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Paris: Now and Forever

Words by Susan Moynihan

The City of Light is a honeymoon classic. Lately, the city is reinventing itself in a way that honors its timeless passion for art, food and love. Here are The Honeymoonist's picks for an au courant honeymoon that celebrates old and new. 

STAY

The perfect Paris hotel is beautifully designed, conveniently located and offers stellar service. These three hit the mark.

Hôtel Plaza Athénée
A landmark on Avenue Montaigne, this 103-year-old grande dame reopened in August 2014, after a multi-million dollar facelift. Redone interiors by Patrick Jouin and Marie-José Pommereau add light and whimsy while keeping the sumptuous French frills intact. Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is a showstopper of mirrors and crystals, and creative cocktails by Thierry Hernandez are on tap at buzzy Le Bar du Plaza Athénée. In-room perks include couture-quality fabrics, interactive iPads and shoe-polishing services from John Lobb.

Le Bristol Paris
This storied 8th Arrondissement hotel turned 90 in 2015, entering its next chapter fresh off a six-year redo that touched everything from the marble lobby to the sumptuous guest rooms. (The Panoramic Suite was featured in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris.") On-site attractions include three-Michelin-star Epicure, a lovely La Prairie spa, and a balconied indoor pool designed to resemble a yacht in the Côte d'Azur, albeit with views of the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Coeur. Guest rooms are each uniquely designed using gorgeous toile or floral fabrics.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris
When you see a glossy fashion spread with a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, chances are it was taken at this hotel; opened in 2010, it's the closest luxury hotel to the Eiffel Tower, which means it has ah-mazing views, especially at night. Request a room with a view or, better yet, one with a private balcony, ideal for a room service night in. On-site perks include two Michelin-star restaurants (French-style L’Abeille and Chinese-style Shang Palace), a CARITA spa and an expansive fitness area with a stunning pool. Bonus: You're within easy walking distance of shopping on Avenues Montaigne and George V.

PLAY

Paris is one of the world's foremost capitals of art, architecture and design. Here are three different ways to experience them.

Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Louvre is still the spot for Old World masterpieces, but Contemporary Art mavens are flocking to the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation, opened to much fanfare in 2014. The museum showcases pieces owned by LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault (among others), with works by modern masters from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Jeff Koons, along with site-specific installations. There are also rotating exhibits from the top names in Contemporary Art and a full slate of performances; Kanye West's three-night engagement coincided with Fashion Week in spring 2015.

Yachts de Paris
Strolling along the Seine is utterly romantic, but the view is even better from the water. There are multiple cruising options, but we like the intimacy of Yachts de Paris’ Don Juan II, which only holds up to 52 guests. You'll sail for three hours as you enjoy a four-course dinner, sailing past a stunning collection of architectural wonders that date as far back as the 17th century. Yes, it's pricey, but it's your honeymoon and it's Paris. Some things are worth splurging for.

Merci
Printemps and Le Bon Marché are the city's shopping go-to’s, but we love this three-story shop located in Haut-Marais. Yes, there's fashion; chic wardrobe staples from their in-house brand. You'll also find housewares and design items from famous names and upstart designers. It's a great place to find one-of-a-kinds for your new home or gifts for people who went above and beyond for your wedding. When you're done browsing, grab a pair of café au laits in the cozy Used Book Café.

EAT

French cuisine is an art form unto itself, celebrating fresh ingredients and layers of flavors created with techniques honed over centuries. These three restaurants showcase the range of French cuisine today.

Au Passage
Opened in 2012, this casual restaurant is a-buzz with diners excited to taste the creative small plates by English chef Edward Delling-Williams. The chalkboard-written menu changes daily based on what's fresh: could be grilled octopus, shaved beets or creamy burrata…who knows. Things sell out as the night goes on, so if you want it, order it ASAP. Equally inspiring is the wine list, featuring cult wines from French vintners.

Restaurant Allard
This atmospheric bistro in Saint-Germain-de-Prés has been serving classic French cuisine since 1932. It was passed-on to fine-dining maestro Alain Ducasse in 2013, but the vibe has remained unchanged, from the glass light fixtures and diamond-tile floor to the menu of classic dishes like perfectly roasted chicken or the house specialty, canard aux olives (roast duck with olives).

Septime
Yes, it's a challenge to get a table at this hot restaurant in the 11th Arrondissement. Chef Bertrand Grébaut showcases the modern side of French cuisine with a seasonal "neo-bistro" menu that changes without notice, depending on what ingredients are at their absolute peak. If you thought farm-to-table meant simple and rustic, this beautifully presented, creative take will teach you otherwise.

Learn more about The Honeymoonist, Susan Moynihan (aka "traveler-in-chief") at thehoneymoonist.com.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Shangri-La Hotel, Paris (1st & 2nd), Oetker Collections Le Bristol Paris (3rd & 6th), Jacques Pépion (4th) and Pierre Monetta (5th)

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2015 issue. You can order a copy here.

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