A new Diptyque scent is always something to look forward to: I like most of them (particularly the divine Ombre Dans L’Eau, with its Bulgarian rose and blackcurrant leaf notes) but am always drawn towards citrus notes in my scent, something which hasn’t been prominent in the collection previously. So the news that the new scent, Eau de Sens, which is released next month, is based on bitter orange was very pleasing. (The notes are Orange blossom, Bitter orange, Juniper berry, Angelica, and Patchouli).
Diptyque invited myself and a handful of editors to Paris for a dinner to celebrate the scent last week, and we all stayed over for the night.
It’s the first time I’ve been in the newly-designed Eurostar trains, and they are very shiny and extremely comfortable. On arrival at the Gare du Nord I headed straight to our hotel – the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome to leave my bags before lunch with one of my oldest girlfriends.
These beautiful roses were waiting in my room, with a bottle of the scent.
After changing into something warm, I rushed out into the Place Vendome and down into the Tuileries to walk down to the river and then to the Place Saint-Michel for lunch with Meriel, who also happens to own godchild number four, along with two other lovely little girls
Being vegetarian in France is hard. But Paradis du Fruit on the Place Saint-Michel is a wonderful breath of fresh air. They’re a mini chain, as it happens, with interiors by Philippe Starck, with nine or so dotted around Paris, which specialise in juices, salads and healthy options.
I drank excellent green juice, and ate a very nice halloumi salad, along with some home made tortilla chips and a passable guac. Sure, it’s the kind of food I make in minutes at home but it’s a revolution for eating out in Paris in my opinion. It’s going to save me from endless crottins on Poilane and omelettes frites, that’s for sure.
After lunch and long chats, and a little work for me, we walked in turn to the Ecole Maternelle, the Ecole Elementaire and the Garderie to pick up the three girls, and then went for gouter at a Tunisian patisserie in the 6th.
Then, as the sun set over Paris, I walked back over the Pont Saint-Michel towards the hotel, admiring the illuminated Notre Dame.
After a lightning quick change into a cocktail dress, it was time for the Diptyque reception and dinner in a beautiful suite of rooms on Avenue de L’Opera. Dressed for the evening with an orange garlanded archway, and the scent of oranges in the air, it was a magical venue.
I was boulverse to discover that we were being fed by Pierre Gagnaire – a private dinner from one of France, well, really one of the world’s most extraordinary and inventive chefs, with three Michelin stars, is quite the treat. Everything we ate spoke to the orange notes in Eau de Sens, without being overpowering or subordinating flavour to the theme.
Grilles leek turnip boule d’or, avocado, barquette of carrot.
Bergamot mousseline emulsified with flower honey flavoured with argouse.
Stuffed endive with chanterelle mushrooms, braised with orange; pumpkin gnocchi.
Butter perfumed with Absinthe
Le diptyque dessert.
(le diptyque cocktail, Orléans blanc wine, Domaine Clos Saint Fiacre 2014)
The next morning I woke early, very, very early to work – no rest for the wicked, and then joined the others for breakfast across the river in St Germain at Les Deux Magots.
It may have a reputation now as a haunt for tourists, but I see as many French customers as I do American and English and, anyway, breakfast there is delicious. I took a cafe noir, and a tartine (baguette with Echire butter and jam), as well as a perfectly baveuse omelette au fromage.
The Diptyque mother ship is ten minute or so walk down the street, at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain. (Of which more later.)
I can happily spend hours here, sticking my nose into the candle glasses, always discovering new scents.
They are arranged by scent family, which makes it easy to find a new fragrance – if you like Baies, then maybe Roses will appeal, and so on…I chose Choisya, also known as Mexican orange blossom, which had been burning during our dinner the previous evening.
I had a few hours before my Eurostar, so I walked over the Pont de l’Archevêché onto the Île de la Cité, towards Notre Dame.
En route I visited the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, which honours the people shipped to the camps by the Nazis. In a world which contains mass migration, Syrian horrors, seemingly endless refugees and Donald bloody Trump it was a timely reminder of what happens when we forget our humanity.
(I have more images and more to say, but will save this for another post.)
Chastened and thoughtful, I walked over to Notre Dame, and went inside to sit and think for a while. It’s the first time I’ve been in the cathedral since I was a little girl, although I must have passed it on foot and by car hundreds of times since. It’s so easy to rush from meeting to meeting, and the visit was long overdue.
Afterwards, as I strolled towards the 1e, still on the Île de la Cité I passed the Courts of Justice, with their huge police presence, and noticed a sign for Sainte-Chapelle, another place I have never had time to visit.
Nothing could have prepared me for the jewel box of stained glass that thwacks you visually as you emerge from a narrow spiral stone staircase.
Afterwards, again on a whim, I ducked into the Conciergerie next door, famous from the French Revolution, and visited the mock up of Marie Antoinette’s cell, and the room which has the list of every martyr of the Revolution written and framed on the walls.
And then back into the sunshine, over the Pont au Change, and onto the rive Gauche, past the Pont Neuf, to walk back towards the hotel, and thence the Gare du Nord and home.
Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, 5 Rue de la Paix, 75002 Paris, France. paris.vendome.hyatt.com
Paradis du Fruit. 2 Place Saint-Michel, 75006 Paris, France. leparadisdufruit.fr
Les Deux Magots, 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris, France.lesdeuxmagots.fr
Diptyque, 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France diptyqueparis.com
Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation,
Allée des Justes de France, 75004 Paris. cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr
Sainte-Chapelle8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France. monuments-nationaux.fr
With many thanks to Diptyque for hosting me in Paris in January 2016.