The next part of our trip brought us to Paris where we stayed at Le Grand Hotel, run by the InterContinental. It was indeed a nice hotel with typically Parisian and very opulent rooms. There were soft beds (which my head of delegation didn’t like – oops) and plush carpets. There was also peeling wallpaper and the shower flooded the whole bathroom.
Something weird happened: as I was settling in, room service rang and set up this elaborate set of drinks and cookies in the room. It was well and good until I excitedly rang my boss and asked if he was enjoying the complimentary drinks. (He wasn’t.) Then I realised that the welcome card had the wrong name on it! Horrified, I called our local representative office who booked the rooms for us to check if that was the name of the secretary doing the booking. (It wasn’t.) So I took their advice to “just whack.” and did exactly that. If you didn’t mind the odd service, the InterCon Le Grand is a nice though horribly over-priced place to stay. Thankfully, we had a free upgrade so the rooms were expensive but not quite horribly expensive for the company.
We had a while to wander about town and enjoy some cakes at Laduree, which was thankfully still open on a Sunday.
It’s such an institution there and if you haven’t tried their macarons, you haven’t really tasted one before. Their desserts are all very yummy too.
16 rue Royale 75008 Paris (there are also other branches in Paris, CDG and Versailles)
Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 60 21 79
Thereafter, we went for a bit of a meander through town, passing by the Place de la Concorde and the gardens in the area. There were so many people out in the later afternoon after the shops were closed, simply enjoying the sun. While it was inconvenient for us that we weren’t able to shop in the little time we had in Paris, I liked the idea of life going on in the daytime in spite of the dearth of shopping and commerce.
I took the requisite touristy photos at what I think is the Place de la Concorde and its obelisk.
And I grabbed some other pictures of the beautiful buildings sitting pretty in the afternoon sun.
One of them could be Hotel Crillon, but I can’t be sure. The weather was too beautiful for it to matter.
On the day with business meetings, it was a rush from stop to stop, with quick photos taken out of the rented car window.
And this is the only decent shot I got of the Eiffel Tower, taken in the distance.
When we finally got back from our business meetings, it was only to get a quick round of shopping before the shops closed. One of the incongruous ones I saw was this thoroughly modern Apple shop in an obviously old and well-preserved building.
We finished off our Paris leg of the trip with a lovely meal at Oscar Restaurant, a favourite of our local representatives. I started with a lovely giblet salad topped with a duck liver terrine. It was typically Parisienne and a much wiser decision than my earlier choices of stodgy food in Milan.
I was feeling quite heaty from all the travelling and eating (and being stuck in a boardroom for a whole afternoon without getting even a sip of water – poor organisation on the part of the hosts). The beef tartare as a main was very welcome. It was the best one I’ve had, the fresh and tasty raw beef being seasoned just right and not being overwhelmed by the pickle and onion chopped into the mixture. The fresh herbs and side salad helped lots too. By now, my dining companions were looking askance at my rather different choices and wondering what I was going to have for dessert.
I eschewed the usual chocolate puddings and ice cream and gunned straight for the Faiselle, a type of sweet cheese topped with creme fraiche and accompanied with berry coulis. It was just the right creamy ending to my dinner.
6, rue de Chaillot 75116 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 47 20 26 92
Closed for Saturday lunch and on Sunday