Screw the Louvre…I’m Dining with Lionel Richie
Leah Walker December 10, 2012

After an unbelievable three-hour lunch at Le Cinq in the Four Seasons George V, Lola and I retreated to our room to freshen up. The day had escaped us and the Champs-Élysées was eagerly awaiting our credit cards.

Le Cinq_George V

Emerging from the revolving doors of the George V, the first thing I noticed was the darkness, and the second was the line of fifty or so people gathered along the sidewalk. Famous in my own mind, I off-handedly asked the doorman, “Are these people here for us?”  With the straightest of faces, he said, “Of course, madam.” A quick curtsey and a wave got the crowd’s attention, but we obviously weren’t who they were waiting for. My curiosity got the better of me, and I crossed over the invisible barrier.

“Who is everyone is waiting for?”

George V_LR

“Lionel Richie,” said a frenzied French fan.

And with that, Lola and I were off. We had a jam-packed evening planned that involved a bit of shopping and a trip to the Louvre. Open late on Friday night, this would be my last opportunity to see the world-famous museum; somehow it eluded me in the previous week. I was looking forward to fewer crowds and seeing the pyramid lit up against the nearly full-moon sky. After all, who comes to Paris and doesn’t visit the Louvre?

Champs-Élysées

One hour of shopping on the Champs-Élysées nearly drove me to sell a kidney. Lola and I unloaded our purchases in our room and headed back downstairs to Le Bar for a pre-Louvre drink. It was packed as one would expect at the best hotel in Paris on a Friday night. Armed with our iPhones, Lola and I managed to get a table. After ordering drinks, we were both engrossed with emails and social media. With our thumbs furiously firing away, we only stopped for a sip of our cocktails. Oblivious to my surroundings, I was startled when a gentleman approached the table and asked,

“May I help you with that email?”

“Excuuuse meeee?” I replied.

He repeated the question.

Le Bar_George V_2

“Suuuuure! Myyyyy thumbs could uuuuse a break.” 

I chuckled and raised the phone in his direction. Upon hearing my thick, Southern drawl, the gentleman asked where I was from.

“Texas!” I proudly proclaimed.

Le Bar_George V_1

“Of course you are.”

The stranger, who finally introduced himself as Michael from Los Angeles, continued the conversation by asking what we were doing in Paris. This, of course, turned into a litany of other questions. I’d lost count how many times I’d been asked that same thing over the last month. “Well, I won this writing competition…” Somehow the explanation never got old. In the midst of reciting my spiel, another gentleman emerged beside our table.

“Good evening and how are you ladies doing tonight?”

It was Lionel Richie. Had I not known he was in the hotel, I believe I would have been shocked. Without missing a beat, I said,

“We’re fiiiine. How are youuuuuu?”

Le Bar_George V_3

Lionel then gave me one of his signature smiles and broke into his best Tuskegee, Alabama accent. After a few minutes of casual chatting, I offered the two gentlemen a seat at the empty table next to us. That’s when I noticed we were not alone. I was so engrossed in our conversation, that I didn’t notice the three other gentlemen standing on the other side of our table. They were like a wall shielding Lionel from the onslaught of stares from the lobby. Lola and I were introduced to a famous LA photographer, a French ambassador, and a German count.

“Weeeell, y’aaaall can join us if youuuuu’d liiiike, tooooo.”

Le_Bar_George V_4

I didn’t think it was possible, but speaking Southern with Lionel Richie made my vowels even longer. He politely declined and explained that they had dinner reservations. Although without a moment of hesitation, Lionel invited Lola and me to join the “tribe” for dinner. I couldn’t believe my ears, but then again, I also wasn’t surprised. After the unbelievable month I’d had, this was simply par for the course. With about a millisecond of consideration, I locked eyes with Lola and said,

“Screw the Louvre…I’m Dining with Lionel Richie.”

