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Have a city staycation: experience Paris in West London

Posted at 1:30 pm, July 27, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, Hotels & Travel

Staycation Paris © Rob Greig

These days, going on an actual holiday requires a second mortgage, a third job or a fourth credit card. Luckily, you can find nearly every kind of great getaway right here in London. Let us take you on a trip without leaving the city. 

I love Paris, but can a Londoner on a budget still indulge a passion for fine French food, wine and art? With a Gallic shrug, I’ll say oui: perhaps.

I start at the Institut Français’s café, Le Bistrot, in French expat-populated South Kensington for the mandatory black coffee and croissants. To make the experience really authentic, I even have an embarrassingly halting conversation with the waiter in French.

Next stop, a free exhibition of watercolours by British artists of Parisian scenes at the Wallace Collection (until Sep 15). While gazing at the Pont Neuf and the Ile de la Cité as painted by the likes of Turner, I soon forget the London streets outside.

Round the corner, La Fromagerie in Moxon Street, an establishment offering the finest French cheese and wine, provides some powerful and pungent sustenance. Then to the secondhand book market under Waterloo Bridge (daily noon to 7pm) – not as picturesque as the bouquinistes that line the Seine, but you might find a slim volume of Flaubert for your pocket.

Time for cake, and to patisserie Maison Bertaux in Greek Street, founded in 1871 – their sweet tart au fraise alone is evocative of the City of Light.

Paris invented cabaret, so it’s off to Madame Jojo’s Cabaret Roulette (second Wednesday of the month, £15) for hilarious pastiche and saucy French striptease, before I head chez moi. The five-star French-style Sofitel in St James is appealing, but at around £400 a night it’s steeper than Mont Ventoux. Bonne nuit, Paris. Je t’aime. But the thing is… I’ve found someone new. Daisy Bowie-Sell

Paris in London: The Cost

Travel £4.50.
Lunch at La Fromagerie £18.
Cost to your dignity of trying to speak French to Parisians whose English is better than yours Exorbitant.

Paris not your bag? Go to Las Vegas in London instead.

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