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Wonderland in Paris

Some people fall in love with Paris straight away, or even before they’ve been. However for me, the love grew slowly every time I paid another visit. By the time I visited Paris earlier this year, I was, save to say, completely in love with the place. I knew what’s where, and I had a rough idea about what some of the arrondissements are like(at least the ones I liked), and I’d kept a few favourite shops and restaurants up my sleeve to always retrieve to for some guaranteed good times.

The hotel we’ve chosen to stay in this time though, is a new discovery and now a solid favourite. Saint James Paris is associated with the St. James Hotel in London. If you’ve been to the one in London, you can easily find the connection in the style of the staircases of these two places.

In fact, a picture of the staircases on the booking website was what got me hooked in the first place. Painted all in black and white, the staircase itself was grand yet mysterious, looked like a penrose stairs in a surrealism painting.  We were lucky enough to had been upgraded with the room. Since each room was individually designed and styled, I wasn’t too concerned with the type of room we were being allocated in. But as our concierge lady pushed open our door, I couldn’t help but feeling completely and positively overwhelmed by the decor in the room. In short, there was a sh*t loads of leopard print and red. But at a second glance, you’d notice all the elements of animal prints, stag horns, Scottish tartan…combined with upcycled French antique pieces, gave a strong Parisian interior look that was always a little wild and rustic, with a great amount of imagination injected into the style.

After a quick freshen up, and a lot of admiring around the room, we stepped out to embrace the warm and sunny afternoon in Paris. Although it did take us a good 15 mins just to walk out of the hotel. There was just too much great design detail to woo and ahh at. The side staircase had the cutest hot air balloon wall paper. And I noticed that almost all the ceiling lamps used in the corridors were in the shape of hot air balloons too. The staff later told us that the venue of the hotel now was once the hot air balloon landing spot back in the day. That’s why they’ve kept the theme through out the design of the hotel.

While inside of the hotel they’ve kept it dark and mysterious. Once you take the fist step out in the sun, it’s a completely different world. The gate and the driveway leading up to the hotel is nothing but classy and regal. The 30+ degree clear blue Parisian sky set the perfect backdrop for it. Quite a contrast to a lot of the other Parisian hotels that can have a bit of a shabby facade, or set on the side of a busy boulevard, you’ll feel a bit like a royal member driving up to the entrance of Saint James. It’s a great place to take someone special and make them go wow(and still at a fair price).

Seeing it was such a great day in Paris, we borrowed bikes from the hotel and took our adventure outside.

 

I road tested a friend’s design while I was in on this trip. She’s Subella London and the backpack in these pictures are one of her beautiful creations. You can either find it here, or see it in real life at a few stockists in London.

Backpacks are great for traveling, when your hands are too busy to hold the shopping and take photos at the same time. Just choose the ones with secure fastening if you’re concerned about thefts.

We’re not aiming for any attractions anymore when visiting Paris. It’s all about pedaling up and down the little streets and trying to get a feeling of how the locals live and enjoy their city. Stopping at the occasional bistros to keep our hydration level is always necessary.  Luckily Paris is full of this type of joyful places. Just pick one with an atmosphere you like. It can hardly go wrong.

As we saw the Eiffel Tower bathing in the red dusk sunlight, we were reminded that it was about dinner time. And I initiated for us to revisit one of my favourites near the tower, where I had the best lamb shank of all time when I visited for the first time.

At Pottoka, like many independent French diners, their menu changes quite frequently, according to the freshest seasonal produce. We were there in the mid-end of spring, and luckily it was still a good time to catch the last batch of tasty lamb. But for starter, we went for the calamari with couscous, a dreamy poached razor clams with tomato and pesto, and a pan fried squid. All of those went down with some white in just a flash.

One ordered a braised pork cheek with sweet potato fries for main, which could never go wrong. And of course, we needed to go for the shoulder too. It once again, won over my heart at first bite. If you’re ever feeling hungry around the Eiffel Tower or just in the 7th arrondisement, promise you’ll check out Pottoka?

After the satisfying meal, we had to walk it off a little. Along the river bank has got to be one of the best places to do that. It took about 10 mins to walk to the riverside from the restaurant, and it was the best part of the embankment with stunning view for both sides of the river.

Before I knew it,  it was near midnight already.  Time to head back to the wonderland of our leopard/red room and soak myself in a bubble bath to end the first day in Paris.