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George V Hotel + L’Orangerie Restaurant Paris

Perfumed Notes | As Myrrh from the Tree

“The physical transformations of Paris can be read as a ceaseless struggle between the spirit of place and the spirit of time.” Eric Hazan

Lunch in Paris is always a good idea. Even on the city’s saddest day – Nôtre Dame is smouldering. It would be a tremendously good idea to go to a hotel with three Michelin starred restaurants one of which has three Michelin stars. Les trois pour Le Cinq. Praise be for Four Seasons George V and its most intimate offering L’Orangerie. Just 18 covers; that’s 18 seats, that’s 18 people, that’s 16 other guests. It took Head Chef David Bizet a mere eight months after opening to snap up a Michelin star. We never tyre tire of the gastronomic galaxy. We’re all dressed up (Calvin Klein | Duchamp | Vivienne Westwood) with somewhere to go.

“By the way, did you know that in Paris everyone has the best bakery at the end of their street?” Inès de la Fressange

We are swept through reception on a French flow of impossibly suave direction, past achingly orgiastic triple epiphanic inducing ceiling tipping floral arrangements – lavender’s lemon – through Le Galerie to our table d’haute. Normandy born David shares, “As someone who loves nature, it is important for me to work with the wonderful products of the French regions. My cuisine has a particular elegance and subtlety, and my take on the product can be appreciated in both its taste and visual appearance.” He further describes his cooking as “a traditional French contemporary cuisine of elegance, refinement and femininity”.

“There are little things that thrilled me more… it is one’s own discoveries – an etching in a bookstall, a crooked street in the Latin Quarter – a quaint church in some forgotten corner, these are all the things one remembers.” Samuel Barber

The interior of L’Orangerie is as starry as its culinary accreditation: a crystalline prism presents a welcome foil to the solidity of Lefranc + Wybo’s original Art Deco white stone architecture. Designer Pierre-Yves Rochon used 2.5 tonnes of glass, 160,000 pieces of Carrara marble and a few Lalique lamps to up the ante, to max the effect, to dazzle with pizzazz. L’Orangerie overlooks the Marble Courtyard; it’s perpendicular to Le Cinq and opposite Le George (the third restaurant). We could easily get distracted by this visual feast and that’s before the feast on (textured, sculptured and abstract) plates arrives. There’s a new axis tilting lunch menu and Charles, the Monsieur Divay variety, Directeur of L’Orangerie and Le Galerie is here to explain, “We’ve more vegetables and seafood on our new menu.” Fantastique! We want to savour the vegan and pescatarian savouries.

Incidentally, the sixth Michelin Guide published by André Michelin, the 1926 edition, set out its raison d’être: “For a certain number of important cities in which the tourist may expect to stop for a meal we have indicated restaurants that have been called to our attention for good food.” Restaurants were graded in three categories, as they are today, from one star “simple but well run” to three stars “restaurants of the highest class”. La Tour d’Argent was one of the first Parisian restaurants to achieve the ultimate recognition.

“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter… but now it’s spring… Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway

Very incidentally, second floor apartments attract a premium in Paris. Much of the city was rebuilt in the 19th century under the direction of Georges-Eugène Haussmann. A uniformity of design meant the ground floor of blocks was usually commercial with the shopkeepers housed immediately upstairs. The wealthy lived on the second floor or “étage noble”. Far enough from street noise but not too many stairs to climb. The most generously sized apartments with high ceilings and long balconies are still on this floor. Monsieur Haussmann blessed Paris with four square streets of gold, a little bit of heaven come early. The lost and found generation. Paris is always worth it. Sequins of events on a glittering grid.

“The copper dark night sky went glassy over the city crowned with signs and starting alight with windows, the wet square like a lake at the front of the station ramp.” Elizabeth Bowen

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Rare Le Secret Champagne + Expérience Paris

A Revolutionary Idea

Possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France. Rare Champagne, the multiple award winning Champagne, and Mellerio, the oldest jewellery dynasty in the world (founded in the 16th century), have combined their exceptional talents, refined excellence and muse affinity to create a truly prestigious treasure. Rare Le Secret High Jewellery is an exclusive cuvée from the Champagne House of Rare in a bottle decorated by French jewellers Mellerio. Customers are invited to have the decoration of the bottle transformed into a bespoke piece of jewellery by Creative Director Laure-Isabelle Mellerio once its contents have been consumed.

