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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.