Paris

London and Paris announce ground-breaking tourism partnership

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, have today announced a new tourism collaboration designed to jointly showcase London and Paris and attract international visitors to both cities.

The announcement comes just one day before the UK government triggers Article 50, beginning the formal process of withdrawing the UK from the European Union.

Paris and London - both nominees in World Travel Awards ‘Europe's Leading City Destination 2017’ and ‘Europe's Leading City Tourist Board 2017’ categories - have made aconscious choice to focus on constructive alliance, rather than competition.

“London and Paris are two of the greatest cities in the world and we have so much to gain from joining forces,” said Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. “Never underestimate the incredible benefits to be found when major cities do business together. Our great friends in Paris and across the continent are well aware that working closely together remains to our mutual benefit.”

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, added: “Paris and London share common values and willpower. Since the election of Sadiq, our two cities have been working better together. We are developing new exchanges and new projects. All these initiatives will create employment, activity and economic growth. It is a very positive dynamic that the Brexit will not change.”

The tourism agreement is scheduled to launch in 2018 and will focus on key drivers for international visitors to both cities, such as culture and heritage, and combine the resources of VisitLondon.com and Parisinfo.com.

 

Five celebrity honeymoon destinations

Ever wondered where the stars like to head for their honeymoon? Well wonder no more! The Sybarite has the low-down on the luxurious destinations that the A listers flock to, for a romantic escape

Seychelles, Caribbean
Celebrities love the Seychelles thanks to its winning combination of beauty (this 115 island archipelago boasts soft, sandy beaches shaded by palms and lapped by crystal clear waters) and privacy (the Seychelles government has introduced laws to protect the privacy of holidaying stars).
As such, the Seychelles has played host to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who honeymooned on North Islandback in May 2011, as well as Hollywood royalty: the Beckhams celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on the island in 2009, while George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin and Salam Hayek and French husband Francois-Henri Pinault have all honeymooned here.
 

County Cork, Ireland
Reality star Kim Kardashian and her rapper husband Kanye West shunned traditional honeymoon destinations - here’s looking at the Maldives - in favour of, um, Ireland. That’s right: the power couple famously flew to the Emerald Isle for their honeymoon having fallen in love with the ‘calm’ of the Irish countryside on a previous visit. “We spent Kanye's bday in Ireland a few years back & fell in love with it! Its such a calming relaxing place!” Kim tweeted by way of explanation.
The fame hungry pair checked into the Castlemartyr Resort and Castle Oliver - a five star hotel in Cork which was declared the grandest hotel in Ireland by Conde Nast Traveller magazine, no less, in 2015. During their trip, Kimye were spotted hiking in the Ballyhoura Mountains, in addition to enjoying a helicopter ride over the Dingle Peninsula.

The Maldives
Katy Perry and Russell Brandand Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are just two of the high profile (former) couples who spent their honeymoons in the Maldives. And for good reason: these 1,190 coral islands, in the middle of the Indian ocean, are celebrated for their deep blue seas, Bounty advert beaches and sumptuous hotels such as the One & Only Reethi Rah.
American singer Stacy Ann Ferguson - aka Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie - and her hunky husband Transformers star, Josh Duhamel, holed up at the Maldive’s most glamorous resort, where they were snapped canoeing, taking cooking classes, private yoga and tennis lessons and spa treatments. Thinking of following in their famous footsteps? It will cost you. The couple’s suite reportedly cost £10,000 for the week.

Barbados, Caribbean
Barbados may just be the hottest honeymoon destination du jour. Many top celebrities - like legendary performer Barbara Streisand and actor James Brolin and Westlife’s Kian Egan - have chosen to honeymoon in Barbados, aka Rihanna’s beautiful birthplace..  As have sports stars: golfing aceTiger Woods chose Barbados as the venue for his ill fated 2004 wedding to Elin Nordegren.
The jet set come for the first class restaurants, chic nightlife, championship golf courses and exclusive resorts like Sandy Lane - a favourite of Beyonce and Jay Z, Cindy Crawford, Donatella Versace and Simon Cowell.

Paris, France
“Paris is always a good idea.” So said Audrey Hepburn (who would have celebrated her 87th birthday last month) in the 1954 film Sabrina. Audrey Hepburn was absolutely right: Paris is always a good idea - especially for a romantic getaway.
Sacha Baron Cohen and his stunning wife Isla Fisher,  singer Lily Allen and spouse Sam Cooper and actress Anne Hathaway and her other half Adam Schulman, are just a few of the power couples who chose the city of love as their honeymoon destination. Blonde beauty Reese Witherspoon and second husband, Jim Toth, were also papped putting on a romantic display of affection, while honeymooning in chic Paris.

