I’d been kissed at the top of la tour Eiffel, taken candlelit cruises down la Seine and strolled along the Rue de Rivoli. I’d had picnics in the rose garden of Parc de Bagatelle, held hands wandering around the Louvre and welcomed the New Year in at the Trocadéro Gardens.
I’d been so many times before for birthdays and special occasions with special people, but I’d never really had more than a momentary romance with the place.
And there I was, in la ville de l’amour – single for the first time in over a decade – falling in love with Paris.
I was there for work initially; four days of intense training with L’Oréal hosted at the incredible Chateauforme event space overlooking Parc Monceau, but I’d decided to stay for the weekend.
On the Saturday morning I rose early and dressed myself for a day in Paris in the springtime.
I wore my nude, quilted Russel & Bromley heels that were comfortable enough to prance without pain, a white peplum dress, a biscuit-coloured beret and a long cream coat with fur around the collar. My lips were red – Parisian metro red.
I wandered down the Champs Elysée and along Rue St Honoré, stopping to stare at every window. Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Miu Miu, Guerlain and Christian Louboutin – each window was an exhibition and every exhibition told a story.
After a few hours admiring the greatest outdoor gallery I’d ever seen, my feet needed some R&R from my R&Bs so I tottered a little further along Rue Saint-Honoré and found myself a seat outside a tiny little café.
It was a traditional French café with a burgundy canopy, four small round marble tables and eight wicker chairs, so inconspicuous against the opulence that surrounded it and the perfect place to people watch.
After a few minutes deliberation, I ordered myself a glass of Pinot Noir and some sort of terrine. And when the vin rouge arrived, I crossed my right leg over my left, leaned back a little and raised my glass to my first date with Paris.
Diner en Blanc
On the Sunday, after a leisurely morning cycling along la Seine and an afternoon navigating the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter, I dodged the pigeons of Notre Dame, continued along Rue des Halles and headed to my favourite spot in the whole city – the steps of the Sacre Coeur.
I made the steep climb up Rue Foyatier alongside the funiclaire de Montmartre as the sun was beginning to set and everything around me was soaked in an amber glow. The old fashioned streetlamps were starting to burn and the restaurants were lighting their candles.
I reached the top just in time, sat myself down on my favourite steps and with the beautiful white basilica behind me, watched the sun go down over Paris.
It was one of those magical moments that only comes along once but makes a memory that lasts forever and there was nobody there to share it with, it was mine and mine alone.
As I headed back to my hotel, totally enamoured with Paris but ready for a good night’s’ sleep, my phone began to ring… it was one of my best friends. He happened to be in Paris for work and asked me to join him for dinner.
So the next minute, I’d flagged down a taxi and was hurtling along the Place de l’Opera back towards Rue Saint-Honoré where I’d been the day before. It was late on a Sunday evening and many of the restaurants were closing early but he’d found somewhere on the corner of Rue de Valois and got us a table.
After a soup a l’oignon and a bottle of Bordeaux, we headed towards the river for a starlit stroll. We took a left down Place du Carousel and another left towards the Louvre.
As we faced le grand palais, we heard music playing loudly and saw that the entire courtyard was a sea of white…
We’d only stumbled across the greatest party in the world.
It was a twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of Diner en Blanc, a secret supper club that originated in Paris, and the location had only been revealed for this extra special occasion.
Rows and rows of tables with white linen tablecloths draped over them were piled high with bottles of wine and picnic baskets full of baguettes. Beautiful people with perfectly coiffed hair and St Tropez tans were singing at the top of their voices, champagne bottles popped and glasses clinked.
The city’s elite had dug out their favourite snow-white chinos or pearly party frock and got themselves down to the Cour Napoleon – and we happened to be wearing white too.
We lost ourselves in the crowd and danced to the music that was blasting out of the speakers that lined the courtyard.
Paris asked us to dance and we said yes.