This past weekend Julian and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the French Open final in Paris. Of the four major Grand Slam tournaments (the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open), Roland-Garros, as the French Open is called, is the only one to be played on a clay court. Needless to say, Julian and I were thrilled to be attending the premier clay court tennis championship event in the world and to see two of the best players, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, face off during the final. We decided to make a weekend out of it and left for Paris early Saturday morning.
After a three and a half hour train ride from Basel, we were in Paris. Our first stop was our hotel, the Hyatt Paris Madeleine. Located in the 8th Arrondissement, our room had a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tour and of the beautiful Boulevard Malesherbes below.
Shopping on Rue Saint Honore
We were last in Paris just over a month ago as the last stop on our road trip through Burgundy. But since we were there for only 24 hours, we didn’t have any time to shop (a tragedy, I know). This time, however, Julian promised to make up for it and agreed to spend the day shopping on Rue Saint Honoré. This street is famous for being the home of the original Hermes store. Today, it remains a favorite shopping destination because it offers a little bit of everything—hip boutiques, mid range designers, and über high end.
While we were there, we wanted to check out Colette, Paris’ it store for design, art, culture and fashion. Colette sells everything from men and women’s apparel to shoes and drones. It also features limited editions and pre-releases that you can’t get anywhere else. In a nutshell, the concept behind Colette is anything hip. While most of Colette’s fashion is too avant-garde for me, it was definitely worth a visit to see all of the latest designs.
Afterwards, we walked through the Place Vendôme. This elegant plaza is home to the world’s most luxe jewelry brands and in its center is a staggering bronze column. Commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz, this column is made up of hundreds of enemy cannons. When we visited, a half dozen of the iconic Citroën deux Chevaux cars were parked in the plaza. We didn’t have time, but someday I’d love to ride one of these colorful little cars through the streets of Paris!
Our next stop was Paris’s famous department store, Galeries Lafayette. Saturday afternoon this massive fashion institution was packed with tourists. But even if you’re not interested in shopping, Galeries Lafayette is worth visiting for its magnificent stained glass dome and ornate Belle Epoque architecture.
Dinner at Le Laurent
Saturday evening we had dinner at Laurent. Originally a hunting lodge belonging to Louis XIV, today Laurent is a Michelin star restaurant in a wooded enclave. Although it’s only a stone’s throw from the Champs Élysées, Laurent is completely protected from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Laurent describes itself as “the perfect escape: a haven of peace where time stands still” and I couldn’t agree more.
It was a splendid night for dining outdoors on Laurent’s elegant shaded terrace. Laurent is known for its French cuisine with a contemporary twist, serving the best the season has to offer. Julian and I feasted on lobster (one of the best I’ve ever had), beef tataki, and foie gras. And that was only the beginning! For our main dishes, we both chose fish– glazed John-Dorey for him and roasted turbot for me. Both were superb. We ended our meal with a chocolate mousse inside a crunchy dark chocolate shell with raspberry sorbet. Everything was excellent and our dinner at Laurent is by far the best meal I’ve had in Paris.
Sunday we woke up to a beautiful, albeit very hot, day for the Roland-Garros final. Since we were having lunch in the Village, the area reserved for the tournament’s main sponsors, we had to dress up. In the tennis spirit, I wore a white Joie fit and flare linen dress with cutout details and Tory Burch stacked heel sandals. Prior to the game, we had drinks and lunch in the JCDecaux tent of the Village. Lunch consisted of lobster salad (again!), filet mignon, and mango sorbet inside of a dark chocolate coconut-shaped shell. After lunch it was time for the game to begin.
As a kid, I took tennis lessons and grew up with a great respect for the sport and its players. To be at Roland-Garros and see the best play was such an incredible experience. Though the temperatures reached 91 degrees (33 degrees Celsius), I never took my eyes off of the game. To be so close to the players was thrilling. The tension and excitement in the stadium, and on the court, was palpable. Tennis is a very civil sport so as Nadal and Wawrinka played the only sounds you could hear were their grunts of exertion, the whoosh of the rackets, and the whack of the balls.
Another thing that separates tennis from many other sports is that the fans care, above all, about the game. In other words, a Nadal fan does not boo when Wawrinka wins a hard earned point, he claps in recognition of a point well-played. I find this a refreshing change from many sports today and was impressed by the level of decorum at such a high-stakes match.
In solidarity with our temporary home, Julian and I were rooting for the underdog, Swiss-born Wawrinka. But watching Nadal play it was clear he really is “the king of clay.” There is no weakness to Nadal’s game on clay and during this extremely physically demanding game, he rarely faltered. Though Wawrinka put up a good fight, Nadal won his 10th Roland-Garros championship after three straight sets, making history as the first player to land the same Grand Slam more than nine times.
Stroll through the Jardins des Tuileries
After some celebratory drinks back at the Village, we headed back to the hotel to relax and cool off. Later, we decided to take advantage of the last light of the day with a walk through the Jardins des Tuileries. The dusk light made these lovely gardens all the more enchanting.
Dinner in the Louvre
Eventually we ended up in front of the Louvre. The Louvre looked so stunning lit up that we decided to dine at Le Cafe Marly, a brasserie under the arches of the Louvre, to continue admiring its glow in the warm night air.
Read about Day 3 of our trip to Paris, a day spent exploring and shopping in the charming neighborhood of Le Marais, here!