Tag Archives: fashion

Books About Paris

3 Jun

Books in Paris

It is fair to say that books about Paris are in no short supply. As someone who is writing a book about Paris, I am painfully aware of the fierce competition. Books about Paris fill my shelves, and I can’t resist ducking into Dymocks to see if there are any new ones on the shelves. But, there are some that keep me coming back.

*Paris Tango by Carla Coulson

Carla manages in one frame to capture the nuances of French life, in a way that armed with a thousand words I could only dream of. I love everything about her book. The weight of it, the texture of the cover, the old-school red placemarker. Of course, her words are magnificent too, once you manage to tear your eyes from her lovingly captured photographs. Her blog, which I stumbled across only recently, is also a delight.

*A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast

Indeed, Mr Hemingway requires no introduction. I only picked up a copy of A Moveable Feast this year. I think I put it off for so long because I was intimidated, and perhaps also because it is home to one of the most over quoted lines ever used to describe Paris. The reality, however, is that A Moveable Feast reads as if you have plopped down next to Hemingway in a Latin Quarter bar and he’s telling you about his perfectly ordinary day. It is a slender and light as Carla’s book is solid, and is intensely captivating in its brevity.

*Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

Almost French Cat

Almost French is everything I hope my novel will be. I would love nothing more than to have my as yet unnamed (suggestions welcome!) book sit side by side with Ms Turnbull’s. That possibility equally excites and terrifies me.

What are your favourite books about Paris?

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Paris books img courtesy of Roman Lashkin on Flickr.
A Moveable Feast img courtesy of life serial on Flickr.
Almost French with cat img courtesy of [o] suze q … [packing for firenze] on Flickr.

Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

The Podium Perspective

20 May

Podium Dancer

On Friday night, I danced on a podium in a nightclub.

Now, my dear loyal readers (I mean you, Mum), allow me to assure you that no, I haven’t started turning tricks on the side because the life of a writer isn’t lucrative enough.

Before Friday night, I had never been the girl who dances on the table. In fact, I wasn’t even the kind of girl who goes to nightclubs. My ideal Friday night of late consists of getting a jump start on my clothes washing and watching episodes of Gossip Girl with my husband (sorry Max). The last time I had been in a nightclub was probably three years ago. And even then, it was an Afterwork in Paris, and I’m not sure that even counts.

But, we had been invited to a friend’s surprise birthday party, and in the spirit of doing things outside my comfort zone, I agreed. The arranged meeting time was 9pm, which I’m told is early in the nightclub realm. In my realm, 9pm is firmly slippers-and-peppermint-tea-time.

Slippers and tea

And so, it was with a little apprehension that I approached the evening. I agonised over what to wear (you know, more than usual). I am a hopeless comfort-dresser at the best of times, and the thought of anything vaguely short or sleeveless in May in Melbourne was enough to send me running for cover. Eventually, I decided upon a brightly coloured, long-sleeved silk print dress, over opaque black stockings. I added a black blazer and my coat, for warmth, but the shoe situation made me hesitate. My three-year-old black boots are on their last legs, fine for my somewhat casual office job, but not, I feared, chic nightclub worthy. I figured heels were the only safe bet, and so I coaxed my reluctant slipper-coddled toes into the patent black stilettos I’d purchased in the Christmas sales. More proof positive that I am not accustomed to this nightclub thingy.

Spice Market

We arrived early enough for the maze of red barrier ropes outside Spice Market to seem superfluous and a little hopeful. The over-exercised security guard branded me quickly with the word ‘SPICE’ in smudgy black stamp ink and that was it, we were admitted.

The other invitees arrived, the champagne flowed and the DJ somehow managed to play only songs I liked and knew the words to. Before I knew it, the birthday girl and friends were clamouring up onto one of the podiums to dance. They put out a hand for me to join them.

