We could all use a little escape these days… 2020 has been quite a year. Since the world around us is locking down again I asked my friend Norma Thiessen – founder of My Beautiful Paris: A personal guide for your fun and stylish Parisian adventure – to take us on a virtual holiday to the City of Love. Because Paris is always a good idea, n’est-ce pas? Norma’s website is a treasure trove of all the best places to eat, stay, visit, and shop when in Paris. She even offers custom itineraries for travelers to Paris and other areas in Europe, from putting together something as simple as suggesting accommodations to planning entire trips down to every detail. The Glam Pad is delighted to welcome Norma today as we take a pre-covid trip back in time to Paris… Enjoy!
Guest Post by Norma Thiessen, founder of My Beautiful Paris
Dreaming of Paris
Who wants to go to Paris? I do! I do! Me too please!
But, we can’t.
Wait a minute! We can do the next best thing and go virtually. So, get ready for what they call… a little armchair travel! (It’s the best I’ve got. I’ll make it fun. Promise!)
I will take you to a few of the most spectacular places. We’ll stay at one of the most iconic hotels in the world (pack your Sunday best!). We’ll walk through a dreamy garden (you’ll need your trainers); pick up a few specialty items from my preferred boutiques in all of Paris like mint tea flavoured mouthwash from my favourite perfumer (who doesn’t like fancy mouthwash?), a vase, a coffee cup, or whatever suits your fancy from my favourite Parisian ceramic makers; and of course we’ll grace at least one of the grand museums with our presence, all before sipping an aperitif at a classic Parisian café (pack a scarf – we’ll be sitting outside!).
Are you ready? Are you packed yet? Leave no shoe un-stuffed!
Let’s go to Paris.
You are going to LOVE me when you find out where we’re staying. Seriously.
Drumroll please… let’s check in to the Hôtel Ritz Paris! Ahhhh! I know. I know. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. Would you like the Imperial Suite, the Windsor Suite or… how about the Chanel Suite? Your choice. Even their standard suites are exceptional.
During our stay we’ll be sure to pay a visit to Bar Hemingway. This awesome little bar is nestled in the back corner of the hotel, named after famed author Ernest Hemingway, for whom it was a favourite drink spot. As a quick aside, the history of Hôtel Ritz Paris is quite fascinating. I treated my niece to a stay at the Hôtel Ritz Paris last Christmas on the condition that she read The Hôtel on Place Vendôme by Tilar J. Mazzeo, A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, and Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin. It was important to me that she be able to appreciate where she was staying. I think it did the trick.
By the way, do not fret if your French is rusty. A friendly “Bonjour” will get you far. Plus, the staff at the Hôtel Ritz Paris speak 28 different languages –27 more than I speak.
I’m sorry to tear you away from hotel heaven, but we’ll be back!
A five-minute walk from our hotel will take us to the Jardin des Tuileries. (When I speak about this garden, I always instantly hold my hands to my heart. It has such an effect on me.)
The moment we enter the garden through the massive wrought iron gates, you will hear a subtle crackling of crushed stone under your feet. It’s such a soothing sound.
The crushed gravel walkways will take you around the large fountains and through tree-lined paths and pretty gardens to many of the loveliest views in Paris. By the way, Jardin des Tuileries is just as picturesque and magical in the winter than it is in the summer.
When I visit the garden on my own I usually bring a book and a baguette avec jambon et fromage. I will sit in one of the green metal chairs for hours, reading and people-watching… but we don’t have hours, so let’s continue. Off we go!
I adore Renoir’s L’enfant au chat. This charming painting hangs on a wall at the Musée d’Orsay. The sweet affection between Renoir’s two subjects cheers me right up!
Another favourite art piece of mine is La Petite Danseuse de 14 ans by Edgar Degas. (If you haven’t read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan, do. It’s a riveting story about Degas and his dancers and will bring you a whole new appreciation for the artist.)
After the museum, I hope you’re in the mood for a little shopping, or a lot of shopping, because you’re in for a treat.
In Buly 1803 you can order an engraved toothbrush, pick up their popular mint tea flavoured mouthwash or yummy toothpaste, and snap up a monogrammed soap. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the floor tiles yet! Just standing in this boutique alone will give you great satisfaction.
Astier de Villatte. This rustic piece of heaven holds my heart… and the most wonderful handmade pottery I have ever seen. Their simplicity is what makes them so desirable. These little pieces of art (cups, saucers, mugs, plates, bowls, vases, etc.) are mostly in white. Besides their dreamy dishes, they also offer beautifully scented candles. During one visit, I picked one up named Commune de Paris, lifted the lid and the scent was of Paris! How can a candle smell like Paris? Well, it just does! Or perhaps it is just me. I bring one home every time I visit.
Sorry about all your shopping bags. Why is everyone looking at me? Ok, fine my fault.
It’s been a long, yet wonderful, day and my feet are throbbing. (I miss that sensation!) We’ve earned an aperitif, I’d say! Shall we shlep our shopping bags to Le Nemours? (That is more of an instruction than it is a question.)
Le Nemours is situated in a fabulous spot between Palais Royal, with her magical gardens, and the Musée du Louvre. Though this cafe is constantly bustling, getting a table never seems to be a problem. There might have been times when I’ve sat here for too long. Slumped over. Clinging on to the table. “H-h-h-heeeeeey! Jusht one mer!” I’m kidding. I would never.
The beauty about coming to the end of our day is that we get to saunter along the pretty rue Saint-Honoré back to Hôtel Ritz Paris, run a hot steaming bath, slip into our comfy PJ’s, crawl under the covers and lay our head on our very own embroidered pillow. (Yes, Hôtel Ritz Paris embroiders your initials onto your pillow. I know, I know. How wonderful is that.)
Bonne nuit mes amis! I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I have.
Norma Thiessen lives in Toronto, Canada. She adores all things French: the people; food; history; architecture; countryside and culture. But most of all, she adores Paris. Norma writes about why she loves the city so much on her website – www.mybeautifulparis.com. You can also follow her on Instagram @mybeautifulpari. And click here for Norma’s in-depth tour of Hôtel Ritz Paris.