Aside from the occasional holiday, I try to only travel for proper work purposes: to speak at conferences, attend fashion weeks — that kind of thing, as opposed to going on press trips to get stories. That’s because I am no longer a journalist with paid commissions to cover things — any time I spend away is time out of my own pocket. (And it’s hard not to sound like a perma promo tool for brands if you spend your life taking exciting-sounding press trips.)
But occasionally I’m offered an exclusive or a story comes up that I love, which I know you will all love, and which makes me throw my good intentions to the wind, and say yes. Yes, PLEASE.
Which is how I found myself on the 0831hrs Eurostar to Paris Gard du Nord yesterday morning on my way to the original Diptyque shop at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain, as the first writer to be offered access to the company’s archives and little private museum.
We had a glorious day ferreting thorough drawers and folios, as well as taking a fascinating meeting with the people behind the latest project from Diptyque, which launches next month. (Much more of this later.)
For lunch we walked in the brilliant August sunshine through Saint Germain, down to La Societe, just opposite the church, and behind the Deux Magots. It has a glorious outdoor dining room in the middle of the pavement.
I ordered an omelette blanche with sheep’s milk cheese and baby spinach, purely because it sounded quite unlike any egg white omelette I have ever eaten.
The whites were beaten into snowy peaks before cooking, and the final effect was rather like eating a savoury meringue with an omelette base. It was delicious and rather unexpected. I covered myself in shame by ordered a Fraises Melba for pudding, which turned out to be a large tumbler of crème anglaise, crème chantilly, strawberry jam and strawberries. Not very French behaviour — really I should have finished with a cigarette and a very strong coffee with a side of self-abnegation.
Later on I checked into my hotel, the Hotel de la Tremoille in the 8th, handily situated for Avenue Montaigne, Dior, Balmain and the Tour Eiffel, none of which I managed to visit this time. For supper we tried Ginger, a modern Thai restaurant across the road. It’s yet another Costes joint and it has the hallmark breathtakingly over-priced menu, ravishing female staff and general air of stylish pointlessness around it. (Think Café Ruc with chopsticks. Habitues will recognise the 6 euro Coca Light.)
Fortunately the luxe charm of the Tremoille more than cancelled out the meh-ness of supper.
And I do heartily approve of a hotel that delivers Laduree macarons to your room,
and produces a room service breakfast that looks like this.
This morning I woke to this view over the rooftops of Paris, before heading back to London — and reality.