quiet neighborhood to boot.

    Beautiful time to visit London.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  6. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    Matt, I checked the hotel you recommended and it's currently at an average daily rate of 880 euros. Do you think prices are likely to come down between now and May?

    Teger, you're right, a week in Paris might be too long. Does anyone have any suggestions for where to venture beyond Paris? Thanks, h_s.
     
  7. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Expedia has it at 571 USD in May,for a deluxe room and 750 USD for a junior suite. My feeling is that in Paris you are fine with a regular room because you are out and about most of the time.
     
  8. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    Interesting, that's quite a difference between their website and Expedia.

    How difficult is it to get reservations at those restaurants? Is this like trying to get in TFL, per se, or Alinea?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  9. sns23

    sns23 Senior member

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    Great time of year. I would go in late May though. Temperatures will be a little warmer. Both cities, especially London, can even be chilly during the peak of summer. As said above, i would split the time up more evenly. Two days in London will not be enough. Five days in each city would be a good amount of time.
     
  10. ehkay

    ehkay Senior member

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    Much easier.

    L'Ambroisie was apparently difficult to book for dinner before the financial crisis, but that doesn't seem to be a problem now. I would imagine that your hotel concierge will be able to take care of things also. There is no call exactly 1440 hours ahead of time bullshit or anything like that. You could probably click through the Arpege website now and they'd accommodate you.
     
  11. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    5 days each would be great, I'd take the train between - I love the Eurostar. if you want to add something else, 2 days in Brussels - its a pretty town with good food.

    I usually go for much cheaper hotel rooms in Paris, frankly, but I go for business, although I have taken my wife and my mother there on differnt occasions. a nice room in a mariott can be had for 300 Euros.

    I'd say that you can also get some very good meals in paris wihtout just going to the very best resteraunts, and you can get a few very good meals in london at the same type of places. while a couple of the very best in each city would be great, it would be a shame to miss some of the mid range places. you want to have some couscous and maybe even vietnamese in Paris, and chinese in London.


    spend a day, or better two half days, at the louvre. a good half day at the d'orsay.

    the time of year is great.
     
  12. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think Arpege and Astrance are the only three stars that are always sold out. A camera at Ambroisie will get you seated in the shit room, I believe.
     
  13. ehkay

    ehkay Senior member

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    Do you think for a first time visit though, that Guy Savoy might be a better place for him to go than Arpege or l'Ambroisie?

    Anyway, if you go to Arpege, keep in mind that anything is possible (to the extent that "anything" means splitting or ordering half portions of dishes), so it's possible to add stuff on at lunch if you really want both fish and meat, or if something appealing shows up that you think you might want. I've never ordered the tasting menu there (like Matt said it's ridiculously expensive though it is a parade of really expensive ingredients--turbot, lobster, foie gras. . .--while the lunch menu is more focused on vegetables) but if you'd prefer to go at dinner, keep in mind that you can do pretty well ordering a la carte and splitting dishes 1 for 2 (their half portions are very large, as if you order full portions ALC they will offer you seconds). You can have a nice, reasonably priced(compared to the tasting menu) dinner by splitting 2-3 entrees (35-60 euros most likely unless there are truffles), a fish (85-140ish) and a meat (80-110) and then cheese/dessert.
     
  14. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    To Gomey's point about affordable/good in London. You have to plan for it mostly, there's a big gap from cheap to expensive and good. There's not a lot in the $20-40 per-person range, for example.

    I've been a a couple of times to each of Arbutus' restaurants.
    Wild Honey (love it) just remodeled and reopened last week, and the newest, Les Deux Salons is also nice. I liked the actual Arbutus least, but each time we were there at the tail end of very busy nights.

    All are centrally located.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  15. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    I was in Paris at the end of May. Lovely experience.


    we stayed at apartments that owners rent out to tourists, and it worked out great. Ended up being far cheaper as well, though I don't recall actual rates (maybe 1,000 Euro or so for the week)
     
  16. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Instead of the week in Paris, I'd take globetrotter's suggestion and look at another city -- personally I'd do Copenhagen or Amsterdam, probably 3 days to 4 in Paris. I went to Paris on a small-timer budget, but I find it pretty boring compared to the rest of Western Europe (Spain excluded, which I hated).

    I really want to go back to Europe in the next few years and spend a week on Sark.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  17. b1os

    b1os Senior member

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    Paris? Boring?
     
  18. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    It was ok. I liked the museums, didn't really have the cash to do serious shopping, but overall I found it kind of monotonous and dreary.
     
  19. momentoftruth

    momentoftruth Senior member

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    I could see that, if one doesn't know where to hang out and is stuck in an expensive neighborhood. Any city in the world will seem bad in the wrong circumstances (I've even met people who hated NYC)

    As for the OP I second the recommendation to tack on a 3rd city to your itinerary (Brussels is my pick, only 1h20m from Paris on the train). There's more than enough to do in Paris for a week, but if you're not in Europe often might as well see a few places to get a feel for different cultures, etc.
     
  20. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    Paris

    I was at Arpege a few weeks ago for lunch and had their vegetarian menu which was French-Asian fusion. I fact I thought it was tilted more Asian than French. The dishes can be hit-or-miss depending on your taste. They started with a vegetarian herbal soup that tasted like they used the herbs from "Bak Kut Teh". But it didn't taste right to be me because I am used to the soup cooked in pork. OTOH my favorite dish was a melt in your mouth vegetarian sushi - it was so good.

    [​IMG]

    I thought their table knife was a good design and a nice touch. The amount of food served was just right.

    I also went to Taillevent for lunch initially intending to get the regular lunch menu. When I got there their 8 course tasting menu looked more appealing and I was assured that the portions were "small". I was satiated by the 3rd course. For the 5th course they served me the biggest piece of foie gras I have ever seen in real life. Then the meat course arrived. :fu:

    If I return to Taillevent, I will have to remember to pace myself and only eat a portion of each dish. Interestingly, at Arpege I was served a number of additional dishes not listed on the menu while at Taillevent most (if not all) of the dishes served were listed on the menu. Arpege was more casual than Taillevent. At Arpege I was one of the few dressed in coat and tie whereas at Taillevent most men wore at least a coat. I thought there were also more tourist looking people (like me) at Taillevent.

    London
    I was there over a year ago. I tried to get reservations at Fat Duck but failed. I went to River Cafe but was underwhelmed. In London I enjoyed relatively simple food much more (e.g. soft boiled eggs, fish & chips, India food). Sheekey's fish pie was quite good too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012

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