Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Art & Culture / Inner Chic

Hotel Le Bristol

Written by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and illustrated by Robert Beck, this column focuses on life in Paris, pepped up by its chic insiders

Hotel Le Bristol
Hotel Le Bristol Illustration by Robert Beck

When I moved to Paris in 1989, everyone great and good stayed at Le Bristol...

When I moved to Paris in 1989, everyone great and good – from the-then-married Bryan and Lucy Ferry to Brit aristos Tracy and Harry Worcester to Hollywood swells Lily Zanuck and Richard Roth – stayed at Le Bristol. Languid lunches happened on the hotel’s terrace whereas charged teas or drinks took place around the bar. And I can remember each occasion like yesterday for the simple reason that they always defined civilized. By "civilised" I mean that exceptional company aside, the service was discreetly professional – no waiters hovered – arched designer furniture didn’t litter the Bristol’s polished floors – and, whatever the weather, the establishment welcomed by appearing spacious and light.

"No other haute cuisine déjeuner comes close to that at Le Bristol's Epicure restaurant..."

Over the years, I often lunched with Christian Lacroix whose much-missed fashion house was right opposite; I joined Matilde Agostinelli Meyer’s giggly girly dos (now at Dior, she was then Prada’s PR princess) and revelled in Charles Finch’s events, which were thrown for Cate Blanchett and his other talented pals. Still, it was only recently that I tried out Le Bristol’s Epicure restaurant and – incredible as it will sound – no other haute cuisine déjeuner comes close. Ungrateful as it will sound; smart food isn’t my scene.  My disappointment ranges from, "Is that all there is?" to feeling rather ill from the heady mix of sauces. However, not so at the Epicure, which earned its third Michelin star in 2009 and is run by Eric Frechon. Unlike today’s Chatty Cathy chefs, Frechon is press shy; adamant that his energy should be poured into refining the ingredient’s taste and keeping the sensory sensation, feather light. Well, having indulged in his green asparagus and black truffles followed by his wild turbot and splurging on his Nyangbo chocolate dessert, I pray that he continues with this philosophy.

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.

Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.

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