My immediate reaction was to say no, to shake my head and smile and tell them to go on without me. And then I realised, that was bullsh*t. And so up I climbed, somewhat awkwardly, my back heel sinking into the cushioned seat as I stepped onto the platform. And whilst there’s nothing I like less than being the centre of attention, something strange happened while I was up there. I realised that the attention was nothing to do with me. I noticed a girl in the crowd nearby, shuffling from foot to foot, watching us nervously. I knew exactly what she was thinking, because that girl, she’s me. I caught her eye and offered a wide smile, trying to convey with one facial expression that I understood, that I got it, and that the only difference between the girl on the platform and the girl in the crowd, is perspective.

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Podium dancer img courtesy of Aran Chandran on Flickr.
Slippers and tea img courtesy of
emdot on Flickr.
Spice Market img courtesy of
avlxyz on Flickr.

Vintage Shoe Shopping in Paris

4 Feb

Yellow Shoes

Vintage shoe shopping is very different to other types of shoe shopping. At least, for me it is. My usual obligatory criteria of fit, form and function are cast aside in the far less practical pursuits of designer brands and rare items.

Living in Paris gave me a distinct advantage in my search. In Australia, I’d never really been one for op shopping (except for the occasional bargain $2 Jackie Collins novel). I think it has to do with the fact that Australians are far less likely to own big brand footwear (Chanel, Gucci, Bally) than Europeans to begin with, meaning that the chances of finding your desired object are slim. And, as glad as I am that places like Vinnies exist, I’m uninterested in wearing anybody’s second hand Hush Puppies.

In Paris, however, the chance of stumbling across a vintage pair of Prada boots, or Repetto flats are fairly good – even more so if you know where to look.

Vintage Store

Now I may disappoint some of you by saying that I don’t have a secret black book* of the best vintage stores in Paris. Rather, I have a simple piece of advice to offer. Do your vintage shopping in the rich, residential neighbourhoods of Paris. The logic? It is simple, though twofold:

  1. The ladies who live in these areas have armoires full to bursting with decade’s worth of European designer clothes. And each season they must, of course, clear out their closet to make room for their newest purchases.
  2. The residential areas have little in the way of tourist attractions, and so none but the most dedicated of vintage shoppers venture there. Therefore, your chances of picking up those elusive two tone Chanel ballet flats have doubled.Bally Store

That said, my best-ever vintage find wasn’t in a Paris store. In fact, it wasn’t in a store at all, it,was online at Etsy.com. My rare and precious find – a pair of black Bally pumps from the 1970s, in good condition, and only half a size too big.

Despite the fact that I’ve only worn them twice (outside of the apartment, that is) in the year that I’ve owned them, I have never loved a pair of shoes more. I routinely get them out of my cupboard just to admire them.

(*Okay, okay, I’ll let you in on one of my favourite stores: http://www.depot-vente-luxe.fr/fr/ note that here, quality is assured, but bargain basement prices are not.)

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Vintage yellow shoes image courtesy of EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin’ hook-y ;o) on Flickr.
Vintage store image courtesy of
ChrisGoldNY on Flickr.

Apartment Hunting in the French Capital

14 Jan

Over the Christmas break I got to partake in one of my all-time favourite activities – researching apartments in Paris.

Chandelier Apartment

Sadly no, a move to Paris isn’t on the cards for us right now, but we are planning a flying visit this July. The Official Trip Purpose is for the Wedding 2.0, a chance for many of Max’s relatives and our friends who cannot come to Australia for Part One to celebrate with us. But before that, we have a week in Paris with my family.

This time, thankfully, our trip falls in the middle of European summer, which not only means gloriously long daylight hours, but a chance to participate in the much-anticipated soldes d’été.

Soldes

The last time my family came to Paris they rented a beautiful two bedroom apartment in the rather fancy-schmancy 1st arrondissement. Literally metres from the Louvre, the entrance to the apartment was wedged between a chic passage couvert and a Christian Louboutin boutique. Despite having an apartment apiece at that point, Max and I found ourselves tempted night after night to camp out on the luxurious sofa bed and pretend that this was, in fact, where we lived.

Galerie

This time around though, I stumbled across a gorgeous three bedroom apartment in the slightly more down to earth 2nd arrondissement, close to the bustling Japanese quarter and close enough to the Opéra to feel very special indeed. There’s nothing I love more than discovering a new arrondissement from the inside out, and I can’t wait to see what delights the 2nd holds for us.

