Last week was a rather exciting week for me. I hopped on the Eurostar and went to Paris for the first time.
I had been invited by Mercure Hotels to Paris to be on the judging panel for their 6 Friends Theory competition- A 7 weeks around the world trip based on the 6 degrees of separation theory.
Arriving around mid day local time, it was straight into a taxi and off to the hotel as there was work to be done. Paris sightseeing would have to wait.
My hotel was literally around the corner from the Arc Du Triomphe (Mercure Arc Du Triomphe Wagram) which was just the perfect location. If anyone knows Paris, then you'll know that the Champs-Élysées is also a stones throw away.
The hotel was modern, sleek but had that cosy vibe to it still. Whilst smaller than standard UK rooms, that's very common in Europe.
One thing I have to mention, is that over my 5 day stay, I used reception so much. To book restaurants, call taxi's, ask general advice and phrases- they were amazing. Nothing was too much trouble for them.
Plus on arrival there was a little gift and note awaiting on the bed for me from the Mercure team.
My first French Chocolates! Oh they were dreamy- and soon devoured.
After a quick freshen up, it was back into a taxi and off to the W&Cie offices, a advertising agency in Boulogne-Billancourt, a commune in the western suburbs of Paris.
I just loved the quirky design features they had all over the office, with my favourite being the brand periodic table. It shows that if a brands logo is designed well then all it should take is two letters to recognise.
How many do you know?
Even the toilets were pretty awesome.
But I wasn't there to admire toilet signs all day, I was here to sit on the judging panel of the 6 friends theory competition.
The 6 Friends Theory competition was open to anyone around the world with the aim of taking one lucky winner around the world with the final destination being to meet an Aboriginal from the Bundjalung tribe in Australia, in order to prove that they are only 6 degrees of separation away from each other!
Over 300 people entered which for a trip of this scale is a huge amount, as people like me who work couldn't possibly enter.
Beforehand, the entrants were whittled down, with those who couldn't enter on technicality grounds eliminated- seriously people entered who didn't have passports! Then those who's videos were not to the high enough standard were eliminated to eventually leave 10 candidates.
It was these 10 that I would scrutinise and help pick a winner, changing someone's life basically.
We were presented with the 10 candidates profiles for us to briefly look over, before we sat down to watch their entry videos.
There was one finalist who was from the UK, Lavinia Giare. Doing it for us Brits!
Each entrant had to submit a video no more than a minute long on why they should win. The video's we saw shows such creativity and some were so well put together and edited, it blew my mind.
I had gone in with the mind set that I wanted someone who genuinely wanted to go out into the world and discover what was out there. I wanted someone who would be amazed at what they saw and found, so as I watched the videos, this was on my mind.
We also got to hear a skype interview they'd had a few days earlier with a couple of the judges (due to the all over the world entrants, live skype wasn't feasible).
This gave great insight into the character of the person, with some surprising us all, for good and for bad in some cases.
Then after we had watched all the videos and skype interviews, it was down to the discussion and decision making.
The other judges were Gills Deleris, the founder and director of W&Cie. Daniela Pistone, Content and Social Media Director of Accor Latin America. Jean Francois Julian, the 6 friends theory film director. Sonya Rossiter, Markting Director for Accor Asia Pacific. Isabelle Musnik, Editor in Chief of Influencia (One of Frances biggest magazines) and me, Laura Hyatt, Blogger.
I get very animated in discussions. Never a wall flower.
We debated for hours, with sheets that were supposed to help guide our discussions. I think this was the only sheet I wrote. I'd much rather talk...
Finally we came to a consensus around 6:30pm which was very exciting as we knew that we'd just changed someone's life by sending them around the world on a money can'y buy trip. I definitely got this buzzy feeling, and to be honest I've had it ever since until now just holding in the winners name. Not that you know her obviously, but it's just very exciting for me to be able to finally share with you who is going to go experience the world.
So I'm not going to hang about. The winner of the 6 Friends Theory is...
Ludovica Loda! Congratulations girl.
She will travel around the world for 7 weeks, being constantly filmed, as Mercure are going to make a online mini series of the travels, so make sure you check it out in a few weeks time. Don't worry I'll post the links on my facebook page.
After a couple of glasses of champagne to celebrate, the judges disbanded, and I headed back to my hotel to rest and sleep well, as for tomorrow I had my first proper day in Paris...