... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Paris, a Prince and a Princess!

I had the wonderful fortune of meeting HRH Prince Robert and his –love her!–wife, Princess Julie of Luxembourg in Montreux two years ago. Dewi, (Julie’s nickname) and I had an immediate connection. 

It just so happens that one of their sons has some health issues, so I sent Julie a copy of my book. She’s told me time and again how much my story has helped her–even underlining sections to refer to when she feels the need. 

This past summer, meeting up in Montreux again, she invited me, my sister/co-blogger Dana and our sister from another mister, Patti, to their beautiful home for lunch on the shores of Lake Geneva. Literally on the shores. Swimming and floating on huge pink flamingoes were on the menu before lunch. Julie and I promised to keep in touch and we did. Last week, she invited me to their home in Paris. I said, “Let me get my shoes!” Seriously! We picked a couple days that worked for both of us and I was on my way.

After suffering the lost and found of my luggage at the airport which consumed more than a few hours, Dewi and I had a grand time the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up and ordering in. The following day, Robert arrived home and invited the family and me to dinner at Le Clarence, their restaurant a stone’s throw away from the Champs-Élysées in the heart of the Golden Triangle of Paris.

Le Clarence is is in the prestigious circle of the greatest restaurants in the world. Under the helm of the genius of Chef Christophe Pelé whose ideas, skills and cooking are simply ethereal, Le Clarence was awarded 2 Michelin stars after only one year of opening.

I couldn’t wait to see it. And eat.

Robert and I went over about a half hour before the rest of the family arrived so he could give me a tour of the restaurant and the accompanying wine store which is housed in a classic elegant 19th century mansion–complete with tall windows, fireplaces, antique furniture, artwork, luxe fabric wall coverings, and fresh floral arrangements. Before the evening was over, I would observe that the service was impeccable, the staff extremely friendly.

Robert purchased the mansion in 2011 and fully refurbished it within four years. His touch and design are on everything from the chandeliers to the dinnerware. When he and I walked into the bar off of the salon, he noticed a table was not exactly straight–so he straightened it.

The wine store La Cave du Château, is considered to be one of the most beautiful wine cellars in Paris.

The family Bordeaux wine empire began with his great-grandfather, financier Clarence Dillon, and includes first-growth château Haut-Brion (Haut-Brion is the oldest great wine luxury brand in the world), and top estate La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Quintus. All of this is googleable.

Let’s talk about dinner!

Shortly after we were seated at 7:30 PM, a young waiter brought me what looked to be a small foot-stool. This was for my purse so that it wouldn’t disturb me while I enjoyed my meal.

Shortly after, the maître d’ approached me. Did I have any allergies to any foods? No, I didn’t. Is there something that I don’t like to eat? I told him that I don’t particularly care for lamb or game. He thanked me and turned to Robert to take the order for the first of the several bottles of wine we would enjoy. I sat back and waited for the menu. Before I knew it, five waiters were coming towards our table with what would be the first of the delicacies we would savor. There is no menu in this gourmet establishment and this is where the wizardry of Chef Christophe Pelé becomes apparent. 

He knows what you are averse to, so with a tremendous amount of skill, he prepares what he thinks you will like, based upon what he bought fresh from the market that day.

We began with a divine brioche. The butter was produced from cows that are only milked once a day which results in the butter being extremely flavorful. This flavor changes with the seasons throughout the year depending upon what the cows graze.

Next, with cinematic presentation, silver lids were removed from their platters all at the same time, and we were served clams with garlic butter, followed by lobster paired with ham, duck with black truffles, with all the accompanying wines. A beautiful fish was presented, then the ultimate cheeseboard. So by now I had quit taking notes and making pictures because not only had I lost count of the courses, I was just amazed at all the exquisite food being presented to us. Julie and I more often than not moaned, “Umm, isn’t this divine?” Magic in our mouths. Almost seductive. Each dish had been prepared with precision, every single detail was right. If a small dot floated in the left lower corner of a dish—it was intended to be there, no need for second guessing.

I thanked my hosts profusely. Robert said, “Tracie, we’re just getting started!” By now I was in a food coma. I started laughing. “I can’t anymore!” I said.

Ahh, dessert. Delicate pastries with apples so thinly sliced it didn’t seem they were even real, warm chocolate puffs filled with hot chocolate sauce, sorrel sorbet, macaroons, creamy concoctions…

 At Le Clarence, there is pomp simply because it’s so incredibly luxurious–but no circumstance. It is Robert’s intention that his guests feel like they are at home. For example, we were enjoying a dish and I noticed that he and Julie were using their spoons. I was using my fork–a fork of which the stem is made from the same wood as the barrels the wines are aged in. “Oh,” I said. “I’m using the wrong utensil.” “Oh no you’re not, Tracie. There is no right or wrong fork or spoon,” Robert said. “You can use any utensil you want here. I want all my guests to feel comfortable as if they were eating at home.” Julie started laughing and said, “I’m using my spoon because I don’t want to miss any of the sauce!” My kinda girl.

Dinner had come to an end around 11 PM. What a night!

Le Clarence offers a stunning culinary experience, as visual as indescribably delicious–one I will never forget; a gastronomic experience my palate will savor for quite some time. As in forever! Vive la cuisine Français !

You can youtube Prince Robert de Luxembourg presenting the History of Château Haut-Brion.