Showing posts with label Mama Shelter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mama Shelter. Show all posts

Monday, 25 February 2013

Snow in Paris

Victoria Beckham looked frozen as she watched her husband make his debut for Paris St-Germain last night. I’ve just spent two days in Paris and I’ve rarely felt so cold. The temperature never lifted above -2 degrees, there was a biting wind and flurries of snow fell all weekend. My daughter wore three jumpers and I kept my Brora fingerless gloves and scarf on indoors and out. We had to dive into cafes every half an hour to stop our teeth chattering. Yet when I glanced at the papers this morning Victoria had stepped off the Eurostar in an unfastened coat, with her ankles bare and no gloves. She’s clearly tougher than the rest of us.

But never mind the cold, Paris is one of the prettiest cities on earth. We stayed at the super-stylish Mama Shelter, which boasts chic rooms, friendly staff, reasonable prices and a great brunch. Even though it’s slightly off the beaten track (in the 20th arrondissement) buses whizz past every ten minutes to whisk you into the centre for the princely sum of two euros – which meant we were at Bastille in fifteen minutes and in the Rue de Rivoli in thirty. As we chatted on the number 26 bus a Paris-based sports journalist from the UK tapped us on the shoulder and said he never usually heard English voices “on this route.” He made us feel like real locals.

Instead of sticking to our usual haunts we decided to visit an area we hadn’t been to before –the Batignolles, where Manet had his studio and artists like Degas, Renoir, Monet and Cezanne used to gather (at the Café Guerbois on the Avenue de Clichy). It boasts a pretty park, a village-like atmosphere and lots of quirky shops and art galleries. My daughter bought a pink hyacinth at the lovely flower shop below – I only hope it survives the winter on her student windowsill.

Mama Shelter is a five-minute stroll from the famous Père Lachaise cemetery so on Sunday morning we headed down the rue de Bagnolet and through the ancient archway. It’s the largest cemetery in Paris and one of the most famous in the world. Among the renowned names buried there are Chopin, Moliere, Proust, Colette, Modigliani, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Not surprisingly, with a total of 69,000 tombs at the cemetery, a map is essential.

Actually, a snowy Sunday morning in February was definitely the time to visit this historic graveyard. A distant church bell tolled solemnly and the pale grey sky gave it a gothic, rather eery air – like something out of a Balzac novel in fact. Actually - and rather appropriately - he is buried there too.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hotel review: Mama Shelter in Paris

If you’re looking for a chic hotel in Paris that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg then Mama Shelter could be the place for you. I’d been wanting to stay there for ages and last weekend I finally got the chance.

Situated near the Père Lachaise cemetery in the 20th district (or as Parsians would say, the vingtième), it’s not the most central location. The metro is a brisk ten-minute walk and then it’s eight stops to Hôtel de Ville. But if you don’t mind that (and we didn’t at all), then give it a try. 
Designed by Philippe Starck and opened in 2009, Mama Shelter boasts ultra-modern rooms with crisp, white linen, Kiehl’s shampoo and soap, iMacs and free Wi-Fi. Best of all, the prices are reasonable by Paris standards. My daughter and I paid 79 euros each for a room with twin beds and an en-suite shower.

From the chic dining room (boasting every make of trendy chair you can possibly imagine) to the rooftop terrace, Mama Shelter is gorgeous to look at. I particularly liked the giant mirrors with details of the day’s events in Paris scrawled across the glass and the low blackboard ceilings covered in chalked drawings and graffiti.

On Saturday morning we had coffee at a traditional café en route to the metro station at Gambetta but on Sunday we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at Mama Shelter. The cost was 15 euros each, which seemed a little on the steep side – until we tried it out. As we helped ourselves to limitless coffee, fruit, yoghurt and croissants we realised we didn’t need to eat again till supper-time.

It was a balmy 26 degrees in Paris on Sunday so we sat outside on the long, narrow terrace overlooking a disused railway line. With its huge outdoor lanterns, massive sofas and friendly staff, Mama Shelter has an urban charm all of its own.

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