During our pre-Christmas weekend break in Paris we stayed at Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse, a large, modern hotel in the 15th arrondissement of Paris on the Rive Gauche, which is well located for business and a great base for sightseeing. The staff were friendly and helpful and we enjoyed our stay in a Deluxe room with views over the city from the 23rd floor and dinner in the Cafe Atlantic restaurant. Read on for my review of Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse and what to see in this neighbourhood of Paris.
We found the Hotel Pullman Montparnasse easily after our Friday night Air France flight into Charles de Gaule airport and it took us around an hour by train and metro to reach the hotel. Hotel Pullman has excellent transport links, being opposite Gare Montparnasse, with two metro stations within a 5-10 minute walk and if you’re arriving by car it’s also convenient to drive in from the Periferique ring-road that circles Paris. We found arriving by Metro was pretty straightforward, but there’s also a useful Air France Les Cars bus connection that runs from both Charles de Gaule and from Orly Airport and stops opposite the hotel.
The hotel faces Gare Montparnasse, one of the major Paris rail hubs, with cars coming and going from the underground car parks, and the immediate neighbourhood did not have much character. Hotel Pullman is housed in a multi-story building which gives great views if you have a room on the upper floors although not especially charming to look at from the outside.
While Montparnasse isn’t really a major sightseeing area, there are several things of interest within a short walk, such as the lively bars and brasseries of Boulevard du Montparnasse, the 210m tall Tour Montparnasse close by with a viewing platform and restaurant at the top and the Jardin du Luxembourg not too far away. It will take you around 15-20 minutes by metro to reach the central sightseeing areas of Paris such as Notre Dame.
I hope you enjoy the video below of Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse
First impressions were good as we walked down the steps into the large, bright reception area and were checked in quickly and efficiently. We took the lift to our Classic room on the 21st floor, but oh dear, our room was not quite ready and so we had to head 20 floors down again to reception. The reception staff were apologetic and we were later given a Deluxe room, on the 23rd floor with a view towards Tour Montparnasse. On checking in, we were given vouchers for our breakfast in the Justin restaurant on the first floor, which although a little impersonal meant that there were no delays to be seated at breakfast.
On the ground floor next to reception we found a large, open lounge area, with modern sculptural easy chairs in shades of lichen green, red and tan with a green carpet and a lighting effect that kept changing the colours subtly. Despite the hotel’s size there seemed to be plenty of room for everyone and the 60s style bubble chairs were a great hit with the teenagers and kids.
Our Deluxe room on the 23rd floor was spacious, with modern decor of coffee coloured walls, a tall leather headboard, and curtains in a brown satin fabric with a light excluding lining. From this floor we had a great view from the window over Paris towards Tour Montparnasse. There was a curvy white desk with a flat screen TV with all the information you need about the hotel and other practical information about Paris. The neutral tones were highlighted with a black leather desk chair and a couple of red suede effect modern chairs at a small round table, with a Nespresso machine to one side. The bathroom was brown marble with a square white sink on a wooden vanity surface and powerful shower over the bath, with nice orange flower Roger and Gallet toiletries. The overall effect was elegant in a masculine way.
We learned that the hotel had gone through a renovation a couple of years ago and the red and black scheme is the new one which you’ll find in the superior and deluxe rooms. While the classic rooms were also refreshed during the renovation, they do not have the more modern furniture and colour scheme, so if you want the latest design you’ll need to go for a superior or deluxe room. I was also perplexed by the lack of a folder of information about the hotel facilities, menus and room service but on enquiring discovered that the Pullman policy is to reduce the amount of paper in the hotel, so all the information can be accessed through the TV. I suspect that for men who love to fiddle with the remote contol this would be ideal, while for others it could be stressful to have to work out the technology just to check the room service menu.
Who’s staying here?
Although the atmosphere and decor was well suited to the business traveller there were a mixture of guests staying at the weekend, as you’d expect. With 900+ beds, the hotel is one of the few Paris hotels large enough to host conferences in the centre next door, but the main business travellers I spied while we were there were a steady stream of airline crew. There were also plenty of couples and smaller groups, a few with children, as well as a large group of Japanese teenagers visiting Paris on a student holiday, laden down with Galaries Lafayette shopping bags. A benefit for both business and leisure travellers was free wifi in all the rooms which I found to be pretty fast and there was a business centre on the ground cloor, equipped with computers and printers.
