Travel: Out and About in Paris in Winter

Pavillon de la Reine's ivy-covered entrance

Newport’s most intrepid travelers can be found in every corner of the world, there are few places that magnetize them as much as Paris. While it’s true that some feel most comfortable in familiar or favorite Parisian neighborhoods they know and love, it’s always fun to explore other corners of the magical City of Lights.


If you appreciate the bustle and heel-clicking service at the Le Bristol in the chic 8th arrondissement, the iconic hotel’s splendid new expansion (21 rooms and five suites added to the existing 161 rooms) is a sight to behold. Thanks to the acquisition of the neighboring building at the corner of rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore and Avenue Matignon, the new wing of seven floors and two facades is seamlessly integrated into the main hotel. The superlative design vernacular was executed by Madame Maja Oetker whose late husband, German businessman Rudolf A. Oetker purchased the hotel in 1978. Within the distinctive palette, exquisite fabric choices, antiques and artwork acquisitions, the hotel’s sleeping rooms are laden with beauty, comfort and refinement. As if that’s not enough, the new restaurant with its zingy orange walls and gigantic vibrantly colored dahlias (Madame Oetker’s fave flower) is a real show stopper!


Victor Hugo Suite at Pavillon de la Reine

Not surprisingly, that’s where we often stay during the buzz of Paris Fashion Week when it’s even more fun to wander around all the adjacent streets to shop. I love breakfasting on the eggplant colored banquettes in the cafe. Of course tea and cocktail time in the hotel’s lobby bar is an absolute must if you want to see and be seen. However, if you can’t get in, which is often the case, there is a new and very different alternative right around the corner.


Pavillion des Lettres, which just opened on November 11th, in a five-story, gloriously-restored bakery, is causing an audible buzz. The pristine white historic landmark building appears like the Art Deco icon it was meant to be. But step across the threshold and you will be wowed by the chic minimalist interior orchestrated by design guru Didier Benderli of Kerylos Interieurs, in colors that range from chocolate and eggplant to various shades of warm gray. Downstairs, activity clusters around the crackling fire, while upstairs, 26 charmingly configured rooms are dedicated to famous authors from Honore de Balzac and Baudelaire to feisty Virginia Wolf. We love the owners’ ode to the authors with favorite handwritten passages gracing the walls behind the bed in each room. (Hint: the top floor’s quirky suites of deeply-dormered windows and rakish roof lines offer fabulous views of the Eiffel Tower.) 


Guest room at Le Pavillon des Lettres

While there, it’s only a fifteen minute walk to another fave – the Daniel, a tiny (26 rooms and nine suites) and utterly intimate Relais & Chateaux Hotel with over-the-top Byzantine-inspired décor and a wonderful dining room.


If, on the other hand, you long to experience what many seasoned travelers consider “the real Paris,” head for Le Marais, and Pavillon des Lettres’ sister hotel. Tucked away in this ancient district, which dates from the 13th century, Le Pavillion de la Reine is one of the most beguiling boutique hotels in Paris. The ivy-covered hostelry of 54 individually decorated rooms and suites, spa and luxe public rooms appears like a garden-framed apparition behind the crumbling arches of the Place des Vosges. Downstairs, the Spa de la Reine by Carita is small but serene, with two treatment rooms, fitness room; Jacuzzi and steam room. When we visited we were so enchanted by the hotel and the neighborhood, we postponed all other plans and succumbed to the charm of Le Marais. We wandered the winding streets of dusty bookstores and adorable shops, then dined in authentic lace curtained bistros on luscious Moules Marinier and crispy steak frites as well as other simple local menu items you would expect.


                                                     --Marion Laffey Fox


Library at Le Pavillon des Lettres

The charming Lounge at Pavillon de la Reine

Room with a view at Pavillon de la Reine

Books from each of the 26 authors can be found at

Le Pavillon des Lettres’ library

Chic Reception Room at Le Pavillon des Lettres

Plummy Suite at Le Pavillon des Lettres


Luxurious "Spa de la Reine" by Carita at

Pavillon de la Reine

Contributed images


 If you go:

Le Pavillion de la Reine
28 de des Vosges, Paris, 75003
Tel: 011-(0) 1 40-29-19-19


Pavillion des Lettres
12, rue de Saussaies, Paris 75008
Tel: 011-33-(0) 1-49-24-26-26


Le Bristol Paris 112, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore 75008 Paris
Tel: 011-33=(0) 53 43 43 34 or

Hotel Daniel
8, rue Frederic Bastiat
75008 Paris
Tel: 011-33-(0) 1 42 56 17 00













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