Le Dernier Mot: Mishap at le Crillon

Le Dernier Mot: Mishap at le Crillon

Kristin suffers a case of Imposter Syndrome at the famously upscale Paris hotel bar

Last fall my 25-year-old bought a one-way ticket to the States to visit family and to check out job opportunities là-bas. When I learned Jackie was flying out of Paris, I offered to train up to the capital with her to make some good memories together before she departed. For this mother-daughter time to be unforgettable, I suggested we indulge in an evening at a fancy hotel and the most economical way to do that would be snacks at the bar.

Imposter Syndrom

“Le Crillon is the Ritz on steroids!” my sister exclaimed, making me even more nervous about the upcoming 5-star moment. Imposter syndrome was creeping in again, and to fight it I told myself Jackie and I were here to conduct research. After all, my daughter, who’d worked at Baccarat (at their elegant crystal bar), might be interested in working at Bar Les Ambassadeurs.

Armed with a purpose (and a careful budget) I was almost comfortable with the plan – until I discovered my best dress was wrinkled beyond repair. “I can fix it,” my daughter offered, brandishing the hairdryer in our cramped Left Bank hotel room. Anyone would be lucky to have Jackie as an employee: she’s a problem-solver, she’s calm, and she cleans up well (gone were the running pants and baskets; she now sported leather slacks and a silk blouse). “Our cab is arriving,” Jackie said, and we were off to Place de la Concorde.

The moment the hotel valet opened our cab door, I stepped into a new persona… and it lasted all of 10 strides before la semelle of my right shoe began falling off, flap, flap, flapping, against Le Crillon’s marble floor. “It’s OK, Mom. Keep walking!”

The Hotel de Crillon in Paris © Claus

A daughter to be proud of

“Cheap shoes!” the diable on my shoulder scoffed, as the Maître D arrived. “I’m sorry. The bar is full,” he frowned. “But we have reservations,” my daughter insisted. “One moment, Mademoiselle…”

There in the gilded salon, with its fresco ceilings and chandeliers, a baby grand gleamed. Atop the piano, a Baccarat jar dazzled me. I was just reaching for the crystal lid when Jackie motioned non. “But I think there’s candy for the guests,” I explained.

Our starched butler suddenly returned with good news. “I have seats at the bar.” We followed (one of us dragging her heel) and sat at the comptoir. “Let me see your shoe,” Jackie whispered. With a tug, she removed the errant sole, wrapped it discreetly in a monogrammed napkin, and slipped it into her purse.
Next, she ordered me a Marie Antoinette, sans alcool, and a kir royal for herself. “Cheers!” my daughter smiled when the drinks arrived. There in my smoothed-out dress and “new” shoes, I raised a toast to one amazing daughter who makes me feel at home anywhere we go. Now that’s true luxury.

Place de la Concorde, Paris © PHGCOM

là-bas = over there
la basket = sneaker, trainer, sports shoe
la semelle = shoe sole
le diable = devil
le comptoir = bar
le kir royale = crème de cassis topped with champagne

Lead photo credit : Drinks at Le Crillon © Kristin Espinasse

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The American-born author and photographer lives with her French husband, Jean-Marc, and their two children on a vineyard and olive farm near Bandol in Provence. She's the author of "Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France" and runs the French Word-a-Day blog and newsletter.

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  • Karen Whitcome
    2023-04-12 04:55:12
    Karen Whitcome
    She's the real gem - as are you!