What’s for breakfast?
After a sound night’s sleep, we really enjoyed the buffet breakfast, served in the Justin restaurant on the first floor which featured orange and dark wood chairs as well as elegant red and silver Christmas bauble arrangements. Despite the size of the hotel, there was no crush and we were seated quickly and served a cup of coffee. I noticed that the restaurant was large, but only the central portion was in use, a good arrangement to allow for the large number of guests when the hotel is full but making for a cosy atmosphere when there are fewer guests. To one side the restaurant had a sloping glass conservatory roof, which looked out onto a garden which despite us being above ground level was planted with grass and shrubs. I wondered if we could get outside if the weather was fine and the roof garden gave a pleasant aspect for a city hotel that has no other garden areas. The breakfast buffet was excellent with fresh pastries and a good spread of all the usual cold meats and cheeses as well as a hot selection.
The restaurant is open every weekday evening except Saturday and Sunday when meals are available in the Cafe Atlantic on the ground floor and there is a “Baby Brunch” buffet on Sundays which is popular with families, as children are entertained while parents can relax.
Dining in Cafe Atlantic
Having eaten out on Saturday night, we decided to dine in the hotel on Sunday evening as we were happy to have a night in after so much sightseeing when many of the local restaurants were closed. With Restaurant Justin closed on Sunday nights, we tried out Cafe Atlantic on the ground floor, starting with an aperitif at the chrome bar area, with acid yellow bar stools and a big TV screen on the wall playing sports. I really enjoyed my Ciapirinha cocktail while Guy had a beer before we moved to the casual dining area for a light dinner.
I decided to try out the Power Menu, which is designed for businessmen looking for a rapid set-price lunch. My choice was the Plat de jour with 3 mini deserts at €29 and I enjoyed the nicely grilled fish with a creamy sauce of shallots and chives and mashed potatoes on the side. Guy’s choice was from Les Signatures menu with French classic dishes and he ordered the Jarret de Veau braisse with legumes confits €28 – a small steak with a mixture of braised Mediterranean vegetables, followed by a plate of cheese with green salad €11.
Paris is an expensive city and if you’re watching your budget you probably wouldn’t be eating in the hotel, but I thought the prices were fair for a hotel of this quality and the service was friendly and efficient. While the food and atmosphere were enjoyable, I’d say Cafe Atlantic isn’t really a destination bar or restaurant but a place where guests can find a pleasant meal when they are too tired to go out and brave the buzzing nightlife of Boulevard du Montparnasse.
What’s there to do?
I sought the recommendations of the concierge on the best things to see close to the hotel and here are his suggestions;
Tour Montparnasse, for the best views over Paris especially in the evening when the nearby Eiffel tower is all lit up. There’s a viewing platform at the top and the Ciel de Paris restaurant and champagne bar which can be expensive, as you’re paying for the view and the Wow factor. There’s a small branch of Galerie Lafayette department store at the base of the tower.
Jardin du Luxembourg is a classic Parisian park 20 minutes walk from the hotel that is full of beautiful parterres, fountains and statues – a park for lovers but also fun for families as there’s a small boating lake where you can rent old fashioned toy boats to sail. There’s a branch of the Angelina’s tea room in the Musee du Luxembourg where you can try their famous hot chocolate and Mont Blanc meringue covered with chestnut cream.
The Saint-Suplice church is one of the largest churches in Paris, second only to Notre-Dame in size. This was the church where the famous French writer, Victor Hugo was married and you can also see frescoes by Eugene de la Croix. The church is in the elegant neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Pres where you will find some of the designer boutiques like Chanel and Louis Vuitton as well as classic brasseries, such as Les Deux Magots and Cafe Flore that were frequented by 19th century artists and writers. (25 mins or 2 stops on the metro)
The Catacombes are a must-see attraction for teenagers, housing the bones and skulls that were moved from the Cemetery of the Innocents in the 18th century to be relocated in this underground quarry. Be aware that there may be a queue as entrance is limited to 200 people at any one time. Entrance cost €8 and audioguide €3. (20 mins walk, 4 stops on the metro)
Le Bon Marche on the Rive Gauche is the oldest department store in Paris, and is recommended for its elegant designs and professional staff (3 stops on the Metro)
Where to eat out?
