Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon
19 Place du Panthéon
Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon is an elegant corner building on the hilltop Place du Panthéon in the 5ème, a short walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg.
A 35-minute drive away, Paris Orly is the closest airport, with good domestic links to most of France. UK and international flights land at Paris Charles de Gaulle, a 45-minute drive away. A taxi from CdG to the centre costs about €50; direct trains run regularly to the nearby Luxembourg RER station at a fraction of the cost.
The Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord is about 15 minutes away by car, or three stops on the RER. The hotel is well placed on the Métro network, with stops on lines 4, 6, 7 and 10 all within walking distance.
Driving in Paris is best left to the stout of heart; if you do decide to brave the traffic, the hotel can point you to parking spots close by.
With separated bike lanes and quiet back streets, the Left Bank can be a pleasure to explore on two wheels. Hire a self-service bike from a Vélib station; there are several near the hotel, although you might be best to try your luck at the bottom of the hill. You'll need a credit card to leave the €150 deposit required.
Worth getting out of bed for
Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon sits pretty atop the Sainte-Geneviève hill, a lofty position at the heart (and height) of Paris’ Left Bank. Just steps from its most prestigious schools and the Sorbonne universities, this is the lively stomping ground for France’s finest and brightest. You could spend a few hours visiting history’s greats in their monumental shrine across the road (Victor Hugo and Jean Moulin are buried here alongside Marie Curie, the only woman so far distinguished with this honour), but more earthly pleasures await in the neighbourhood. Grab a picnic from the upscale traiteur Dalloyau (+33 (0)1 43 29 31 10) on nearby Place Edmond Rostand – its avocado and crab choux pastry is quite the savoury surprise – and head for the Jardin du Luxembourg, where Parisians, their handbag pooches and a small herd of ponies can be found soaking up the rays at the merest hint of sunshine. Spend an afternoon brushing up on French literature: bookshop L’Ecume des Pages (+33 (0)1 45 48 54 48), next door to the legendary Café de Flore (+33 (0)1 45 48 55 26), is the erudite’s hangout of choice. Seventh-art aficionados may prefer L’Epée de Bois (+33 (0)1 43 37 54 59), a diminutive arthouse cinema on the atmospheric rue Mouffetard, which, with its street market and cheap-and-cheerful pit stops, is as good a place as any to stock up on wine, spectacular bread and the whiffiest of cheeses.
A guide to Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon’s neighbourhood inevitably reads like a who’s who of iconic Parisian eateries. On the Boulevard Saint-Germain, Brasserie Lipp (+33 (0)1 45 48 53 91) does a fine line in art deco mouldings, classic French fare and efficient (if every so slightly frosty) service. Looking out over the Seine and Notre Dame’s fine Gothic buttresses, La Tour d’Argent (+33 (0)1 43 54 23 31) has made a name for itself with its pressed duck and prestigious wine cellar; you’ll need plenty of advance warning, the hotel’s helping hand and a well-padded wallet to secure a table. No bookings necessary at Le Comptoir du Relais (+33 (0)1 44 27 07 97) – in fact, they don’t take any, so just join the queue and pray you’ve arrived early enough to bag one of the coveted seats. Start with a basket of saucissons, move on to buttery seared scallops and see where the day’s menu takes you.
In a sleek, airy loft above a tiny cinema, Le Salon du Panthéon (+33 (0)1 40 46 01 21) flaunts comfortable vintage chairs, rotating art exhibits and a pretty outdoor terrace – a pleasant spot for an afternoon tea and a leaf through Les Cahiers du Cinéma. Bypass Ladurée and head straight to Port Royal’s Saduharu Aoki (+33 (0)1 45 35 36 80) for all your sweet needs: the eponymous baker does inspired things with Japanese ingredients such as sesame and matcha tea, cleverly disguised in classic French pastry.
Paris’ recent influx of mixologists hailing from New York and London is finally paying off; squeeze in to the Prescription Cocktail Club (+33 (0)9 50 35 72 87) for tipples shaken, frosted and stirred. Nearby, Le Montana (+33 1(0) 44 39 71 00) is a fashionista’s den of debauchery, with baroque interiors, free-flowing champagne and unshakeable bouncers.