Relais Christine :
The Ideal Location
A stroll away from Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter
In a city like Paris, location is everything.
My ideal hotel is one that is located in the center of the action, but on a quiet street. The hotel that perfectly fits this description in Paris is Relais Christine, on the Left Bank. Located on quiet Rue Christine, Relais Christine is only a short stroll away from iconic attractions like Notre Dame and bustling neighborhoods like the Latin Quarter.
Relais Christine - Enter Through the Courtyard
I also love a hotel with historic character. Relais Christine was built in the early 17th century as a private residence. Arriving at the hotel, I passed through a blooming courtyard to reach the front door. Each of the 57 rooms at Relais Christine are individually decorated. It is worth going through the room descriptions here when you book to find one that is a perfect match for your preferences. Like a quiet cup of coffee in the morning? Try the garden suites. Interested in the architecture of the building? Check out the split-level suites.
Some travelers might be wary about a boutique hotel with such a central location, worried about a small size or lack of amenities. I was surprised at the range of amenities on offer here, from a full-service spa to a drawing room with chessboards and fireplaces. While the décor is always comfortable and modern, these rooms are also filled with rare wooden antiques that give a hotel like Relais Christine its unique character.
One fantastic example of this local character is the breakfast room. Located downstairs in the vaults, this room is a dramatic setting for a morning meal. The table was filled with fresh orange juice, pastries, baguette, and cheese. An omelette was made to order and a fresh pot of coffee was brought. Our table was set next to the original 13th century hearth, decorated with antique cooking tools.
Another benefit of choosing a boutique hotel this size is the level of service. Staff are experts at speaking both French and English, and are pleased to assist guests with restaurant reservations, shopping recommendations, and maps to reach local attractions. During this stay at Relais Christine, I followed the advice of the helpful staff to reach famous attractions on foot, including the Luxembourg Gardens, the well-known ice cream shops of Ile St Louis, and brasseries of the Latin Quarter.
When surrounded by fellow tourists in a large hotel, there can be a compelling atmosphere of crossing attractions off the list, of squeezing in as much Paris as possible. Relais Christine delivers a much different atmosphere. Waking in this historic building and relaxing over a long breakfast set the tone for taking our time with this Paris trip. We stopped for coffee. Lingered over long lunches. Strolled the Seine. Of all my trips to Paris, this was the first where I didn’t set foot in a museum, and yet it might be the trip where I felt I scratched beneath the surface of Paris the most.
The Best Time to Visit
Many travelers wonder when to visit Paris. The time I spent at Relais Christine was in the springtime, as flowers began to bloom and the first outdoor tables of the season were brought to the sidewalks. During the spring and summer season, I would love to wake up in the garden suites of Relais Christine, starting my day by reading the newspaper on a private outdoor terrace. Yet there are other rooms in the hotel that are perfect for fall or winter visits. This cozy hotel has plenty of public space if you need to get inside and warm up a little by the fireplace. With a proper coat, autumn can be one of the most striking seasons to visit Paris. You will also get the chance to witness that signature Parisian fog, and stroll over the bridges during quiet evenings.
I have spoke to friends who went to Paris and found themselves searching for the city, for that spirit that so many others speak of. After staying at Relais Christine, I realized that a hotel can set the stage for finding that type of authenticity. I experienced none of the brash customer service that is sometimes reported in France; this hotel squashed those rumors and set a new standard for the quality of a boutique hotel.
For a hotel that provides restaurant recommendations where you will be surrounded by people speaking French (and not fellow American tourists) choose Relais Christine. To ride in a teeny old elevator and maneuver the historic hallways to your room, choose Relais Christine. I may have arrived for the location and the privacy, but as I left the cobbled courtyard on my last day, ....