51 Hours in DC by Sébastien Giannini

Washington, DC, U.S.A.

51 Hours in DC is a series highlighting the richness and diversity of the Nation’s Capital through the eyes of the employees of Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC.

Our second “51 Hours in DC” is brought to you by Executive Chef Sébastien Giannini.

Originally from Toulon in the south of France, Sébastien Giannini moved to the DC area in 2017 with his wife Anina Belle. “One of the first things that attracted me to DC was its European feel," says Sébastien. “I felt immediately at home." Since their arrival in DC, the Gianninis have welcomed a little girl and are expecting a second child. In his time off, Sebastien likes to take long walks around the city with his family and pop into some of his favourite restaurants, often with a toddler in tow.

Read below for how Sébastien would spend his ideal French-inspired weekend in DC. We hope that this will inspire your own travels to our Nation’s Capital.

51 Hours in DC by Sébastien Giannini

Friday Afternoon

While this might not be conventional, if I was arriving in DC for the first time I would actually start my weekend by going outside of DC to next door Rosslyn, Virginia. The View of DC gives you the best birds-eye view of the city. Afterwards, I would pick up a meal to go from one of the many take-out restaurants in Rosslyn and walk towards Iwo Jima monument for a picnic with my wife and my daughter.

Friday Evening

When we first moved to DC we lived in Rosslyn, Virginia so it has sentimental value to me. Within walking distance of the Rosslyn metro station you can visit the Iwo Jima war memorial, the Netherlands Carillion and Arlington Cemetery. The grounds in front of the Netherlands Carillion are the perfect place for a picnic overlooking the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument – we like to watch the sunset, or the fireworks, and there is lots of space for kids to play.

Friday Night

If we have a babysitter (the Hotel can source for guests from a vetted list), I love to go to a wine bar after dinner with my wife. Chez Billy Sud, Le Bar a Vin, in Georgetown has a cosy fireplace and a delicious wine list, with lots of French wines. ENO Wine bar at Four Seasons is also one of my favourite spots – I frequented it with my family many times before I started working here.

Saturday Morning

I love the historic buildings and all the little streets, filled with history of Georgetown. There are special little shops, where we are treated like family every time we come in. I am always on the lookout for a great vintage handbag for my wife from Ella Rue or a beautiful outfit for my daughter or baby on the way at Little Birdies.

Saturday Brunch

Boulangerie Christophe has authentic south of France pastries that remind me of home immediately. The croissants and the pain au chocolat are of excellent quality. I like to sit out on their terrace, decorated with a gendarmerie de St Tropez mural, and order a leisurely brunch accompanied by a glass of Provencal rosé. La soupe de poisson is served just as we do in France! I always finish my meal with a tarte Tropezienne.

Saturday Afternoon

If I am lucky and my daughter is sleepy after eating her weight in croissants, I can put her in the stroller and take her for a long walk around the National Mall. The Jefferson Memorial always impresses me, especially in spring with all the cherry blossoms. Each time I walk the National Mall I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful city.

Once my daughter wakes up I like to take her to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. There is even a miniature version of Julia Child’s kitchen in the toddler play area that she loves.

Saturday Evening

This charming French bistro is tucked away in the Cleveland Park neighbourhood but is worth the drive up Wisconsin. The atmosphere is buzzy and fun, you can hear as much French as you hear English being spoken and the menu is full of French bistro classics cooked with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. The Chef, Francis, always welcomes us warmly.

Sunday Morning

This is a great place to go as a family and is only a few minutes’ walk from Four Seasons. My daughter likes to feed the ducks along the Potomac River or run under the water fountains on a hot day. We grab a coffee at Baked & Wired on the way there and walk along the boardwalk – it is a great place to people watch.

Sunday Brunch

Located only a couple blocks from Four Seasons, Ladurée Salon de Thé serves so much more than the iconic pastel-coloured macarons. The décor is distinctly Parisienne and the food is excellent. I like to order the eggs benedict – a perfectly soft poached egg on a toasted French brioche topped with a decadent hollandaise, or else the full afternoon tea, served on a silver three-tiered platter. My daughter loves the macarons. We have celebrated each of her birthdays with a tea at Ladurée.

Sunday Afternoon

Lastly, I highly recommend a trip to City Center DC for a European shopping experience. All of the designer French and Italian brands are there and the stores are beautifully displayed. It is worth walking into Dior just to see the store design! The central aisle of DC City Center is a pedestrian zone that is always decorated for the season.

We start off at Longchamp, where the store manager Carole is often serving Champagne, and I always stop into Sky Valet Shoes to browse the handcrafted Italian men’s shoes.