Just like on the Air France flights, there was complimentary champagne served during the stunning cocktail reception held last night at the Embassy of France to celebrate the new direct flight route between Ottawa and Paris.
Guests also proceeded through security screening – kind of like at an airport – as part of the check-in to the party.
French Ambassador Michel Miraillet was on hand with Eric Caron, senior vice president and general manager of Air France-KLM North America, and its vice president and general manager in Canada, Jean-Eudes de La Bretèche, to officially greet hundreds of invited guests to the party held at 42 Sussex Dr.
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It’s a strikingly beautiful venue, inside and out. Once the rain showers stopped, guests spilled out onto the lawn, where there was a large party tent set up. The embassy building was bathed in the airline’s blue and red colours by the time dusk hit.
Meanwhile, the inaugural flight for Paris was en route, having left Ottawa International Airport that afternoon.
The new service makes Air France the only company to operate direct flights between our nation’s capital and Europe since March 2020. That means you can hop on a plane on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and be across the pond, eating the most delicious buttery flaky croissants and soaking up morning views of the Eiffel Tower, in just over seven hours.
The route also marks Air France’s fifth destination, after Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and last year’s fresh addition, Quebec City. The company is now the leading European airline connecting Europe and Canada.
The reception included a draw for two round-trip business class tickets between Ottawa and Paris, with a two-night stay and breakfast at The Westin Paris Vendôme Hotel. The lucky winner was frequent Air France passenger Nelofer Pazira, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist. The good-humoured ambassador quickly consoled the rest of the crowd. “More Champagne for those who didn’t win,” said Miraillet.
“This is very exciting for our city,” Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said at the podium, speaking to a crowd that included leaders from the Ottawa International Airport, Ottawa Tourism, Outaouais Tourism, Ottawa Board of Trade, Invest Ottawa, the foreign diplomat community and proud Franco-Ontarians. “It is very special to finally have this link between Ottawa and Paris.”
Ottawa has turned a corner as a community, the mayor also said. “We have a lot to look forward to as a city right now; there are many good things happening. This is just the beginning.”
He also shared with the room that he’s part of next week’s Ottawa Tourism-led mission to Paris to promote Ottawa as a destination to work, play and invest in. The mayor has a personal connection to Paris through his maternal family roots. The crowd responded enthusiastically when he mentioned he was born on Bastille Day.
The mayor thanked Air France for the investment it’s making in Ottawa. “It’s been a great success story for our city and for Ottawa Tourism to be working with you and your team on creating this link and showing the world what Ottawa has to offer.”
The official launch of the direct flights between Ottawa and Paris was considered a momentous day by many, including Ottawa Tourism president and CEO Michael Crockatt.
The benefits go beyond improving access to Ottawa for residents of Paris, of France, and of other parts of Europe, he said. “The hub in Paris connects with everywhere else in the world,” Crockatt told OBJ.social of the potential for such places as Africa, the Middle East and India. “They’re all one stop away from connecting with Ottawa through Paris, whereas yesterday, literally yesterday, they might have been two or three stops away.”
It’s much easier now, he said, for visitors to come to Ottawa for fun and leisure, to visit friends and relatives, for meetings and conventions, for sporting events, and as part of group tours. “It’s a really, really great day for our industry in Ottawa.”
Sueling Ching, president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade, described the new services as “a fresh start” for the region, post pandemic, and one that will be a “key economic driver” , not only for the visitor economy, but also for talent attraction and investor attraction.
“As a community and a business community we need to support this route as much as possible so we can continue to grow this route, get even more direct flights and continue to grow our economy.”
Air France’s 224-seater Airbus A330-200 holds 36 seats in business class, 21 seats in premium class and 167 seats in economy. Here’s the nice thing, though, when it comes to the aforementioned Champagne — it’s offered for free to all passengers on international flights.
Attendees included Ottawa Liberal MP (and Franco-Ontarian) Mona Fortier and Claridge Homes founder and CEO Bill Malhotra with his wife Romina. The Ottawa business family is part of the incoming ownership group of the Ottawa Senators hockey team. Prominent cardiac surgeon Dr. Thierry Mesana, president and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, was back at the embassy for his second time in recent months. In May, the native of France was appointed Officer of the National Order of Merit, a French national order created by General de Gaulle in 1963.