Here are the concierge suggestions for where to eat out while staying at Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse. Be aware that eating out in Paris is expensive by UK standards and you should expect to pay €40-€100 per person for dinner.
On Boulevard du Montparnasse you’ll find plenty of bars and brasseries although many are of the ‘just for tourists’ kind. For a classic brasserie try La Closerie des Lilas (171 Boulevard du Montparnasse) which in the 1920s became a favourite of writers such as Earnest Hemmingway and Scott Fitzgerald. Another brasserie to try is La Rotonde (105 Boulevard du Montparnasse) which was frequented by artists such as Picasso and Modigliani before the Second World War and for some of the best seafood in Paris make a reservation at Le Dome (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse) which serves fresh fish and classical French dishes in a large, historic dining room.
If you are looking for a bistro that’s more intimite you could try l’Assiette (181 Rue du Chateau) in a former butchers shop which is charming with a simple French front but the chef, David Rathgeber is a student of Alain Ducasse. Another Bistro to try is Le Chardenoux des Pres (27 Rue du Dragon in Saint-Germain-des-Pres) run by top chef Cyril Lignac.
American guests sometimes like a hamburger and are directed to Ralph Lauren’s mansion at 173 Boulevard de Saint Germain which has been converted into a showcase for the Ralph Lauren brand with fashion and home ranges on the upper floors and Ralph’s American restaurant on the ground floor for American dishes, with a private courtyard which is lovely to eat out in summer.
Families staying in Montparnasse might enjoy eating at the casual dining chain Hippopotamus (68 Bouleverd du Montparnasse) and the brasserie La Rotonde mentioned above (105 Boulevard du Montparnasse) is also good for families.
Who will Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse suit best?
We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Pullman which is ideally suited for business and leisure travellers who want a confortable, well located hotel as a base for sightseeing. Those looking for a romantic break with charm and character would need to book elsewhere, as this is a large hotel with 900+ bedrooms, although it effortlessly accommodated all guests and we never felt crowded. The decor of the hotel is modern, with an elegant and slightly masculine feel to the Superior and Deluxe rooms, while the Classic rooms were pleasant but with less up to date furnishings. The hotel would suit couples, groups of friends, business travellers and families with older children and is also ideal for group bookings as its size enables it to easily accommodate larger parties.
Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse : 19 Rue Commandant René Mouchotte, 75014 Paris
Rooms at Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse for a weekend spring break for 2 people with breakfast are from £140/night for a Classic Room, £160/night for a Superior room, £175/night for a Deluxe room (Based on prices at time of writing on the Hotel Pullman website – but may vary according to demand and season). Thanks to Hotel Pullman for hosting Heather and Guy for their weekend in Paris.
All the Paris posts
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25 delicious food tips in Paris – from top bloggers and Paris locals
Our winter weekend in Paris – the food, the sights, the video
Visitor Information for your weekend in Paris
Flights: Heather and Guy flew with Air France from Bristol to Paris – thanks to Air France for providing Heather’s flight. There are several flights per day with Air France to Paris Charles de Gaule Airport from London Heathrow and other regional airports.
Getting from the airport: The best value and quickest way to get from Charles de Gaule Airport (also known as Roissy) is to take the train directly from the airport station (a 10-15 min walk from the arrival gates). We bought a ticket at the machine (around €9.50 one way) in the station which covered our journey on the RER regional train to central Paris, with an easy change onto the Metro to take us to Hotel Pullman. The whole journey was around 1 hour from CDG Airport to Montparnasse. An alternative which might suit you if you are staying near Montparnasse is the Air France ‘Les Cars’ Airport Bus which drops you right opposite the Hotel Pullman Montparnasse (around €16.10 one way).
Getting around: We found the metro to be an easy and convenient way to get around and all tickets are valid on metro and buses. We considered buying the Ticket Mobilis day passes but were glad we didn’t in the end as we found that a ‘Carnet’ or book of 10 individual metro tickets (€13.30) lasted us both for the weekend, as we only took 1-2 Metro journeys each day and walked to many places as the weather was good.
