A Visit to Jo Malone boutique in Paris – Rue Saint Honoré

Last Saturday I popped in to the flagship Jo Malone store in Paris for a hand and arm massage as well as a bit of retail therapy. Situated on the luxury shopping street of Rue Saint Honoré, the store enjoys a prime piece of real estate directly opposite the trendy Colette store.

Like all Jo Malone boutiques, the store was bright, airy, exceptionally clean and smelled heavenly.

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

Gorgeous, minimaliste decor

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

Wish my collection looked like this!

The quintessential British brand has become a luxe cult favorite. Oprah reportedly adores their bath oils, while Kate Middleton ensured that Jo Malone candles burned their sweet smell in Westminster Abbey for her wedding to Prince William. Princess Kate apparently loves the brand so much; she handed out Jo Malone party favors at her baby shower!

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

Gorgeous collaboration with Michael Angove

Seeing as Jo Malone now sell five categories of fragrances, I arrived at the store with a list –an actual printed list – of scents I was interested in. The lovely store assistant, Celine, was ever professional and took the time explain the key notes of each fragrance and the concept behind their creation.

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

Jo Malone’s London Rain Collection

It was very difficult to narrow down the extensive list of choices, but in the end I was left with two very different scents. We decided to use one scent on each arm during the massage… supposedly to help with my final decision.

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

The Tasting Bar

Celine started by a warm towel wipe followed by a gentle lathering of Nectarine Blossom and Honey hand and body wash. For my left arm I chose the Blue Agava and Cacao body cream followed by a generous spritz of the fragrance. On the other arm I went with the classic English Pear and Freesia body cream, again followed by a spritzing of the same scent.

The massage was meant to help me decide on my favorite of the two, but in the end, unable to choose one over the other, I purchased both! (Reviews coming shorty!)

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

I could not resist!

Wrapping purchases at the Jo Malone store is a joy in itself. Each item is lovingly nestled on black tissue paper, placed in a luxurious Jo Malone cream and black signature box tied with an elegant ribbon. The stylist will then liberally spray another sheet of tissue paper in your chosen scent and place this inside a thick, creamy Jo Malone paper bag, again finished off with their signature black ribbon. It’s very hard to resist a purchase when the packaging is this special!

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

Dreamy Wrapping

Jo Malone Paris Saint HonoreJo Malone is renowned for their Art of Fragrance Combining or ‘layering’, which helps one create their own bespoke scent by liberally mixing and matching any of their fragrances. This concept was very new to me and I was quite intrigued by it. So before I left, Celine gave me a crash course in Fragrance Combining.

I must admit, I have stumbled onto two solid winners:

Blue Agava and Cacao layered with Rose Water and Vanilla

and

English Pear and Freesia layered with Wild Bluebell.

Jo Malone Paris Saint Honore

My collection is growing!

I absolutely loved these combinations, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the Wild Bluebell fragrance at my next visit.

For a complimentary hand and arm massage and the aid of a professional Fragrance stylist to walk you through the art of fragrance combining, visit the Jo Malone boutique on Rue Saint Honoré.

326 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris 01 47 03 01 66

The Louvre Museum Express Tour

Navigating Paris’ most famous museum may be a bit overwhelming, even for the most avid museum enthusiast.

The Louvre houses over 35,000 pieces of art, displayed across an area that covers 60,600 square meters. Add to the fact that the museum receives around 10 million visitors each year, it’s easy to understand why navigating the Louvre’s treasures can be more than a little daunting.

Louvre Express Tour Paris

(Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Blieusong)

Whether you’re looking for a basic introduction to the museum, or stopping by on a whirlwind tour of the city, an ‘Express Tour’ might be just what you’re looking for, especially if time and interest may not allow for a full-fledged visit.

For my friends and family who come to visit in Paris, I often take them on a short tour of the museum incorporating the Louvre’s three famous ladies: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Greek statue of Venus de Milo, and the winged Nike of Samothrace.

