Of all the European cities storied in romance, Paris might be the most captivating. Whether through literature, film, art or music, countless individuals throughout history––from Claude Monet to Coco Chanel to Ernest Hemingway––have been enchanted by the city’s cobblestone streets and majestic architecture.
Although we’re certain you’d transport your attendees to Paris for the evening at the drop of a hat, often that kind of travel doesn’t fall within the planning budget. But there’s no reason why you can’t bring the magic of the City of Light to your own event for an evening. With inspiration from Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel, Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel and Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center, we list five of our favorite ways.
If there’s one food or beverage that the French are ridiculously serious (and slightly protective) about, it’s their bubbly––technically, the only true champagne comes from the region of Champagne (just outside of Paris). What’s more, the alcoholic beverage is synonymous with celebration and luxury, despite its 15th-century origins as wine that was considered to have gone bad. A Forbes article ranked AR Lenoble Jordan Cuvée NV, Ayala Brut Majeur and Henriot Blanc de Blancs as three of its favorites.
Like Champagne, it’s hard not to associate cheeses––the perfect pairing to any baguette––with Paris noshing, as evidenced here by the selection at Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel. And while your attendees are likely to be well-versed in the tastes of popular French varieties like Brie and Roquefort, consider offering up mystery sample platters of some lesser-known cheeses, including creamy, goat cheese-like Rocamadour, made in a town of the same name that dates back to the Middle Ages. The adorably heart-shaped Neufchâtel (not the cream cheese) is another fun variety that dates back to the 10th century and works perfectly for any Valentine’s Day-themed event you’re planning. It gained its heart shape when it became used as an offering of love (or some variation of it) by French girls who fell for their English occupiers during the Hundred Years’ War.
Quintessential Crème Brûlée
Although tales of its origins tend to vary depending on the European country you ask (England and Spain both claim to have cooked up their own versions prior to the French), there’s no doubt that the comfort food crème brûlée––creamy custard topped with caramelized sugar––is a quintessentially Parisian way to end a meal. The dish is quite rich, however, so consider taking notes from the Paris Marriott Champs Elysees and making yours mini-sized––and more manageable for the palate.
A Classic Café Ambiance
Despite a smoking ban and overall societal shifts causing the popularity of traditional cafés to decline somewhat, it’s hard to deny the classic Parisian romance of sipping an espresso while watching passersby on crowded cobblestone streets. Take notes from some of the most popular haunts for your own Paris-themed event, including the vintage-looking, softly red-decorated Café des 2 Moulins that was profiled by The Guardian as one of the best in the city and was featured in the movie Amélie. Transport attendees to the famed Parc de Belleville by setting up your café similar to that of La Mer à Boire, which overlooks the classic park. In addition to boasting stellar views—which your team could re-create via video projection or enlarged image, as shown here at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center—the café is a gallery of sorts for cartoonists. Consider enlisting a local artist to set the ambiance for your event.
Manic for Macarons
As with crème brûlée, you really can’t go wrong with serving up sweet and colorful bite-sized macarons for guests to snack on during your Paris-themed party. Frenchness aside, the pastries are a perfect branding opportunity, capable of being adorned with your unique logo in the frosting.
While there are countless ways to incorporate the magic of Paris into your next themed event, should your budget allow, the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center makes for an ideal setting, with 55 meeting rooms, 40 breakout rooms, and capacity to hold 2,000 in its largest event space. Another option is the Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel (with 9,720 square feet of meeting space and nine designated meeting rooms), which puts attendees directly on the famed boulevard. Contact the hotels for further details.