I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Paris is my favourite city in the world and every time I visit, I discover new reasons to love this city – new places to walk, to eat, to shop and to stay. In the past, I’ve stayed at both grand hotels and small boutique properties, each oozing with Parisian charm in different ways. On my most recent trip, I was invited by Pullman Hotels (part of the Accor Hotels Group, one of the largest hotel chains in the world) to stay at the Pullman Paris Bercy.
When my husband Johnny Jet and I first arrived at the hotel, we were less than impressed. The hotel, located right off the highway we took from the airport, seemed to be situated far from the heart of Paris and at first glance, the surrounding area seemed a bit industrial, not at all like the beautiful city I had fallen in love with. But first impressions are often wrong and in less than 24 hours, we realized what makes the Pullman Paris Bercy a good choice for visitors to the city.
Staying at the Pullman Paris Bercy introduced us to a side of Paris we’d never otherwise have seen.
The Pullman Paris Bercy is really a business hotel, but acknowledging that business travelers actually spend a fair bit of time engaging in pleasure pursuits, the hotel has created an atmosphere that delivers the best of both, thus the portmanteau ‘bleasure’ hotel.
Boasting lots of glass windows, the hotel lobby is flooded with natural light during the daytime, making it a bright and welcoming place to be. The lobby is always buzzing (we saw lots of flight attendants on layovers checking in) and the friendly staff are always easy to find and ready to help. The room we stayed in was two levels, spacious and comfortable. The lower level was perfect for business travelers, with a wide working desk, an adjustable desk lamp and ergonomically designed rolling seats. There’s free WiFi throughout the hotel, which I love. In addition to a functional working space, the lower level also had a comfortable living room area with a large flat screen TV and a bathroom with a shower.
Upstairs was small but quite comfortable. We had a king-sized bed, a clean, modern bathroom with a bathtub and a view of Paris that was quite pretty at night when the city was lit up (the daytime view is marred by rooftops and unattractive buildings). The king size bed was made up of two mattresses and they just never stayed together. Inevitably, in the middle of the night, either my husband or I would find ourselves lodged between the slowly separating mattresses. The good news is that all of the hotel’s mattresses are soon scheduled to be replaced so this shouldn’t be a problem for much longer. Favourite room feature: The automated blackout curtains ensure a good night’s sleep.
The main restaurant is L’Esprit du 12ème, named after the arrondissement in which the hotel is located. Over the course of our stay, we had breakfast and lunch here and the food, mostly French cuisine prepared under the guidance of chef Julien Mercier, was great. The breakfast buffet provides ample choices of eggs, fruit, cheeses and fresh breads (it’s not breakfast in Paris until you’ve had a baguette with Nutella!) and fresh fruit juices. Our lunchtime meal was wonderful. After filling up on too much bread (again!), I sampled the avocado and grapefruit salad and ended with a delectable lemon meringue tart.
There’s also an expansive lobby bar situated right in the heart of the hotel’s lobby, making it a focal point and a frequent meeting place for business travelers and locals alike. It was always busy and buzzing and is a great place to stop for a drink before or after dinner, whether you’re dining in the hotel or off-property.
Getting to the Metro
Speaking of off-property … As I mentioned at the beginning, my first impression of the hotel is that it was less than ideally situated. I was wrong. Sure, it’s not a quick walk to Paris’ major attractions but I quickly learned that the Cour Saint-Émilion Metro stop is just 200 metres away from the hotel’s front entrance. Even better, this stop is on Line 14, probably the best line for tourists looking to easily get to popular destinations like The Louvre and Notre Dame. It takes just 10 minutes to get into the heart of Paris and there are no transfers – it’s as simple as can be.
Bercy Village and Parc de Bercy
Even better? In order to get to the Metro from the hotel, you must walk through the delightful and quaint Bercy Village. I was thrilled to discover this little gem, a small stretch of cobblestone streets lined with shops and restaurants with outdoor patios. It’s beautiful and best of all, it’s not overrun by tourists. It’s a popular local hangout so you really feel like you’re living like a Parisian, rather than being swept along through busy tourist attractions with throngs of tourists. Next to the village is Parc de Bercy. At 14 hectares, it’s sizeable and is comprised of three main gardens: The Romantic Garden, where you’ll find fishponds; The Flowerbeds, dedicated to plants and flowers; and The Meadows, open lawns and tall trees. We accidentally stumbled upon the park and were thrilled with our beautiful find. In early April, it was filled with locals, parents strolling with their children, lovers picnicking, students stretched out on the grass reading. Ah, Paris in the springtime. Divine!
The Pullman Paris Bercy was a clean, modern and comfortable place to stay and despite our initial reservations, it turned out to be an eye-opening experience, one that introduced us to a side of Paris we’d never otherwise have seen. I absolutely loved getting a different perspective of this city j’adore and realized just how easy it is to get to Paris’ popular attractions from Bercy.