Postcard from Argentina: part seven

Kaye learns to tango in Argentina

Continued from last time

I’ve talked about the attraction of attending a live football football match and the allure of Patagonia in past postcards but, in truth, tango is all the reason you need to come to Argentina.

Argentina is synonymous with sultry tango – a passionate dance that has seduced the world – and nowhere more so than than it’s charismatic capital, Buenos Aires, where tango clubs abound.

Known locally as as milongas, this is where Argentines head to dance until dawn - and not only at weekends. ("How do you fill your time if you don’t tango?", is a question I have been asked on more than one occasion, by a perplexed Porteño).

Yet while we now associate tango with men in tuxedos and women in glamorous evening gowns gliding gracefully across a polished floor, Argentina’s most famous dance has a less than salubrious past having begun in the steamy bordellos and back-street bars of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century.

 

Legend has it that that the dance originated in the 1880s in the working class port neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, with the arrival of European immigrants. Many of the immigrants were single men who, missing their Motherlands and the company of women, developed tango - hence the dance's melancholic, macho vibe.

Older members of Buenos Aires’ elite looked down on the dance ,which they deemed vulgar and brash, but tango did manage to capture the imagination of some of the younger members of BA’s middle class contingent – who took the dance to Paris, where it proved immensely popular.

The Argentine aristocracy, upon realising that tango was perceived as an acceptable outlet for human desires in fashionable Europe, then did an about turn and not only begun to embrace tango but took great pride in the art form which  today  – together with Maradona, Pope Francis, futbol and Evita –  enjoys iconic status in Argentina.

 

Being in Buenos Aires, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to experience tango pass me by which is how I found myself at the outdoor milonga La Glorieta.

I had gone to La Glorieta – which takes place every Saturday and Sunday evening at the bandstand at the Barrancas de Belgrano – as a spectator, with the sole intention of watching the Porteños strut their stuff. However I made the school boy error of scouring the dance floor, unconsciously catching a man’s eye and nodding – the green light for agreeing to dance. Before I knew it, I was being led by the hand onto the wooden floor.

“It’s a little quiet as it’s an early [Argentina is all about the night] milonga in an off- the-beaten-track barrio,”  professed my partner, Ronaldo, as we waited for the music to start. I looked around the dance-floor – packed with Porteños in a tango trance – and thought to myself: “It’s anything but quiet.” All of which made for an electrifying atmosphere, but meant there were more people present to witness my ineptitude.

I may have looked the part – I’d purchased a pair of patent tango shoes (a pay day treat to myself) replete with four inch heels at one of the many sparkly shoe shops on Supaicha – dear reader. However this was a disaster that had been waiting to happen.

 

As the soft strains of music began to play, I tried frantically to recall the handful of tango steps that I had learnt on my last visit to Buenos Aires, but failed miserably – something the pitying look on my partner’s face bore testimony too.

After just one dance, I was released with a curt “gracias” – a sure sign that I had failed to make the grade. (Dances are in a set of three before the break in music and if a partner leaves the floor early, the one left behind is considered to be the bad dancer). 

It was then and there, in the midst of my humiliation,  I decided that I was going to get to grips with Argentina’s passionate national treasure.  After all, if the BBC Strictly Come Dancing contestants – well maybe not Nancy Dell Ollio, Carol Kirkwood and co – could master the Argentine tango, surely so could I?

 

Classes are offered everywhere in the Argentine capital – from private casas and studios to trendy warehouse sized spaces like the quirky La Catedral and traditional dance halls such as the charming Confiteria Ideal (Suipacha 380). The latter, one of the best and most beautiful places for tango, featured in the art house filmSally Potter’s Tango Lesson.

It was at Ideal that I met Diego Alvaro Zoraida Fontclara – a name and a tango talent to remember. Elegantly dressed in a pristine suit, tie and waistcoat, Diego spoke wistfully of the appeal of tango – “it’s such a powerful blend of passion and melancholy” – and his concern that tango is dying out among the younger generation of Argentines.

 

Diego’s fear isn’t entirely misplaced: certainly most of the younger Porteños I’ve met aren’t interested in learning to tango. It’s a crying shame but, as my Argentine friend Max Gigena, fierily retorted upon discovering that I have Scottish roots: “Well do you know how to dance the highland fling?” When I sheepishly shook my head, he exclaimed triumphantly: “Exactly! Just because I’m an Argentine, it doesn’t mean I dance tango.”

But for those, like Diego, who do, it’s an addiction.  Diego urges me to take lessons and, after listening to him wax lyrical about tango – “it’s more than a dance, it’s therapy”  – I happily acquiesce.

