Saturday 8 June 2019
Yesterday I found myself heading off for a flight to Paris, just three days after returning from my daughter’s wedding in the south near Carcassonne. This time my destination was just outside Paris at St Germain-en-Laye.
I had a slight feeling of trepidation as it was the first time that I was meeting the communications team for YRSA Communications, part of the newly formed business established by my client of two years, Yves Romestan. So it helped that having had breakfast at the very civilised Fortnum & Mason’s champagne bar at Heathrow’s T5 my lovely waiter slipped me a truffle I’d been eyeing with my bill.
The hotel Henri IV had been refurbished since I last stayed there for my brother’s 50th and my room was regally plush and I welcomed the chance of changing from my cool but creased linen travelling clothes into an outfit I’d picked up on my trip to Sienna – hoping I was living up to the casual-smart style that Italians pull off so effortlessly. Into my Ralph Lauren heels and I felt ready to meet whatever I might encounter from the French contingency.
As the property arm of the business finished their meeting we all met over coffee. Yves, as charming as ever, Giorgia Rowe his amazing assistant, sweet, efficient and kind of everywhere were the only familiar faces, though it was the first time Giorgia and I had actually met face-to-face. I homed in on another journalist, Christine Colmont, who though French spoke incredible English along with a beautiful willowy Chinese girl, Sihan Huang, who glided effortlessly between her two foreign languages of French and English.
Chloé Bazire, we discovered has been tasked with the Social Media for YRSA, and I felt a bit sorry for her as we slightly swamped her with questions over the focus on Instagram. She was saved further barraging as it was time for the meeting.
There were a couple of other English people on the team as well as a couple of Italians but everyone spoke fluent French – except me. I would have fallen foul of some of the presentations had it not been for, Giorgia who gave me real-time translation throughout the meeting. I wasn’t going to risk anything so I spoke in English – how English.
It was very exciting to be in on the very beginning of a new concept but as Sihan said it felt a bit like being one of the cast in Ocean’s Eleven. Though we were not planning a heist or sting YRSA has big plans. I asked for guidance on what our communications message wrapper was but I seemed to be speaking a different language. Oh – of course I was!
The meeting moved into pre-dinner drinks and then a delicious meal in the hotel restaurant that gave us a panoramic view of Paris as it moved from dusk to night. Amazing. My anxieties and questions on: what’s the plan? Receded. Time will tell.
The next day we breakfasted together and I made my back on the trains to Charles de Gaulle and by mid-afternoon I was back home. I await developments but I’m sure yesterday was a milestone – yes I’m pretty sure it was something like that. Anyway, the evening promised to be a hoot as I was joining my bootcamp friends for a BBQ and I felt a distinct need to be relax and have fun with friends – and I did.