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey
October 28, 2013 by Guest Author
Filed under Accommodation, Art and design, Beaches and swimming, Devon and Cornwall, Guest post, Hotels, Leisure, Misc, Museums, Nature, Sightseeing, United Kingdom, Walking
Cornwall is a popular choice with travellers during summer months but the characteristically mild period of autumn is also a fantastic time to visit the county. In fact, for those who know this part of the world well, it‘s often the preferred time to visit. There is simply something about autumn in Cornwall that can’t be beaten; the colours are spectacular, the sea is at its warmest and our favourite bit – you don’t have to battle with the crowds. So as Cornwall prepares for autumn, here we share with you a selection of our favourite things to do and see there:
Take a Coastal Walk
With fascinating mining landscapes and dramatic sea views, walking the coast path in Cornwall is a treat which is hard to equal. We especially enjoy the stretch between Hayle point and Godrevy Lighthouse, where it’s possible to walk on dunes, long stretches of sand and enjoy scrambling along those characteristic craggy granite cliffs. The views across St Ives bay are ever changing and dramatic, and the beach café at Godrevy makes a wonderful spot to stop for a warming hot chocolate afterwards.
Catch some Waves
Autumn is famously the time when Cornwall gets the best ‘swell’ and the waves are much less crowded than during the summer months. In fact whether you’re a complete beginner or an absolute pro you will be able to find some surf at the perfect size for your ability. Even if the weather looks less inviting we encourage you to give it a go. The sea has had all summer to warm up and with a decent wetsuit you’ll be able to splash around for hours without even thinking of catching a chill. If you don’t fancy surfing though you could try a spot of wild swimming and still get that wonderful refreshing feeling, with tingly skin and salt in your hair.
Explore Cornwall’s Thriving Art Scene
Cornwall has long been a haven for artists and as such is home to a cluster of very good Art galleries and museums. The Tate St Ives is probably Cornwall’s best known gallery but the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, also found in St Ives, is exceptional too. The Newlyn Art Gallery features an interesting range of changing contemporary exhibitions and the Falmouth Art Gallery houses a range of stunning works on oil, paper and beyond. Visiting any of these galleries is a smart move if the weather takes a turn for the worse and again you can enjoy them at this time of year without the crowds of summer.
Look for Whales Basking Sharks and Dolphins
One of our favourite things about Cornwall is how wild it is and what better way to pay testament to that than by getting out on the water to spot some of the creatures that live there. Many wonderful species of animals live in the water off the coast of Cornwall and there are a range of reputable companies that will take you to spot them. Of course, as they are wild animals nothing is guaranteed, but we think this rather adds to the adventure. When you do catch sight of a breaching porpoise, the peculiar looking sun fish, or encounter a majestic basking shark it makes the experience all the more memorable.
See a Show at the Hall for Cornwall
When you’re looking for some evening entertainment the Hall for Cornwall in Truro will provide just the solution. They have everything there from ballet and contemporary Dance, to live music, theatre and comedy. The Theatre is a real beacon on the Cornish arts scene and provides entertainment at a level that can rival that which you will find in any other British City. We love stopping off at the Old Grammar School, which is a great cocktail bar nearby, for a drink beforehand and making an evening of it.
Finding somewhere to stay is never a problem as there are a whole range of options to suit every budget, from convenient campsites at Newquay, to lovely holiday cottages in Falmouth, great B&B’s in St Ives and smart hotels at Mawgan Porth. The good news is that autumn often means reduced rates too as the peak period has passed. Autumn is a magical time to enjoy the county, so come and explore Cornwall away from the crowds and see what all the fuss is about.
This article is brought to you by Country View Cottages providers of Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall.
More things to see in Devon and Cornwell
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October 21, 2013 by Guest Author
Filed under Accommodation, Art and design, Eating and drinking, Guest post, Hotels, Leisure, London and around, Misc, Museums, Photography, Sightseeing, Street art, United Kingdom, Walking
At one time the area surrounding King’s Cross was associated with dingy late night bars and some of the city’s most untoward activities: Today though it couldn’t be more different. The unwelcoming bars and clubs have mostly gone and instead one of London’s newest and hippest area to hang out is developing. In the last few years this area has had an astronomical amount of money and creativity poured into it and the results are showing as interesting, classy and entertaining ways to spend your time in London are appearing. The British Library, the Welcome Collection, Central St Martin’s and the Guardian are all there now and it seems a fabulous new restaurant or attraction opens up every day. So, if you’re looking for a great autumn break, this could be just the answer. Book your ticket to London and we’ll fill you in on the best things to do in King’s Cross…
Soak Up Some Culture at Kings Place
One of the real triumphs of the newly developed area of King’s Cross is King’s Place. It’s a hub for music, art and food which is all found inside one award winning building. There’s a wide range of events going on there from the wacky to the wonderful – Perhaps join a Piano-Yoga class (Yoga for Pianists) or see some Classical Music, Folk or Jazz, or go to the regular Thursday evening Comedy night, Off With Their Heads. Also well worth a visit is Pangolin London, a wonderful gallery dedicated to modern and contemporary sculpture, as is the King’s Place Gallery which features regularly changing art exhibitions.
