Customer Service Officer at Citadines Prestige Opéra Vendôme Paris, Christian Lanzett, enhances his residents' stay by sharing secrets about the city he loves
Issue: Oct 2011
Paris, rich in history and culture, and in step with the present, is the city I love best
I love Paris. I have been to most of the cities in Europe, New York, Boston and Chicago. But Paris is still my favourite city in the world. As a native of Finland, I came to Paris to study and after graduation, I stayed on to work for a few years as a tour guide before returning home. But I simply could not resist the charms of this city. So, three years ago, I came back to work at Citadines Prestige Opéra Vendôme Paris. The apart'hotel is located right next to Place de l'Opéra, in the business area thriving with tourist offices, banks and luxury shops, and is a great starting point from which to explore Paris.
Lanzett by the Seine River, a major waterway in Paris and a local tourist attraction where cruises are available
Since I work at the front desk, I have a lot of opportunities to interact with the guests. My past experience as a tour guide has helped me to add value to my service to these guests because I can recommend them not only the usual attractions of Paris but also some lesser-known – though no less charming – places to visit.
One resident, whom I remember having a particularly lovely exchange with, was Mr Matthew Goetz who recently stayed with us for a month. He had come from America to work with the US embassy here, and I had the occasion to share with him some of my favourite places in Paris that are not usually mentioned in the travel guidebooks.
One place I told him about was Picpus Cemetery. It is the largest private cemetery in Paris and is where General Lafayette is buried. The American flag still flies over his grave in honour of his war efforts during the American Revolution on the American side. He served as a major-general in the Continental Army under George Washington. As an American, I thought Mr Goetz would be especially interested in this piece of American history that has found a place in Paris.
The house of Nicolas Flamel in Paris now houses a restaurant on the ground floor
Photo Credit: www.en.wikipedia.org
Paris has so much to offer that I usually have to chat with the guests to find out about their background and interests before recommending them suitable sights. For longer-staying guests who enjoy history but have already seen the usual attractions or those who simply do not like jostling with the crowds, there are historical spots that are more unusual. The Tour de Jean Sans Peur or Tower of John the Fearless is one of them. This tower was built by the Duke of Burgundy or John the Fearless in the 15th century to strengthen his home in Paris. It is a 45-minute walk from Citadines Prestige Opéra Vendôme Paris. Today, it stands as a monument in time. I like to see the rooms as they were in the past and imagine how people then lived their lives.
I would also recommend a visit to the oldest stone house in Paris, the house of Nicolas Flamel, at No. 51 rue de Montmorency Paris 3ème, which was built in 1407 by Nicolas Flamel himself. Flamel was a successful French scrivener and manuscript-seller who was reputed to have made the Philosopher's Stone which turns lead to gold.
Paris is also a city rich in culture. The famous Louvre Museum – and a must-see - is just a
15-minute walk from our apart'hotel.
But for a taste of true French culture, the only way to soak it in is to put on your walking shoes and walk.
La Butte Montmartre was where Vincent van Gogh lived with his brother Theo between 1886 and 1887 and the inspiration for his Montmarte paintings
Photo Credit: www.1-paris-tourism.com
Only a half-hour walk from Citadines Prestige Opéra Vendôme Paris is La Butte Montmartre, set on a hill 130 kilometres high. From this vintage point at the provincial village, you will have an unobstructed view of the city. Even though the Butte (hillock) is a popular tourist destination, it still retains much of the charm of an untouched village of old. Everything about it is small and quaint: the houses, the gardens, the shops, the streets and the studios of the craftsmen and artists. I like walking around and looking at the street artists' works. It has an old-world feel and you will hardly believe that you are actually in modern-day Paris.
Some of the guests want to see the real Paris and not just its travel guidebook attractions. For these guests, I recommend walking to the 11th, 12th and 20th arrondissement (administrative district). Here you can see architecture from different eras and the homes of the locals. I like to walk the alleyways there and admire the old stone houses and private gardens.
Parc Monceau is another hidden piece of Paris I'd like to recommend. A semi-public park, I like to go there because of the scaled-down collection of iconic architectural features like the Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Dutch windmill and Corinthian pillars. It's nice to sit there with a book or just listen to the birds and enjoy Nature during the summer.
And if you were to ask me what I would plan for guests who want to enjoy “the most romantic city in the world”, there are several places they can experience great romance and cuisine.
One of the places to dine in is La Truffière, a 19th century horse stable which has been turned into a restaurant. It serves haute cuisine (or grande cusisine) highlighting the region's delectable truffles. For dinners with a view, I would recommend the restaurant, Le Ciel de Paris, which has a breathtaking view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, or a dinner at Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée, a temple to French haute cuisine. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Seine River slices through Paris, requiring 37 bridges in the city alone to link the right and left banks
Photo Credit: www.flickr.com
After dinner, a walk along the Seine River and the Ponts des Arts is a must. Under the clear Parisian night sky with the glittering city lights reflected in the clear waters, there could not be a more romantic end to a night.
Paris is so multi-faceted there is something for everyone in this city. So come and visit us at Citadines Prestige Opéra Vendôme Paris and let me personalise your stay here with a tour designed to suit your taste.
Stay with us in Paris at...
Citadines Prestige Opéra Vendôme Paris
2 rue Edouard VII
Tel: (33) 01 40 06 56 00
Fax: (33) 01 40 06 96 50