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While living in Paris, France, rain tapped melodiously on my window panes and landed in large splats on sidewalks which mirrored the equally dreary skies. I saw busy, fashionable locals dodging umbrellas to find respite in a cafe over a steaming hot espresso, their artisan breads tucked under their arms or wedged into a cloth, reusable bag filled with that night’s dinner: fresh mussels, fennel and crisp green lettuce — all from the farmers market. I was transported back to my previous life in Seattle: Twin cities of the same weather and latitude, both with a fashionable hipster attitude and obsessive foodie culture.
A view from the stage at the Seattle Opera
With the euro soaring to new heights, why not suggest that your savvy clients trade in those snapshots of the Tour Eiffel for its glorious American sister, the Space Needle? For the budget-conscious and those on time restraints, a quick jaunt to Seattle can provide Francophiles and Parisian lovers with a French escape. Pampering French spa treatments, designer cutting-edge shopping and cultural entertainment, French-themed hotels an array of well-established gourmet French restaurants, bakeries and specialty food purveyors can add to your clients’ slice of Paris in Seattle.
Chic shopping at hip new boutiques awaits in the neighborhoods of Ballard and Fremont, whether your clients splurge on $900 French eyeglass frames or order custom-made Swedish clogs. There are also several boutiques spread out along downtown’s First Ave., from Pioneer Square through Belltown.
Downtown is a fashionable place to direct clients who are interested in the region’s culture. Along with the Seattle Art Museum, don’t forget to point out opera, theater and symphony shows, all of which are considered world-class in Seattle.
Clients can take a bite out of France by seeking regional food artisans all of whom can be found easily through Seattle’s gastronomical delights: handcrafted cheeses, savory charcuterie and wine. In Pioneer Square, just before the International district, is the famous Salumi, a family-owned restaurant that has been curing sumptuous meats for ages, literally. Since it serves only lunch, clients must arrive early to beat the long line for a salami sandwich that could make even a French person swoon (www.salumicuredmeats.com).
Of course, the raison d’être of French life is homemade cheese. At Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market, they can watch artisans create award-winning Flagship Cheddar while sampling an array of local cheeses made from raw milk from cows, sheep and goats(www.beechershandmadecheese.com). Also, Seattle’s cheese festival is held in May.
On a Friday, clients can stop in at Pike and Western Wine Shop for its free 3-6 p.m. wine tasting;specialty tastings can be arranged for groups. Or they can head to Ballard Avenue to the Portalis Wine Shop & Bar, home of Cadeaux chocolates — made locally, but in the French method — while sipping some of France’s best vintages. Tuesday features all-night-long happy hours. At the Hotel 1000 (a great base for your clients to stay near the museums and market), guests can enjoy wine-tasting flights in the lounge at night and French treatments during the day in the hotel’s spa.
French Dining in SeattleHere’s where clients can have a French meal in Seattle from a range of price points:Le Panier A very French bakery, from its authentic chocolate and almond croissants to baguettes served with coffee and espresso at the counter.206-441-3669www.lepanier.com Belle EpicureanSeattle’s premier patisserie specializing in handmade, freshly prepared breakfast pastries and brioches, sausage en croute, Alsatian flatbread and warm chevre salads.206-262-9404www.belleepicurean.com Entre NousA wonderful French tapas and fondue restaurant where sharing is encouraged by its French chef from Nice. (The name means "between us.") Hearty French onion soups and classic ratatouille grace the lunch menu.206-905-1633www.entrenousseattle.com
Le PichetThis Pike Place Market hot spot is known for seasonal French food with creative yet traditional entrees, a good selection of cured meats, boudins and delicious desserts.206-256-1499www.lepichetseattle.com
Cafe CampagneThis Parisian bistro is tucked beneath Campagne Restaurant on Post Alley. While lunch and dinner are available seven days a week, an a la carte brunch menu is also offered on the weekends.206-728-2800www.campagnerestaurant.com
Campagne RestaurantOne of Seattle’s best romantic restaurants and brunch spots, Campagne Restaurant overlooks the flower stalls and produce stands of the Market and Elliott Bay. This year, it took home the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator's Restaurant Wine List Awards.206-728-2800www.campagnerestaurant.com
Rover’sThe creme de la creme of fine French dining in Seattle. It’s flawless, very posh and offers incredible, once-in-a-lifetime vintages.206-325-7442www.rovers-seattle.comFrench/European-Themed Hotels in SeattleHotel 1000800-252-6304www.hotel1000seattle.comCommission: 10-15 percent if booked through KiwiCollection.com. Also, your clients will receive upgrades and VIP status.
Hotel Monaco 800-252-6304www.kimptonhotels.comCommission: Up to 15 percent
Sorrento Hotel800-252-6304www.hotelsorrento.com Commission: 10 percent
Click here to read an exclusive Q&A with the Hotel Monaco concierge