Mona Lisa:

The eyebrow-less, enigmatic subject of Italian master Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous and recognizable works of art is often the beeline towards which most visitors to the Louvre will dash. Perhaps the first and most obvious cry form their lips will be “It’s so small!”

Mona Lisa Louvre Express Tour ParisThe Mona Lisa can be found in the Denon wing of the Louvre’s first floor.

Venus de Milo:

Also known as the Aphrodite of Milos, as it is said to be a depiction of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. No one really knows when or how here arms were amputated but this just leads to the enigma of the statue.

Venus de Milo Louvre Express Tour ParisLocated on the ground floor of the Denon wing, along with two of my favorite pieces: Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Canova’s depiction of Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.

Nike of Samothrace:

Another famous Greek goddess graces the halls of the Louvre, this time Nike, the goddess of victory. It is apt then, that this beautiful statue is referred to as the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’.

Victory Nike of Samothrace Louvre Express Tour Paris

Occupying its prime spot on the landing of the central Daru staircase in the Louvre, it is quite hard to miss this masterpiece, even on the shortest of visits.

Victory Nike of Samothrace Louvre Express Tour Paris

 

Whilst many tour operators can offer you this short guided visit, the Louvre map (handed to you when your purchase your ticket) will suffice for a self-guided tour, as these three important works of art are well signed.

Hopefully your visit to Paris will allow the opportunity to visit this wonderful museum in detail, but if not, catching a glimpse of these beauties should leave you feeling culturally satisfied.

PS: Tour not complete without prerequisite tourist picture: ‘touching’ the point of the Louvre pyramid 😉

SONY DSC

The heavy cost of Love

Paris is literally being weighed down by Love !

Last week, a portion of the city’s famous love-lock bridge, the Pont des Arts collapsed under the weight of the multitude of love-locks attached to the railings along the bridge. The collapsed portion has been removed, and for safety reasons, has been temporarily replaced by a piece of wood.

Paris Pont des Arts love lock bridge collapses

The collapsed section of rail on the Pont des Arts (source: nbcnews.com)

The city council has been at a loss about what to do with the increasing number of love-locks attached to the numerous bridges of Paris, starting from the Notre Dame region, all the way down to the Louvre. Parisians themselves, have come to dislike the practice, claiming it makes the bridges unsafe.

I for one, have to wonder about the gazillion keys on the Seine riverbed, rusting away, leeching chemicals into the water. But apparently not worried enough, as Mr Wolf and I have already staked our claim to a piece of railing on the Pont des Arts.

pont des arts love locks  Paris

The bridge’s rails have amassed thousands of love-locks (Source: aol.com)

If you’re unfamiliar with the urban legend behind the love-locks… here it is: In order to ensure a lasting love, a couple inscribes their names/initials onto a lock and fastens it to the bridge’s rail. Then, together they throw the key into the River Seine. It has been said that as long as the lock remains fastened – its keys lost forever in the depths of the Seine- they are forever ‘locked’ in love, never to be parted.

pont des arts love locks 2

For ever. And ever. And ever. (Source: washington.cbslocal.com)

Makes me wonder about the thousands of locks that were removed and disposed of from the portion of the bridge that collapsed last week. Broken hearts around the world???

 

24 Hours in Paris

Whether you’re just popping in for a business trip with a sightseeing day to spare, or a very short sejour as part of a whirlwind European tour; if you’re hoping to catch the sights and sounds of Paris in just a day, don’t fret: Paris is very doable in 24 hours.

Of course the travel connoisseurs out there will laugh off the idea that a city as complex and mysterious as Paris would reveal herself to anyone in just a day…and I would be the first to agree! Paris, like many European cities, has a rich and extensive history. The best parts of the city are usually found away from the tourist crowds, and I highly advocate getting lost, on foot, to truly unearth her essence.  But if all you have, for one reason or the other, is a mere 24 hours, then well, you’re damn well going to want to make those hours count!

