Business trip: Paris
While the building may be old, the attitude and decor are hip, young and fashion forward at the 30-room Le Bourg Tibourg hotel. Centrally located in the bohemian Marais district, you can get free wi-fi in your cosy, richly decorated room via a loaned iPad from the front desk.
Completed in 2006, the ultra-modern, ultra-luxe, 107-room Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere on the Champs-Elysées is an extraordinary amalgamation of five buildings surrounding an interior courtyard, with rooms decorated in rich velvet, leather and even shark skin. In a nice touch, wi-fi and several mini-bar items are complimentary.
Business travellers eager to earn Marriott Rewards points can choose the contemporary, 118-room Renaissance Arc de Triomphe, which has an unusual wavy glass façade that stands out on the historic Champs Elysées.
For an unforgettable view of the Eiffel Tower when it sparkles in the evening, or a bright business lunch under a glass canopy, book a table at Les Ombres, on the rooftop of the Musee du Quai Branly. For what many consider the best steak frites or steak tartare in town, follow the crowd of meat lovers to Le Severo near Montparnasse. If you really want to impress a Parisian, nab a hard-to-get reservation at Frenchie, known for its simple, fresh cuisine prepared by chef Gregory Marchand, and served in a tiny space near the Paris Bourse (stock exchange).
The brand new L’Opera Restaurant offers stylish and light meals in a colourful, modernist setting that seems to float inside the classically styled Opera Garnier. Enjoy the minimalist, beautifully-crafted cuisine and surroundings at the super-hot Agape Substance, where eating at the counter encourages interaction with chefs and staff. If you grow tired of French fare, the plush, popular Shang Palace at the new Shangri-La hotel offers a high-end take on Cantonese favourites like sweet pork buns or Peking duck, and recently earned a Michelin star.
To stay on top of what is hot (or not) on the Parisian dining scene, check out the websites of famous Paris-based foodies such as Alexander Lobrano, European correspondent for the now-defunct Gourmet magazine, or Patricia Wells, author of The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris and former food critic for the International Herald Tribune.
Off the clock
New York City’s much-celebrated High Line, which turned an abandoned elevated railway line into a popular public park, took its cue from Paris’s Promenade Plantée, a beautifully landscaped walkway through eastern Paris, which opened in 1989. This 4.5km stroll, which begins just east of the Opera Bastille, winds above and below ground by shops and gardens along what was once the Vincennes railway line. It is open to pedestrians and cyclists only, making it a perfect place to escape the hubbub of the city for a walk or jog when your meetings are over.
It is a pity that business trips to Paris are, well, busy, with never enough time between appointments and flights to have a truly local experience. But if you find yourself with a couple of extra hours, take a stroll down the Rue des Martyrs, just down the hill from the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmarte. This tiny street bustles with locals patronizing a diverse array of small, family-run shops specialising in everything from fruits, cheese, chocolate, meat and baguettes to toys, scarves, jewellery, art or shoes. Looking for the perfect souvenir to bring home? You will likely find something unique on Rue des Martyrs.
Don’t do this!
Do not greet your French counterparts in English -- speaking French first is considered polite and will help get your business trip off to a good start. Before your trip, consult apps such as Triplingo, websites like BBC’s French Steps or French speakers at your company that can help you with basic, properly-accented French phrases and in business meetings, use the formal honorifics monsieur, madame and mademoiselle when speaking with your counterparts until asked to do otherwise.