On a splendid afternoon I sit in the fashionable Esplanade Café in Paris with the bon vivant Michel Soyer, and we talk about a tasteful way to live and how to incorporate that philosophy into my stay in Paris. He suggests dinning at George’s inside the Centre Pompidou. He also suggests a Parisian drink that is the fad at the moment, the “Swimming Pool,” which is champagne flowing over ice.
If there is one thing this man knows it is how to live the good life, as it were. “Take advantage of life and realize an elegant way to spend money and live,” says Soyer.
Recherché, when the word is used in its finest sense, is perhaps an apt description of Michel Soyer, a man equally at home with royals, businessmen, socialites, journalists, and people in the know. As president of eight organizations, including Le Bal de Paris and the Chantilly Polo Club, the versatile Soyer indeed appears to be at ease in any environment.
Le Bal de Paris is a very significant event in France and will be held this year on Saturday, December 7th. The ball is attended by royals, celebrities, captains of industry, and the modern day jeunnesse doree.
One of Soyer’s organizations, Marquises Events, puts on this annual celebration every year at the Automobile Club de France, a most appropriate venue. Steeped in old world charm, this venerable edifice and former gentlemen’s club dates back to the late 1800’s when the automobile was in its infancy.
Eminent members of the club include Baron Guy de Rothschild, Roland Peugeot, and Frantz Taittinger (Taittinger Champagne). The club houses a library that would set any bibliophile’s heart aflutter, and it is in this enormous room that guests of the ball dine.
Amid all the finery and tinkling of glasses, Le Bal de Paris honors annually a country; this year, for its 16th edition, China will be feted.
In addition, every year the ball presents a cinema award to a film that best portrays Paris. An international economic conference is also held in conjunction with the festivities, which have now actually expanded to three days and embrace a series of networking luncheons as well. So, the ball is truly an event, a gala to celebrate and spread worldwide understanding and good will.
Le Bal de Paris is the brainchild of Soyer and Princess Rixa von Oxenbourg. This prestigious affair draws tremendous support from the titans of luxury, with Cartier, Dior, Christofle, Carven, Maxims, Ruinart, Alexandre Zouari, and Bugatti, to name just a few, providing sponsorships.
As our rendezvous in Paris continues, Soyer regales me about his life in the country: he resides in a chateau in Chantilly, away from the commotion of Paris. Here he lives contentedly with his horses and his dogs, immersed in country life and its activities, not the least of which is polo, one of his many passions. Indeed, he is truly the heart and soul of Chantilly Polo. He rides every morning, meditating and regrouping; country life provides a balance to his many and varied endeavors in the city.
I inquire into his family history, and it is as variegated as the man himself. The family is from the Tyrol section of Austria originally but has a branch in America as well. Soyer himself has lived in America, operating public relations companies in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. There has also been a personal sojourn in Boston, a favorite of Soyers and a city he considers the most European in America.
Soyer’s company Marquise Events puts on an event every week, and this along with his many other enterprises, keeps the man constantly on the go.
As the afternoon sun fades, after much prodding, Soyer reveals his many charities: Amade France, Institut de Recherche sur la Moëlle Epinière, Institut Pasteur, Princess Grace Irish Library Mission Enfance, Ordre des Saints Maurice et Lazare, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Hanusia France-Ukraine Ordre Constantinien de Saint-Georges, Jeunes J’Ecoute, Mission East, Ordre de Malte, and France Louisiane.
Then there are the many organizations he leads:
Président du Prix Cinéma Patrimoine de Paris
Président du Prix Alcazar du Thriller de l’Année
Président du Prix Printemps Serbie
Vice-Président Association Polo des Grandes Ecoles
Président du Club des Leaders France
Président du Prix du Livre Outre Mer
Vice-Président Association Botarro
City manager of Paris
I am exhausted from just his listing of his activities! Our interview concludes as he rushes off to yet another meeting, before returning to his sanctuary in the country. Businessman, organizer, activist, public servant, humanitarian, philosopher, raconteur, citizen of the world, Soyer wears all these hats … with aplomb.