crisp winter’s weekend in Paris was certainly a more appealing way to
spend it than a cold, damp and windy weekend in London, even if it did
mean kissing goodbye to my wife for a weekend of discovery courtesy of
Atout France, DMC Metropolis and their partners.
incentive trip had added spice with the inclusion of tickets for ‘Le
crunch’, the Six Nations rugby union championship kick off at Stade de
France, with much anticipation surrounding a youthful England’s chances
of taking the title from Wales this year.
I could convey that we
left three minutes before the end to avoid the heavy Parisian traffic,
and thus are blissfully unaware of any other result than the 19-24 to
England score line posted on the scoreboard at that stage.
this was not the case and England’s turgid start to the game –
conceding a try in the opening exchanges – was only trumped by their
turgid finish – conceding a converted try in the final two minutes –
ensuring 65,000 French men and women drifted home tails up a la Pepe le
Dejected, yes, but it was a thoroughly worthwhile exercise to experience the atmosphere in such a wonderful stadium.
has been a destination in and out of vogue over the last 15 years, but
has staged something of a renaissance in more recent times,
demonstrating a competitive edge and emphasising its charm to attract
Our small incentive group of six certainly experienced
plenty of the charm and 5-star treatment, with champagne and an intimate
dinner on the Seine, luxury accommodation off the famous Champs Elysee,
chocolate making, and champagne tasting courtesy of a champagne family
dating back to the early 19th century.
Our luxury accommodation
for the weekend was L’Hotel du Collectionneur, an opulent art deco hotel
located close to the Champs Elysee, boasting 1,700sqm of meeting
facilities. The hotel was deceptively peaceful for a near 500-bedroom
property, and the spacious bedrooms would appeal to many markets, not
least the US. The arrival champagne lunch was a unique and intimate
dining experience in a sealed bubble located in the hotels’ inner
garden, which provided the ideal introduction for a small group.
up was a visit to La Maison du Chocolat for a master class on the
origins of chocolate, during which we were reminded that Englishman
Joseph Fry was responsible for the world’s first solid chocolate in the
1850’s, adding cocoa butter, rather than hot water (chocolate was always
a hot beverage prior to this time) to cocoa powder and sugar.
on the Seine, aboard Le Cachemire, a late upgrade by Yachts de Paris
from Don Juan II, was certainly worthy of the libertine’s last supper.
We wound along the Seine at a leisurely pace, taking in the picturesque
sights of Paris.
Our final morning in Paris provided an
opportunity to explore the local food markets and sample the produce,
before moving on to a Champagne tasting session courtesy of Pierre, of
the Arlaux champagne family.
Another famous British invention was discussed – champagne. Yes, that’s right, champagne
was indeed invented by the British. A fact I’ve had much fun with at
the expense of Gallic friends for a few years now.
Merrett, a 17th century cider maker, first devised the method of
fermentation providing champagne its sparkle, while also inventing the
stronger glass required to stop the bottles exploding under the
Indeed, the superiority of the British glass-making
industry was a key factor in ensuring the popularisation of champagne
among London’s elite. While across the Channel, Dom Perignon initially
tried to find a method to reduce the bubbles produced during the second
fermentation process, simply because French glass could not withstand
the pressure. Shame I couldn’t say the same for their Rugby team. Sacre
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