Aimez-vous le luxe?
Headed to Paris? Even if you don’t have the budget to book a room at one of the city’s sumptuous five-star hotels, you can still dip your toe into Parisian glitz and glamour by splurging on one of these on-property experiences.
Dinner: V Restaurant at Hotel Vernet
Seated in one of the leather banquettes beneath the romantic stained-glass dome designed by Gustave Eiffel, it’s impossible not to have a pinch-me-I’m-in-Paris moment. With only 35 seats, V Restaurant is a paean to the talents of the chef Richard Robe, a master of French gastronomy who coaxes intense flavor from seasonal products and delights in reimagining historic dishes for contemporary diners. This winter, à la carte highlights include the V pie — a puff pastry filled with a savory mélange of duck, foie gras and porcini mushrooms — and a modern take on an 18th-century recipe, Lievre à la Royale: slow-braised rabbit stuffed with foie gras and a roulade of Parmesan-crusted cannelloni pasta brimming with stewed meat and crushed juniper berries.
The seven-course tasting menu (€95, or around $105) deftly balances richness with lighter, acidic dishes: think crayfish carpaccio with avocado and passion fruit purée, risotto laced with chanterelle mushrooms and chorizo, and “Le Chocolat” puffed pastry for dessert.
Hotel Vernet, 25 Rue Vernet, 75008 Paris, France
Cocktails: the Duc de Morny Library at La Réserve Paris
Tucked into Avenue Gabriel in the tony 8th Arrondissement, a brush with Belle Époque glamour can be had at La Reserve, a mansion-turned-hotel originally built for Napoléon III’s half brother, the Duc de Morny. The bar is one option. But, the splendid library, a jewel-toned nook with coffered ceilings, herringbone parquet floors and deep green furnishings set off by walls lined with 3,000 antique books from the 19th century, offers more of an intimate, feels-like-home ambience, especially if you nab a seat in front of the (original) wood-burning fireplace. Here, you can enjoy a signature cocktail (the library opens to the public at 5 p.m. daily) like the Femme Fatale — Champagne mixed with lime, cucumber and elderflower liqueur, or the Bain de Folie, a sweet blend of raspberries, lime, Hendrick’s gin, Chambord, egg white and fresh mint.
La Réserve, 42 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris, France
Cooking class: the Ritz Paris
Don a toque and take a half-day course at the prestigious Ritz Escoffier cooking school (inside the Ritz Paris hotel) and then consume your creationsensemble with the chef and newfound friends. The three-hour, sweet-and-savory course (€150 per person) involves dishes like roasted duckling filet with quince and creamy polenta, along with desserts like warm molten chocolate cake with orange custard or roasted mango or hazelnut crumble with yogurt sorbet. If pastry is your passion, there are classes focusing on Madeleines, modern tarts, macarons and all things chocolate (€110-140 per person). You’ll go home with printed recipes and a chic Ritz apron.
Hôtel Ritz Paris, 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France
[For French cuisine on a budget, read our story about the affordable dining renaissance in Paris.]
Art experience: Le Royal Monceau
With an in-house art concierge, its own 99-seat cinema and avant-garde artworks installed throughout the hotel (“Art Lover,” an exhibition with pieces by Giuliano Bekor, Rachel Bergeret and Cécile Plaisance, will also be on display in December), this five-star property has firmly staked its claim as the “artsy” one. On Sunday evenings, nonhotel guests can attend a private screening at Katara Cinema (€40 per person), which includes a glass of Champagne and a cone of caramelized popcorn by the hotel’s acclaimed pastry chef, Pierre Hermé. Or pop outside to the holiday-themed Winter Terrace for a Veuve Clicquot tasting experience in an alpine-feeling chalet.
Le Royal Monceau, 37 Avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris, France
Afternoon tea: Four Seasons George V, Paris
From the moment you strut through the grand wrought-iron door, past the fairy tale floral arrangements (the hotel uses approximately 14,000 blooms per week) and settle into a perchat La Galerie as a pianist plays, you’ll feel the force of swank à la française.
With tea or, better yet, Champagne (€60 per person), you’ll enjoy a selection of scones, financiers, artful pastries and savory bites likeblini with salmon and cauliflower cream. For the holidays, the new pastry chef, Michael Bartocetti, has designed a specialty Christmas teafeaturing Candied cédrat pie with lemon caviar, Parisian flan, spiced quince pastry and the pièce de résistance, an orchid-shaped Yule log fashioned of almond biscuit interlaced with a thin layer of crunchy hazelnut with vanilla scented cream (€95 per person). To extend the experience, sign on for a made-to-measure massage in the glamorous, just-revamped spa (€130).
Four Seasons George V, 31 Avenue George V, 75008 Paris, France
This story was originally published in the New York Times on December 11, 2019.