A bottle of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery decorated with a diamond is priced $170,000 or with a ruby, emerald or sapphire, $150,000. Out of 10 bottles worldwide, there are now just three available in Harrods London, one in Takashimaya Tokyo, one in Galleries Lafayette Haussmann Paris and one in the US through the Rare Champagne Ambassador Jonathan Boulangeat and Kyle Kaplan. American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson reckoned, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Even better, a walk about Paris en route to the studio of Mellerio will provide a lesson in luxury.

The story began in 1997 when Régis Camus, Rare Champagne Chef de Cave, had an epiphanic moment. He realized there was something special in the sparkling wines of that year and rather than declaring a vintage, he blended a small quantity of this cuvée behind closed doors, secretly ageing it in magnums. Now, 21 years later, the results are extraordinary. Régis’ personal creation has a rare depth and rich complexity, hitting lively citrus highlights while delivering tranquil notes.

This sophisticated finesse, a zenith of Champagne production, launched the collaboration between tastemakers Rare Champagne and Mellerio. “Marie-Antoinette is a natural link between our maisons,” explains Laure-Isabelle. Their shared royal patronage dates from 1780 when the Queen of France acquired a Mellerio bracelet formed of seven Ancient Roman cameos enriched with garnets. The bracelet is now on display in Mellerio’s showroom. She smiles: “Mellerio brought glamour to the Court!” Records show all the Queens of 19th century Europe bought the House’s jewellery. Ever the sybarite, Her Majesty would enjoy her first taste of Rare Champagne a few years later.

Laure-Isabelle suggests, “The refined world of Rare Champagne instantly guided my hand.” Her design for Rare Le Secret High Jewellery takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s extravagantly silhouetted dresses. It features a single precious jewel of at least one carat embedded in a heart of interwoven gold bands set with 510 diamonds. The gold and platinum threads swirling down the bottle, reminiscent of the flow and structure of haute couture, represent the blend of Chardonnay minerality and Pinot Noir intensity. The 24 carat solid gold muselet cap is a first, even for Champagne! The enigmatic matt black presentation box with its silver mirrored interior resembles the cases of jewellery presented to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, it resembles a Versailles salon in miniature.

A second design has also been created. The classic simplicity of a gold cartouche is reflected in the golden mirrored interior of its majestic case. Inside each bottle is the same blend of Rare Champagne. The Rare Le Secret Goldsmith is a limited edition of 1,000 numbered and engraved magnums. It is priced at $2,000. In New York, this edition is available in Baccarat, Sherry Lehmann and Sotheby’s. Harrods London also stocks Rare Le Secret Goldsmith.

Rare Le Secret is perfect to enjoy right away,” explains Régis, “and will still be at optimum quality until 2021.” It goes well with scallop carpaccio, hot oysters, and truffle risotto. Nose, palate and view are three ways to describe bubbly. So what’s the verdict from the House of Rare? Nose: subtle salty and mineral notes with aromas of liquorice, candied tropical fruit and bergamot are followed by dried fruit and powdery floral notes. Palate: after a lively attack of Menton lemon and citrus fruits, nuances of fresh apricot, vetiver and verbena express a serene minerality. Hints of acacia honey and incense develop an oriental and smoky vinosity and ethereal finish. View: dazzling. Graceful bubbles rise in beautiful ribbons and produce a delicate sparkle.

Régis calls it “the secret within Le Secret”. That is, the transformation of something precious to drink into something precious to wear. A private visit to Maison Mellerio will allow Laure-Isabelle to turn Rare Le Secret High Jewellery’s bottle adornment into a brooch, bracelet or pendent. It’s the ultimate multisensory journey from cellar to atelier. The House of Mellerio is on Rue de la Paix, the most prestigious shopping area in the city’s Second Arrondissement. It’s between the First Arrondissement (Tuileries) and the Ninth (Lafayette). “Mellerio has been at this address for almost two centuries now. We were the first luxury goods company to open on Rue de la Paix. Cartier arrived relatively recently in 1898!” relates Mellerio’s Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle. Five star glitz of The Ritz, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and Le Meurice is mere seconds away along this stretch of the River Seine.

Galignani, the first English bookshop to be established on the European Continent, is nearby. “It’s the Hatchards of Paris,” says Directrice Générale Danielle Cillien Sabtier referring to London’s finest bookshop. “The concept is a space for encounters and cultural exchanges.” The bookshop is on Rue de Rivoli set behind an arched stone colonnade. So Haussmann, so Parisian. In the 19th century, William Thackeray was a regular customer. Last century, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed its reading room. This century, Karl Lagerfeld is a fan. Mr Thackeray called Galignani, “The exile’s best friend.” Is it Rare Champagne-o’clock again? To repeat, possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France.