August 23, 2013, 12:32am
I have a confession to make. I don’t like Paris and I don't find Paris romantic. On the contrary I find it dirty, crowded and unsympathetic in every way. But I have family in Paris, so I often find myself there.
On this particular occasion, it was my father’s 70th birthday. He’d summoned three generations for a formal dinner on the Left Bank, and to add to the lack of romance, my hubby and I would have our six-month-old baby in tow.
Thank goodness, then, for the Four Seasons Hotel Georges V, which turned out to be a surprisingly family-friendly hotel.
Stressed and hungry after a horrendous early start followed by two hours of a screaming baby on the Eurostar, the porters whisked us out of travel hell straight into a cool, marbled, womblike lobby.
After being shown our quarters, an uncharacteristic pang of optimism shot through me. Perhaps this Paris would be different. Perhaps it would be romantic after all.
We’d been assigned a room on the fourth floor with a wraparound terrace boasting views of the Eiffel Tower. Further buoyed by a demi bottle of desert wine left on a silver platter as a welcome, as well as some thoughtful gifts for the baby: a box of animal-shaped Bulgari soaps, a fluffy mini bathrobe, a cot-bed all made up, a basket of assorted creams and nappies, a jungle gym… There was even a tissue-paper-stuffed gift box with a handwritten card. We’d found family hotel heaven on the Champs Elysées – things were definitely looking up.
Time got away from us and before we knew it, our impossibly chic babysitter was eyeing our tightly swaddled bundle suspiciously. They don’t wrap their babies up like burritos in France apparently. We were suited and booted and ready for aperitifs. La Gallerie is a gloriously old-fashioned long bar on the ground floor of the Georges Cinq – and one of my father’s favourite drinking holes. Lined with plush sofas and splendiferous flower arrangements, it overlooks a pretty courtyard, which, at the time of our visit, was strung with deep-purple orchids. My father looked perfectly at home in the corner wearing a green velvet suit and sipping a Negroni.
As our little family gathering grew and the sun went down, we had to prise ourselves away from the softly-lit, comfortable climes of the Georges V (I know better than to aggravate a Parisian Maitre ‘d). As we stood to leave, supermodel Claudia Schiffer strode in and headed for the courtyard. She paused at the French doors, looked over one shoulder and delivered a megawatt smile to my father.
Now who can ask for a better birthday present than that?
By Leo Bear fourseasons.com/paris