"Passion cannot be learned — no certificate can attest to its presence; it is nourished by a common experience, which it in turn nourishes," says Le Bristol Paris guest relations manager, Jean-Marie Burlet.
It was that passion that got us talking, as I hovered in the foyer far longer than necessary after checkout. I was loathe to leave, still fascinated by everything and everyone at one of the few establishments that can claim the distinction of being a Parisian Palace Hotel — an honour bestowed again for another five years by the tourism ministry of the French government in recognition of their facilities, client service and accessibility.
The award-winning hotel’s prestigious address on the rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré near the Elysée Palace attracts an "esteemed clientele looking for quiet and discretion". Among its many unforgettable attractions are a beautiful indoor garden seldom seen in the inner city, the Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie (considered one of the best in the world) as well as the gastronomic creations presented by triple Michelin-starred chef Éric Fréchon at the Epicure restaurant and 114 Faubourg, a brasserie de luxe with a single Michelin star.
Fréchon applies his renowned passion for terroir to his selection and preparation of dishes (often featuring things he likes to eat) and has an uncompromising approach to quality before price. "I like to work with a very rough product, like celeriac or artichoke, and find an artistic way to present it," he says. He’ll use the vegetable as a container for another ingredient, such as truffle, taking care not to blur sensory boundaries. "Some restaurants put so much on the plate, there are too many flavours. You don’t know what you’re eating," says Fréchon.
Even his tasting menu, which he’ll prepare for small groups, will comprise one starter, one main course, two desserts, seasonal cheeses by master cheese makers and some amuse-bouche in between. His specialties? Try poularde — Bresse farm hen poached in a bladder in vin jaune broth, with sweets of spinach stuffed with a royal of giblets, water crayfish and black truffle, and poularde legs, truffled stock of leeks and potatoes (€290 for two people).
Portions are consistent; "not too big and not too small… when you dine with us you’re here to eat, not just to taste," says Fréchon. To that end, he rates his biggest accomplishment as the compliments he receives from guests. "That’s very important to me. I feel so much emotion... It means a lot."
The sensory experience continues with Le Bristol Paris’s collaboration with the nearby Le Grand Musée du Parfum, which opened in December at the former headquarters of the House of Christian Lacroix, so that after learning more about the history and science of making perfume guests can return to the hotel’s Café Antonia for the Perfumes of Tea ritual. Instead of simply ordering tea off the menu, they are invited to make their selection by smelling the tea leaves.
"The notes from a tea scenting could read something like 'earthy head notes, caramel body and ripe red berry tail'," says Café Antonia manager Pascal Havel. "The same way as you would describe a perfume, you look to identify head notes, which are your first impressions, then the body notes, which are the heart of the tea’s character and, finally, the tail notes, which describe the scent that lingers after you have smelt the leaves. Tasting the brewed tea is a pleasure on its own."
Special offer valid throughout February
Reserve Le Bristol Paris’s romantic Terrace Suite with Jacuzzi and spacious garden terrace, "seemingly suspended above the Parisian rooftops, and enjoy a dinner designed for seduction throughout February". Frechon’s renowned macaroni farci, black truffle artichoke and foie gras, or line-caught whiting fish in a bread and almond crust is on the menu accompanied by Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne. Finish with the priceless Nyangbo chocolate gilded with fine gold for dessert.
One night in the Terrace Suite with Jacuzzi, a three Michelin-star dinner for two, paired with Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne, and an American breakfast for two, served in the suite — from €6990
For more information, visit lebristolparis.com.