Sunday, March 31, 2013


I wrote this for HiP Paris.

Happy Easter! 

{Photo credit 1: sent to me the day after Valentine's Day by R, 2: Lonely Planet pocket French phrasebook page on "problems".}

Saturday, March 30, 2013


My heart sank as I realised I'd drawn the short straw and got the Eurostar carriage filled with teenage French schoolchildren. But all was well - they were curiously subdued. Once in Paris I couldn't resist the flowers - €12 for FIFTY anemones (at the Red Kids market). I could never buy fifty anemones for myself, but would be very happy if someone else did.

K and I split a rotisserie chicken, M and I went to Aux Deux Amis for wine, cheese and charcuterie; she remarking on its remarkable tardis like quality in retaining people. Sunday brunch at Tuck Shop with M and A was lovely.

I stayed at X and J's quiet, calm place and slept amazingly well there. I met L at Chez Jeanette for an apero, R made me a surprise birthday cake with trick candles, we *think* we saw her neighbour KL walking his dog, then we went to Le Mary Celeste with A and I undid all my good resting/sleeping work by having fun drinking too much wine and crashing out on a sofa fully clothed at 4.30am.

On Monday, hungover, I met sweets R and C at Ten Belles to talk toxins. As I left to head towards the Gare du Nord, the sun shone straight down the rue de la Grange aux Belles, illuminating everything.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


In Paris last weekend I was intending to see the Eileen Gray exhibition, when I kept coming across this funny poster for another exhibition: Les Chats. Yes, paintings of cats. I did walk past the Pompidou Centre, intending to stick to my Eileen plan, but it was the final day of the big Dali exhibition and the queues stretched for miles. Chats it was. I made my way over to the Quai des Orfevres and found myself in a room covered floor to ceiling in hundreds of small paintings of cats, by different artists. Many oil paintings; some er, better captures of the feline soul than others. The pinnacle of naive art. But while I was there I discovered the incredible work of Christel Le Vaillant. Cats in clothes, like painted cats from a Lula editorial. I felt sudden, joyous waves of love.

I snatched up as many postcards of Christel Le Vaillant's work as I could - there's one of a tough tabby cat wearing a striped breton top, battered jeans and a biker jacket that is unbelievable. I'll try to scan it, except my scanner is now defunct and being used as a cat bed. Chats!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Read my latest existential crisis post on Paris for Harper's Bazaar here.

{Snapshot of the view from the 18.13 Eurostar from Paris to London}

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


{Florist in rue Vieille du Temple. Astier de Villatte, Tuileries chairs, Jacquemus spring collection at The Broken Arm}

Monday, March 11, 2013


A few favourites from February in Paris. I'm trying to avoid the usual suspects. I keep reading about the same places again and again in round ups of where to go in Paris - and I'm part of that cycle, being *in the business.* So in my own space here, it's nice for me to step back from diligently reporting on what the top ten must-go places are, with a unifying theme to each post... and just think about what I really enjoyed.

Le Comptoir General
Sort of surreal, multi layered, multi functional community space that describes itself as a ghetto museum. It was one of the coolest, most unexpected places I went to in Paris. Thanks J!

Hardly a secret, being right on rue St. Honore opposite the Astier de Villatte shop, but it's only when you open the door and are greeted by the mingling scents of candied fruits, spices, tea leaves and coffee beans that this place hooks you in. Dark wood panelled walls, plants and pictures on the walls of the far flung places their supplies come from give it a colonial feel. It's authentically charming in the best sense. Apart from the extensive menu of tea and coffee there are cakes to be chosen from a glass display and a small menu pour un petit faim. I like to sit upstairs by the big arched window, watching the world go by on the street below.

Rue Charlot Sunday veg feast
I've mentioned here before (six years ago!) how strange it is that in a city/country where incredibly high quality vegetable produce is so easily available, no one seems to eat vegetables?! (Or eat much at all, but that's another story.) I still haven't solved that mystery, but I am grateful for friends that live a two minute walk away from the Marche des Enfants Rouges, who over many years have perfected the art of the vegetable based recipe and who were kind enough to invite me to lunch most Sundays. It's not an exaggeration to say they probably saved me from malnutrition while I was in Paris. We would go to the bio veg stall at the market, then to the greengrocer on rue de Bretagne, who I was introduced to - very important to be introduced to local shopkeepers. Then I would be given a glass of wine and would sit and watch them prepare the most beautiful, fresh soups, salads and concoctions: artichokes with freshly shelled peas, potato leek and dill soup - I wish I'd photographed all the meals we had, but I only took one photo of this salad.

I was busy, ingesting nutrients! Back in London I'm inspired to make more of the weekly farmers market - I always go, but I have a bad habit of only buying flowers and a cup of coffee. Must become more familiar/confident with all the goodness that's on offer.