Visit the London Canal Museum
The canals are a fascinating part of London’s history and there is no better place to find out about them than the London Canal Museum. Today the canals are a place of leisure, with many Londoner’s using the tow path as a place to walk, jog or cycle, though once these canals provided vital transport connections for the city. The Museum gives an extraordinary insight into Victorian London when the canals were first created and you and you can take a look inside a narrow boat, learn about the cargoes carried on the boats and the horses that pulled them. The museum also has a genuine Victorian ice well where imported Norwegian Ice was stored after arrival before being sold to wealthy Londoners and even an early Ice-cream Maker! This is a lovely museum, a little off the beaten track and all the better for it.
See Platform 9 and ¾
If you’re a Harry Potter fan it will be a little hard to resist visiting this spot, where in all of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books the legendary Hogwarts Express leaves for wizard school. Of course, unless your own magical powers are up to scratch you won’t actually be able to take a train from the platform but you can enjoy taking a few snaps in the famous spot and taking in the impressive architecture of this huge station.
Explore the Oldest Christian Worship Site in Britain
Founded in 314 AD St Pancras Old Church is literally bursting with history. The church that you see today was actually rebuilt in 1837 but the site is itself is the oldest of its kind in Britain. The graveyard has become the final resting place for many famous people including, composer Johann Christian Bach and Mary Wollstonecraft, the ‘mother of Feminism’. In 1968 the Beatles even famously visited – for a photo-shoot! This is a fascinating spot and really is quite unlike anywhere else.
Dine Railway Style
If you are treating yourself to dinner out whilst you’re in King’s Cross we recommend Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel, where Mark Sergeant (Gordon Ramsay’s protégé) cooks up Modern British cuisine in chic and lively surroundings. There’s a real buzz to this place as business travellers and locals, young, old and everyone in between gather to dine in the beautifully designed restaurant, which can be accessed from the station’s main concourse. Try the Moons Green charcuterie plate to start and follow it up with the fantastic Salt Marsh lamb shank hot pot. And whatever you do don’t miss pudding. The citrusy Lemon posset, or the very English Kentish Gypsy tart, or even the Baked Alaska? It doesn’t matter, they’re all delicious – preferably order them all!
Take a Walk
London’s Canal network links the city together in a way that takes you away from traffic and into another pace of the city. You’ll pass countless runners and cyclists and probably spot the odd heron and moor hen too. The stretch that takes you to Regents Park is lovely, it takes about half an hour and leaves you free to wander around the park on arrival. Once you are there you could visit the famous London Zoo, where last week 300 people streaked to raise awareness of the plight of the Sumatran Tiger!
Stay at the Gorgeous Great Northern Hotel
The Great Northern Hotel in St Pancras is London’s original Victorian Railway Hotel and it stands proudly right next to King’s Cross Station. It reopened this year after a huge £40m restoration project and is now looking better than ever. The hotel has 91 rooms, all expertly decorated, with free WIFI, in room entertainment and a ‘pantry’ on every floor where guests can help themselves to home-baked cakes and nespresso coffees. The hotel has a rather glamorous bar too, the GNH Bar and the restaurant (which was our foodie pick!) is great at all times of the day.
We hope all of this has given you some ideas for your next trip to London – we are always happy to hear if you have any great ideas too! A little tip for King’s Cross though – pick up a map as many of King’s Crosses spots are so new Google Maps hasn’t necessarily caught up yet, so you can’t rely on your smart phone! Enjoy.
This article is brought to you by the Great Northern Hotel, an iconic boutique hotel metres from St Pancras International and home to the Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant.
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