run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Travel: baby-friendly luxury at Le Bristol, Paris

"Paris? Worst place in Europe to take a baby. Except maybe Venice - all those canals - but seriously: the locals hate seeing kids in public. And you can't get a high chair in any restaurant in the city. The Metro doesn't do buggies. Paris just isn't baby friendly. Wait til he's 18 and you can go on a mini-break again.."

That was the diatribe when I told anyone older than 30 that we were planning a weekend in Paris.. Avec le bébé, 


So when we pulled into the Gare du Nord Eurostar terminal, after a very pleasant journey that was about 17 billion times easier than navigating an airport and plane with a small one, we were pleasantly surprised to be ushered to the front of the long, snaking line for taxis "because you have le bébéCome! Come to the front!"


And when we checked in to the uber-luxurious Le Bristol hotel, (after the doormen knowingly hauled our buggy, car seat and zillion bags out of the cab and asked if we'd like it to be stored in the lobby or our room), it was an unexpected surprise to see the beaming staff say 'coucou' at tiny man - then usher us behind the check-in so we could visit the hotel's glorious soft, white and very friendly Burmese cats, Fa-Raon and Kléopatre.

Le Bristol is old-school luxury: marble hallways, huge mirrored wardrobes, beautiful print upholstery. And our suite (the best word in hotel-land for a parent: we and tiny man each had our own room) also had a corner balcony facing a brilliant garden courtyard. You don't expect such a spacious sunshine trap in central Paris - but it was tiny man's favourite toddling-ground. 

Also in our room was a huge soft bed and proper cot (on wheels) for tiny man - thoughtfully filled with a little cuddly gardening rabbit called Hypolite (named after the hotel's founder Hippolyte Jammet) waiting for him, whilst the bathroom had a basket of Klorane baby products. We both enjoyed exploring...





Balcony chilling
Huuuuuuge bathroom number one - we were lucky enough to have two! Amazing tub for bathing with tiny man. He was also intrigued by the bidet ... :O
Cuddly Hypolite rabbit waiting in the cot
Le Bristol has an ideal location - on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where a saddler called Hermès and dressmaker called Jeanne Lanvin (names who've stuck around..) opened their shops in the nineteenth century and hang around today with their equally exclusive neighbours. Plus you're a 10-minute buggy stroll from the Champs Elysee, and I loved walking through the Tuileries gardens, past Le Louvre (I'm sure I should be embarrassed about being more excited to shoe-shop than gallery-gaze, but hey) to Le Marais, with its individual shops and Middle Eastern eateries. Tiny man covered a lot of ground at the huge playground at Jardin du Luxembourg (you do have to pay a few euros to get in). But we also spotted swings and small playgrounds in squares all over Paris, so there are plenty of places to pause for little legs.



We stopped for baguette lunches and macarons, but food-wise nowhere was going to beat Le Bristol. The breakfasts... Oh man. White-tied waiters proffered baskets of pillowy-crusty croissants, vanilla pastries, sweet brioche slices; then perfectly-poached eggs, gorgeous towers of berries; healthy bircher muesli.. Despite the elegant room and smart diners, the waiters were all so smiley and made us feel really welcome - even though tiny man re-decorated the floor a bit with his food.. 

There are a whole lot of amazing things about being a parent, but surely not having to feel embarrassed about taking croissants out of breakfast - "for the day, for the baby..." - is up there amongst the best.. And Le Bristol beautifully packaged it up for us all tiny man to nibble on during the day.



 The food was just as special in the evening: Le Bristol has a three Michelin star restaurant, but we reckoned that's one to enjoy when we're not half-rocking a snoozer in the buggy - so headed to Cafe Antonia - it's more casual, but still crystal chandelier and wall fresco, dress-up-and-enjoy-a-cocktail. I pigged out a beetroot carpaccio, then a cheeseburger with spicy tomato: it was juicy and fantastic, and you'd expect it to be at €44: the hotel does know how to charge. The highlight, though, was the tangy, herby, basil and strawberry jelly with apple sorbet. I'd travel to France and back 18 times to gobble this again just once: best dessert, ever.

I'd love to say I worked all that food off in the gym (with helpful toy-packed kids' club next door) or by swimming laps in the fantastic ship-like, wooden-decked swimming pool. But... our pool time was mainly spent throwing a chuckling tiny man up in the air, followed by towel cuddles on the sun deck overlooking Paris, with a glimpse of that famous tower.




    So the facilities of Le Bristol definitely make it the perfect luxury family base in Paris - everything is top-notch, from the food to the hairdryer (high-powered ceramic: am I the only person who is absurdly grateful when a hotel invests in a good blowdryer?!). But you'd expect that: it's expensive (rooms start from around £500 a night) and highly-rated (it was the first hotel in France to receive the title of 'palace', and was voted best hotel in the world by the Gallivanter's Guide). 

What really makes Le Bristol stand out as fab for kids and babies is the staff and the non-stuffy attitude. As tiny man strolled around the foyer, the door lady would bend down to play with his toys or bring out one of the cats for a stroke. When he was full and bored at breakfast, a member of staff bought out a cuddly toy. All of which means, if you're looking for a base for a special occasion break in Paris and want your family to feel at home, you'll all be happy at Le Bristol. 


* Run Out of Womb were guests of Le Bristol for review purposes, but rest assured we're seriously gobby and would never rave about something unless we loved it. 
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1 comment

  1. I'm glad that the party poppers were proved wrong. You look like you had a lovely time Lucy

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