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An American Thanksgiving in Paris

Okay, it’s official… One would be a fool to spend Thanksgiving in Paris anywhere other than Ralph’s Restaurant at Ralph Lauren in St. Germain. There is simply no better ambience. If you don’t believe me, I will fight you. Just kidding, I won’t fight you but I will definitely question your morals, your American morals. Ralph Lauren makes me proud to be an American. Last night, I was beaming with pride and saying to myself as I looked around, “This is how it is DONE!”

Let’s back up, let’s back up a bit… How did I even get to Ralph’s Restaurant? I think my answer would have to be primarily “by the grace of God” and secondly, “by the grace of friends.” I want to thank all of you who made the effort to get your little Ellie to Ralph’s Restaurant for Thanksgiving. Thank you to everyone who made phone calls, sent emails and used all of your connections. A big Merci! I do however, have a very special person to thank… My friend Rex.

My friend Rex made a little phone call… To his goddaughter, Lauren. Lauren happens to be Lauren Bush, niece of former President George W Bush and granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush. Lauren also happens to be Lauren Bush Lauren, daughter-in-law of Ralph Lauren. Are you dying yet?

Let’s back up, let’s back up a bit… The year 1990. My first official job is at Ralph Lauren in Beverly Hills. I am 20 years old. I am the official Ralph Lauren… Gift wrapper. That was my job, I wrapped all the gifts. I loved it. Next, I was promoted to cashier. Very important job. Next, I was promoted to salesperson and next, I was being considered for assistant buyer. Ralph Lauren was my life. Here is something maybe you don’t know… When you work at Ralph Lauren you become part of an inner world, an inner society… And it never leaves you. Once a Ralph Lauren girl, always a Ralph Lauren girl. Honestly, you can tell if someone works at Ralph Lauren. There’s just something about them. I was lucky enough to be one of those people. I loved my job. Every morning, I woke up in my cute Beverly Hills apartment, put on my cute Ralph Lauren outfit, and walked the two blocks to Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, grabbed a coffee from Il Fornaio, and then walked a half a block more to the back entrance of Ralph Lauren. I always arrived early. There is something so peaceful about being in Ralph Lauren before the customers. I would walk up the winding staircase glancing at all of the paintings, upstairs to the home department, sit on a couch, sip my coffee and just look and look and look. I was letting it all soak in. In my eyes, it was heaven on earth.

So here we are, Thanksgiving in Paris 2014. My friend Rex makes a call to Lauren… And moments later I receive an email from Lauren Bush Lauren inviting me on behalf of her husband, David Lauren (Ralph Lauren’s son) and herself, to Thanksgiving dinner at Ralph Lauren. I literally had a little Ralph Lauren heart attack. Not only have I always admired anything Ralph Lauren related but I have also always admired Lauren. Why? Because she is the founder of the ubiquitous FEED bags!

In case you live under a rock and are unfamiliar with FEED, here is a brief description from her website… “As a World Food Programme (WFP) Honorary Student Spokesperson, Lauren visited countries around the world in Asia, Latin America, and Africa where WFP is operating, and was inspired by the plight of the people she met on her travels. She took a special interest in WFP's School Feeding program, which feeds and educates hungry children. After witnessing the effects of hunger firsthand, Lauren Bush Lauren founded FEED in 2007 with the mission of "Creating Good Products That Help FEED the World. She first created the FEED 1 Bag, a reversible burlap and organic cotton bag reminiscent of the bags of food distributed by WFP, to help raise funds and awareness around these school feeding operations. It was stamped with "FEED the children of the world" and the number '1' to signify that each bag provides enough meals to feed one child in school for one year.”

One bag purchase feeds one child for one year! FEED has provided 85 million meals. And that, my friends, is Lauren Bush Lauren. If you are feeling charitable, which hopefully you are, this is the most worthy organization to support. Click here to donate to FEED. Click here to volunteer with FEED. Click here to shop FEED.

So, with my heart all aflutter… I gleefully accept the Lauren’s generous invitation to Thanksgiving dinner at Ralph Lauren.

