World’s Best Trip: Paris
Everyone comes to Paris to eat, a mission that can be equally inspiring and nerve-racking. Crack the code by letting culinary guide Wendy Lyn of the Paris Kitchen lead you on a tour, or just home in on some of her favorite places: In St.-Germain, she recommends L’Avant Comptoir, a standing-room-only tavern that serves inventive tapas—macarons of boudin noir; brochettes of foie gras and piquillo peppers. The smell of dark cocoa and butter hits you when you enter Patrick Roger, a nearby chocolatier that sells 40 different single-origin bars from around the world and ganaches flavored with basil, lime, Guinness, or Sichuan pepper. Lyn sends those harboring serious cheese fantasies to Laurent Dubois, a sleek, well-lit fromagerie with seemingly endless options, a few blocks east in the Fifth. A counterbalance to these well-heeled Left Bank spots is Aux Deux Amis, across the Seine in the 11th. What looks like a working-class café is actually the brainchild of David Loyola, a four-year veteran of elegant Le Chateaubriand. Loyola’s seasonal lunchtime menu might include a fillet of cod with roasted beets and a rhubarb crumble for dessert.
Paris Affordable Tip: Pâtissier Éric Kayser is a third-generation baker known for creative treats. Stop in his Latin Quarter branch for a bichon au citron, a flaky turnover filled with delicate lemon curd and sprinkled with just enough sugar for a caramelized crunch. Pastries for two $18.
Paris Family Tip: Bypass the Eiffel Tower crowds by purchasing tickets online in advance (access to the monument is free for children younger than four). Check out the website’s Eiffel Tower quiz, trivia, coloring pages, and more in English and French. 33-8/92-70-12-39; tickets from $6 per child, $12 for adults.
Paris: World’s Best Scorecard
No. 10 city overall
No. 5 city in Europe
Aux Deux Amis 45 Rue Oberkampf, 11th Arr.; 33-1/58-30-38-13; lunch for two $60.
Laurent Dubois 47 ter Blvd. St.-Germain, Fifth Arr.; 33-1/43-54-50-93; fromagelaurentdubois.com.
L’Avant Comptoir 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/44-27-07-97; dinner for two $55.
Le Chateaubriand 129 Ave. Parmentier, 11th Arr.; 33-1/43-57-45-95; lechateaubriand.fr; dinner for two $150.
Paris Kitchen thepariskitchen.com; tours from $230.
Patrick Roger 108 Blvd. St.-Germain, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-29-38-42; patrickroger.com.
Craftsman boulanger Eric Kayser’s flagship store in Paris opened its doors in 1996. Inside, walls of freshly baked artisan breads and colorful tarts provide edible artwork to the masses. One might say baking is in Eric Kayser’s blood: his family instilled in him an affinity for the craft, which he equates to an art form. The shop's specialties range from the monge baguette and viennoissieries (Viennese-style pastries) to gourmet sandwiches and salads. New recipes are invented monthly and are based on the freshest of produce.
Just steps from the Champs-Élysées and the Triangle d'Or, this 1889 townhome houses the Hôtel Lancaster Lancaster, opened in 1930 by famous Swiss hotelier Emile Wolf. In 1996 it was remodeled with Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture as well as antique lighting, gilded mirrors, and oil paintings. Each of the 57 rooms is individually decorated with muted colors and vintage chandeliers, and the bathrooms are furnished with grey marble, African iroko wood, and heated towel bars. The Michelin-starred restaurant, La Table du Lancaster, serves modern French fare from renowned chef Michel Troisgros and has seating available outside in a Japanese-style garden.
The Ritz, Paris
An institution since 1898, the lavish, opulent Ritz—near the Louvre museum and Tuileries gardens—has maintained its stature as one of Paris’s leading hotels despite a plethora of trendy newcomers. Of course, not everyone can claim the Ritz’s history: it was the world’s first hotel to have a private bath in every room, and everyone from Edward VII to Coco Chanel has called it home (in Chanel’s case, for 37 years). The hotel is undergoing massive renovations and will be closed until summer 2014, but Belle Époque touches will remain. Swan-shaped, gold-plated faucets grace the tubs; a surfeit of period Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Empire furniture fills the rooms; and thousands of euros worth of flowers scent the air each week. Traditional white-glove service, a Roman-style pool ringed with columns, and a Michelin-starred restaurant only add to this lap-of-luxury experience.
Hôtel de Crillon
This Place de la Concorde landmark, built at the direction of King Louis XV in 1758, hasn’t lost its ornate air. Flat-screen televisions and high-speed Internet access bring modern touches to suites and salons still filled with gilt, mirrors, and Baccarat crystal, in addition to genuine Aubusson carpets and Wedgwood medallions. Even the entry-level rooms, at 115 square feet, are not unusually large, but have sitting areas and dressing rooms. The Bar du Crillon is nothing short of elegant, with its mirrored mosaics, red velvet–covered chairs, and dripping chandeliers. Request a song at the piano, then sit back on a settee and sip a Baccarat cocktail (Grand Marnier, lemon, cranberry, Champagne Rosé).