GLAMAMAMA MONDAYS: To PARIS WITH LEIGH TUNG CHOU

It’s GLAMAMAMA Monday again and this week I have  a guest blogger, my BFF Leigh Tung Chou.

This glamamama is an inspiration in her own right. She is a fulltime  mother of 3, all under the age of 8 in local Chinese School, is  a supporter of  the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, a guild member of the Hong Kong Ballet, and spearheads several family philanthropic initiatives. In addition to all this, she remains a keen tastemaker to all who know her, is an avid exercise junkie, and to top it all off is also a  part-time foodie 🙂

Romance, the Parisian (GETA)way

 by Leigh Tung Chou

A few weeks ago, I met my husband for a long weekend in Paris.  He was working in Europe for the week and it was our 11th wedding anniversary.  He said, “Why don’t you join me? It’ll be nice to spend the weekend in the city where we got engaged.”  Yes!  He’s a typical Chinese husband… a man of few words, so I was touched that he would think of something romantic to do for our anniversary. (Just for your info, our eighth anniversary, which he planned solo, was a quick bite at Simply Life and the latest X-Men flick at the IFC palace… nice and relaxing, but definitely not Paris!)

I excitedly started to plan.  Emailing friends and old colleagues of my impending arrival.  But, a few days before I was set to leave, things started to get crazy.  Don’t they always? The twins, who are in local school in Hong Kong, were finishing up mid-terms.  Yes, they’re 7 and have mid-terms!  As someone who was raised in New York in the 70’s, (gulp, please don’t count, please don’t count)  I find it hard to imagine kids can go through so many exams and tests these days! We were all about Charlie’s Angels (back when it was a TV show and Farrah rocked the feathered hairdo), bell bottoms and playing in Central Park NOT dictation, dictation, dictation! “Mommy, I don’t feel well.”  was the common refrain from the twins.  “Of course you don’t feel well, It’s just nerves! You’ll feel better once the tests are over! ” was my wannabe Tiger Mom response.

Kate, my youngest, was practicing for her piano recital, ice skating, and swimming all on the same day.  Yes, I admit she was overscheduled on that particular day and that evening she became very quiet.  Usually she is a chatterbox with the energy of an Energizer Bunny.  Uh oh, three days and counting before Paris and all three came down with a fever within 24 hours of each other… the hubby, of course, had already left for the first part of his business trip… this was not happening!!

My mother-in-law, (aka my savior), who stays with us a good part of the year so the kids can perfect their Chinese, stayed up with me.  We took turns in the middle of the night to make sure the kids were comfortable.  She said, “Go, go, go, they will be fine.  It’s important to spend time with your husband alone.”  I secretly wondered if she meant I needed to pay more of my undivided attention to her son.  The day before the trip, the fevers broke.  Everyone was on the mend.  The promise of lots of French presents plus a light saber that made noise (not “the one which looks fake and makes no noise” )was made. But wait, what was that tickle I felt in my throat and the dull throbbing in my head? No, no, no… this was not happening!

Usually, I get excited on the plane when I am alone.  No kids, no calls, no emails.  It’s just me and 13 hours worth of TV shows and movies that I normally don’t get to watch.  But on this trip it was more about the 10 packs of Tempo tissues, the heavy duty antihistamines, and the 1000mg of Vitamin C.

I arrived in Paris early morning and headed to my hotel, Le Burgundy off Rue Fabourg St. Honore.  My hubby thoughtfully booked somewhere with all the good shopping!  Even more romantic considering how he hates shopping!  It’s a boutique hotel opened by one of the Hennessey (as in Cognac) offspring.  Even in my drugged up state, I saw how chic the hotel was and how helpful the staff were… which in Paris is more the exception than the rule.  Hubby would be meeting me later that evening so I had some time to rest.

Breakfast at Le Burgundy

Our suite at Le Burgundy

Between the antihistamines and the vitamins, the days flew by with a smart lunch at the Ritz with my dear friend Tina Lignell, who runs the Finch & Partners PR  agency in Paris.  There was also a lovely cocktail party at Tina’s home in the 16th  arrondissment followed by a late night casual dinner for two with my foodie hubby at Recamier, which specializes in souffles.  Due to a seating mix up, we were presented three soufflés for dessert… and while all were so delicious, I can say that the Caramel & Fleur de Sel souffle was to die for!!

Le Trois Souffles at Recamier

The next night was dinner at the three Michelin star L’Arpege with my hubby and some other friends from Geneva.  We spotted PPR head honcho, Francois Pinault, who apparently lives down the street and treats L’Arpege as his personal canteen.  As usual, food that night was sublime with Chef Alain Passard specializing in the freshest organic vegetables from his farm.  As you can tell, my cold symptoms had subsided amongst all this good food and uninterrupted sleep.  We had a nice Sunday brunch for two at L’Ami Louis, which included huge blocks of Foie Gras, a juicy confit de canard, and a delicious but ruinous roasted potato pancake topped with garlic.  Later we stopped by for an eclair at Un Dimanche a Paris on the Left Bank to top off our calorie busting experience.

The brick of the most delicious Foie Gras at L’Ami Louis

Potato Galette at L’Ami Louis…oooooh the garlic!

 Un Dimanche a Paris pastries await

So many delicious pastries at Un Dimanche

Between all the eating, we did a lot of walking.  I stopped into all the usual suspects, which included pit stops to Chanel and Hermes. The Chanel people were so nice and gave me a nice hot tea with lemon and honey and a travel pack of tissues.  Now that’s what I call service!

Stan and I in Paris 🙂

I dragged Hubby to the Left Bank and we hit the Hermes store on Rue Sevres.  Housed in what used to be an art nouveau swimming pool, this lifestyle concept store has a florist, café and homeware department.  Light and airy with a sweeping staircase made of ash wood, even I was momentarily stopped in my tracks before quickly resuming my quest for an elusive Birkin.  My dear hubby loved the architecture but when he saw my demeanor shift to “serious shopper” mode even with my tissues in hand, he pleaded jet lag and was eager to make a dash for it.  Alas, I concurred and we left empty handed.

Hermes store: Rue Sevres

Hermes Store  Florist

We ended up walking around in the Left Bank around St. Sulpice and Rue du Grenelle.  He looked at me suspiciously and said, “You can’t be that sick if you can still get yourself out of bed to go shopping.”  Alas, I think I may have to agree with him.  Paris is tonic.  The promise of a new pair of shoes, some foie gras and a Mont Blanc from Angelina’s pulled me through and I willed myself to postpone the nasal congestion.

Walking around Rue Grenelle

Taschen on the Left Bank

White Asparagus in season !

By the end of the weekend, my cold had simmered down to an annoying post nasal drip.  It was fun just to spend time with him alone as so often our lives are moving at warp speed.  At home, a lot of our conversations revolve around the kids and logistics.  He reminded me of one of our first trips to Paris together when we were single and in our 20’s.  We were young and stayed in a tiny postage stamp sized room up in a garret of a Hotel Particular off the Place Madeleine making plans for our future.  Eleven years later, we have three beautiful children and a wonderful life we have built together.  The city will always hold a special place in my heart as it was where we got engaged and where I used to come for work before children and domesticity set in.  Even with a cold, it was a romantic interlude.

I was here 🙂

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