Paris has always had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. When I was 5 my mum brought me back from Paris a sparkly Eiffel Tower snow globe and from that moment I’ve been enchanted by this city. Since my first visit I’ve been hooked by the sparkling Tour d’Eiffel and the chic shoulder shrugging, baguette munching citoyens. I suppose my connection with Paris is not just because it’s a truly spectacular place but because I speak French and understand the culture having also lived and studied in France so I can never let an opportunity to visit pass me by. I hold very special memories of Paris….Rue de la Montaigne was where my first Chanel handbag was purchased. He’s called George by the way (just in case you were interested!)
Mr O and I were approaching our anniversary and as we watched a Six Nations rugby match for our first date, I thought it would be fitting to mark our milestone watching another match. Just my luck that there was the France v. England match on our anniversary weekend et voilà I informed Mr O that we were going to the city of love and light.
When in Paris, do as the Parisians do – they know how to live well! Therefore we checked into the ultra-luxe Peninsula hotel ideally located on Avenue Kléber, a stone’s throw away from the key sights and designer shops! As soon as we whirled around in the revolving door operated by a young man dressed in white with gold embroidery and a pillar box hat we entered into the chicest of lobbies. Don’t you just love it when the oh so eloquent and polite person on check in mutters those magic words. Mademoiselle, we’ve upgraded you….to a room on the top floor with a terrace and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Quelle dommage indeed. Somehow I think I’ll cope!
The room itself was stylish and elegant, every little detail had been thought of and was a generous size for Paris. Mr O loved that everything was controlled by iPad whereas I was more wowed by the walk in wardrobe and dressing area….oh and that the bathroom had mood lighting which included a spa setting where the lights would be lowered and relaxing music played. Did I not mention the gorgeous delicate scent of the Oscar de la Renta toiletries? Mr O soon found out he could watch any movie for free on the in-room entertainment system so he collapsed onto the bed to watch Cars. Didn’t he realise I needed him to be my Instagram photographer, after all we had a rooftop view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background!
One of the (many) things I love about a luxury hotel is the decadent room service. No trays in sight at the Peninsula even if it is just for a ‘let them eat brioche’ croque monsieur. You get a table on wheels delivered to your room, the waiter serves you and you can dine au dressing gown. There was another knock on the door; had they forgotten something? Of course not! it was just a little Peninsula welcome of freshly made and delicately flavoured macarons piled under a glass cloche. Let’s just say they didn’t last long. C’était délicieux!
Mr O and I are mindful (most of the time) of what we eat and like to keep active so after such indulgence we decided to pay a visit to the spa. Who knew heaven could be waiting in the basement of a Paris hotel? This spa is exquisite! If swimming is your exercise of choice you could get some decent laps in here and when Mr O decides to dunk you under the water you can enjoy the sub aqua music.
The gym called for us the following morning and we were demonstrating what we get up to with our respective PT’s in London and Amsterdam. Mr O went first and then it was my turn. Thought I’d show him some slams with a 10kg ball. You slam it onto the floor from over your head and then squat down to pick it up. It really gets your heart rate up. Top tip from me is that you check to see if the ball bounces. Oh yes, I managed to bite through my lip and almost knock my teeth out and break my nose by the ball bouncing back. Instead of Nora Twatty having a meltdown I managed to stay totally calm although in agony. Poor Mr O didn’t know what to do with himself and the other gentleman in the gym just continued not doing a lot apart from posing on different equipment in his immaculate Gucci tracksuit.
I decided, after the gym incident, that if I could fathom breakfast then I’d survive and to be honest, I don’t think much would have stopped me enjoying pétit déjeuner à la Peninsula. I’m fond of a breakfast buffet but you know you are somewhere top notch when breakfast is served to you and your newspaper or handbag has its own stool. One morning I had an omelette which was healthy and packed full of goodness but the second morning I decided to treat myself and asked the waiter what he recommended. His suggestion was the French toast. I actually think it was life changing as I never knew that eggy bread could taste so sublime. That dish alone is reason enough for my next visit to the Peninsula. I asked for the recipe and before I knew it the chef was in front of me penning his secret recipe.
They say you should breakfast like a King or a Queen (maybe not the best advice in Paris as we all know how it ended for Louis and Marie Antoinette) but it set us up for the day ahead, flaneuring around Paris. We sampled the cafe culture and I took Mr O to Fouquets the ultimate people watching spot. Don’t expect a cheap drink here but it’s worth soaking up the atmosphere whilst warming up with a chocolat chaud. Next stop was arty Montmartre where I sat Mr O down at a bar for a well-earned beer as he had put up with me dragging him into all of the shops and I went off to continue a family tradition of getting an artist to do a portrait as I had changed somewhat in the last couple of years.
Every visit to Paris should involve dinner at Chez Georges nestled on Rue du Mail in the financial arrondisement. If you want an intimate dinner then this is the place to go….by intimate I mean it’s a bit of a puzzle how everyone manages to squeeze in so don’t go thinking you’ll whisper sweet nothings into your lovers ear as the stockbroker next to you will be privy to it. Think ‘Allo ‘Allo with the staff (René and Madame Edith real life equivalents), the menu is handwritten and if something has run out it’s crossed out.
After feasting on foie gras do not mutter ‘je suis plein’ until you’ve sampled profiteroles like no others. Real vanilla pod ice cream encased in golden cups of Choux pastry drowned in dark chocolate sauce. Mr O doesn’t have such a sweet tooth as I do but he’s good for sharing desserts with….by that I mean that we have two spoons but we know it’s mine!
We came to Paris to watch a rugby match….shortly speaking, England lost, France won, and we met a man with a chicken on his head. Standard for Paris perhaps….
So how can you top off a weekend of pure decadence and indulgence with your loved one in Paris? We visited the L’Oiseau Blanc, the Peninsula’s rooftop bar named after a plane that went missing in the 1920’s trying to make the first trans-Atlantic flight to New York. Trust the French and their humour noir to name such a special place after a doomed plane. On the hour every hour during hours of darkness the Paris skyline glistens with the sparkling lights on the Eiffel Tower and you have the perfect view from the Peninsula rooftop.
It fills me with joy and takes me back to my five year old self enchanted with the magic of Paris in a snow globe. I was sad as I woke up the next morning in the comfiest marshmallowy bed that our dreamy weekend in Paris was over and Mr O had another sporting commitment in Amsterdam so was on the first train out. After waving him off I packed up Louis (my globetrotting four wheeled travel companion) stuffed with as many Oscar de la Renta toiletries as possible and took one last look on our terrace of Paris waking up. À bientôt….we will always have Paris and the Peninsula