Dear Ladies (and any Gents out there who follow),
In addition to my issues with calorie consumption and my hatred of treadmills, I also have a slight addiction to sales, particularly flash sales like Gilt, Hautelook, Rue La La, Ideeli, Jetsetter, and One King’s Lane. Anyway, I was browsing the flash sales on Jetsetter, which is a flash sale, travel website run by Gilt and I saw this super cool hotel called Hotel Seven in Paris, France. I thought to myself, I want to stay in that hotel a) because it’s super cool b) because it’s on sale and I hate missing a sale and c) because it is located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So….I promptly sent the boyfriend an email coaxing him to take a trip to Paris with me over MLK day weekend. At first he was not entirely game as he was concerned about work and corporate earnings releases (he helps manage a portfolio at a major hedge fund) and my response to all that work talk was, “Look, I want to go to this hotel. We are only young once and this is our chance to zip over to Paris for a quick trip and enjoy the city. Also, if you don’t come with me, I’m still going.” So, he caved and we booked it.
When we booked the hotel, he asked me to request the Black Diamond Suite – all the suites in the hotel have a different ambiance and theme – the Black Diamond Suite seemed cool, and I wanted to stay there as well so I naturally didn’t really think anything about the fact that the suite had the word “Diamond” in it.
Since the boyfriend had only been to Paris for a quick 2 hour trip, he wanted to do the typical touristy things like the Louvre, Notre Dame and Musee d’Orsay, as well as visit a traditional French Chateau – before we left I created a detailed itinerary planning out the whole trip so that we could fit everything in as seamlessly as possible.
After a 7.5 hour flight and practically no sleep, we landed at Charles de Gaulle on Saturday morning at 8:30 am Paris time and just decided to go go go. We got to Notre Dame and walked around the Louvre a bit, took a picture of the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the other typical tourist must see pieces and then I felt like I was going to pass out from lack of food and lack of sleep so we decided to skip Musee d’Orsay and zipped over to this little restaurant called Le Timbre which means “The Stamp”. Le Timbre is owned and run by the only cook/chef working at the restaurant who is a British ex-pat that opted for a life engulfed by the decadent flavors and attention to detail that dominates pretty much all aspects of la vie en Paris! Upon our arrival, we were almost rejected from Le Timbre as we did not call for reservations, which I didn’t think would be necessary since we were just going for lunch, but that was the wrong assumption, particularly considering that the restaurant literally has around 10 tables that are all sandwiched next to each other and is Michelin rated to boot. Because the tables fit together almost like tightly cut puzzle pieces, the waitress needs to shift tables around in order to get you to your seat. After awkwardly getting settled and seated, we plopped down in our seats right next to two middle-aged Frenchmen who were particularly jovial and friendly. They translated the menu for us and made some great recommendations. Like the people in Greece, the people in France eat whatever they want and no one really gets fat! Everyone there is actually very thin despite the exorbitant usage of butter. I don’t understand why American food makes me explode, but for some reason it does.
From a fantastic lunch at Le Timbre, we walked back to Hotel Seven and took a quick power nap. When we got back to our room, I tried to charge my blackberry because I need to be connected to my counterparts at my firm (even on romantic weekends in Paris). Upon plugging in, using a European converter, my blackberry tweaked out and started doing some really funky things, at which point I claimed the boyfriend’s blackberry for the next hour to call my firm’s technology help desk so that I could log on to my computer to check my email. After about 45 minutes on hold, I said screw it and passed out for a quick 1 hour nap before dinner.
After the nap, I of course, called the help desk again and got the necessary log-in information so that I could log-in to my office desktop back in NYC the following morning to pump out the work that I normally get done every weekend. After I knew I was all set to go for the next day professionally speaking, I was able to let lose a little, relax, have some wine and get ready for a great evening at BON, a Phillipe Starck designed and inspired restaurant that serves pan-Asian food. I thought the food was fantastic. By the way, both of the restaurant recommendations were courtesy of my super amazingly creative and adventurous friend who will most likely be a famous designer one day. She lived in Paris for two years and currently resides in Brooklyn – in the future I will refer to her as FeFe because of her French inspired life style and eye for beauty. So after BON, we headed to Prescription, a British-style townhouse lounge in the Saint Germain area bartended by Americans, also recommended by FeFe. The place was so tiny and packed and cool and the boyfriend and I of course had the girliest, pinkest drinks you could possibly get in the place, not by my request, but by his, of course. (As mentioned in an earlier post, a pink cocktail is sort of my big hulk of a boy’s signature.) After a drink at BON, we were pretty much totally wiped out and since I had to wake up at 6:00 am Paris time to get my work done, we thought it would be best to hit the hay and get some Zzzzz’s.
The next day, Sunday, January 16, 2011, I woke up at 6:00 am, got dressed in the dark so I didn’t wake my boyfriend, grabbed my laptop, dead blackberry, the boyfriend’s blackberry (in case I had any issues) and headed downstairs to the hotel’s breakfast room to set up a mini-remote office. I made myself a cappuccino using the most amazing automatic cappuccino machine (I know how to make real ones from working in Italian restaurants in high school and college – so I was quite impressed with the ease and fluidity of this technology), plugged in my laptop, booted up my computer, and tried to log-in to my companies remote access website. Unfortunately, logging in was a little less seamless than my steaming cup of cappuccino, and I had to call the generally useless help desk, which was as usual, useless. I was on the phone for 2.5 hours trying to connect to my desktop. Finally, after two and half hours, two cappuccinos, two pain au chocolates, and a lot of frustration, I was connected! Only to be kicked off five minutes later. In 3 hours, I accomplished all of 15 minutes of work. Waking up at 6:00 am was a totally fruitless campaign and the moral of this story is, if you are investment banker and you have the good fortune to get out of town to Paris for a romantic weekend, throw your blackberry in the Seine and make sure you have someone in your home office covering your big fat booty.
