A view of St Germain’s rooftops from the balcony of a room at L’Hotel.
For someone who considers himself fairly well-travelled, there are some glaring omissions in my travel history to date.
Among our own British Isles, I am yet to set foot in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
But even less excusable, from a travel convenience point of view, was my neglect of Paris until now.
The French capital is one of the most culturally and historically rich cities in the world and for Londoners itâ€™s just a two-hour train journey away.
The Eurostar route from St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord is almost certainly cheaper and more convenient than any internal flight from London to Edinburgh or Belfast.
Arriving at Gare du Nord, you are just yards from one of the cityâ€™s numerous MĂ©tro lines â€“ by far the cheapest and most convenient mode of public transport in Paris, though not as good as Londonâ€™s Tube.
We hopped straight off the Eurostar and onto MĂ©tro Line 4, heading south from Gare du Nord and passing Âbeneath the River Seine to Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s, the westernmost section of the cityâ€™s Left Bank.
This southern bank of the Seine has long been famous as the haunt of bohemians and intellectuals.
Historically, it was considered the hub of counterculture and creativity, in contrast with central Paris on the riverâ€™s northern bank, aptly referred to as the Right Bank, which was considered more closely aligned with the Establishment.
Embracing the bohemian spirit of St. Germain, we took residence during our stay in Lâ€™Hotel, a charming four-star boutique in a quiet side street backing onto the Seine and notably the final residence of Oscar Wilde.
The hotel is responsible for two of Wildeâ€™s final bon mots, purportedly made shortly Âbefore his death in 1900.
It was in Lâ€™Hotel, then known as HĂ´tel dâ€™Alsace, that he was recorded remarking, â€śI am dying beyond my meansâ€ť, and famously, â€śMy wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has to go.â€ť
Stepping inside Lâ€™Hotel is like stepping back in time, into a dimly-lit, moody lair of opulence. It feels like a snapshot from Wildeâ€™s own decadent imagination.
The hotelâ€™s centrepiece is a magnificent spiral staircase that pierces its core and leads to six floors of individually-designed bedrooms and suites. There are just 20 in Âtotal, each exuding the hotelâ€™s opulent spirit.
Built into the vaults is an underground hammam pool and steam room which can be reserved for use in hour-long slots.
There is also an in-house one Michelin star restaurant and a classy little bar offering high-quality cocktails and nibbles. But as with all of Paris, you will need a big purse to indulge in the hotel amenities.
Outside of the hotel is a myriad of charming narrow streets, full of art galleries exhibiting just a handful of pieces each.
With property prices in this part of Paris looking very much like prices in the most affluent areas of London, it is hard to fathom how so many gallery spaces can sustain themselves in St. Germainâ€™s salubrious surrounds.
Further south from the Âhotel and its neighbouring galleries and antique dealers is Boulevard Saint-Germain â€“ the main road dissecting St. Germain â€“ lined with high-end shops and a few historic cafes.
There are restaurants and cafĂ©s aplenty in the streets branching off Boulevard Saint-Germain, but do not Âexpect to find many cheap options in this neighbourhood. The more well-known eateries are obviously the more expensive but on the whole itâ€™s a pricey place to eat.
We found a delightful little restaurant called La Jacobine tucked away along a little cobbled alleyway off Boulevard Saint-Germain.
This rustic brasserie offers a wholesome, reasonably-priced menu of home-cooked dishes in hearty portions. The French onion soup is the best Iâ€™ve tried anywhere.
If the sun is shining in St. Germain then head east to the Jardin du Luxembourg, the chief green space of the Left Bank.
Overlooked by the Palais du Luxembourg, seat of the French senate, this expansive garden â€“ with a round pond at its centre and dotted with colourful floral arrangements â€“ makes for a Ârefreshing stroll.
And if the heavens open â€“ as they did for much of our visit â€“ then head to the MusĂ©e dâ€™Orsay, along the riverfront on the western edge of St. Germain. This grand former railway station is now home to an Âunparalleled collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.
Fortuitously, we made our visit in time to catch a four-month van Gogh exhibition which allowed us to get face-to-face with some of the Âartistâ€™s most famous paintings.
It made for a befitting end to our Paris experience in the cityâ€™s artistic heartland where the likes of van Gogh, Gauguin and Wilde once walked.