As we enjoy our 41st year of married bliss, my beloved and I have given some thought to what we call “memorable moments”. In truth there have been plenty of these and I’m going to share a few of them with you.
Any trip to Paris reminds me of the time we took my parents there as an early Xmas present. It was in 2000, my beloved and I were living in London and he was due to attend a dental meeting in Paris at the end of November. The Plaza Athenee Hotel had recently reopened after a re-fit and, via American Express; I got a great rate on the rooms.
My parents, who spent their honeymoon in Paris, were always game for a return. My father said he’d take everyone out for dinner at a restaurant of my choosing. My parents liked coming away with us. My father in particular since it spared him having to organise anything. He could just sit back, relax and enjoy himself.
We drove to Paris via the Channel Tunnel, with an overnight in Calais not too far from the terminal which afforded us three full days and two nights in the City of Light. Richard attended the exhibition and joined us for dinner. I spent some time with my parents strolling around the 7th and 8th arrondissements which included a very pleasant afternoon tea at The George V. The rest of the time they were happy to potter around Paris.
I had wanted to eat at Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant but it was fully booked. By chance, I managed to book us a table at Lucas Carton. I rang just as someone had cancelled a table for four. Karma!
It’s a beautiful, art nouveau, wood panelled restaurant in the Place de la Madelaine. After settling at our table, we enjoyed a glass of champagne while perusing the menu. Dad was the only one of us to have a menu with prices. I had polenta with truffles to start while the others chose carpaccio of scallops. Mum and I had lobster and the boys had lamb. We went with the restaurant’s suggested selection of wines by the glass with our meal. It was superb, pretty much what you’d expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. We were too full for dessert, opting instead for coffee which came with a huge plate of petits fours. We demolished them and my father paid the bill.
It had been a very enjoyable break. My beloved and I were always happy to spend time with my parents who were most agreeable company. About three months’ later my father asked me to guess how much the meal had cost. I gave the matter some thought and decided upon £500. My father shook his head and indicated I should go higher. The final bill had been much more than the two nights we’d paid for them in a top Parisian hotel! I could tell you I was mortified but honestly I wasn’t. It had been worth every mouthful and my parents agreed.
My father kept the bill as a memento of our trip and when he died my sisters handed it down to me. I’ve framed it and it hangs on my memory wall. I have a wry smile on my face every time I think back to that fabulous meal and our lovely trip to Paris with them. Interestingly, dinner at Lucas Carton now would cost a similar amount to that paid by my Dad in 2000 while, I’m sorry to say, two nights at the Plaza Athenee would cost very much more!