Liquid velvet. The two words that most accurately sum up the Parisian shrine to fine dining that is Le Clarence.

The wine. The service. The way multiple dishes arrive at once and one course flows into the next. The swan-like sommelier, floating silently above the plush pile. The whole experience is almost hypnotic – and well worth the Eurostar ticket alone. There are many reasons to visit Paris’s Golden Triangle, but the two-Michelin starred Le Clarence has to be its pinnacle.

To fully appreciate the restaurant, part of the Hotel Dillon mansion, you’re going to need a soupçon of history first. We begin the lesson in 1666, shortly after the Great Fire of London. Bordeaux’s notable Pontac family decided to launch their first British outpost – the Pontack’s Head tavern in an area that would go on to become the City of London. (For Square Milers, it was located at 16-17 Lombard Street.)

This was a pioneering move at the time; there weren’t many French bold enough to open up shop in the capital of England. But back home, their base was a certain Chateau Haut-Brion. What better way to bring their wine to a wider audience than to create a home away from home.

Of course, it helped that King Charles II was already a big fan of the bordeaux, and the chattering classes lapped it up – literally. The tavern was a huge success – patronised by everyone from Jonathan Swift to Sir Christopher Wren – and was one of London’s favoured eateries for the proceeding 120 years.

Fast forward to 2012, and HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg had a similar idea. Sadly for us Brits, he didn’t quite make it across the channel this time.

Chef Christophe Pelé and HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg

In his earlier years, the young prince had also been resident at Château Haut-Brion. His great-grandfather, Clarence Dillon, bought the property (among other notable vineyards) nearly a century ago. Prior to this, the American-born Clarence had been one of the earliest students to study at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School. The Francophile enjoyed the claret as much as the classes – and his lifelong passion for both food and wine lives on to this day, through Domaine Clarence Dillon, the family company of which Prince Robert is now president.

An adolescent Prince Robert enjoyed bouncing around the family chateau, where he first began to understand hospitality at its core.

He explains in the foreword to Le Clarence’s cookbook: “I had always noticed how guests reacted so very positively to the cosy and yet traditional home that my mother had created in Bordeaux, back in 1972. As a young boy, I'd been thrilled to witness the very dreary chateau transformed for my eyes as colourful Braquenie fabrics were hung and beautiful paintings and furnishings were carefully ushered through the front doors to adorn the walls and fill the living spaces.

“Through my mother's hard work and vision – and possibly a little magic – the cold, austere building was literally transformed into a cosy home, and thereby developed a true soul and atmosphere that are still appreciated by all who enter today. I hope to accomplish something similar in this erstwhile mansion.”

The mansion he’s talking about is 31 Avenue Franklin D Roosevelt – the address of Hotel Dillon – and Le Clarence.

Hotel Dillon mansion

On purchasing the somewhat dilapidated building at auction, the original plan had been to convert it to offices and a private residence. But Prince R saw the potential for something a little more exciting. His vision was to bring Chateau Haut-Brion to Les Champs-Élysées: to recreate his beloved childhood home – along with its renowned wine and gastronomy – and share it with the rest of the world.

Others in his inarguably privileged position might have hired in the help and rocked up to revel in the rewards after the three-year renovation which followed. But for the prince, this was personal.

From the design to the decor, he considered every last detail: the furniture; the wood panelling – look hard enough and you’ll notice the occasional embossed ‘CD’ for Clarence Dillon; every piece of art on the walls and antiques in the cabinets acquired at auction. This was a passion project par excellence.

The final piece of the puzzle? The chef. After meeting with some of the finest in Paris, it was Christophe Pelé who fit the bill. (Should that be ‘cheque’? – Ed.)

“The chef was a composer and conductor all at once. This was a true symphony.” This was the prince’s first enjoyment of chef Pelé’s cooking. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be his last.

On opening in 2015, Pelé propelled Le Clarence to two Michelin stars in its first year of operation – and the restaurant has since become a regular on the World’s Top 50 list for good reason.

The definition of two Michelin stars is “Excellent cooking, worth a detour.” But all the way to Paris? From Yorkshire? (Which is where I live – I wasn’t just randomly in Yorkshire.)

