Cocktailing à la Paris

   1936  
Cocktailing à la Paris
In a relaxed and beautiful setting, in a slower paced world of genteel manners and hushed tones all around, I am convinced that all women look good. Whether simple or flamboyant, a woman achieves a radiant glow and that noticeable something the French call l’art de vivre, the art of living. Women, in Paris, are invited to cocktail alone. Depending on your mood, you might nod, smile or talk to the person next to you while you sip a French cocktail or a glass of Dom Pérignon Rosé. Pricey, yes, but less than a ticket to the ballet. Believe me, renting a piece of high-priced real estate for an hour or more is worth the extravagance. Bar 228 at Le Meurice Hôtel After a day of sketching my way through the neighborhoods of Paris, I look forward to Bar 228’s comfortable ambiance and hushed conversation. Le Meurice has been around for more than two centuries and at its present site overlooking the Tuileries Garden since 1935. While Le Meurice reflects the splendors of the 18th century architecture, Bar 228 is contemporary in comfort and embodies the warmth of a British club—full of wood and leather, with warm-toned shades, the sparkle of crystal, and live jazz every evening. Three paintings representing a festive night scene at the Château de Fontainebleau hang on its richly paneled walls. Walking on Rue de Rivoli, I look for a side street. There I can tuck into a doorway to slip into my strappy heels. Fingering through my evening bag, I find the velvet drawstring pouch which protects my pendant earrings and cocktail ring from my favorite costume jeweler in Paris, Philippe Ferenandis. I’m soon back on Rue de Rivoli ready to make my appearance at Le Meurice. “Bonsoir, madame,” says the doorman, as my heels click across the intricate mosaic crest on the sidewalk. “Bonsoir, madame,” says the next doorman, as I ascend three marble steps. “Bonsoir, madame,” says the concierge who greets me from her pedestal desk. I reply, smile and nod. Confidently, I walk in the direction of the women’s washroom.  There, I reapply powder and lipstick and dab perfume in all the right places. My usual travel outfit, a black pencil skirt and long-sleeved Calvin Klein black jersey top, needs adjusting. I remove my Hermès scarf and give it a shake. The silk reshapes itself around my neck as I tie a loose knot and fling the ends across my shoulder. Running fingers through my hair, I wink at myself, and out the door to the bar I go! I request a place for one beneath the paintings of Château de Fontainebleau. There, I have a view of the entire barroom. The waiters always share a conversation as far as I can manage with my schoolgirl French. Then, we shift to English, and back again. There are classic and inventive cocktails to order, but I always ask for the same drink, Champagne rosé. My waiter arrives with Champagne, cocktail olives and allumettes Parmesan—cheese straws made with puff pastry. Soon he returns with the day’s copy of Le Figaro and says, “If you wish, madame.” Of course, I wish! It’s old Paris. Guests and waiters alike speak in hushed tones. No one hurries, not even me. “Au revoir, madame,” I hear at each turn, from the waiter, the bartender, the concierge, and the doormen, “A bientôt.” Good-bye, madame. See you again, soon. “Oui, merci beaucoup! Au revoir, messieurs et madame,” I reply, “A bientôt.” Reserve a hotel room at Le Meurice: It’s one of Bonjour Paris’s favorite hotels. And if you can’t afford to stay there, say Bonjour to William in the bar. He’s been the barman there for more than 30 years. Barbara Redmond writes A Woman’s Paris™ for and about women who love Paris and France. Barbara, specializing in creating unique brand experiences, has been recognized for excellence in art by international and national organizations. She has brought A Woman’s Paris™ to the Alliance Française and hosts groups for discussions and private tours and workshops. It’s easy to purchase fine art prints of Paris here: For the complete version of French aperitif: voilà. For car rentals and more: Auto Europe is the savvy visitor’s best bet for planning a trip to Paris or Europe. Whether you’re looking for the best deals in car rentals or air travel, hotels or GPS rentals, just go to Auto Europe and you’re on your way.
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