Talk to you tomorrow,

Kaye

x

To read the second part of Kaye’s postcard from Argentina: part seven, don’t forget to log on tomorrow!

Words and pictures: Kaye Holland

Paris, je t'aime

Planning on popping over to Paris for Bastille Day? Kaye Holland has the inside story on France’s high energy capital  

Why go Some destinations are like a loaf of bread: they go stale over time or as tourists traffic picks up. Paris however is like one of its famous fine wines: the longer it’s around, the better it gets. Whether you go for clubbing or culture, Paris doesn’t have to do much to lure visitors -  well who wouldn’t fall head over heels for its considerable charms? This is a metropolis of mayhem and magic: pack your passport and get going

Must see and do Make no mistake: wherever you go, you will see something iconic from the mighty Arc de Triomphe (a magnificent monument to Napoleon's 1805 victory at Austerlitz) which towers over Paris’ most glamorous avenue, the Champs Elysees, to the Eiffel Tower with its signature spire. It’s not just the guidebook brigade who come to tick the Eiffel Tower off their list: its charm attracts everyone from explorers  to Chinese tour groups and party going backpackers. Our advice? Head to the tower at dusk and toast the million dollar views over a glass of fizz at the fabulous champagne bar.

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If you’re into churches, wander to Notre Dame - the city’s most visited sight - for an interior so sumptuous it could convert you to Catholicism. Climb the cathedral’s 442 steps for a mesmerizing rooftop views of the French capital. Meanwhile in Montmartre, aka the fabled artists neighbourhood, seek out Sacre Coeur - Paris’ landmark basilica.

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Paris also  has many museums and art galleries to explore including the  labyrinth like Louvre (the world’s largest museum that’s home to the legendary Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo) and lovely Musee Rodin - arguably the most romantic of Paris’ museums. Admire The Kiss - a marble monument to love and other Rodin masterpieces but don’t miss the museum’s rambling sculpture filled garden.

 

Top shops Paris is synonymous with style - there’s no such thing as underdressing here - and as such the streets are chock full of fashion houses. The Champs Elysees - aka the soundtrack of expensive Paris - is lined with luxury haute couture shops sure to give your credit card a work out. But you’ll also find plenty of cool, independent boutiques and vintage shops in areas like Village St Paul.

champ e

Elsewhere the elegant Galeries Lafayette - a glorious grand department store topped by a stunning stained glass dome is worth a look as are the street markets. Foodies will want to make for Marche d’Aligre to stock up on all their favourite French wares while Rue Mouffetard is full of charming stalls selling everything from fashion and accessories to antiques, sweets and scented candles. If you’re not a fan of retail therapy - maybe you’re from Mars or something - the markets are worth visiting for the atmosphere alone.

 

Best bites Food part of Paris’ short break pleasures. From pistachio macaroons to duck confit, crepes, cheese and charcuterie platters,  eating out is Paris’ raison d’être. Just About Travel can vouch for Brasserie Victor Hugo: not far from the Eiffel Towel it’s the kind of restaurant we always dreamt we’d come across in Paris. The menu is traditional French while the interior is bright and modern. What’s more, the restaurant boasts an attractive terrace where you can decamp during summer months.

cafe de flores

In Paris St Germain, you’ll find Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots from where post war Left Bank intellectuals like Simone de Beauvoir and Paul Sartre used to spill out onto the streets. Prices for a flaky croissant and accompanying cafe au lait at both of these famous early 20th century literary hangouts can be as high as the Eiffel Tower, but it’s worth it for a lively scene straight out of society pages of a magazine.

deux margots

However you don’t have to spend beaucoup to eat well. Paris is packed with affordable cafes, restaurants, wine bars and bistros and half the fun is taking a chance on one that you like the look of. Whatever and wherever you eat, wash your meals down with wine - which more often than not will set you back less than a bottle of water.

After dark Entertainment options abound – it’s simply a matter of choosing your pleasure among the slew of cabarets (Moulin Rouge is a must for first timers)r live music venues and  trendy bars. IMG_2989 A lively night is always guaranteed in both The Latin Quarter and on Rue de Lappe (Eastern Paris), packed as they are with rowdy pubs and clubs  that rage on until dawn.

seine

 

However if you’re visiting during July, August or September, make a beeline for the banks of the River Seine. The great European river has got its groove back following a pedestrianised makeover: the mopeds and taxis have been banished and replaced with pop up beaches and buzzy bars. Two of the best are Wanderlust (which boasts the biggest open air terrace in the city) and Moon Roof. But be warned: the bars don’t get busy before 1am.

