Relais Christine: 4-Star Boutique Hotel, Paris 6th

By Margaret Kemp

Walking in Paris is always exciting, especially if you're a nosy investigative reporter. Don't tell me you've never come back from a walk without finding treasure at the end of the path to the left; or crossed the cobblestones, and there you see it. Your treasure. Mine was the Hotel Relais Christine, pure magic in the street of the same name, stumbled on by accident.

Enter the former convent/abbey (then private town-house) via the courtyard: it's the full medieval monty. Once poets like Baudelaire and Victor Hugo slept here, as did Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, sometimes with Simone, sometimes without. Today they don't give names of celebs, but someone said Umberto Eco.

Relais Christine was one of the first boutique hotels in Paris; the walls, dating from 1231 or thereabouts know it all. If only they could talk. No restaurant here, just an elegant B & B; breakfast is served in what was once the kitchen, with the original fireplace still here, perfect service.

Wonder what V. Hugo would make of the fitness centre, newly launched spa and jacuzzi? Well, bet he liked a nice massage did Victor, there's even a Finnish sauna, with twigs!

Upstairs, 51 suites and rooms are little gems, each individually decorated, some with Toile de Jouy, and nice antiques. Try and get a room with a terrace, or overlooking the courtyard—pure magic, darling. Right outside the wrought iron gates you've got Yves Camderborde (I know, but book ahead), Jacques Cagna, Relais Louis XIII and the Michelin-1* restaurant at L'Hotel, another gem.

If you want state-of-the-art go to the Murano, but if you want to feel part of the real Paris, come to Christine.

Relais Christine

3, rue Christine, Paris 6th

Métro:Odéon

Margaret Kemp is a Cordon Bleu graduate who spent a year traveling the world, working and watching in the kitchens of top chefs from Sydney, Australia via Bangkok, Hong Kong, California, New York and France. She reports for BonjourParis on the latest European trends, restaurants and hot spots. Please click on her name to see her weekly stories dating back to 2003.

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