Now I have to get ready! What should I wear, I think? I know… I will wear my Malo camel cashmere dress, black stockings, my Roger Vivier flats, my Yves Saint Laurent gold cuff bracelet, and my teeny tiny diamond pinky ring, and my beautiful scarf that David bought me last year in Paris. Here’s the funny part… Because I am paralyzed, I cannot get myself dressed. I have to rely on my husband and my caregivers to do this. Have you ever had to have someone put your stockings on for you? It’s not cute. It’s actually humiliating. I usually just pretend I am in the Bahamas while they are doing it. After about 45 minutes, my clothes are on and now someone has to do my makeup. Jesus. My two choices yesterday were either to have my husband do my makeup or my caregiver do my makeup. Not to be rude or ungrateful, but an orangutan could have done a better job. But finally, in the end, Humpty Dumpty is put together and ready to go to Ralph’s!

The thrill of driving to Ralph Lauren in Paris past a twinkling Eiffel Tower is not lost on me. I am beaming ear to ear. We arrive to the restaurant and as our reservation is for four people, we invited our closest Parisian friends, Christophe and Ann-Lise. Christophe is chic and demure and Ann-Lise is the epitome of Parisian cool and always, always makes me laugh. We adore them. We await our 6:30 PM reservation in the courtyard of Ralph Lauren. Even though it is Thanksgiving, Ralph Lauren is decorated for Christmas which somehow felt perfect. It was a very traditional American Ralph Lauren theme. Swags of garland with antiqued gold balls, antler horns, pheasant feathers. Big baskets filled with pine branches. French planters filled with fresh Christmas holly with red berries. Huge wreaths. The tables were set with hurricane lamps, the chairs were complete with plaid pillows and leopard pillows. And this was just the outside courtyard! Look look look…


The best part about the courtyard was that it was brimming with… Americans. Yes, chic, perfectly dressed Americans. I have never been so happy to hear an American accent in Paris as I was last night. Not to be rude, but I did not want to hear any French. This was Thanksgiving. This was American Thanksgiving. This was American Thanksgiving at Ralph Lauren. You could sense that everyone was so happy to be there.

6:30 PM… The doors open and we are invited inside. Honestly, I felt like Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory… Eyes wide open with awe. I have dined at Ralph’s many times before but Thanksgiving is special. We were greeted by a trio of jubilant Ralph Lauren hosts. “Bonsoir, Monsieur Decret! Bonsoir Madame Decret! Happy Thanksgiving. We are so happy to have you with us this evening.” We were led to our table… The best table in the house… Right in front of the soaring fireplace. Everything was perfect. Everything was so Ralph Lauren and so Thanksgiving-y. I will let the pictures speak…


Just as we were settling in, a waiter arrived with a silver standing bucket with a bottle of champagne and said, “Champagne with the compliments of David Lauren.” I had another little Ralph heart attack. Merci beaucoup David Lauren. The menu then arrived…

So, as you know… I am kind of a foodie. My family operates around food. Not to sound like a food snob… But I know good food. I might even be an expert if I do say so myself. Let me tell you, the Thanksgiving dinner at Ralph’s restaurant was superb. The butternut squash soup tasted beautifully woodsy. The turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the root vegetables with maple syrup, the Brussels sprouts, the wild rice and the cranberry sauce… All pure perfection. And, here comes my grandest compliment… The gravy was the best I’ve ever had but don’t tell my mother. It was a tad bit perfectly sweet and a tad bit perfectly savory and served in a petite silver server. You are going to laugh but I actually had a dream about the gravy. The desserts were perfectly American because you know I hate French desserts… so the pumpkin pie, the pecan pie and the apple pie were a sight for sore eyes!

Now, I am not one to gawk because I have something called manners but I could barely focus on our dinner conversation because all I wanted to do was look at every little detail. The paintings, the Christmas decorations, the flowers, the greenery, the table settings, the candles, the other guests, the chic staff, the bar, the plaid pillows, the leather chairs with nail heads, the lighting, the chandeliers, the stone floors, and just the entire building in and of itself!