At 9:30 I returned to the hotel room, beaten and broken with a glass of fresh squeezed OJ, a pain au chocolate, baguettes, Nutella, fruit and macaroons for my still soundly asleep boyfriend. He loves food and he hates waking up, so when I woke him from his deep sleep with food by my side, he perked up immediately without any groaning or cranky behavior (note to self – I should do this all the time). He asked how my work went and I explained and then started complaining and kind of freaking out about when I’d get it all done. He asked if I still wanted to do what we had planned for the day, which was a visit to the Chateau Fontainebleau in Ile-de-France, about 45 minutes by train outside of Paris city center. (Before we left for Paris, the boyfriend told me that he wanted to go see a castle because he loves them – I didn’t quite understand why he wanted to waste one of the two days we had in Paris outside of Paris, but I just went with it, and now, after-the-fact, I understand.) I said I definitely still wanted to go and that I wasn’t going to let remote access technology issues ruin our trip. So we got dressed (I put on this cute little outfit – black tights, black babydoll dress, black riding boots, velvet overcoat and black beret) and headed to Gare de Lyon (or Lyon Station in English) where we boarded a train to Avon Fontainebleau which is the town in Ile-de-France where a chateau is located.
Chateau Fontainebleau is known as the Palace of Kings, as it was where many French rulers escaped to and as my friend College so eloquently puts it, “where King Louis got his smack on”. Upon getting off the train in Avon, you board a bus which takes you to the Palace – nothing is really user or tourist friendly as far as signage is concerned and a young woman from Shanghai who was travelling alone kind of latched on to us. The boyfriend and I are always very nice to other travelers, so I of course tried to help her out as much as possible and began carrying on a conversation with her. The boyfriend came over to me at one point, very frustrated, almost angry and said to me, “Look, you have to get rid of this Shanghai chick. We are in Paris and we are supposed to be enjoying each other – I don’t want to hang out with her. Stop trying to learn Chinese.” I turned to him and asked what his deal was as this was so unlike him, but I did agree that this was supposed to be our special trip together. Finally, she kind of just wandered off and we were free of her.
We toured the whole castle, took a million pictures, and at the end there was a gorgeous chapel, Trinity Chapel. We went inside, sat on a bench and looked around. It was stunning: painted ceilings with cherubs everywhere, velvet benches and gilded trim.
The boyfriend turned to me and said, almost nervously, “Do you like this place?”
I said, “Yes, it’s beautiful, I’m very happy we came to see the Chateau.”
He said, “I agree, but would you want to get married here?”
I said, “Ummm…it’s gorgeous, but I’m a little more low-key than this – I mean, it’s gilded.”
He said, “Okay, but you like it?”
I said, “Yes, very much.”
He said, “Do you want to take a picture?”
Then I was totally, freaked out – he NEVER wants to take pictures. I have to beg him to get pictures of us, so while I thought he might have the flu or need to be hospitalized for asking me to take a picture, I thought, ‘Gosh darn it! I’m taking advantage of this – let’s go take a freakin’ picture.’ So he asked some French guy to take a picture of us, and asked if he spoke English but he didn’t. After the French guy took the picture, the boyfriend asked if I wanted another one – I was jumping up and down in my head for more pictures – and I said sure and he gave the camera to another French guy and then turned his back to me.
When he turned his back I knew something was up. When he turned around again and the guy taking the picture was positioned to take a picture of us, he handed me a folded up Microsoft Outlook email printout. Whenever he has something important to say to someone, he writes himself a bulleted email and then goes over his talking points a few times before he speaks to the person of interest. This email was the email he wrote himself before going to speak with my parents to ask for permission to marry me. As I was reading the email, he got down on one knee and pulled out a stunning 2 carat, round, brilliant-cut diamond set in the traditional Tiffany’s six prong setting with a knife edge shank and said, “Will you marry me?” My eyes welled up with tears and I, of course, said, “Yes!” All of the tourists in the chapel began snapping pictures of us with their own cameras and congratulating us in different languages and then came up to us and starting doing the Euro kiss thing. It was unbelievable – I really couldn’t believe it and was nauseous for the next two hours because I think I was in shock. We took a few more pictures in the chapel and on the Chateau’s grounds and then walked into the town of Avon where we had a little lunch and called both sets of siblings and parents back in the U.S. to share the good news. We took the train back to Paris shortly thereafter and then got ready for dinner.
That night, the now fiancé, took me to dinner at Le Cinq at the Four Seasons George V. This was by far the most beautiful, extravagant and amazing dinner I’ve experienced in my life. As we were seated, I went to place my clutch bag on the table and as I was doing so, one of our six waiters ran over with a pedestal for my bag. We had a 10 course dinner served to us by six amazingly wonderful people who all seemed to have one goal: make us happy and relaxed. We ate lavishly and enjoyed every last bite that night as I experienced the most fulsome and happiest day of my life. Now, as I plan a wedding (which will most likely be 1.5 to 2 years out), I need to keep my calories under wraps and I will certainly keep you all informed along the way.
I hope you all enjoyed this extraordinarily long post and I will post pictures shortly, and I wish you all the love that I have been lucky to find. Never mistake the importance of a good sale…