It’s not for nothing that my author name is Paris. It’s the city I went to when I first left home, the city I fell in love with when I first set eyes on the Eiffel Tower, rising majestically from the Parc du Champs-de-Mars. It’s the city where I first met my husband, where we went on our first date, and where he proposed to me, walking down the Champs Elysées one winter’s evening.

B A Paris

B A Paris

Paris is where I tasted Armagnac for the first time, in Les Deux Magots in Saint Germain des Près. It’s where I first tasted real hot chocolate, as thick as double cream, at Angelina’s in the Rue de Rivoli, famous for their delicious Mont Blanc cakes. Paris is where I ate snails for the first time, at the aptly named L’Escargot in the rue Montorgueil, where Marcel Proust and Jean Cocteau were also clients (a few years before me!) And in Paris, I bought my first – and only - expensive handbag, at Lancel on the Place de l’Opera.

I went to my first nightclub in Paris - Chez Castel - with my cousin Lionel, who taught me how to dance ‘le rock’. I went to my first opera, The Marriage of Figaro, at the Palais Garnier, and have loved opera ever since. In Montmartre, I made my first of many climbs up the ninety steps to the Sacre Coeur, where I had my portrait sketched for the first time. It was also where I had my pocket picked, for the first time.

In Paris, I went to my first fashion show, in the Tuileries Gardens, and my first rugby match in the Parc des Princes, where England beat France 31-13, in what was then the Five Nations Championship. I saw my first Bastille Day Parade, standing on a balcony high above the Champs Elysees, one 14th of July. And I learned to love jazz when my husband took me to my first live concert at Le Bilboquet. My visit to the Paris sewers, which he also took me to, was a first, and will probably be a last!

Later, it was the first city I took my daughters to. They saw wild animals for the first time at the Jardin des Plantes and a puppet show for the first time at the Jardin d’Acclimation. They had their first taste of candy floss in the Jardins du Luxembourg, and their first boat-ride down the Seine, on a bateau-mouche. The Louvre was the first museum I took them to; we’ve been back many times over the years and we still haven’t seen everything there is to see. At Repetto, on the rue de la Paix, I bought them their first pair of ballet shoes, and took them to see their first ballet, Swan Lake, at the Opera de Bastille. History repeats itself, and Paris becomes their city of firsts.