24 hours in Paris: Foodie heaven at The Shangri-La Hotel, Paris
The Shangri-La Hotel, Paris is a destination in itself. As the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte’s great-nephew Prince Roland Bonaparte, the former Palais is steeped in history and elegance. Given I’d long dreamed of visiting this late 19th-century hub of Paris’ aristocracy and bourgeoisie, my 24-hour trip to the City of Light was truly special, especially since I had the pleasure of dining at two of the hotel’s restaurants: Shang Palace and La Bauhinia.
Arriving at the Eurostar Business Premier Lounge at St. Pancras where I hastily charged my phone via a seat side power socket, my trip soon began aboard a train from one of Eurostar’s new fleet. Enjoying a gnocchi and mushroom main followed by a pistachio, raspberry and chocolate marquise with kirsch jelly for dessert from Raymond Blanc’s Business Premier menu, it wasn’t long before we’d pulled into Paris Gare du Nord.
At first glance, the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris appears refined yet formidable tucked away behind its wrought iron gates. However, upon passing the entryway’s Ming Dynasty inspired vases and being welcomed by gracious staff, it’s clear the hotel is a sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of central Paris. The chandelier-lit lobby still has the original marble floor from its days as a residential palace and combined with the gentle scent of Bvlgari’s Au Thé Blanc which drifts through the hotel, guests will find the atmosphere warm and inviting.
Led to my room where I delighted in my view of the Eiffel Tower, I was also pleased to see I’d been provided with the latest issue of British Vogue and could enjoy use of a Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker.
In the evening, I was able to enjoy drinks at Le Bar Botanist which honours Prince Roland Bonaparte’s favourite pastime, botany. Thanks to Head Barman Arnaud Thirel and his team, the new nature-inspired bar features an extensive menu of exclusive cocktails and liquors. Developed over the course of six months, the menu features 15 signature cocktails all garnished and presented in a unique way. Standout cocktails include: Zacao (Zacapa rum, vermouth, cocoa nib syrup, and Sichuan peppers, The Bumble Bee (cognac, lavender honey, lemon, and tonka beans), and Genesis (génépi, lime juice, and ginger beer).
After drinks, I was treated to a tasting of the Shangri-La International Festival of Gastronomy menu created by Executive Chef Samuel Lee Sum for Shang Palace, the only Chinese restaurant in France to have a Michelin star.
Now that the Festival of Gastronomy is in its second year, this time bigger and better than its well-received inaugural run, 2016 will see renowned chefs from 11 Shangri-La hotels partake in the culinary festival from 25th – 31st October.
Shang Palace is a traditional Chinese restaurant serving authentic Cantonese cuisine and Chef Lee Sum’s eight-course menu for the Festival of Gastronomy is not only reflective of the restaurant’s good standing but a real pleasure to experience.
Diners are started off with a dim sum basket of Shanghainese pork buns with crab and sea urchins, gold leaf shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings topped with crab roe, and spinach dumplings with Bretagne scallops, offering foodies a familiar taste of well-executed Chinese cooking while paving the way for later dishes; quail soup with shredded bamboo and black fungus and the barbeque sliced Iberian pork and chicken liver glazed with malt sugar, for instance.
Retiring to my room after the meal which finished with the vibrant and refreshing crystal LongJing tea with avocado accompanied by papaya puff with egg custard, I took in the Eiffel Tower light show (every hour each night until 1am) from my window.
The next morning, I made my way downstairs to La Bauhinia, the hotel’s main restaurant, to indulge in its gourmet wellness breakfast dubbed B-Green. For those who love to eat clean, this plant-based breakfast boasts superfood fuelled dishes that invigorates the body and taste buds. Developed by Executive Chef Christopher Moret, who has two Michelin stars and is an expert in vegetarian cuisine, B-Green’s appeal is that it’s dairy and gluten free.
B-Green kicks off with a small glass of lemon water heated to 37.5°C (it packs a detoxifying effect and strengthens the immune system), followed by a cold-pressed green juice consisting of cucumber, green apples, lemon, and peppermint. To sweeten your choice of fair-trade hot drink, panela created from organic sugar cane, agave syrup, and coconut sugar is available. I chose to add a teaspoon of the agave syrup to my green tea before digging into the buckwheat muesli laid out before me.
I admired the bamboo box in which the muesli came presented as our server poured raw organic almond milk over its contents featuring macadamia nuts, pecans, grapes, wolfberries, and blueberries. Treated to an avocado and crispy vegetable carpaccio to finish, this light and colourful touch of savoury was just what I needed to wrap up my breakfast.
To accompany your meal, organic toasted bread and chestnut, quinoa, or buckwheat crispbread are yours to choose from. Packed with magnesium and plenty of minerals such as iron, copper, and potassium, these energy boosting nibbles can be slathered with superfood rich marmalades, jams, and spreads consisting of grape and physalis, black bean with carob, and black olive with spirulina.
Given Shangri-La Hotel, Paris’ central location and proximity to the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Notre Dame, and other attractions, free time in Paris for individuals both new and familiar to the City of Light can always be enjoyed exploring and taking in what’s nearby. After finishing breakfast, I took a stroll put together and carefully highlighted on a map by Chief Concierge Tony Le Goff.
Having published its first guidebook earlier this year, Shangri-La Hotel, Paris’ 10 Parisian Walks is a useful tool by which to choose an exclusive Parisian path selected and conceived by Le Goff and journalist Laurence Gounel.
If you prefer spending some time indoors, you could always pay a visit to CHI, The Spa on the lower levels of the hotel. Recently partnering with British beauty and skincare brand The Organic Pharmacy, spa goers can achieve a heightened sense of well-being and relaxation with the different facials and massages available, including the “Ultimate Well-Being” ceremony.
Returning to the hotel for a final visit to La Bauhinia to experience its famed 100% Vegan Afternoon Tea, I was immediately impressed with Head Pastry Chef Michaël Bartocetti’s ability to successfully emulate the flavour, texture, and consistency of traditional pastries.
As the most vegan and natural afternoon tea in Paris, this one is devoid of dairy and refined sugar. The 100% Vegan Afternoon Tea also has less cholesterol than regular afternoon tea offerings given its favouring of virgin coconut oil, pureed almonds, cereals such as buckwheat, sunflower seeds, Khorasan wheat, and homemade almond and soy milk etc. To balance out the sweet with savoury, assorted sandwiches with vegetable fillings and tofu are available.
My favourite pastry from the spread was the light and delicate calisson, a vegan recreation of its classic counterpart; this one being made from oranges, a biscuit with almonds and hazelnuts, almond paste, and almond milk.
Fare for a one-way Eurostar Business Premier ticket from London to Paris is £245 based on a return journey. To book, visit www.eurostar.com/uk-en or call 01233 617575
To make a reservation at the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (33) 1 53 67 19 64
The 8 Course Cantonese Menu Festival of Gastronomy at Shang Palace is €188 per person. To make a booking, email email@example.com, or call (33) 1 53 67 19 92
La Bauhinia’s B-Green breakfast is €68 per person and the 100% Vegan Afternoon Tea is €45 per person (€80 for two). To make a booking, email firstname.lastname@example.org call (33) 1 53 67 19 91