Day One In France
The plane ride was rough, no doubt. A five-hour layover in Newark and six-hour flight on AirFrance. Yet here I am, in Paris again.
And completely breathless.
Today marked the first of my six-day press trip to France. I have a full day in Paris tomorrow (Tuesday) before being whisked off by a Rail Europe train to Bordeaux.
It’s been six years since I was last in this city. It had bewitched my heart then, haunted me with every year that passed and seemed to beg for my return. So when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t hesitate.
But now … now I find myself more taken with every curve of architecture, every antiquated piece of history, every bite of savory food and sip of aged wine, than I ever thought possible.
The other women I’m traveling with can’t help but giggle every time we passed the Eiffel Tower today, which is right near our hotels, the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan. For every time we pass I find myself in awe, lips slightly ajar, whipping my camera out yet again as though I can’t quite get enough pictures of her intricate layers and metallic weavings.
As we drove from the airport in a taxi to the Le Dokhan, we passed the Arc de Triomphe and I shook my head in disbelief. Could I really be here right now, driving over cobblestone roads to a hotel that is over 100 years old?
Yet there I was, being escorted up to the fifth floor by an elevator that was created out of an old Louis Vuitton wardrobe trunk. The wallpaper was still scratched and worn from years of wear and tear, giving it character the hotel decided to keep.
After passing out for an hour and getting a tour of each hotel – the Le Metropolitan being renovated to a much more modern style compared to the Le Dokhan – I felt like the media relations manager and other coordinators had read my mind by putting me in the Le Dokhan.
Its empire furnishings and 18th century décor in the bar and dining area, not to mention its posh, yet cozy and soft atmosphere in its business suite, are just a few reasons I’m enamored of this charming hotel. But enough about that, after all, I must save some things for my travel article.
Once we had champagne cocktails, complements of the Le Dokhan, other women in our group invited me out to dinner to top the long, jet-lagged day off.
We walked across the Seine River, past the Eiffel tower – then sparkling feverishly at random and accented by an ethereal crescent moon – and found ourselves at the la Fontaine de Mars restaurant.
One hint to the relevancy of this quaint, left-bank bistro: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dined there when they were in Paris last year.
My course included an omelet entrée with chocolate truffles. It may sound strange, but it was a balanced savory taste and potent with flavor in every bite. My salmon and spinach main course was equally delectable as was the crème brulee, which seemed to melt into my very mouth with each spoonful. I was lost in a way I haven’t been in a long time … and it felt good.
The streets are more relaxed, less crowded in the off-season. The staff is also more noticeably at ease and peaceable, much more so than they were during the summer 6 years ago. And sure, it’s January, the weather is chilly and I’m in my winter gear.
Yet, none of that matters right now, because I’ve answered a call. And as the jet-lag threatens to take me over tonight, I can fall asleep with a trace of a smile on my lips.
-- Cassandra Shofar