Not too long ago, I was very fortunate to have lunch with Anders Fogelstrom, President of the Swedish Club in Paris, and his lovely wife, Marianne Strom. (A world-renowned photographer, she was kind enough to provide the photos for this post. Merci beaucoup, Marianne.)
Our conversation bounced from current events to French culture to literature while we enjoyed a delicious meal. (I could have eaten five bowls of the spinach soup.)
The club has a buffet of fresh, tasty, traditional Swedish dishes, as well as a well-rounded a la carte menu. The desserts are extraordinary.
The attentive staff, sharp in their white uniforms, hummed efficiently among the businessmen, diplomats, and some fashion-week interlopers. The sun played hide-and-seek, sending the occasional shaft of sunlight through the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the Tuileries Gardens.
We shared our common experiences as expat residents in Paris. After coffee, Anders gave me a tour of the club, which I felt I was seeing for the first time, having only been there in the evenings for drinks with friends.
The club is warm, welcoming, historic, and beautiful. The grand, traditional architecture–high ceilings, crown moldings–is juxtaposed against vibrant wall and fabric colors, ranging from a coral blue in the bar to cool, comforting pale greens in the salon and dining room. A melange of photographs, paintings, sculptures, books, and furnishings touch lightly on the club’s history and define its character. The overall result is effortlessly elegant, restrained but relaxed, lending itself to good conversation and good times, all in good taste.
Anders’ deft touch informs this delicate balance, as he leads a friendly but consummately professional staff. The well-chosen, diverse membership seem to compliment this, too. The dining room during our lunch at the club was busy but not bustling, with diners huddled in quiet clusters, talking business, catching up with friends, and appreciating the cuisine. Mobile phone use was minimal and discreet. Laughter was hearty but not distracting.
Likewise, my two evenings at the club have been convivial but not boisterous. The libations flow freely, but the rules of etiquette keep everyone upright, but not uptight.
So, again, I need to express my appreciation to Anders and Marianne. It was a great lunch and a wonderful afternoon.
I hope that Marianne’s photos appear here on the blog as beautifully as they should. I’d encourage everyone to take a look at her books and her photography. Click HERE to view her book of beautiful photos of the Marais.
And, as our lunch fell during the final days of Paris Fashion Week, a couple of supermodels did grace the club. They are pictured below.