When I was toying with a visit, I asked my colleague Nick Savage, the editor of Foodism magazine for his insight in case he’d eaten there in the past. “It was one of the best meals of my life,” was his immediate and succinct response. Nuff said. Tickets booked.

The building is reassuringly alluring from the outside. I’m not an architecture student, but if you were to drop this in London it would be the prettiest building on any block.

Inside, you pass the La Cave du Château, an elegant boutique of fine wines spread over the ground floor and cellar – more on that later – before scaling a suitably grand staircase.

The escalation feels symbolic: you’re leaving the dusty city streets beneath you; things are looking up. Indeed, do look up – and before taking your seat, you’ll be able to spot Chef Pelé and his team bustling away through the window to the kitchen. It seems fairly full-on in there – a far cry from the calm of the dining rooms.

Emphasis on rooms – there are several interconnected, each with its own theme, and every one as homely as the next. If your home is a 16th-century chateau, that is.

The views from the first floor are primarily of the tops of trees – but look beyond and you’ll catch a glimpse of the Grand Palais. The beautiful Beaux-Arts building is being renovated in time for the Olympics, as it will host a number of events including the fencing. The magnificent sculptures around its exteriors are currently being restored and rebuilt courtesy of one Domaine Clarence Dillon.

There is no menu at Le Clarence. You simply have to decide exactly how hungry you are, then give a number: 3, 5, 7… In theory these are the courses, but there are so many accompanying bits and bites, it’s better to think of the meal as a journey: simply give your waiter the time you need to depart, and they’ll fill in the rest.

It starts inevitably with champagne and – if you’re lucky – aged-comté gougères, as light as the bubbles in the paired Grand Cru. Various indulgences follow, including a heavenly brioche feuilletée that only in Paris could pass as a bread course. To be fair, there are also grissini longer than your average épée, which you can technically employ to duel with your fellow guests. The waiters are generous enough to look the other way.

Given that your meal will inevitably be different from mine, I shan’t weigh you down with too many details, but rather give you the broad-brushstrokes. Chef Pelé’s cooking is not designed to overwhelm the senses, but rather seduce. The dishes are pretty without being excessive. It’s understated glamour – more Marion Cotillard than Brigitte Bardot.

Some are just a singular ingredient, so seasonal as to sing on its own. Others are fusions of form and freshness; presentation is picturesque without being pretentious. 

It’s understated glamour – more Marion Cotillard than Brigitte Bardot.

And of course, the service is peerless. From the choreographed cloche removals to the table-side carving – it’s a bygone era brought back to life.

One elderly couple in the window looks like they’re actually from a previous age. I’m informed they eat at the restaurant three to four times a week, Chef creating bespoke menus for them on each sitting. If this is retirement, count me in.

The wines are, as you’d expect, high on the hedonism scale. Haut-Brion’s first-growth claret might be the headliner, but the supporting acts are just as impressive. Our highlight was from the main estate’s sister property across the road, La Mission Haut-Brion 2006 – a wine with such depths you may consider packing breathing apparatus.

Dinner ends with a further flight of stairs to the Grand Salon on the second floor. Think soft lighting, backgammon tables, and sofas that will eat you whole. It's the ideal spot to lounge in front of the fireplace’s flickering flames and enjoy one more for the road.

If you’ve still not quite satiated your thirst, stop off at La Cave du Château on your way out. An elegant boutique of fine wines, stretching across both the ground floor and cellars of the Hotel Dillon, it has an unparalleled collection of wines from Clarence Dillon’s portfolio of vineyards, as well as all the greatest hits from all the right regions. Prices are surprisingly welcoming at the lower end of the spectrum.

Opening the double doors and stumbling out onto Avenue Franklin D Roosevelt, the fresh air hits me; like a hypnotist clicking his fingers, I rapidly descend back into the real world. Yet on the cab ride to the station, I can’t help feeling like I’ve found a new place in Paris to call home.

Restaurant Le Clarence, 31 Avenue Franklin D Roosevelt, 75008, Paris,