Like New York, London, and Rome, Paris has a plethora of hotel choices. The top end includes Le Meurice, Le Plaza Athénée, Four Seasons George V Paris, Le Bristol, and Le Crillon. The French certainly know old world classic style, and these properties won't disappoint. Be sure, however, to ask for a recently renovated room; these larger hotels are always updating. Alas, big city hotel rates have skyrocketed, and 5-star hotels in Paris regularly cost more than $900 dollars per night (as hard as that is to believe).
For a more modern experience, consider one of the city’s new contemporary luxury hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental (www.mandarinoriental.com/paris).
Two smart luxury picks are the Sofitel (on Rue Boissy d'Anglas, near the Rue Saint-Honoré; www.sofitel.com) and the Pavillon de La Reine (www.pavillon-de-la-reine.com) on Place des Vosges. Both cost about 60 percent less than the larger, 5-star properties, yet they offer excellent luxury. These two are my favorites, and the hotels make it possible to experience Parisian luxury while saving quite a bit of money.
A couple of great value options include the Hotel Jardin Le Brea (www.jardinlebrea-paris-hotel.com) in Montparnasse (a more residential but still central area), close to the Luxembourg Gardens, and Paris Hotel Le Duo (www.duo-paris.com) in the Marais district, not far from Beaubourg.
For eating, one must choose wisely; as in most cities, you can pay a lot and not get a lot. Paris restaurants are pricey, and a good dinner costs at least 60 euros. For a special occasion, go to 1728 (www.restaurant-1728.com). It's as old world classic as it gets; you’ll dine in a former mansion with candelabras and gilded wall trim, and enjoy Asian-influenced, French fusion dishes. A few wonderful, classic bistros include Chez Julien near the Marais, L'Escargot in Montorgueil, and Brasserie Balzar (www.brasseriebalzar.com) in Saint-Michel.
For great food in a memorable setting, try the Minipalais (www.minipalais.com) restaurant in the Grand Palais; it’s located inside a grand, 19th-century building.
One of my favorite, somewhat hidden spots is Le Village. This cafe is located in Village Royale (a passage and courtyard; www.villageroyal.com) near Place Madeleine and offer excellent food with a nice outdoor terrace.
Finally, if you ache for a meat or tuna burger, head over to Ralph's in the Ralph Lauren store on Saint-Germain. The decor is clubby French, but the menu is quite American. The atmosphere is terrific; in nice weather, the terrace is open.
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