You feel it in the air, the heady mix of instant glamour and old culture, ancient and modern, European without being stuck up. There is a sense of being on screen, people move around like a camera is following them, like being in that city qualifies you to a bigger drama of life. Even bottled water looks poignant in a wine glass. Paris has derelict elements, like any other city, but there is an air of self conscious, unapologetic style even in its poorer neighbourhoods.
The grand hotels on the Right Bank are expensive. There are lots of boutique and design hotels on the Left Bank near the Latin Quarter. Rooms in most business hotels are tiny and breakfasts can be disappointing (only bread and cheese). The Bristol is wonderful. I normally stay at the Sofitel, near our headquarters on Avenue Matignon. I like the old world charm, and very prim and proper service.
I think French food is more fancy than tasty. Splurging? Try Les Ambassadeurs: Luxurious 18th Century décor, silverware and candlelight. Lots of boulangeries and bistros around the corner wherever you are. Most places serve a pretty decent bouillabaise (fish soup) and steak frittes. To go more hard-core French try the foie gras, cheese fondue or the escargots bourgogne (little snails baked in the shell, covered with herbs and butter). Don’t let cocky waiters intimidate you.