Louvre pyramid

The majestic Louvre Pyramid

The idea of this post came up when a friend of mine wrote me asking for tips on what to see in Paris, noting that she only had a very limited time to spend in the city.

Here’s what I came up with:

If you’ve skipped your hotel breakfast, or if you’ve just got in on an early Eurostar train, the first thing you’d want to do is locate your nearest boulangerie (bakery) to buy some croissant or pain au chocolat, still warm from the morning’s baking. Whilst it quite rare to find a badly baked croissant in Paris, there is still that possibility, so look for boulangeries with a line of locals – always a good sign!

A belly full of authentic (and delicious) French patisserie is the French way to start your day. Seriously, just ask the locals!

With only a little time in this incredible city, you’d probably want to try to see Paris’ most famous sites.

If you’re a museum buff, head for the Louvre museum (metro line 1, 7; Palais Royal Musée de Louvre). While I would personally advocate for a visit to the Musée d’Orsay instead of the Louvre, if it’s your first time in Paris, you should definitely do a short tour of the Louvre that allows you to see the museum’s three famous ladies: Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Jaconde” (Mona Lisa), the Greek statue of Venus de Milo, and the winged Victory of Samothrace. Several Louvre ‘express tours’ are available to ensure you see these three important works of art, but really, the standard Louvre map provided with your ticket will suffice for a quick, self-guided tour.

Louvre three famous ladies

The Louvre’s Famous Ladies

After the Louvre, you’d want to hop back on the line 1, and head all the way to metro stop ‘Franklin Roosevelt’. As you ascend from the depths of the metro, you will be greeted by the swarming crowds on the Champs-Élysées. Stroll up this street, for a little taste of Parisian shopping. The huge chain stores and luxury brands will certainly be tempting, but avoid eating along this street, as the food is a tourist trap. (read more on the 7 best shopping streets in Paris here).

Up ahead you will find the magnificent Arc de Triomphe. To actually wind up under the Arc itself, or to climb to the top for great views of the Champs-Élysées all the way to the Concorde, make your way back underground, to access the entry passage – do not even think about crossing the traffic circle!

Arc de triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Once you’ve snapped sufficient photos, I’d recommend getting back into the metro at ‘Charles de Gaulle Etoile’, and riding the line 2 until you reach ‘Place de Clichy’. A few streets away you will find a restaurant called ‘Le Bouclard’. With the cozy interior and the hearty French dishes on the menu, you’re bound to find the makings for a satisfying lunch. (Le Bouclard, 1 rue Cavallotti, 75018, Paris)

If you prefer something lighter get off at the metro stop ‘Pigalle’ instead, and head for Le Miroir. You will be welcomed into a friendly bistro-type setting where you can enjoy a salad and a delicious cappuccino. (Le Miroir, 94 Rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris)

Right around the corner, you’ll find the famous Moulin Rouge, and if you follow the throngs of people heading upward, you’ll be on your way to the impressive Basilica of Sacre Cœur, found at the very summit of butte Montmarte. The views over Paris from the courtyard of the church are to die for, and a visit inside the basilica to gaze at the impressive organ and stained glass windows, is a must.

Basilica of Sacré Cœur

Basilica of Sacré Cœur

Afterwards, you could always take the funicular to reach the bottom again – a different experience from climbing back down all those stairs! For a view of a neighborhood that doesn’t conform to picturesque Paris, head for the ‘Barbès-Rochechouart’ metro stop a short walk away where you can take the line 4 all the way to ‘Saint Michel’stop. There are plenty of souvenir shops dotting the streets around St Michel, so if you really need to buy a T-shirt that reads: ‘J’adore Paris’ or a hundred Eiffel Tower key chains, this would be the place. Although I implore you, please don’t buy tacky Eiffel Tower key chains! Local cheese and wine make much better souvenirs, guaranteed to be loved by friends and family alike. There are also some nice clothing shops in the St Michel area, particularly along Boulevard St. Germain; and the Luxembourg Garden a short stroll away gives a welcome break from the pavement pounding.

