As if we hadn’t been spoilt enough with an inspirational tour of the Opera Garnier and an unforgettable degustation lunch at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, we then ventured out into the pouring rain looking for further excitement and fulfilment.
Well, we were drawn towards my favourite cultural hearth, the beauty and serenity of the Orangerie in the Tuillerie gardens – and it was made all the more incredible by the weather outside and the impending arrival of closing time. As such, we were able to make a decisive and surreptitious move to be the last three people in the museum as they began to usher out the last few devotees.
We managed to make it happen and with a sweet smile even asked the guard to take our photo in the empty vaulted room able to enjoy these masterpieces entirely alone – a gift that never happens.
Seldom are we so honoured as to be spoilt in such a way, but the indulgence only continued as we walked to our final destination….
The Ritz Hotel Paris
… Where for only the second time I was a patron, rather than an employee working down in the basement. And so, after walking around the marbled hallways surrounded by art, jewels and gold, I was ushered into the famed Hemingway Bar for an evening of cocktails with the high society of Paris.
The Hemingway Bar
As soon as we entered the door it was as if we walked into another world and another time – this small wood panelled room, with old world leather furniture, its walls studded with hunting trophies as well as black and white family photographs, it was such that the ambiance was almost palpable.
The service was attentive without being intrusive, so personal and helpful, the waiters were clearly experienced and they were beyond brilliant at their jobs – they took pride and an interest in making our experience as unforgettable as possible. We were constantly provided with glasses of cucumber infused water and small plates of delectable spiced nuts, moreish freshly made potato crisps and marinated olives.
The cocktail menu was captivating but we made our choices and we were each taken in different directions – a Raspberry Martini made with house made raspberry-infused vodka, it was like drinking a silky smooth raspberry rocket, mine their house specialty, a Serendipity, Colin Field’s signature combination of calvados, mint, apple juice and champagne. However, the clear highlight, the true serendipitous event, was provided at the hands of one of the talented mixologists, Aurèlie, behind the bar. Our distinguished compatriot has a love for the classic French aperitif Lillet Blanc, and so, as a VIP in this five-star establishment, a new cocktail was invented in his honour – to be known in perpetuity as Le Lillet Simon.
We were so happy with our service that we were not, as usual, unwilling to fill in the feedback forms, and in fact gave them excellent in every category. With the courage and conviction to make the night even more special I approached the man himself, two time world champion mixologist, Mr Colin Field, and after a light-hearted conversation about life in the kitchens, I now have in my sentimental possession a signed copy of his tome to the art and life of cocktails at Bar Hemingway with my personalised inscription – “I hope that you don’t loose to much weight whilst you work in the kitchens!”
Standing in front of the front entrance to the Ritz Hotel on Place Vendome I was so proud to have brought two friends into my home of 4 months and shared this wonderful experience with them.