12 Feb Raising the Bar
It’s always a dilemma what to do for the office “Christmas bash” when there are only three of you! The previous year we had a wonderful spa day and I am delighted to say that 2019 was a good year for Highlife so I wanted to raise the bar a little. After much deliberation and the generous goodwill of La Reserve I came up with a plan to go to Paris!
It was December 17th and very festive at St Pancras when we met for coffee before our little jaunt. I had tried to keep it a secret from Holly and Lisa but failed miserably. On board a packed Eurostar with our Pret breakfast in hand we commented on the ease of travelling by train – no check in, no fuss about the liquids and worrying whether they’d all fit in to that ever-shrinking plastic bag and no hanging around. In no time, we were disembarking at Gare du Nord.
I’d seen on the news that there were public strikes in Paris but I think we have all got used to that so didn’t pay much heed until we walked outside the station and saw the queue for taxis, but no taxis in sight! Luckily our amazing hostess Facira, Manager of La Reserve apartments, had sent a car for us. After a short ride we arrived at the apartments in Trocadero to be greeted by Facira and her smiley team who whisked us up to our three bedroom heavenly pad with direct views of the Eiffel Tower (No 3) and more space in the lounge than most London penthouses.
We had planned to go out and explore but we kicked off our shoes, opened the bottle of Michel Reybier champagne (which our host had generously left for us) and tucked in to the exquisitely presented box of Carette macaroons. I don’t even like macaroons but these were something else and before our departure we realised that as the Carette store was across the road it would be foolish not to go and fill our Christmas stockings.
It did feel very indulgent to spend a Tuesday afternoon being so naughty but gave us a good insight into what our clients might do. Isn’t it funny how we plan our itineraries and schedules when going away for a few days but sometimes, with the luxury of time and fun companions, it’s good for the soul just to do nothing. Enough of that though… dinner at La Pagode de Cos at La Reserve Hotel was booked for 6.30pm, so we put on our glad rags and hopped excitedly into the taxi.
La Pagode de Cos is the creation of two-star Michelin chef Jerome Banctel. It was inspired by his many travels through Asia and his passion for contemporary seasonal cuisine. The result is a unique fusion to tickle the tastebuds in decadently ornate surroundings. From the magnificent marble fireplace adorned with glittering Christmas baubles and scented candles to the rich red silk chairs and exquisite mirrors, the atmospheric informal dining room is the perfect neighbour to the adjacent, buzzy bar. A popular meeting place for La Reserve’s stylish international clientele and in-the-know Parisians. It was a really special experience and one we didn’t want to leave, but I had added a last-minute treat and off we headed just across the road to the Marigny Theatre to see Funny Girl which was fabulous.
After a blissful sleep and a discussion about why pillows at home are never quite the same as those at La Reserve, we enjoyed the view of clear blue skies over Paris and a delicious continental breakfast prepared to suit our wake-up time and tastes. Doesn’t everything taste better when you don’t have to prepare it yourself!
We made the most of a leisurely morning and ventured out to take in the Parisian life, strolling along the Seine and stopping for the obligatory café au lait. Three things struck me that day:
1. Most Parisians seem oblivious to the fact that there’s a strike, continuing as normal.
2. The huge number of chocolate shops everywhere.
3. How lucky we were to be here.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and so mid-afternoon we headed back to Gare du Nord, but safe in the knowledge that we had definitely raised the bar!