Where do you like to stay when you visit Paris?

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Apartment with chandelier image courtesy of fromtherightbank on Flickr.
Soldes image courtesy of Ma Gali on Flickr.
Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau image courtesy of Phil Beard on Flickr.

My Paris

26 Nov

As you know, I recently teamed up with the talented guys over at Unanchor.com to write a 4 Day Self Guided Itinerary for Paris in wintertime. Afterwards, they asked to interview me about what Paris is to me.

There are so many different things I love about Paris, so many favourite restaurants, so much advice I’d give to visitors to the city. Here’s my attempt at distilling that down into a short(ish) interview!

Of course, the long version can be found here.

What do you think of my tips for tourists? What would yours be?

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Image courtesy of the extremely talented and exceptionally modest Maxime Thoreux.

Winter Wonderland

12 Nov

Are you heading to Paris in the next three months, or do you know someone who is?

Recently, I teemed up with the savvy crew over at Unanchor to put together a 4 Day Paris itinerary full of my top tips, hottest addresses and best advice for making the most of a visit to the City of Light in wintertime.

A visit to Paris in winter is a truly magical experience. From mid November through to mid January, twinkling fairy lights adorn the city’s boulevards, whilst pop-up Christmas Markets blanket town squares like snow.

But it can be hard to know where to start, and it’s easy to miss some of the best festive aspects (not to mention culinary delights!) without a local guide.

Whether it’s your first visit to Paris, or you’ve done the tourist thing and now you’re looking to experience Paris through the eye’s of a local, to find out where and what Parisians eat, see, and do in wintertime – then this guide is for you.

See all the key icons from a different perspective, and more importantly, discover the hidden gems of the French capital as I take you on an unforgettable Winter Wonderland adventure.

I’ve included a short synopsis of each day below as a taster… but hurry – the festive season is right around the corner!

My Paris itinerary also makes a great gift for wanderlust family and friends!

http://www.unanchor.com/itinerary/view/260

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Day 1

Your exciting Paris discovery starts right in the heart of the action today as we trace the historical axis through the centre of Paris. See the Champs-Élysées bathed in the gentle glow of fairy lights, and soak up the festive cheer at the vibrant Christmas Market. Discover La Défense, a region overlooked by many visitors to the city but one well worth a visit, and no more so than at Christmastime. Meander through two incredible manicured gardens that are art forms in themselves, before immersing yourself in the grandeur of the Louvre – free from the maddening crowds.

Day 2

Take in the fast-paced atmosphere along Paris bustling Grands Boulevards today. Admire the intricate Christmas window displays and get swept up in the pre-Christmas shopping mood. Then, for a change of pace we’ll take in the enchanting covered galleries hidden along the small side streets just steps from the Opera Garnier. See how the other half live with a visit to the Place Vendome, then get set for a fun-filled afternoon ice skating at the Hotel de Ville, which has been transformed into a magical winter wonderland. This evening, I’ll show you how to dine on the prestigious Rue St-Honoré, without breaking the bank.

Day 3

Step back in time a little today and imagine the Paris of years gone by as we explore the historic Left Bank. Picture Hemingway and Sartre whiling away their days in the cafés here and discover a secret about Paris’ oldest bridge. Today is also a feast for the senses as we take in a true Left Bank gourmet haven and an ever-popular-with-locals market. I’ll show you the best places to indulge in seasonal, and quintessentially French, dishes for lunch and dinner.

Day 4

Montmartre sits high in the north of Paris and evokes an intimate village atmosphere. Follow me as we take the back streets, far from the tourist trail to discover the hidden gems and iconic sights from a different angle. In wintertime Montmartre really comes to life with two gorgeous Christmas Markets filling town squares with delicious smells and an infectious sense of festive merriment. Visit one of Paris’ lesser-known museums and the ‘other’ cemetery in Paris. Stop off for a drink in Les Deux Moulins, made famous by the movie ‘Amelie’, before experiencing the elegance of a bygone era with dinner at a Belle Epoque institution.

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