Richard Lenoir Brocante
I was mooching around in the Marais killing time before my friend arrived, when J (her again with the good tips!) tipped me off to the brocante that was on at boulevard Richard Lenoir. So I ambled over and indulged my "if I lived here I would buy those chairs/that table/that lamp" side for an hour or so. Everything was displayed so wonderfully. I was tempted as always, but then thought how many teeny tiny vintage glasses, broken clocks and apple shaped containers can a person need? I do wish I'd given into getting that earthenware jug for €3 though.

Dinner at Bones (We went back for drinks and snacks another night and it was just as good.)

First sunny day by the canal then walk home
The day before I left Paris, the sun came out. We got a takeaway coffee at Craft, then sat by the canal, soaking up the first weak rays of the sun for a while before saying goodbye - for now. Later, I decided to walk as far as the river, then get on the metro back to where I was staying in the farthest reaches of the 5th. It was still icy cold but the sun was low and illuminated the sides of buildings and fell in shafts through the trees.  It was so beautiful that I ended up walking the whole way.

Watching Merci's Fiat 500 being filled with rose petals

Very late dinner at Le Dauphin
By the time C and I rolled up at Le Dauphin it was 11pm and in true English apero style, we'd already shared a bottle of wine without having eaten since lunch. The kitchen was about to close so we quickly ordered five dishes from the menu: one meat, one fish, one vegetable etc - just chosen at random more or less. Maybe it was partially down to being starving, but the flavours in each dish were amazing enough that I listed them in my iphone to remember. The list means almost nothing to me now and I could never recreate those flavours. Now I have only the memory of certain types of stock that seemed to enhance everything. I'm pretty sure if I attempted warm oysters in blood orange stock with sliced radishes it would be vile rather than sublime, which is a bloody good reason to go back again. I also find this photo of us there really amusing, distorted by the rounded corner of a mirrored wall.

Friday, March 08, 2013


I did mull over whether it was appropriate to post about lingerie on International Women's Day, which I've often marked here over the years. It's true that a photo of a teenage girl with her nipples showing, in order to promote a brand, isn't very feminist as well as having little to do with the customer that's likely to buy it. But I do think there's something about buying yourself fantastic lingerie that's liberating as well as being your right to do. We don't need to burn our bras anymore do we? That's something to celebrate I think. We can be educated, accomplished and respected and support our curves/not curves with beautiful lingerie should we so desire. Or not. I just happen to like nice underwear.

One of the things on my to-do list in Paris was to finally pluck up the courage to visit the infamous lingerie shop Sabbia Rosa - favourite of every A list celebrity you can think of. I'd read various articles about it over the years, which never included photos of its goods - just the description of visiting it, where you'd be whisked into a changing room, measured, appraised and would then be given outrageously expensive items of lingerie that the shop owner chose for you to try, then purchase - as it would be too awkward not to.  I'd passed by the shop in rue des Saint-Peres lots of times but the sight of banks of green drawers (of the wooden furniture variety!) which I wouldn't be allowed to open put me off. This time I braved it, expecting to emerge triumphant with a tale of humiliation by lingerie.

What actually happened was: I went in, they were really nice, and I was able to browse through quite a few things and decide that while the array of coloured silks was amazing, the styles were a little too classic, maybe even old fashioned for me. I'd already been to the lingerie department at Le Bon Marche and found Elise Aucouturier and into the Eres boutique to see the spring/summer 13 collection in pop pastel shades of pale blue, coral and watermelon pink. I knew that was more for me. No bows - Eres lingerie never has bows, I love it so. The spring collection is here - you can see all the glorious spring colours there, but this {Pompone} is my favourite:

I'd never seen Elise Aucouturier's collection before, but at Le Bon Marche there was a big display of it in prime position. To me, it's crossover ready to wear lingerie, that maybe isn't all that functional but is really, really pretty. The spring collection is all thin cotton and delicate crochet in indigo, cream and rust. Despite Elise Aucouturier's maddeningly slippery flash site I managed to cobble together some screencaps by cutting off various body parts of the model, who has no doubt already suffered enough in the name of fashion. Happy International Women's Day indeed!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


New Paris post on my Harper's Bazaar blog - here.

Saturday, March 02, 2013


We happened to be at Merci the other day when they were changing their visual concept over for spring. Until then the red Fiat 500 had stayed all winter with a few pumpkins and gourds next to it and I actually can't remember how it was inside, although I saw them tearing down the previous installation.

We sat in the used book cafe and watched as two women filled the Fiat first with plastic, then hundreds thousands of deep pink rose petals, so it looked like it was completely full of them.

Everywhere inside they had put displays of white and deep pink ranunculus, anemones and wax flowers (that's what I call them anyway!) popped individually into small vessels and grouped together.

It was a much needed reminder that spring is near. And also, can I please have the job of rose petal fluffer?