Paris knows that you are going to fall in love with her no matter how hard you try to resist and I’ve always thought this rather presumptuous …
The city of light was calling to me after I had been miserable in dark and gloomy England for too long and so I booked myself a hotel, agreed to a date, and set off to see if I could be a Paris convert once and for all. With the pandemic finally over, I was willing to put my penchant for cynicism to one side for one weekend and willingly allow the city to seduce me. I needed to see if it was truly worth the hype.
To up the ante, I stayed right on the Champs-Élysées with the dramatic Arc de Triomphe in full view. The beautiful hotel was called Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées and was the perfect base in the city and within walking distance of the romantic Tuileries Garden and Place de la Concorde. I was greeted with sensational views of the Champs-Elysées from my private apartment as well as rose petals and chocolates – tick, tick! I took a moment to calm my nerves before my date in the typically French patio right in the centre of the aparthotel which felt like a complete oasis as the sun was going down, just moments from one of the busiest and most famous streets in the world.
With my chicest outfit I could bundle together on, I was ready to go. First up on the date was coffee (the key to my heart) and sharing a chocolate mousse (amen) at Les Deux Magots, truly an exceptional start. Watching rather aloof Parisians ping straight back to life at five o’clock after rushes of caffeine and chocolate was something I didn’t know I needed.
I know now that what I had been missing in previous trips to France was being shown around by a local. I received no eye rolls from waiters as a result of my terrible pronunciation, no sniff for obviously wearing a beret facetiously. I kept uncharacteristically quiet as my French language skills are très awful and was elated by how differently everyone at the restaurants and bars treated us when they thought I was Parisien. Maybe my outfit was chic?
First glass of wine down and people think I am French? Suddenly the standoffish demeanour of fellow diners, taxi drivers and Seine walkers was incredibly endearing and sincere. These are my people. Next up was Le Relais de l’Entrecôte for delicious steak and bottomless frites where we sat cheek by jowl with hungry chattering Parisiens. So far the date was going well but I couldn’t help but think how much my girlfriends would laugh at now hard I was trying to blend in and I had to physically restrain myself from calling them in fits of laughter from the bathroom, looking in the mirror and sternly saying ‘no mademoiselle’ to myself in a French accent. The dessert course consisted of me pretending to be purely focused on the profiteroles but in fact I was mapping out my next trip to the city with my flatmate back home in a month’s time, little did she or indeed he (my date) know. I had fallen in love with suddenly possessing this insider knowledge and having at least two good spots to take people, all thanks to the handsome Parisien man sitting opposite me and generously leaving me all the chocolate sauce.
After dinner, I wasn’t head over heels with Paris just yet and slightly craved the buzziness and eclectic vibe of London on a Saturday night but after we walked off our feast the stars were twinkling and I knew that the lights of the Eiffel Tower would definitely break me. My date told me to wait until it was right on the hour for the lights to beginng to sparkle (another great insider tip). I grabbed my phone, ready for the insta moment and a notification from my best friend transferring me £20 popped up with the message ‘I love your plan this weekend, you go girl, get yourself some pink Champagne’. I was sold, I ran to the nearest shop, bought some bubbles and popped them underneath the Eiffel Tower like the embarrassing tourist I am. Have you ever been kissed thinking you were in a movie with flashing lights all around wearing a beret at midnight? I would highly recommend it. Cheesey? Yes. But maybe we all need a little fromage after the last two years, the stronger the better.
Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées, Paris
Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées, Paris features fully-furnished luxury serviced residences, complimentary Wi-Fi access, with rooms ranging from deluxe and premier suites to one and two-bedroom apartments. Rates start from €320 per night for a Deluxe Suite with a patio view. Facilities include a fitness room, lounge with TV, café, 24/7 business corner with multimedia, printer and Wi-Fi facilities and meeting facilities. There is room and laundry services available as well as airport transfers and it’s pet friendly. In addition to a fully-furnished living space with separate dining, kitchen and bedroom areas, the serviced apartments offer a welcome kit and amenities for children.