Category Archives: Europe

Hôtel du Temps in Paris Stands Out as a Favourite Address

It began when a friend sent me a link for a photography contest that offered two roundtrips flights to Paris. I brushed off the idea and left the contest to the pros. But friends are persistent. She reminded me about it again, I entered, and won. The rules were simple: post a pic of Paris on any social media channel, tag the airline, and write one or two sentences about why the photo represents the city.

My entry:

I’m from France—I still hold dual citizenship—and I’ve been there many times, but always with my family. When I told a girlfriend we were combining the winning tickets with two others to take the kids on a quick trip she told me I was ridiculous. Two free flights are an unexpected bonus meant for parents to use to run away together, especially when those parents haven’t been away alone for over 16 years. She was right. My husband and I left the kids and the dog and our responsibilities in capable hands and left for Paris. The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

Instead of spending the entire vacation with family, we planned three nights in the city. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person so planning meant bookmarking tonnes of sites and talking A LOT about the kind of place we’d like to stay in, what area of the city we wanted to discover, and then waiting until three or four days before departure before actually booking our room. It works for us.

My husband booked our stay with clear direction, “I want a small and charming hotel kind of like Sabarot’s hotel in Saint Pierreville.” No pressure at all. You can keep your grand entrances and marble stairways and chandeliers. I want to sit at quiet tables and talk with the proprietors or just be left alone as I heap fresh apricot jam onto warm baguette at a sunny, corner table. Also, I don’t want crowds or tourists. Good luck with that in Paris, right? The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

He found l’Hôtel du Temps in Paris (which is everything I pictured without having to say it) in the 9e arrondissement and it now stands out as a favourite address. It’s in a neighbourhood where there are more locals than visitors, and where you’ll find some of the best baguettes in Paris. The man did well.

The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

L’Hôtel du Temps is on a quiet street that angles off from the larger Rue la Fayette and you need to know where to look in order to find it. There are no large signs posted out front to detract from the facade. It’s a clean and refurbished, 23-room hotel that backs onto a small courtyard, with a tiny entrance, a small and neat reception—that’s part of the café/bar area—and an old spiral staircase leading to a former cave/basement, which now has a second life as a cozy nightclub.
The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.
The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.
The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

In the evenings the bartender serves cocktails at the main floor bar and on the weekend there’s music in the cave. The café area is tiled in green and white—the hotel’s colour scheme— there are old wooden floorboards in the bar, there’s a row of ETs (yes, the alien) peeking at patrons from the top shelf of the bar, and the entire hotel has a decidedly cool, art deco feel. In other words, it’s perfect and I didn’t want to leave.

The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.
Practical Info

Location: l’Hôtel du Temps is at 11 Rue de Montholon, Paris 9e

Good to know:

Breakfast is served every morning in the café/bar until 11am. A typical breakfast of croissants, baguettes, jams, fresh-squeezed juice, and good coffee for an extra 10€ per person. It’s worth it.

Be prepared for a classic, Parisian elevator (read, small), but the stairs are more fun to take anyway.

The staff is welcoming and accommodating, so ask if you want to know something.

In the area:

  • The hotel is a 15 minutes walk from either the Gare du Nord or Gare de l’Est.
  • The two metro stations steps from the front door are Cadet and Poissonière, both are on the 7 Line, and they’ll will take you anywhere in Paris.
  • L’Opéra is a 15 minute walk, Montmartre 30 minutes, and Jardin des Tuileries is a 45 minute walk. Walking in Paris is part of the attraction.
  • There are great restaurants in the area, but reserve a table because they’re popular. The restaurants are small and the food is delicious.
  • Bakeries, local shops, and parks all around.

Who it’s for: Couples, friends, or families with children old enough to have their own rooms.

My two cents: One of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in, with excellent and warm service. The Hôtel du Temps is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed, it's in a great, somewhat off-the-beaten path area of Paris, and welcomes guests with excellent service, delicious breakfast, and a funky vibe.

Photo Escape: Mont-Chiran

Where should we escape to today? I’m in the mood for clean air and open spaces — it happens a lot — so let’s take off for the mountains and the observatory of Mont-Chiran in the Alpes de Haute Provence.

Come along …. you’re dawdling.

Mind the traffic; sheep are notorious road hogs. And stop to pick flowers on the drive, it’s a good way to get your mountain legs — same as sea legs only less wet.