You’ll have to stay tuned for part two

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

58 Comments

    1. Yes, ma’am. Check back next week where you’ll learn, as the late, great Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story.” 😉

  1. I LOVE it!!! Great story, and who needs the Louvre when you can have Lionel! I mean, it’s not like he’ll ALWAYS be in Paris!

    1. Yeah, I’ll take Lionel any day over the rock and canvas in the Louvre. Perhaps the Louvre WITH Lionel would be a good compromise. 😉

    1. Miss Tawny, how did you miss this grand announcment? You must have still been in India. Yes, I did have dinner with Lionel, but you’ll have to wait just like everyone else.

  2. I don’t want to tell you how to write your blog or nothin ;p
    … It would be funny if you ended it just like you did but instead of a ‘Part II’ you tagged it with “I wish I could let you in on what else happened that night but a lady never tells.”
    Enjoyed the cliffhanger nonetheless.

    1. Come now, I couldn’t possibly do something like that…although it did cross my mind. The rest of the story is too good not to share.

  3. Are you sure that you were not in a movie because that is what it sounds like. What a great way to end the trip.

    1. I tend to think that that whole month is movie material. I’m thinking Woody Allen could direct it. Yeah…it has Woody Allen written all over it.

  4. Great story…was wondering when it was going to come out!!!! What a crazy night. And, you are right…screw the Louvre…dining with Lionel Ritchie was surely way cooler!

    1. Yep, the Louvre will always be there. I tend to think it won’t have the dynamic personality of Lionel, however. I’m surely going to leave disappointed once I finally get to visit.

  5. That is seriously awesome! I actually have a big 80s playlist and have lots of Lionel Richie songs on there. He’s one of my most played artists. Even as a guy, I would have been dancing on the ceiling if this happened to me. But what kind of line is “Good Evening”? Couldn’t he have just said “Hello”? He must have been stuck on you or something to wander over and want to have dinner. I can’t wait to read the second part of this as I am sure you partied all night long. If only another female would have joined you, it would have been three times a lady.

    Seriously, awesome experience. That’s a story you will remember the rest of your life.

    1. And the stalking continues…Yes, seriously! Y’all should have stuck around a bit longer instead of ditching us in Prague. See what all you missed?

  6. Haha! Isn’t the trip becomes freakin’ awesome when unexpected things like that happens?! It’s always fun, that’s no joke.

  7. Hahaha, speaking southern with Lionel, love it!!! What a chance encounter, huh? Out of all people you could have met in Paris. 🙂

    (P.S. Who doesn’t visit the Louvre when in Paris? Me. It took two trips for me to go there. So no worries, you can still make it. 😉 )

    1. I didn’t even mention the filming crew that were on our block in Paris. I practically had to drag Lola out of the make-up trailer. But seriously, yes, it was a wonderful chance encounter. Often those are the most memorable.

  8. Holy jingle bells this is awesome! I also missed the Louvre while in Paris, but for less exciting reasons…can’t wait to read the follow up!

  9. Ha! Was wondering how this came about when I saw the photos on Facebook. Good call on dinner with Lionel – you just can’t plan for these moments. Love it!

    1. I have a few more photos to share in the next installment, but none are as exciting as the one I already put on Facebook. The story, however, is outstanding. 😉

  10. I went to Paris and did not see the Louvre, but it was not to have dinner with Lionel Ritchie. I can’t remember why we did not go to the Louvre, which means alcohol probably played a part. Can’t wait for part II.

  11. did you ask him how (and where) Nicole was? And if she wasn’t there, if she doesn’t go to Paris anymore because it reminds her of her ex-best friend ms Hilton? #justcurious

    stay adventurous, Craig

    1. Ok, so the Paris quip made me laugh. We did talk about his children a bit, but Nicole wasn’t one of them. You’ll just have to read part two. 🙂

  12. Love the intriguing introduction to such a fascinating story. The “rest of the story” is delightful. What a magical night with a true gentleman. Write on, Leah! Your words are captivating…

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