You’ll find Hôtel Providence on the border between Paris’ 3rd and 10th arrondissements, at the mouth of the increasingly cool Haut-Marais neighbourhood. It’s a 15-minute walk from Centre Georges Pompidou and a 30-minute walk from Place des Vosges.
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is a 40-minute taxi ride from the hotel; British Airways, EasyJet and Vueling fly direct from major European cities, and Air France flies direct from the US and major destinations in Asia. Orly airport is a 40-minute drive south from the hotel, for EasyJet and Vueling flights. The hotel can arrange one-way transfers from either hub for €50.
The Eurostar departs frequently for Paris Gare du Nord from St Pancras International, London; on arrival, the hotel’s a 20-minute taxi ride away. Direct trains from Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne also terminate here; book tickets via Thalys. Strasbourg Saint-Denis, less than a five-minute walk away, is the nearest Metro Station; from Charles de Gaulle, ride the RER B line to Gare du Nord, then hop on line 4 and head south. A Paris Visite pass allows unlimited Metro trips on all lines (from €25.85 a person, for one-day passes).
If you’re ready to face labyrinthine alleyways, madcap ring roads and largely theoretical parking rules, then we wish you luck. The Metro is far less nerve-rattling than navigating the city by car. If you must drive, there’s a car-hire booth at Charles de Gaulle, and parking a 20-minute walk away on Rue des Trois Bornes (€29 a day).
Worth getting out of bed for
Overlooking Rue René Boulanger and the prop entrance of the Théâtre du Petit Saint-Martin, the hotel occupies a quiet corner of the city, steps from the Porte Saint-Martin. Head east along Boulevard Saint-Martin to Place de la République where the Haut-Marais begins – or ‘Norma’ (a portmanteau of North Marais), as locals affectionately dub it. This constantly evolving neighbourhood is fast catching up with the – now a little too ‘bobo’ – Lower Marais; artsy and edgily cool, bon vivant pursuits are weaved into its tangle of alleys. Food, fashion and art loom large here; the Merci concept store stocks retro and au courant design pieces (pro tip: for more outré objets, head to Montmartre's L'Objet qui Parle) and Zoe Lee's shoes make moving sculptures of your feet. Pick up cheese at Fromagerie Jouannault and wine in Caves Bossetti then flop down on a grassy spot in Place des Vosges to enjoy. Paris’ oldest market, the 17th-century Marché des Enfants Rouges is laid out around Rue de Bretagne. Centre Commercial is another concept-store hero; stroll along Boulevard Beaumarchais (home to Merci, natch), Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue de Marseille (where you'll find Centre Commercial), and you'll become slightly chicer by association. Revered labels – Maje, APC – display their wares in chic, atelier-style boutiques; and before you hit the Lower Marais, the Picasso Museum, and beyond that the Carnavalet MuseumCopp, present objets d’art in grand mansions. Canal Saint-Martin was eye-catching enough to earn a star turn in Amélie – cruises can be arranged through Canauxrama or Paris Canal. Beaubourg, in the 4th arrondissement, may lack the Haut-Marais’ oh-so-cool cache; however, as home to the Centre Georges Pompidou, Atelier Brancusi and bijou Passage Molière (home to the Théâtre Molière), it’s not to be overlooked.
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The Belle Epoque is alive and well at Le Bouillon-Chartier on Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, which serves an impossibly French menu (andouillettes, escargots, steak frites) in a former railway station; and more Gallic bistro classics await at Chez Jeannette on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. Septime on Rue de Charonne, in the 11th arrondissement, is run by Passard-trained chef Bertrand Grebaut; reservations aren’t easy to come by, so if you secure a table go all out and order the fabulous five-course tasting menu. For light meals – and liquid lunches – Vivant on Rue des Petites Ecuries serves small plates to enhance its lengthy list of natural wines. If you're on the same street and craving carbs instead, try Da Graziella for pizza perfection. Fans of Big Mamma's London trattorias Gloria and Circolo Populare can see where it all began with a trip to Libertino for Italian classics with a huge side order of unabashed fun (pasta served in a hollowed-out cheese wheel, anyone?). Shabour (Hebrew for hangover, apparently) has imported an Israeli chef to do great things with Levantine food in the French capital; and Elmer is a similarly hotly tipped hangout.
Holybelly is a very popular brunch joint in Paris, a 10-minute walk north from the hotel; for pancake stacks and eggs with myriad accompaniments, arrive early and be prepared to queue. Nanashi on Rue Charlot crafts beautiful bento boxes and sushi platters; and Café Charlot, across from the Marché des Enfants Rouges, dishes up coffee, just-squeeze juices and light brasserie fare. Chocolatier Jacques Genin’s fruit-infused caramels and chocolates (flavoured with tonka bean, chestnut honey, bergamot, basil and other curious concoctions) have won the pâtisserie-weary hearts of Parisians; or stockpile the cocoa goods being made since 1761 at A la Mère de Famille.
Copperbay down the road turns cocktails into almost-too-pretty-to-drink art forms. And Andy Wahloo is as outlandishly decorated as the hotel, with bright-pink neon signage and fern wallpaper – pick your poison from the little cubby-hole shelves behind the bar, or choose from the cocktail menu of martinis, negronis, sazeracs and other tried-and-true classics.