Before I started the low FODMAP diet I loved to make macarons, and I loved to eat them. Unfortunately I now react very badly to nuts so I can’t have more than half a macaron. Luckily I love to experiment at the kitchen so one day I thought: ” Well… if I can’t eat nuts, maybe I can replace the almonds with glutenfree oat?”
Before I arrived to Paris I must admit I was afraid it would be difficult to find any restaurant which could cover my needs of getting food without gluten, lactose, onion and garlic. Not because I was afraid they wouldn’t help me, but because of the language barriers. It seems like my worries were only worries!
The first day, for lunch, I asked for a burger without the bread. I took the chance that the burger was only meat, and it was! I had french fries to the burger and I didn’t react at all.
Another day I had duck-breast, and the same happened, it was all ”naturelle” (becomes more fun if you read it with a French accent! )! I’ve had burger and beef later and I don’t think there were even salt an pepper at the food! (That was quite a disappointment, but in another way, for me it was better than a meal full of onion and garlic!)
In France they have a shop, Monoprix, where they sell groceries, clothes, underwear, kitchen-stuff etc… etc… I went to the one in Montparnasse and I found both Schar glutenfree food AND a French (or Spanish?) brand called Gerble. Some of the products may contain corn flour, but I managed to translate ” almidon de maiz” and I think it means ”corn starch”. Many people who can’t have corn flour, can still eat corn starch. I tested the biscuit with chocolate and to be honest… it didn’t taste great, but it’s better than nothing!
It seems like the French are fond of Japanese food, there is a Japanese restaurant on every corner. For me, it looks like there are one supplier of sushi here as every restaurant have the same menu. If you look what the people eat, they also all eat the same! However, sushi is a safe, low FODMAP choice, so I still recomend it!
From Arc de Triomphe you can shop (or window-shop if you prefer) at the nice shops at Champs-Elysees.
The French designer Louis Vuitton has a big house in Champs-Elysees, so have some of the other designer-brands, but you can also find high-street shops like H&M and Massimo Dutti in the street. You will find most of the more exclusive brands in a side-road of Champs-Elysees, The Av. Montaigne.
You should not walk past the macaron-master Laduree without buying a macaron or two. You can take them home, as a souvenire or present, or you can simply eat them at the “tea-room” in the shop, or do both…
Many days before we arrived I could see, through the internet, that our room had been upgraded from a standard room to an executive. Although I am a Platinum member of the ICH brand, I never even hope for an upgrade at Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, so this was a pleasant surprise.
The surprise was even bigger when the friendly woman at the front-desk told us that the mini-bar was free at the exectuive room AND when we entered the room and we realized we had a huge balcony (at least compared to some very tiney once we have had at other hotels, I think this must have been at least 2*10 meter), at the top-floor! The room was double the size of the standard-rooms (I had a sneak-peak into one when I walked past and the door was open) and had a jetted bath-tub.
We didn’t have breakfast included in the rate, so I never saw the breakfast. There are plenty of bakeries, cafes, restaurants and even a grocery-store close to the hotel, so there is no need to book a rate with breakfast!
The good things:
- An excellent upgrade
- Friendly front-desk staff
- Very good location, close to several metro-stations
- Lots of pubs, bars, shops etc… in the area
- Lively area
- Free WiFi for members in their loyalty program
The not so good things:
- A strange noise coming on/off all day. It’s not very loud, but if you have heard it once, you will not forget it
- Houskeeping do everything in steps, so if you use the room at day-time you will have 3 visits: First when they clean the room. Second when they deliver clean towels and third when they replenish the toiletries and the mini-bar
- The water-pressure in the shower was very weak
- The WiFi denies you access to some pages, for instance, my blogs
How to get to the hotel from Charles De Gaule airport:
The easiest would be to take a taxi, however that would also be the most expensive (around 40-60 Eur. I think). Instead you can take the train to either Gare de l’Est or Denfert Rochereau and change to metro number 4. to Montparnasse Bienvenue. The hotel is located 10-15 min. from the metrostation.
If I would go back?
Yes, this is a decent hotel in a great area. Not exactly in the middle of the touristic area, but not in the middle of nowhere either.
After 3 days without being able to reach my blog, I have now, finally, bought a VPN. (Don’t ask me about the technical terms here. The only thing I know is that a VPN will help me to be able to get into my blogs although the network I am using is trying to restrict me.) Even in China, I was allowed to read/write my blogs. It seems like some French hotels are harder than that, as I had the same problem in Nancy and a friend of mine, who was in Paris for the weekend, also had the same problems from her hotel.
This hotel defines everything I like with a luxury hotel: The old glamour (it was built in 1862) combined with refined and gracious service, a nice and cozy – but still elegant clublounge with excellent food-offerings, the best location and a bed and linens to die for. I have been to Intercontinental Paris le Grand once before, and I really loved it then. This time we had only one night, but a night I will remember for a long time.
We knew we would have an early check-in and I had informed the hotel in advance, via Twitter. When we arrived we were taken care of immediately by a very charming bell-boy. He sent us to the check-in area where we met the front-desk manager. We were told we had been upgraded to the Prestige Suite, but since it was not ready we could wait in the club-lounge or we could get another room. As I was eager to see the club-lounge (rumours said it was fantastic) AND I of course wanted to stay in the prestige suite, we chose to go to the club-lounge.
And yes, it was extraordinary! I have been to many hotel club-lounges, but this must be among the best I have ever been to. Everything, from food (offering and qualitywise) to the staff, was excellent.
After a delicious breakfast (served until 11) we were taken to our room, the prestige suite. It’s not the biggest suite I have been to, but it had the same old granduer feeling as the hotel, and I loved it. The fact that the table in the living-room was filled with fruit, macaroons, luxurious juices and small, sweet treats, didn’t impress me the less.
As a Royal Ambassador (the highest level in the Intercontinentals bonus-program) the mini-bar drinks are free. A big plus for two bottles of real Champage!
The only thing that disappointed me, just a tiny little bit, was that we got the same Agara toiletries as they offer in the standard-rooms. Last time I stayed at this hotel I got L’Occitane toiletries, which feels more luxuious.
More facts about the club-lounge:
07.30 – 11: Breakfast. Lots of different cold-cuts, Champagne, scrambeled eggs, bacon, etc… etc… You can also order fried and boiled eggs. Mr. No-Backpacker loves eggs Benedict and asked for that. Originally they don’t serve it, but the club-manager made it as a special order for Mr-Nobackpacker! According to him, this is one of the best eggs Benedict with home-made Hollandaise-saus, smooth as silk!
12.30 to 14.30 Finger-food, fruits and soft-drinks.
15.30 to 17.30 Afternoon-tea with the most delicate pastries and cakes.
18.30 to 21.00 Open bar, canapes and sweets. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures, but it was all in the same league as the other meals.
This must have been some of the best hotel-experiences I have ever had and I loved every minute although I was not able to eat most of the food because of my food-allergies. I didn’t want to make “a fuss” about my diet, so I didn’t ask for something special beforehand. However I asked for some cold ham when the other ate canapes and sweets, and was told there were a lot more if it wasn’t enough. To be honest, I am sure they would have made something nice for me if I had asked, but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll do that next time?
We are going back to Paris next week and will then stay at a less luxurious, not to say mediocre, Holiday Inn (mostly because Mr. No-Backpacker is going to work close to that hotel) so we decided to enjoy the hotels facilities this time. Next week I will do the exploring while Mr. No-Backpacker is working. For more about Paris, please come back next week!