 

Excursions If you choose just one excursion, venture to Versailles. The UNESCO World Heritage listed wonder is within easy day tripping distance of central Paris and rewards a visit: the colossal 700 room palace and vast grounds containing fountained gardens, ponds and canals will cause your jaw to drop. The baroque chateau was the seat of the royal court from 1682-1789 - when revolutionaries massacred the Versailles’ guard and dragged King Louis XV1 and his queen, Marie Antoinette, back to Paris. Queues to enter Versailles are notoriously long so - if you’re not particularly patient - arrive early and avoid Tuesdays and Sundays (the busiest days).

Getting around Paris is well served by the Metro & RER which, unlike the London Underground, is efficient and inexpensive making navigating the city a doddle. That said, walking is a veritable pleasure. Everywhere has something of interest so wander around and feel Paris’s pulse.

Getting there Paris has two international airports: Charles de Gaulle and OrlyAirport. Most major international airlines fly to the former which is located 28 km northeast of central Paris while the budget airlines (easy Jet et al) fly to the latter (19km south of central Paris).Letting the train take the strain? Eurostar departs from St Pancras International and pulls in Gare du Nord Train Station in central Paris approximately 2 1/4 hours later.

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Words and pictures: Kaye Holland

Paris calling

Popping over to Paris for Bastille Day? Parisian native, Edouard Plaisance, reveals the addresses to hit

Where are you from?
I am French and I grew up in Paris. After my Bachelor’s degree in International Hotel Management, I have started my career as Sales Executive in a hotel in La Defense Paris. I have then headed overseas and pent more than 10 years as Director of Sales & Marketing in destinations including New York City, Los Cabos (Mexico), Djerba (Tunisia), Creta (Greece), La Reunion Island (Indian Ocean) and Mauritius. I was Director of Sales and Marketing of two Moevenpick hotels in Tunisia and one in Greece and discovered the Moevenpick philosophy and the enthusiastic team spirit Moevenpick has developed worldwide. Therefore I jumped at the chance to return to Paris for the renovation of the Moevenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly. It is a great pleasure to come back home and be part of the wonderful Moevenpick family again.

What’s the first thing you do, when you get to Paris?
Rediscover my favourite haunts. After more than 10 years spent in different countries, I have to admit that I am really enjoying rediscovering Paris which is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It's rich in culture and history and remains a romantic, dynamic city.

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What is your favourite hangout?
The Champs-Elysées which are so representative of the Paris beauty and close to the Moevenpick  hotel. The Champs-Elysées and the surrounding streets are home to lots of different restaurants and bars, where you can drink and dine  with  friends. I also like  Montmartre  -which is for the artistic atmosphere and breathtaking view of Paris - a lot.

What is your favourite restaurant?
I love the Brasserie Victor Hugo in the Moevenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly. It's a typical French Brasserie where you can enjoy traditional French cuisine,  just few minutes away from the Champs-Elysées. During the summer months, Victor Hugo boasts an attractive terrace overlooking a lovely garden which is a lovely spot for alfresco drinks and dinner if the weather is good.

What was the last exhibition you saw in Paris?
Martial Raysse in the Center Pompidou.

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What was the last gig you saw in Paris?
That would be Indochine (a  French rock and new wave band, formed in 1981) at the Stade de France.

What is your earliest Paris memory?
It's got to be visiting  the Eiffel Tower, which celebrated its 125th birthday earlier this year.

What have you discovered recently in Paris?
The Louis Vuitton foundation which will open in Neuilly in September 2014. I have seen the modern building which has been built and expect to be a fantastic area to discover near by the hotel.

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What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?
I would decree that Paris becomes car free for one day a year so that locals and visitors alike can enjoy the French capital, traffic free!

What is your top tip for tourists?
Use your legs and walk around the city. The beauty is everywhere and very often just around the corner.

Where would you like to stay?
At the Moevenpick Paris Neuilly of course! The hotel has a calm, relaxing ambience and is close to the most attractive parts of Paris.

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What is your favourite place for a glass of wine? Bar 58 at the Moevenpick Paris Neuilly or  Café LIMO on trendy Gustave Toudouze Place.

What is your guilty Paris pleasure? Going to Saint Louis Island and eating the oldest ice cream from Maison Berthillon.

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Tell us something we don’t know about Paris? You should aim to see Paris' passages:  Galerie Véro-Dodat (1er), Galerie Vivienne, Galerie Colbert, Passage Choiseul, Passage des Panoramas, Passage des Princes, Passage du Grand-Cerf (2ème), Passage Molière, Passage Verdeau (3ème).

Thanks Edouard! For more information on Paris, click here