Leave it to American designer Ralph Lauren to create a garden terrace of earthly delights in the middle of Paris. In 2010 Lauren took an 18th century mansion and restored and converted it into a fabulous retail shop, on par with the Madison Ave. branch in New York.
Inside the courtyard is where the magic happens, and lush greenery and topiaries abound. In typical Ralph Lauren style, plush cushions on the dining chairs and banquettes are made of blue and white striped and plaid. In the evening, there’s gentle light from candles and lanterns.
The beef served in the restaurant is imported from Lauren’s ranch in Colorado and Parisians and Americans agree they serve the best hamburger in town. Other American specialties include Maryland crab cakes, New York strip steak, southwestern chili, Cobb salad, cheesecake, Ralph’s brownie, and carrot cake. 173 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Terrace Bar at Hotel Raphael
Toast the magnificent Paris skyline with the clink of Champagne glasses filled with Dom Perignon at the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Raphael. Located just off the Arc de Triomphe, the Hotel Raphael is one of the last remaining Grand Dame hotels decorated in true Parisian grandeur. Open between May and September when the weather is most glorious in Paris, the bar is surrounded by manicured shrubs and seasonal flower boxes.
The bar offers a vast and varied selection of spirits and cocktails from old standards such as Gentleman Juleps, Singapore Slings, and Pina Coladas, to newly invented concoctions including Pink Vesper (Beefeater gin, vodka, and bitter cherry), Grassmarti (Vodka Zubrowska and Vitter citron) and Miss Kate (Johnny Walker Red Label, pineapple juice, and yuzu syrup).
The Terrace Restaurant accompanies the bar, with seasonal specialties by chef Francisco Merino. 17 Avenue Kléber.
Ile Saint Louis
A micro island sandwiched in between the Rive Droite and Rive Gauche, the Ile Saint Louis is the definition of charm.
Originally named the Ile aux vaches (the island of the cows), the Ile Saint Louis was a grass meadow with cows grazing on it until King Henri IV designated the island for the construction of luxurious mansions in the mid-1600s, adding bridges to connect it with the mainland. Today the mansions remain mostly intact and you can admire the massive wood doors and carvings on the limestone facades. Strolling along the perimeters of the island, the swirling waters of the Seine and the boats parading by, entice. At the eastern end of the island is Square Bayre, a lovely garden with weeping willows dipping their branches into the Seine.
A true taste of Paris is having at least one scoop of creamy Berthillon ice cream or fruity sorbet (made on the island). Practically a requirement when visiting the Ile Saint Louis, Parisians and visitors patiently line up for delectable flavors such as salted butter caramel, chestnut, passion fruit, and Cassis.
The main street, rue St Louis En I’lle, is lined with adorable individual boutiques (no chains allowed), art galleries, crepe restaurants, food shops, including a cheese monger with over 30 varieties of goat cheese alone, and most unique of all, a puppet and marionette boutique.
“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.” —Honoré de Balzac
Breakfast in Bed at the Shangri La Hotel, Paris
What could be more romantic than breakfast in bed with a view of the Eiffel Tower in one of the top luxury hotels in Paris? The Shangri-La can easily make that fantasy come true. The five-star palace hotel (only 10 other Paris hotels have been given the “palace” accreditation, the highest hotel honor in France) Shangri-La is the former mansion of Prince Roland Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon. Constructed between 1892-1896, the hotel has restored and retained much of the extraordinary architecture and architectural details.
The Shangri-La suite is located on the top floor of the hotel encompassing 2,420 square of living space and an 1100 square foot terrace with unobstructed views of Sacré Coeur, Place Trocadéro, Grand Palais, Notre-Dame, Pont Alexandre III, the Pantheon, Invalides and bien sur, and the Eiffel Tower. Imagine waking up in this fabulous suite after a restful sleep on a king-size bed with the highest thread count cotton sheets possible and the softest goose down quilt. A few minutes later you hear a soft knock at the door and breakfast is wheeled in and placed by your bed. You and your loved one nibble on fresh baked brioche, croissants, and pain au chocolate, and get your caffeine fix with strong French press coffee. If you are extra hungry you can indulge in scrambled eggs with caviar, eggs Benedict with truffles, or a platter of artisanal farm cheeses. 10 Ave. d’Iena. www.shangri-la.com/paris/shangrila