WHEN YOU eat too much, you’re called a glutton. When you eat too much French food, however, you’re a gourmand.

For July 8-14 (with the last day of the promotion ending in France’s national holiday, Bastille Day), Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is celebrating its French roots and all things French.

At Spiral, French regionality will be expressed with La Route des Vins (The Wine Route), special menus dedicated to specific French wine regions available at Spiral’s French Stove. One region will be highlighted for each day of the week, so choose wisely: Monday shows off the Lire Valley with potées arthoise (pork filet mignon with brie sauce), and gâteaunantais (pound cake with a kick of rum and lemon). Tuesday will show off the Bordeaux region with matelote d’anguilles au Bordeaux (fresh eel stew in wine sauce), duck confit, and cannelés de Bordeaux (French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla). Wednesday will feature Provence, with salade niçoise, shrimp flambé with Pernod, and roasted peach with thyme and lemon for dessert. Rhone and Bourgogne are the stars for Thursday, with escargot bourguignon, beef bourguignon, and pets-de-nonne (fried choux puff) for dessert. The week ends with a feast from Alsace on Friday, with choucroute garnie (sauerkraut), baeckeoffe (baker’s oven), and flammenkeuche (tarte flambée). The culinary series culminates on Saturday and on Sunday with a medley of all the featured culinary regions. Lunch at Spiral for that week will be priced at P2,750 nett, while dinner will be priced at P3,200 nett.

Meanwhile, a five-course dinner paired with champagne from winemaker Nicolas Feuillatte will be held on July 10, at P4,000 nett per seat. The dinner will be accompanied by a silent auction of art from some of Manila’s finest collections. A private wine and cheese class will also be held at L’Epicerie at P1,500 nett on July 14.

Afternoon tea will be available at Le Bar from 3-5 p.m., and an artist will be there to sketch your portraits, just like in the streets of Paris. The tea costs P1,100 nett with a glass of sparkling wine, and P900 nett without.

French-inspired cocktails will also be available throughout the week: there’s Blenheim (champagne spiced with peppercorn syrup), All Grapes (Ciroc vodka with fresh white grapes), French Kiss (vodka and raspberry liqueur), and Bastille (gin, Cointreau, and pineapple juice).

The launch of French Week on Tuesday also served to unveil Sofitel’s global campaign, “Live the French Way.”

“The goal of ‘Live the French Way’ is to reinforce Sofitel’s position in the luxury segment and leverage its inherent strengths, while also differentiating the brand from its competitors and injecting a sense of modernity into the brand. We think guests will be delighted to experience authentic French touches through an immersive and luxurious journey into Sofitel’s world, wherever they may travel,” said Steven Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer for the Accor group, under which Sofitel belongs.

The new campaign includes a short film by Charlotte Wales, shot in France and China, with music by French pop star Clara Luciani.

While some of the experiences included within the campaign are slowly being rolled out across the world, it is yet to reach Manila.

One of these experiences is Les Dîners Extraordinaires, culinary experiences prepared by chef Yannick Alléno. Guests will not discover the exact dinner location until they arrive, providing a “spontaneous, joyful and elegant experience.”

What does this mean for the Sofitel in the Philippines? “Some of the most notable changes that you may expect, not just in Sofitel Manila, but across the Sofitels around the world, is it’s going to be livelier,” said David Pimentel, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Director of Marketing and Communications. Tangible changes may include new uniforms by designer Léa Peckre, as well as a new scent and new music in the lobby. “Rather than sticking to our sophisticated, elegant, and luxurious feel, we’re now shifting to a more vibrant, fun, and playful type of environment here in the hotel,” said Mr. Pimentel.

“We still stick to our French heritage and DNA, being the ambassador[s] of French art de vivre… but we injected a twist of modernity and playfulness.

“It’s more of keeping with the times,” he said. — Joseph L. Garcia