My Thanksgiving dinner in Paris could not have been better. Could not have been better! It almost made me want to move back to America! I kept thinking the entire night, “I wish I still worked here.” The magical world of Ralph Lauren never ceases to amaze me. Thank you Rex. Thank you Lauren Bush Lauren. Thank you David Lauren. Thank you to my David and to our friends, Christophe and Ann-Lise. And thank you to all of you who wanted this special evening for me as much as I did. I am a very lucky girl.


  1. Love you!! Glad that you had such a beautiful evening!! Every part of that restaurant was breath taking!!!

  2. So, so happy for you! What a perfect place to have Thanksgiving dinner. I am planning a trip to Paris just so I can go there.

    I have my own Lauren family story. Years ago, I was at a friend's birthday party in New York. My friend is close friends with the actress - Elizabeth Berkley - who is married to a nephew of Ralph's. They were both at the party. He could not have been nicer or more gracious - on top of being incredibly gorgeous. I came away with a greater admiration for the entire family. I love the Beverly Hills store. Was there not too long ago and just drooled!

    Thank you so for sharing your dining experience. I felt like I was in the room with you. Many blessings for a joyous holiday season! Barbara

  3. I am. So happy. And of course, very very moved.

    It looks like it was an absolutely perfect evening. And that is what we all wanted for you, so very much, beautiful Ellie.

    Merci, Monsieur Rex...Mille fois merci...

  4. Oh My! I am beyond excited, so traditional, so perfect, so so so…speechless. Gorgeous, perfection, American style, I love it…you look fantastic, great choices of your wardrobe, hee hee, I am beyond thrilled you shared your day here! What connections! I'm a foodie too, like crabcakes for example: most don't make the mark, all bread won't work for this RL girl. I love wonderful lighting as here, candles galore, magnificent and in Paris no doubt! This is on my list! Beautiful as YOU! Makefup looks good to me….less is more ~
    XOXO suzanna

  5. Oh, Ellie, what a magical night! I'm so happy you got to go and the fabulous service you had.
    Thank you for sharing your special Thanksgiving.

  6. REX...........I canNOT THANK YOU enough!Not only was this a TREAT for Eleanor (no more Ellie from me!)it was SUCH A TREAT for US her READERS!!Thank you.......and I thank your Wonderful GOD DAUGHTER and her husband as well.JUST B E A U T I F U L.
    Eleanor.......the photos are STUNNING.......I am chomping at the BIT.Are those roses in the champagne buckets on the mantle??I think I would like to COPY that.............
    I assume ANN~LISE,snapped away at your instructions..........!!!???She did a terrific job......
    It was a beautiful dinner..........JUST LIKE OURS!If you somehow missed the opportunity of buying Eleanor's book.....SURVIVING THANKS~GIVING.......please go now and purchase!!I have made everything in the BOOK and BELIEVE me this was THE BEST THANKS~GIVING I have ever cooked.Thank You Eleanor............for sharing SO much with all of us.Once again REX...........YOU are SO KIND.THANK ~ YOU ~ THANK ~ YOU!!!!!XOXO

  7. So excited for you! I did a homemade thanksgiving in London. Tons of fun, even with a few imperfections.

  8. Your Thanksgiving was beyond perfection! Truly amazing Lucky girl.
    The meal sounds and looks delicious. Traditional Thanksgiving pies are always key. The restaurant decor was nothing less than spectacular. From beginning to end --- a dream come true Thanksgiving. I could not be happier for you, David and your friends.
    Pure holiday splendor.

    I can't wait to see what you do for Christmas. Susan

  9. Marvelous, chic, delicious! Ellie, I'm really happy for you.

  10. Eleanor, I am happy you got to have an American Thanksgiving at Ralphs. What American girl living in Paris wouldn't? This looks as wonderful as I have heard and thank you for sharing every teensy detail because I love that and Ralph Lauren is so good at making everything the total experience. I loved reading about your first job at RL. I worked at Nordstrom for one of my first jobs and those girls nearby who worked at the RL store were always so chic and cool. It's perfect you went back for this dinner. I'm so glad everyone conspired to make this happen. By the way, loved your scarf and dress too. Perfect night!

