Published on February 23rd, 2010 | by Ann Rickard0
Paris a Must
Every regular Paris visitor has a preferred quarter, favourite hotel and much-loved bistro. While Iâ€™m not nearly as regular a visitor as Iâ€™d love to be, I have been to Paris often enough to have my preferences.
Give me a comfortable but unpretentious hotel in the Latin Quarter and Iâ€™m in Parisian paradise. The Hotel Demeure couldnâ€™t be more French with its cosy reception area and lounge/bar glowing with red wallpaper, drapes and furniture.
The hotel lift might be a tad daunting at first -itâ€™s more like a cupboard – but this too is so Parisian you learn to go with it and enjoy it. Even the hotel key, a big sold brass thing with a jaunty red tassel, shrieks out Paris.
For around 80 euros (about $100) for a small but more-than-adequate room with good-sized bathroom, it doesnâ€™t come much cheaper or more comfy in Paris. Yet this place is right in the heart of everything. Minutes by nearby metro to the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Pantheon, it is also on the doorstep to the exciting Rue Mouffetard, perhaps the oldest and most lively neighbourhood in Paris.
Mouffetardâ€™s open air market dazzles with titillating produce and French delicacies and pastries that look like jewels. The cafes and bistros are so many and varied you could spend a month exploring and never get through half of them.
Breakfast is included in Demeureâ€™s room price, continental and plenty of it, and when you bite into the best bread and croissants in the world, youâ€™ll be well set up for a day of sauntering. Staff speak several languages including fluent English, of course, and theyâ€™re good at pointing out the nearby highlights.
Overwhelmed by dining choices in Rue Mouffetard, I head to Cave La Bourgogne, a small brasserie just a couple of minuteâ€™s walk away from La Demeure on the St-Medard Square. Itâ€™s nothing special, hundreds of similar bistros line the streets all over Paris, but its cheerful orange awning, wooden decks and round tables outside overlook a flower festooned fountain. Inside itâ€™s all dark timber warmth where chefs make warm goat cheese salads, creamy potato gratins and croques, ham and cheese melted sandwiches rich with bÃ©chamel sauce and served with a salad lightly dressed with vinaigrette. I donâ€™t know how they do it, but French bakers and chefs have a special talent for making outstanding bread and tangy vinaigrettes that are unbeatable anywhere else in the world.
With a pichet (carafe) of house wine and a croque in front of you, you can fill up at Cave La Bourgogne for just a few euros. You could be sitting next to a young crowd sipping wine or une dame dâ€™un certain age feeding her lap dog morsels from her plate, but isnâ€™t that Paris? – Ann Rickard