As a journalist most days are spent deskbound. Aside from the odd PR meeting, my coffee-stained desk is more often than not my home for 12 hours a day, five days a week. So when an invite came along from Cartier to see their latest Biennale creations it was an offer I couldn’t refuse: a) because its Cartier, whose jewels I’ve been lusting over since I was a child; and b) because the Biennale was to be in Paris.
Before the Cartier rep had even finished his sentence I was already fantasising how the new collection would be fabulous for my wedding next year and was mentally planning my daily outfits (a week before fashion week it was important to up my stakes on the style front)… Oh, and of course, I was rapidly on Google translate looking up how to say in French: “Do you have these in a UK size 7?”
My Parisian adventure was business class the entire way. Pick up service, lounge access (I even accessorised my Mulberry tote with the Emirates Club furniture) and a double-decker airbus, which boasted bigger TVs than the flat screen I have at home… And this was only the beginning.
Once landed, luggage collected and introductions made to my fabulous ‘Cartier group’, we headed to the gorgeous Loire region. Why? Cartier just wanted us to enjoy the French life.
At the UNSECO heritage site Relais et Chateaux Hotel Les Hautes Roches – where my room was actually inside a limestone cliff – I was only too happy to imbibe the culture which on this trip entailed much foie gras, canapés, chocolate, fresh bread and the ultimate in fine dining – seriously, how do French women stay so gorgeously thin?!
The following morning, a brief flirtation with the hotel swimming pool was short-lived as the smell of pain au chocolate and fresh coffee appealed more to my gluttonous desires.
Thankfully an afternoon tour around the stunning Chenonceaux Castle helped burn some calories. Once home to Catherine De Medici, check out her emblem, look familiar Coco Chanel?
From history to geography, we left the countryside and drove to the Big City Of Lights. After checking in to our new home for two days, The Westin Hotel (located in the first arrondissement, just a 15 minute walk from the Louvre museum and the Jardin Des Tuileries was on our doorstep), we donned our finery and ventured to one of Paris’s most exclusive restaurants, Dome Du Marais. Small in size but big on personality from the pretty birds in vintage cages to chic decor and refined gourmet menu (the chocolate bomb dessert was sublime) – Paris is so effortlessly cool.
Overindulgence eventually calls for some balance in the form of exercise. Instead of hitting the gym, I strapped on my running shoes and pounded the pavements to catch the city at sunrise. No crowds, little traffic and pure uninterrupted views – it’s the best way to sightsee.
After a quick shower and change, I was ready for my tour around the Biennale Des Antiquaires at Grand Palais to check out Cartier exhibition of 148 pieces of high-end jewellery and 12 precious objects, but first a visit to the Cartier Foundation – a unique gallery space designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel and home to exciting exhibitions and artistic productions. I loved the artwork by Tadanori Yokoo and the first sketches from a tribe in the Amazon.
Finally, the grand Biennale. The Cartier exhibition stood under the majestic glass dome ceiling of the Grand Palais. The luxury brand had their finest creations on display. I was drooling, while simultaneously calculating my overdraft limit. However, so exquisite were the pieces that virtually all of them were already sold – a lucky escape for my bank balance.
Before bidding farewell to my Cartier family we celebrated the fantastic trip at Mama Shelter, an uber-hip restaurant at the eponymous hotel designed by Philippe Starck. Quirky designs, unique setting, model-esque clientele and unbelievably hearty food made for sharing, it was the perfect was to end a delightful rendezvous.
Au revoir, Le France, you have been wonderful…
- Press trip read… The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gariss, one of the geniuses behind UK TV hit drama Sherlock Holmes
- Paris playlist… Groove Armada, Late Night Tales Presents For Pleasure
- Trip must-have… Aside from my Nuxe anti-fatigue facial cream, rehydration salts came in handy after enjoying too much local grape