  11. So, so happy for you.
    Cindy F

  12. I am absolutely delighted to hear that you enjoyed Ralph's and Thanksgiving so much. What a beautiful place, and the dinner is making me hungry at breakfast!

  13. Dear Ellie, I was praying that the Ralph Lauren Thanksgiving experience we were all anticipating along with you turn out to be as magical as it was.
    You deserve nothing else!!
    As other readers have expressed, we were all in there with you...and that has made this Thanksgiving even more special.
    You teach us to be thankful every day. Thanks to the gracious Lauren family and your friend Rex.
    Something you don't know about me: My first job (age 12 with a special permit) was as Christmas gift wrapper in Velasco, a beautiful and refined department store in Puerto Rico, sadly now closed. I now feel even more connected to you.
    In gratitude, Mari

  14. So happy that your evening was perfect. What a wonderful memory to savor- good food, great atmosphere and good friends.

  15. Dear Ellie so happy that you were able to have a perfect thanksgiving in Paris!
    The flowers, the table settings, the decor everything was perfect and you looked beautiful
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with all of us xo

  16. Thank you for sharing this amazing post. It was like reading a beautiful fairytale.....with humor. I passed out copies of your fabulous "Surviving Thanksgiving" yesterday at our family meal in New Orleans. It was a huge hit! Everyone LOVED your mother's rules! Xoxo

  17. What a beautiful dinner you had along with your handsome companions! I'm very glad you were able to experience what you had long wanted AND that it surpassed your expectations!

    I've been to "RL" at the Chicago store a few times and the meal, the service, and the ambiance is always excellent. (I assumed that ALL the Ralph Lauren restaurants were called "RL", like the one in Chicago, but evidently not.)

    My best to you and your family. And, okay, now what are you doing for Christmas dinner????

  18. I love that restaurant! I just want to live in that store and be fed by the restaurant….thank you for bringing us along another wonderful evening. xob

  19. Hi Ellie,
    Absolutely delighted and so happy for you all!
    Thank you very much for sharing...couldn't wait for your post!!
    And a special thank you to Rex and Lauren & David for making this day a memorable one for Ellie.

  20. Thank you for sharing the details, the photos and your ever witty writing! I am so glad you got to go there. The greeting with champagne brought tears to my eyes. Again, I am thankful for YOU!

  21. More than your words, I could feel the aliveness of your Thanksgiving with close friends and how the memory will reverberate for months to come. I am sure you will relive it moment by moment when you need to "go to another place." Thanks for letting us share in it.So pleased you have friends who are there for you and enrich your life

  22. I am so happy for you! What a huge treat!!

    I tried to email you; and it bounced back! can you send me your email??? I have a very funny story!!


  23. I'm so happy for you! It looks lovely. While I was having my Thanksgiving dinner, I thought of you at Ralph's and hoped it was magical.

  24. I am thrilled for you that this all worked out....if you could not be at your Mom's entertaining the troops, this was the perfect spot to be in. I am thankful this holiday that you are in my life, most mornings, reminding me to treasure the day, find the beauty, and for God's sake find something to laugh at! xoxo

  25. What a wonderful evening ! And your outfit is on point! Love the scarf. You're beautiful, Ellie! Inside and out! Happy Thanksgiving ! Thank you for sharing your evening with us!

  26. Dear Ellie,
    you look so content and beautiful. What an amazing night. Thanks for sharing,Katrina xxx

  27. Thank God there are still generous people in the world. I am so happy for you that you received this little gift of an American Thanksgiving in Paris via the Laurens (and your friend Rex). I hope you have many more days of joy such as this.
    Happy Thanksgiving. MB

  28. Thank you for sharing everything! It is a feast for me just looking at everything and every word you have written.You looked beautiful as well and very chic!!