Vie en rose – Hotel Shangri-La / Paris / France

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It starts when you arrive @ CDG.

Paris CDG

I had my first airport moto taxi in Paris, it was a nice scooter ride and I killed the rush hour queu. By the way really different I had it before in Thailand and Cambodia.

If you arrive at Shangri-La Hotel, its elegant façade brings to mind its legacy as the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte.

Attentive staff and a pleasantly discret check-in ensure that you receive the royal treatment right from the start.
The stairways are ready for royalties and celebrities, so do not forget to ask for an upgrade, they have lovely rooms, suits and bath rooms.

In your room, commanding views of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine hold you transfixed. The old-world elegance of the room, lovingly adorned with the fine work of craftsmen, is mirrored in the city that lies just below.

It is located in the heart of Paris and the tourist highlights and all the exclusive fashion designers and pop up stores on Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V are just around the corner, waiting for you.

Shangri-La Paris

Our resto tips:

Usually we recommend the “Buddha restaurant”Buddha Resto Paris if you’re in the mood for a light meal. Nice food and the exquisite glass cupola and Murano chandelier reflect the elegance of the meals prepared here. With such a promising introduction, you look forward to everything which follows.

Later on The Pink Lady, Le Bar’s signature cocktail, to finish off my day.

Day two and another Resto tip in Paris: Arpege (its fantastic)

Alain Passard is one of the greatest chefs of France, and has held three Michelin stars since 1996. In his earlier career he became a two Michelin star chef at Casino d’Enghien, in 1986 purchasing an existing restaurant (l’Archetstrate) from celebrated chef Alain Senderens, and renaming it Arpege, after the perfume from Lanvin. Passard caused a major stir in culinary circles in 2001 when he announced he was going to concentrate on vegetarian dishes, and although there are now meat dishes on the menu, vegetables are still the star. Passard gets his vegetables from his own dedicated farms and gardens in the northwest of France, shipped daily by train to the restaurant: they are of superb quality.

Arpege has a nice exterior in the 7th arrondisement of Paris. The dining room is simply decorated, with relatively small tables placed quite close together. The room is carpeted with some wood panelling along the walls. The only real luxury in the décor is the set of Lalique glass insets in the wood panels. The full-blown tasting menu was our project.

The wine list stretched over 30 pages, and was all French other than a single page of wines from elsewhere in the world, plus a few German wines. Mark-ups were not as high as in many top Paris restaurants, though they varied considerably through the list. Growers were top-drawer, although the dessert wine list was surprisingly limited, with a rather small choice by the bottle and just a single wine by the half bottle (and that one being Yquem).

A set of little tartelettes appeared as we looked at the menu. A tartelette of Parmesan and celeriac featured superbly delicate pastry and celeriac with terrific flavour, as had tartlets of black radish. However even better were the tartlets of beetroot and parsnip puree.

Bread was excellent, made with natural yeast and served with butter from St Malo.

A long-term signature dish at Arpege has been the “hot cold” egg. An egg shell is the presentation vehicle for warm egg yolk with sherry vinegar and maple syrup, spices and a little salt, covered with a layer of cold cream. The key to the success of this dish is the quality of the eggs used and the perfect balance of the vinegar with the sweetness of the syrup, together with the blend of hot and cold temperature elements. A deceptively simple dish, and yet a lovely start to the meal

Next was a carpaccio of scallops with black truffles, pretty presented as alternating discs, garnished with rocket leaves.

The best dish of the meal now arrived. Ravioli of vegetables rested in a consommé of Jerusalem artichoke and celery. Such a simple description does not do justice to the stunning purity of flavour that came through in the consommé. The ravioli was of flawless texture, the mixed vegetable filling of the pasta again showing off a quality of vegetables that is hard to imagine.

Next was zander with lime oil and green tea, with an orange and carrot mousseline. The fish was perfectly cooked. This was followed by a “vegetable couscous”. Yellow beetroots, red beetroots and radishes were given an extra textural element of semolina flavoured with nutty argan oil. Amongst this was a particularly impressive vegetarian sausage, the filling of red vegetables and spices creating an effect reminiscent of the taste of a meat sausage. Hmm.

Cheese is supplied by Bernard Antony of Alsace, and it was interesting see that Arpege does not serve a full cheese board, but selected just a couple in perfect condition, Moelleux du Revard and Gruyere in this case. The main dessert was a magnificent chocolate millefeuille with exceedingly delicate pastry, a lovely and delicate dessert.

What is impressive to me is the simplicity of the cooking at Arpege. Many dishes have just two or three elements, but employing impeccable ingredients and put together with flawless technical skill. There is nowhere to hide with such cooking, but time after time in this meal I was struck by the remarkably purity of flavour of the dishes; here cooking is stripped back to its essentials. What a meal.

After a night like that, you’re reluctant to leave. The city has left you enamoured. And it all ended with sweet dreams at the majestic Shangri-La Hotel.

Paris, la vie en rose.


Living in style.

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