Road to the Observatory on Mont-Chiran, , Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

Don’t forget to double-check signposts along the way. They almost certainly (fingers crossed) haven’t been turned around by the wind.

Road to the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

You didn’t think you could drive the entire way, did you?

Gateway to Mont-Chiran Observatory and Refuge, Road to the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

We’ve finally arrived! Let’s ask the resident astronomer to show us the telescope. During the day the sun puts on a solar flare light show, but it’s at night that the skies really show off.

Observatory, Road to the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

Looking at stars is exhausting, so it’s a good thing the gîte tucked to the side of the observatory serves refreshments and keeps restorative games on hand. You can unroll your sleeping bag and spend the night if you’re too tired to wander back down the mountain.

Inside the Refuge at the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Observatory, Road to the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

Bathroom break! X (or cloud) marks the spot.

Mont-Chiran Observatory lavatories, Inside the Refuge at the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Observatory, Road to the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

It was worth the drive, wasn’t it?

compass, Inside the Refuge at the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Observatory, Road to the Observatory of Mont-Chiran, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, mountains, Verdon, photography

 

Where should we go next week?

Germany celebrates 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell

Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall came down?

It’s a moment seared in my memory. I was between classes and sitting with fellow students; we were discussing politics in a way that only earnest young adults just out of adolescence can. We’d grown up in an era when the Cold War was a living thing, when it was not a stretch to think that a government might push the red button of nuclear doom. That climate formed us as surely as the music of the times and our families’ beliefs.

I get goose bumps when I remember those days. None of us believed it would happen in our lifetime. The hard regime of the former German Democratic Republic seemed entrenched and had a stranglehold on the lives of the people east of the Wall. And when the Wall fell many of us cried in support, and with relief and happiness because it meant that people with hope could win.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall makes me as emotional as the days when I sat discussing politics with fellow university students who wanted to change the world. Don’t we all want that kind of celebration for other parts of the world fractured by violence and repression?

As a young girl, years before we immigrated to Canada, I visited the GDR with my parents and brother to vacation with a cousin of my father’s, whom he hadn’t seen since the Wall’s construction. I have vague memories of our vehicle being stopped going in and coming out of the country, and having to leave the car while the border police searched for hidden cavities where we might be hiding dissidents. I also remember being attacked by swans when I snuck too close, but it’s unlikely they were working for the Stasi.

My mother has since filled in the details: months of paperwork leading up to the visit, making sure my parents drove a car with French plates and not West German ones to avoid undue attention, strict instructions as to where we were allowed to go, the trickiness involved because my father was West German, a security presence assigned to watch us and ensure we didn’t stray from our timetable, whispered conversations between adults so that the children wouldn’t overhear and inadvertently reveal their parent’s political leanings on the school playground.

This was life in the GDR and maybe I felt so invested in the Wall coming down because I had a connection to it. Or maybe I’d listened to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” too many times and was too serious for my own good. Either way, change came to Germany and it came as the Peaceful Revolution, which began in Leipzig.

Peaceful Revolution, Leipzig, germany, Berlin Wall, 25th Anniversary, reunification, travel writing, politics, humour, traveller, tourism, Germany Tourism

This is a celebratory story because the victory wasn’t fleeting, and though Germany has stumbled along the road to reunification, it seems to be coming out stronger and more vibrant now that its population is no longer separated.

October 9, 2014 marked twenty-five years since 70,000+ East Germans peacefully demonstrated for their freedom. The Berlin Wall fell exactly one month after the Peaceful Revolution, and November 9, 2014 marks its anniversary. The Lichtgrenze Project in Berlin, which runs for 15 kilometres through the city, tracing the line of the former division, is made up of thousands of illuminated balloons. These will be lit throughout the weekend and then released on the anniversary of the fall, symbolizing the end of division. There are many other events planned throughout the country and I can only imagine the atmosphere in Berlin and elsewhere will be electric as Germany celebrates 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell.

Germany Tourism invited travel writers to an event in Toronto commemorating these moments in German history, and the urge to grab my passport and hop on a plane is strong. It’s been fourteen years since my last visit and I was repeatedly told that Germany is different. I want to see it. I want you to see it. It means that positive change can happen and that it’s possible to combine the desire to discover the world with celebrations of hope.

 

Image: BPB

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