Saint Michel

Saint Michel

The must-see monument near St Michel is of course the incredible gothic cathedral of Notre Dame. Just cross the Seine on Ile Saint Louis – the impressive spires of the cathedral along with the spooky gargoyles staring incessantly down at you. A visit inside the cathedral is worthwhile if the queues aren’t overwhelming.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

I’d recommend heading back to your hotel at this point, for a little relaxation or a shower before heading down to the docks for an afternoon cruise along the Seine. There are numerous companies that offer Seine river cruises, and these can range from a simple one hour cruise with a guide, to a full 3-course dinner cruise. It’s important to note however that different companies begin their tours at different points along the Seine. While the Bateau Mouches is probably the most famous, I’d rather head over to Pont Neuf (literally translated – New Bridge, but contrary to the name, is one of the oldest bridges in Paris), for a cruise with Vedettes de Point Neuf. There are usually discount tickets available for purchase online beforehand, and these cruises are typically smaller and less crowded that those of Bateau Mouches. I’d also aim to take the cruise as late as possible, to ensure that the most famous attractions of Paris are lit up. It’s not called the City of Lights for nothing!

Bateaux Mouches

Fly Boat? Bateaux Mouches

In a little over an hour you’ll be treated to the amazing sights of Paris’ most iconic attractions, from the Eiffel Tower to the Alexander Bridge, from Musée d’Orsay to the Notre Dame cathedral, which looks even spookier as darkness falls.

For dinner, if you’re looking  for bragging rights, and you’re in a position to splurge, you could always go to the restaurant where King Henri IV supposedly dined quite frequently – the Tour d’Argent, along the left bank of the Seine just near Notre Dame itself. (La Tour d’Argent15 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris)

la tour d argent

The incredible view from la Tour d’Argent (source: latourdargent.com)

If you’d rather experience authentic Paris with a smaller price tag, head for Place Dauphine as soon as you disembark your cruise. This typical neighborhood with a host of café’s, bars and creperies will leave you feeling immersed in Parisian culture.

My preference though, would be to head for the Marais – Paris’ famous Jewish Quarter, where there are additional dining choices.  The falafels are a must try, and the area makes for ideal people-watching as the city’s trendy population whizzes by. (Metro Line 1, Saint Paul)

Depending on your remaining energy and enthusiasm, you could then put on your dancing shoes and head out to one of Paris’ trendy nightclubs. For my part, I would rather head over to the Trocadero square, bottle of wine in hand, where I’d bid au revoir to the City of Lights as the Eiffel Tower puts on her very best sparkle show.

Eiffel Tower

All that Glitters…

Ooh la la! The 7 best streets to shop in Paris

As the foremost fashion capital of the globe, the Parisian shopping experience offers everything from luxe designer labels to sprawling chainstores. If you’re searching for authentic French labels, or eccentric designer stores, you can take your pick of those too.

Below is the definitive list of where to part with those hard-earned euros:

1.      Rue de Rivoli

Why Go:

From boutique bargains to high-end marques, Rue de Rivoli delivers a great shopping experience. The street’s store directory reads like a who’s who of international brands, including Zara, H&M, Gap and Mango to name a few. There’s a huge BHV department store opposite the city’s Hotel de Ville, and numerous must-see landmarks are located just off this major street, including Museé du Louvre and the Tuilleries Garden.

The old signage of the renowned La Samarataine store can still be seen, paying homage to the Paris of yesteryear.

The dessert mecca, House of Angelina, can also be found on this street – boasting what may be Paris’ best hot chocolate.

What you should know:

There are several tourist shops around the area near the Louvre, selling the usual trinkets and T-shirts, which can become very busy on the weekends.

There is a shortage of dining choices on Rue de Rivoli itself but restaurants and cafés can be found in the close vicinity.

Best Shopping Paris Rivoli

2.      Boulevard Haussmann

Why Go:

For the Galeries Lafayette of course! The upmarket department store located on Boulevard Hausmann first opened its doors in 1895, and has since become a Parisian institute.

The store comprises 10 floors, and boasts a beautiful glass dome and a central staircase in stunning Art Noveau design.  Throngs of locals and tourists alike descend on the store for Paris’ bi-annual sales (les soldes), where goods are marked up to 70% off.

What you should know:

In December, the Galeries Lafayette Christmas decorations become a must-see attraction, with the highlight being the giant Christmas tree, located under the glass and steel dome.

Best Shopping Paris Hausmann

3.      Rue St Honoré

Why Go:

Rue St Honoré with its sophisticated extension, Rue Faubourg St Honoré, is one of the most upmarket shopping streets of Paris. Dedicated almost exclusively to luxury fashion design houses, from the likes of Hermes, Lanvin, Gucci, YSL and Michael Kors; it promises an immense concentration of ‘chic’ along its narrow passages. Just a few steps away is the famous square of Place Vendome with yet more of the top names in the fashion industry. For the über -trendy, there’s Colette; a lifestyle concept store which sells everything from clothing to gadgets. If you’re still not convinced on just how posh this street actually is, it’s worth noting that the home of the French president, the Élysée Palace, can also be found on Rue Faubourg St Honoré.

What you should know:

Watch out for well-dressed thieves in this area! There have been numerous incidents where well-heeled tourists, oozing the scent of money, have been robbed of their bags, cameras, or credit cards on this strip.

Best Shopping Paris saint honore

4.      Avenue Montaigne

Why go:

The only street to rival Rue Faubourg St Honoré in terms of prominence, luxury and prestige; the Grande Dame of Parisian streets is the Avenue Montaigne. Once upon a time it was called the ‘Widows Lane’ as French widows would gather there in mourning. As I stroll along the quiet, understated street, I too, find myself mourning; my card’s spending limit, that is!

From deluxe fashion labels to celebrated jewelers, the regal list includes the likes of Chanel, Valentino, Gucci, Christian Lacroix, Fendi, Harry Winston and Bulgari.

The majestic Plaza Athénée hotel is also located on this street, adding to the glitz and glamour already found in spades.

Best Shopping Paris Montaigne

What you should know:

The celebrity fly-trap of a restaurant, L’Avenue, is located on Avenue Montaigne. But be warned; some reviewers swear that the beautiful waitresses are a feast on the eyes whilst the food itself, leaves a lot to be desired.

5.       Avenue des ChampsÉlysées

 Why Go:

Given the unambiguous honor of being the world’s most beautiful street, the ChampsÉlysées is certainly one of the most famous. Marked at its beginning by the Obelisk of Luxor (Concorde), and lined throughout by bosquets of square-trimmed trees, the avenue concludes at the Arc de Triomphe. The City of Paris tried desperately to prevent the ‘banalisation’ of the street, by attempting to prevent global chain stores from setting up shop, but nowadays the likes of Zara, H&M, Gap and Benetton can be found neighboring designer labels such as Guerlain, Hugo Boss, Lancel and Cartier. The highlight of a shopping expedition on this famed street is a visit to the flagship Louis Vuitton store at 101 Avenue des ChampsÉlysées. The shop’s window décor, which changes regularly, is often a treat to view in itself. The long line of people waiting for a chance to spend hundreds of euros; is another.

 What you should know:

The street is exceptionally crowded, regardless of the season. The cafés along the center of the ChampsÉlysées are a tourist trap, offering humdrum cuisine at exorbitant prices.

Best Shopping Paris Champs Elysées

 6.      Boulevard Saint Michel

 Why Go:

Unlike the high-end shopping streets of Paris, the Latin Quarter’s Boulevard St Michel is a typical neighborhood with a laid-back vibe. Shop the likes of Benetton, Sinéquanone, and NafNaf, together with relatively affordable French chain stores such as Camaïeu, Jules and Etam. The street is also renowned for its bookshops – one of the largest being Gilbert Joseph, and shoppers can enjoy a break from their arduous spending in the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg, a stone’s throw away.  With La Sorbonne university located close by, the area is awash with cafés and bars catering to the young and hip.

What you should know:

Boulevard St Michel connects easily with other famous streets of the Latin Quarter, including Boulevard Saint-Germain (which offers additional shopping choices) and Rue Soufflot which leads to the Pantheon.

Best Shopping Paris Saint Michel

 7.      Rue de Rennes

Why Go:

One of Paris’ longest shopping streets; Rue de Rennes is certainly made for pavement pounding, bags in hand – Pretty Woman style.

Again, the charm of Parisian shopping is that big name designers often rub shoulders with large international chain stores; and Rue de Rennes is no exception. Add to the mix a scattering of quirky boutiques, and you have a shopper’s paradise. Located just on the other side of Jardin du Luxembourg from Boulevard St Michel, the street’s beacon is the Montparnasse tower (Paris’ tallest building).

What you should know:

The city’s largest FNAC (selling all things electronic and literary) can be found on Rue de Rennes.

Take care of crossing the street though, as its sheer width and double-lane traffic in both directions can pose a hazard.

Best Shopping Paris Rennes

This post was featured in A Luxury Travel Blog on 17 August 2013.

Let Them Eat Cake

Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons Georges V, Paris– France

Walking along the Avenue Georges V is an experience in itself. Having just passed the colossal Louis Vuitton flagship store, with its ornate gold dinosaur window displays, we rounded the corner and strolled along the relatively tranquil street in wonder. The Avenue Georges V, together with the Champs Élysée and Avenue Montaigne, form what it called the ‘Triangle D’Or’ – the Golden Triangle. Apt, seeing as the net worth on these 3 streets alone probably rival the GDP of some small countries.

We knew we had arrived at the Four Season’s Hotel Georges V, when our feet sank into a super plush carpet on the street entrance – a telling sign of the luxury that was about to come. Owned by a Saudi Prince, no extravagance was spared in the hotel’s renovations in 1997, and the hotel proudly claims a spot amongst the six establishments in Paris to have been awarded the honor of ‘Palace’ classification.

Having recently become accustomed to the decadent tradition of Afternoon High Tea, my friend Sam and I took the opportunity to investigate the High Tea offerings at this renowned Parisian Hotel.

Upon entering through the ornate revolving door, my breath was instantly taken away! In front of me stood the most theatrical, the most extravagant – by far – flower display I had ever seen.

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

Don’t get me wrong, I was well aware that the hotel’s florist extraordinaire; Jeff Leatham has a long standing reputation at the Georges V, but nothing prepared me for the sight which greeted us in the hotel’s lobby. Coral-tinged peonies (hundreds and hundreds of them) elegantly collided with deep purple hydrangeas to create a summer wonderland. Indeed, feeling like two Alices who had just sashayed down the rabbit hole, Sam and I crossed the foyer and into the Mad Hatter’s dreamland.

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

To the left there was a giant installation (not arrangement, as Mr. Leatham likes to call it) of red posies – again a dazzling marriage of peonies and hydrangeas. En masse, and shaped into several perfectly round, individual bouquets, they took their daring places in tall flute vases of varying height to create what can only be described as a Jeff Leatham work of art.

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

In fact, so esteemed are the rock-star of florist’s creations, that his celebrity clientele include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Celine Dion and Kylie Minogue. When he’s not creating floral installations for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, or putting together daring designs for celebrity weddings (he was commissioned for Eva Longoria’s wedding to Tony Parker), he serves as the in-resident flower guru for the Hotel Georges V.

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

We stepped out into the grand central courtyard of the hotel, and again uttered astonished ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ at the overhead floral designs. Strings of purple Vanda orchids were suspended in the air, fashioning a stunning canopy over the courtyard as rays of sunshine streamed in, creating an ethereal atmosphere.

Flowers Afternoon Tea Georges V

Making our way pass yet more impressive floral designs we headed to La Galerie where afternoon tea was served.

La Galerie’s décor can only be described as opulent. Priceless historical antiques adorned the space, along with fine Flemish tapestries dating back to the 17th century. Murano-glass chandeliers hung aristocratically from the high ceilings, and a 500 square-foot Savonnerie carpet graced the floors. No Dorothy, we were certainly not in Kansas anymore.

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

We were shown to our table which was set with fine Limoges porcelain. Before we even sat down, the maître d’ brought over two little stools for which to lay our handbags -no handbags on the floor at the Georges V!

We browsed the menu and settled on “Thé complet a la Française”: The French twist on an elegant British tradition.

Our waiter took our order, and promptly arrived with 2 champagne glasses (monogrammed, no less!) that were ceremoniously filled with Moet & Chandon bubbly. We toasted to our auspicious surroundings as we sipped on the liquid gold.

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

Taking in the atmosphere of La Galerie, I noted it is the most perfect spot in the hotel to people-watch. From the families outside in the courtyard enjoying lunch, to the well-heeled couples appreciating a sundowner before sundown; I kept one eye on the entrance half expecting a celebrity sighting (not uncommon at the Georges V).

Our waiter magically appeared with our three-tiered trays laden with epicurean treats. On the first tier; an assortment of finger sandwiches prepared with an array of different breads (tomato, rye and spinach). The sandwiches can be ordered to your preference, as I chose a vegetarian option.

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

The second tier comprised of an assortment of French delicacies that included a creamy, cinnamon-dusted macaroon, mille-feuille (‘thousand sheets’ – referring to the layered pastry) with piped custard, a strawberry tartlet, and apricot panna cotta topped with roasted almonds. The macaroon was by far the best I had ever tasted – Ladureé be warned!

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

As if that wasn’t enough, the top tier, and perhaps my favorite, comprised of a warm scone, a madeleine (soft French cake immortalized by Marcel Proust’s memories), a caramelized canelé from Bordeaux and a petite raspberry financier.

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

I covered my scone in clotted cream and generously smothered strawberry jam, while Sam simply drenched hers in honey. Our tastebuds went to heaven!

La galerie Afternoon Tea georges V

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For our hot beverages, my companion chose a white tea from the extensive selection, while I was eager to sample the hotel’s famous hot chocolate. Served in an authentic hot chocolate pot (‘chocolatière’) complete with frother, the hot chocolate is unbelievably decadent, thick and creamy. It is served with warm milk in the event you needed to dilute the chocolaty goodness. The beverages are poured for you (bien sûr!), and the waiter flitted by every now and then to see if we were in the mood for a refill.

A pair of musicians serenaded the guests, and we sat relaxed – chatting, laughing, and of course, eating. We only realized that 2 hours had gone by when the staff began lighting the evening candles, signaling that dusk was upon us.

I smirked at how discretely the bill was presented to us (ironic that talking about money in rich circles is considered philistine!) and picking our bags from their pedestals, we left the plush confines of the Four Seasons Georges V to join alas, the real world.

Afternoon Tea georges V

Thé  complet a la Française at the Four Seasons Georges V costs 58euro (approx 760 ZAR)
per person. For more: http://www.fourseasons.com/paris

Where in Paris? (30/07/2013)

A remarkable garden that attests to the pomp and grandiose its once notorious owners were noted for. Covering over 800 acres of land, the meticulously landscaped gardens and perfectly manicured lawns surround a multitude of fountains, which are on full display in the summer months – much to the delight of the millions of visitors that show up each year.

There was once a famous labyrinth upon the grounds of this esteemed garden; citing many fables, and to which the statues of Cupid and Aesop still bear testament.

Can you guess its famous location?

Where in Paris? (30/07/2013)

Where in Paris? (30/07/2013)