It was Friday and I still had a couple of things on my to do list. I still needed to visit my equivalent of Lyle's body being returned to Dom Perignon, I needed to visit Hermés.
Lyle and I went off on our own to Rue de Faubourg St. Honoré and did our super exclusive shopping trip. This is something Lyle has given me. The knowledge that I can go into any store and buy what I want. I am normally a frugal person who will deny myself things because you never know when you might need that $200 cash instead of a pair of shoes. But as my mother used to tell me it is about priorities and options. You get to make choices. And sometimes I want to choose an amazing belt from a high end designer and then pair it with a pair of jeans from H&M and a shirt from Target. At that point, all you're going to notice is the belt anyway.
Our day got off to a rough start and we didn't eat on schedule. I was reminded often on this trip what I tell other people when they visit France. You must adhere to the French eating schedule, it will not bend to yours. Lunch is offered from noon to two. Dinner is not offered until after 8. Yes I know that's a long time in between and no I don't know what the french people do. I suggest you have a snack. Hopefully pastry.
But we had fallen prey to the "late breakfast and coffee then so much to do we can't stop now" trap and suddenly it was 2:15, there was no where to eat and we were cranky. Lyle pulled out his Paris Glittering Hotel Tour papers and remarked that we were next to Le Meurice Hotel. We agreed to go there on one condition, that I would order what I wanted and not look at the prices.
The Meurice Hotel was founded in 1835, and has hosted numerous heads of state and celebrities. The Shah of Iran was staying at the Meurice when the revolution took place and deposed him. We went to Le Bar 228 the grand old style bar that gives Lyle great joy. We said we'd just be having a drink. Well, maybe an appetizer. You know, perhaps a menu.... We had a full lunch, two drinks each and then ordered dessert.
Lyle ordered the rose macaroon with raspberries and I ordered the rhubarb tiramisu. Our desserts arrived at the bar and Lyle noticed that mine was pink and in a parfait glass. "You got a girlie dessert," he teased me. I could also see his dessert and it was even pinker than mine and had a flower petal on top. As the waiter brought them to our table I said, "He says my dessert is a girlie dessert because it's pink and in this tall glass. I say his is the girlier dessert because it's more pink and has a flower on it," remember I'd had two glasses of champagne by now and was feeling very bold, "Who's dessert do you think is the most girlie?"
And our waiter responded, "But monsieur, they are both GIRLIE!" and walked away.
Feeling quite refreshed and no longer cranky, we emerged back into the glorious world of unlimited spending power in the heart of fashion. We went through Collette, Gucci, Valentino, Lanvin and any shop that caught our eye.
But the goal, my reason for living, was still further down the road...
We arrived at Hermes and I was ready to buy another leather ring like the one I had purchased a few years prior. I walked in, giving my newly discovered greeting, "Bonjour Madame, Bonjour Monsieur,"* to anyone within hearing distance. I walked confidently to the men's accessory counter (I'd been here before remember) and inquired about the rings, only to be told they have discontinued them. That can't be! I pulled out my iPhone figuring that my poor English or French skills had led me to mis-speak. I showed the salesperson the photo of my lovely orange Hermes ring. She nodded and said very nonchalant, as if she weren't crushing my soul, "Yes, they do not make it anymore." And my soul was crushed.
* My clever greeting. I had just been reading that well raised french people ALWAYS add a Madam or Monsieur after their greeting when entering a shop. Sure enough, I noticed it immediately after reading it. In fact I got so caught up trying to remember saying it that I accidentally added a "Madame" when I was really greeting a monsieur. Luckily I mumble most of my french so I hope he didn't catch it.
The shopping trip was not a total loss. I did find a belt I had been looking for since last Thanksgiving at the Gucci store. As we wound our day down, we stuck to our tradition and retired to the Hôtel Crillon just a block away to rest our weary feet. The Hotel is owned by the Tattinger family and in their bar they serve a delightfully full glass of champagne.
The five-star hotel, with 103 guest rooms and 44 suites, occupies one of two identical stone buildings, divided by the Rue Royale, that were constructed in 1758 as a result of a commission from King Louis XV. The western building was made into a luxury hotel and was soon frequented by Queen Marie Antoinette and her elite friends. The hotel was where she came to take piano lessons.
In 1788, the Count of Crillon, acquired the hotel, only to have it confiscated shortly thereafter by the government of the French Revolution. It was eventually returned to the Count of Crillon's family who ran it until 1907. Today, through the Concorde Hotels Group, the Crillon is still part of the Société du Louvre and is controlled by the Tattinger family. The hotel is run by Anne-Claire Tattinger, Chairperson of the Management Board.
As tradition dictates, Lyle has a Kronenbourg beer, I have a glass of champagne (maybe two) and we open presents. It's like Christmas. Except its in Paris, any month you happen to be there, and you just paid for it yourself. But it brings out the same kind of joy in me without having to decorate for a month prior.
There was no one else in the bar and we struck up a conversation with the bartender about our little tradition and how much we love coming to the bar. He returned to work behind the bar and I said to Lyle, "This is it. Your once in a lifetime chance. You've had a beer, I've had a glass of champagne and there is NO ONE in the bar... let's play tourist. Ask if we can have our photo behind the bar!"