There ain’t no surer way to find out
if you like people or hate them
than to travel with them.
Solo travel is a privilege and an education. Once or twice a year, I take a “mommy’s vacation”–preferably somewhere I’ve never been before. This is one of the ways I expand my comfort zone, open my eyes to inspiration and possibilities, and feed my joy. I take time off from catering to everyone else’s needs, preferences, and opinions and pay attention to my own: when I want to wake up or sleep, where I want to go, what I want to do or not. I love traveling light with just carry on luggage and my own agenda–though “traveling light” is relative with my darling Mark III (aka, camera.)
If you’ve never traveled alone, what better destination for a first solo expedition than Paris? Like jewel boxes of delightful surprises, these are two hotels that I would be very happy to return to. Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add to your favorite places to stay in Paris and other destinations you recommend for easy solo travel.
Hotel Le Notre Dame (1, Quai Saint-Michel 75005 Paris +33 1 43 54 20 43) is a tiny gem updated by Christian Lacroix with a view of–guess what?–the Notre Dame. Being in the center of the City of Light, there is no quiet moment if you keep your windows open, however, its interiors and view are like no other. An easy walk to the Latin Quarter, St. Germaine des Pres and the Marais, this hotel let’s you trace the Seine to reach the Louvre and the Tuilleries, too. On your walk back, stop by another jewel box with stained glass windows, the Saint Chappelle, to experience live classical music in a setting that moves me to tears. On a rainy day, you can people watch at the brasserie downstairs while enjoying the biggest escargots in town. The Saint Michel neighborhood is chockfull of restaurants and bars with a hopping nightlife for locals and tourists alike. The metro and RER B train to/from the airport are right across the street.
In the cozy lobby of Hotel Le Notre Dame…
…Grab a velvet seat for a corner “office on the road” with a view.
Be the master of the stairs (because the elevator is tiny)
Room 31 at Hotel Le Notre Dame
For a more quiet and luxe retreat, Hotel Saint James (43, Avenue Bugeaud 75116 Paris +33 1 44 05 81 81) is the only chateaux hotel in Paris. Tucked away west of the Arc de Triomphe, its water fountain welcomes you before its charming and elegant staff. The lobby of bold black and white, velvet furnishings, and vibrant wallpaper throughout the 48 distinctively decorated rooms/suites are a feast for the eyes. (Tip: Request a room facing the fountain.) And what’s not to love about their massage room with gilded mirror and chandelier? The Champs Elysee and the Eiffel are about 15 minutes on foot. A few steps outside the hotel’s gate is a metro stop I didn’t investigate, preferring to explore this city mostly walking, bathing in its renowned light.
The view from Room 306 facing the fountain.
Hotel St. James Lobby
Whimsy on the back stairs
Waiting room at the spa
© Sharon Birke
201 697 1947
Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother