Three Days in Paris

Wearing at top: Whistles coat (now on sale here + also seen here) // Chanel bag // Topshop brooches (on coat) // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets // Tom Ford sunglasses // Mac ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick. 

One of the definite perks of living in Europe is that there is a wealth of marvellous cities just a couple of hours away (vs Australia, where flying anywhere takes about 20 hours). My friend Grace was was coming to town from New York a few weeks ago, and when we were making plans she asked if I also wanted to join her in Paris after her stay in London. I thought about it for all of two seconds before saying ‘oui‘. One of my resolutions for 2017 was to do more of what I love, more often. And Paris and wonderful girlfriends definitely both fall into that category.

So I put on my out-of-office, hopped on an early Eurostar, and just three hours after leaving my house found myself stepping off the metro and into the glorious sunshine in Paris. As Grace was flying and thus arriving an hour later (I’ve since educated her on the merits of getting a Eurostar instead of a flight between London and Paris), I found a charming little cafe around the corner from our apartment and holed up with my laptop and the biggest coffee the French do (translation: tiny).

We headed upstairs to the tres incroyable One Fine Stay apartment we were lucky enough to call home for the next two nights, and it was everything we could have wanted in our fantasy Parisian apartment – just steps from Le Louvre above a florist on Rue St Honore and all marble, chic design elements and sweeping French windows. After tearing ourselves away, we wandered down the road to the Palais Royale. In the springtime – when the roses are in full bloom and all the Parisians sit around the fountain with their weekend papers – it’s one of my favourite places in the world, but it’s still utterly lovely in the winter too. Our first stop was to Cafe Kitsune for coffee (like the blogger cliches that we are), before finding a little cafe nearby for a late lunch outside in the sunshine. We sat and caught up on life over champagne and Croque Monsieurs, and just happily people-watched for hours. I could think of worse ways to spend a Friday afternoon…

One of the joys of visiting a city you’ve both been to many times before is that instead of feeling you have to rush around to see everything, you can just move slowly with no agenda and do exactly as you please. So after lunch in the park, we went for a stroll around the neighbourhood with nowhere in particular to be but all of Paris to enjoy. For dinner, we headed to Tannat – the most wonderful little neighbourhood restaurant a little out of the way, but entirely worth the metro ride – where we caught up with Lindsey (who is an American writer living in Paris and is basically living my dream) over French onion soup which we all agreed was so good, it was practically life-changing.

As Grace and I had both only recently visited Paris with our boyfriends, we wanted to spend hours shopping – not exactly something you can do with a man in tow, no matter how patient (my fiancé has a one hour shopping threshold, so I have to use it wisely). And as we were staying on Rue St Honore, we didn’t have far to go.

We started with brunch in the sunshine at Cafe Marly (on the terrace of the Louvre), before heading to Astier de Villate at no. 173 – one of my favourite purveyors of delicious homewares, but also rather devastatingly expensive. Next it was onto Collette, one of my favourite boutiques, at no. 213 where we fell for embroidered shoes by Tabitha Simmons and bags by Olympia Le-Tan, and sniffed our way around the beauty room (always one of my favourite spots to discover cool new beauty products), where I convinced Grace to buy a bottle of Byredo’s Pulp perfume (we have the same taste in fragrance and as I’d just acquired my first bottle for my birthday and am now quite obsessed, I knew she’d love it too). After a pause at Diptyque at no. 330, it was on to the really excellent spots. We went to Goyard at no. 233 to fantasy shop, but Grace fell for a chic white clutch bag which she took home. Whilst we were there, two guys came in with their adorable dogs to have them fitted for Goyard collars… only in Paris!

A detour via Annick Goutal (where I again convinced Grace to buy a bottle of Petite Cherie – my favourite summer perfume) and the new Laduree macaron boutique on Rue Castiglione, and then onto Chanel on Rue Cambon. I fell deeply in love with this blush pink bag (below), but thought I should exercise some restraint (that is quite the hefty impulse buy…) and ‘sleep on it’. Alas, the next day the store was closed, and two failed transfers to the London store later, I’m still trying to hunt it down to make it mine.

Well and truly window shopped-out, we headed to Hotel Costes for a glass of pink champagne (and a peek at the hotel’s florist, exploding with perfumed roses). I’d been listening to Costes’ annual albums (the perfect French lounge soundtrack for lazy weekends) for the past decade, but had only ever visited the florist in person. My tip is to avoid the terrace (devoid of ambience and full of smokers) where they’ll try to seat you if you’re not staying at the hotel, and request a seat in the bar or one of the smaller rooms (all plush upholstery and crimson walls). Even if you only go for one drink and a peek at the hotel, it’s the perfect spot for a special treat next time you’re in Paris.

Afterwards, it was time for dinner, and we were both in the mood for a proper French supper. I suggested we head to the Left Bank, where all the iconic bistros sit – Cafe de Flore, Le Deux Magots, Cafe Bonaparte and Brasserie Lipp. So we hopped in a car and 10 minutes later found ourselves tucked into the corner table at Brasserie Lipp, imagining all the great artists, philosophers and literary greats who had dined in that same spot before us.

After far too many carbs, we decided to skip the metro and walk back to the apartment. It was a beautiful evening for it, and we strolled down Rue Bonaparte, across the Pont des Arts – pausing to take in the lights reflected in the Seine and the Eiffel Tower glittering in the distance – through the Louvre and back to Rue St Honore. We fell into our beds, full and happy.

The next day, we strolled to Le Marais – my favourite neighbourhood in Paris. Grace was hankering for crepes, so I led us to Creperie Suzette; it’s where I had my very first meal in Paris about 12 years ago when I stumbled upon it by accident (and miraculously I remembered the way this day). We sat outside and had the most delicious goats cheese crepes as a jolly French band played all my favourite jazz standards on the other side of the pavement. It felt like the perfect cinematic moment, and we couldn’t have been happier.

Given the face Grace and I are both art obsessives, we can never go to Paris without visiting at least one gallery. So after a quite turn around Place des Vosges (one of my favourite spots in all of Paris) we headed to the Musee de Picasso nearby. Unfortunately half of the museum was closed for re-hanging and so we only got to see half of the collection, but it was still worth the visit to learn more about the man himself (and gives me a good reason to return again soon and see the rest).

Sadly Grace then had to leave to get her flight back to New York, so we walked back to the apartment and said a fond farewell (happily I’ll get to see her again in a few months) and I headed up to Montmartre with my bags to see my friend Anne. After chocolate tarts from Hardware Societe (I feel it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo normal nutrition in favour of pastry when in Paris…) we walked all over the bohemian neighbourhood for hours until night fell – past the Sacre Coeur (which she lives right beside) and its vantage point over the rooftops of Paris, past the artists and the tiny cafes in the Place du Tertre, up and down picture-prefect stairways, past windmills and vineyards and cabarets, and through the Place des Abbesses. I love having friends all over the world, and it’s always such a treat to have my own personal French tour guide when I’m in town.


Wearing: Zara top (similar style here) // Chanel bag // Celine sunglasses. 

Finally, tired from walking but heart full of new Parisian memories with dear friends, it was time to head to Gare du Nord for my train home. Until next time, au revoir Paris!

Love, Miss B xx

P.S. You can see Grace’s post from our trip here!

Small Business Saturday: The Best Independents in Cambridge

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Wine MerchantsIn association with American Express #ShopSmallUK

I’ve lived in Cambridge for nearly eight years now, and it’s been a delight to build a collection of favourite local shops, cafés and the likes that I treasure (as well as discovering new gems that continue to pop up) over the years. To me, it’s the small independent boutiques, the local baristas (who know you by name), and the local neighbourhood cafés that really make a community (and which have helped make this adopted city feel like home for me).

This weekend, the UK celebrates Small Business Saturday; a day when people across the country are encouraged to get out support their local small businesses.

I’m always asked about my favourite places in Cambridge (and to be honest I think this warrants at least three separate posts), so when American Express – founder and ongoing supporter of the campaign – asked me to team up to highlight some of my favourite local independents, I was delighted to take part.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Hot Numbers Coffee CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday The Pint Shop CambridgeWhilst this list is far from exhaustive, here are a few of my favourite local shops and eateries in Cambridge that I regularly visit:

Hot Numbers // For me, Hot Numbers is the authority on good coffee in Cambridge (to the extent that most of the best cafés in town serve the coffee roasted in the café). At the original Gwydir Street location (just off Mill Road), its signature flat whites come with a side of jazz with live music on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as on Sunday afternoons, and a rotation of local art on the walls. This is the perfect spot to read the Saturday papers or work on your creative idea (the staff don’t mind how long you loiter with your laptop); and you’re just as likely to pull up a chair beside a Nobel laureate as you are a tech founder.

Pint Shop // Bene’t Street is my favourite foodie destination in the city (I send all my friends there if they’re new to town), and Pint Shop is one of the best on the block. Granted, I don’t partake in two out of the three things it’s famous for (beer, bread and meat), but it’s still one of my favourite cosy spots to while away a lazy afternoon. This is a firm local favourite beloved for its craft beers and modern twists on British classic dishes.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday 6 Ice Cream CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday The Urban Larder Cambridge6 Ice Cream // Hands-down my favourite ice cream in Cambridge. Aside from the Cambridge Cream (its signature combination of honey, lavender and burnt cream), its flavours change daily depending on what’s in season, so you never know what you’re going to find on the menu (which is half the fun), but expect unusual flavours like salted dark chocolate, blackberry sorbet, or strawberry and rose.

Urban Larder // Over on Mill Road – which is home to lots of independent grocery stores and eateries – you’ll find Urban Larder. It’s exactly what you want a local neighbourhood café to be, and serves up delicious coffee and snacks (made from locally-sourced ingredients) with a smile. Its three-cheese toasties are something else.

Garden Café // One of my favourite ways to spend a lazy Saturday is to find a seat beneath a big tree in the Botanical Gardens and spend a peaceful few hours with a good book and the weekend papers. I always stop at the Garden Café on my way in for a picnic to complete my perfect afternoon (its home-made sausage rolls, salads and cakes are excellent).

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Wine MerchantsA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Boudoir Femme CambridgeCambridge Wine Merchants // Although I rarely drink, this is one of my favourite local gems and where I always head when I want to treat the wine-enthusiasts in my life. The staff are all oenophiles and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and it stocks both well-known and hard-to-find wines from all the best regions. The beautiful Kings Parade location (right opposite Kings College) also serves up Jack’s Gelato and Pimm’s from the window in the summer months, and hot mulled wine in winter.

Boudoir Femme // This award-winning independent fashion boutique is always one of my first stops in Cambridge for wardrobe basics; the perfect pair of MiH jeans, American Vintage tees, cashmere scarves and Yawn pyjamas.

Cambridge Satchel Co // Without a doubt my favourite Cambridge-based brand. This label has grown from humble beginnings – founder Julie Deane started the label from her kitchen table in Cambridge when she couldn’t find a proper leather schoolbag for her children – to become a global success story. Beloved by preppy students and fashion editors alike, its chic leather bags are entirely desirable. If in doubt, go for the classic satchel in tan, navy or oxblood.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Satchel CoLove, Miss B xx

This post is in partnership with American Express and Small Business Saturday (but I couldn’t be more proud to support the ‘shop small’ initiative). Visit amexshopsmall.co.uk to learn more about Shop Small in your city. 

Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

City Guide: Weekend in Vienna

A Girl, A Style _ ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Vienna
If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that we’re recently back from a weekend city break in Vienna. As my fiancé and I had both been travelling separately a lot for work, we had barely seen each other and were in need of some quality time together. As we both love exploring more than anything, a quick flight to another European city seemed like the perfect answer. Although we had been to Vienna once before, it poured with rain our entire time there so we had been longing to return.

We took an early flight from Heathrow on Friday morning, and by lunch we were walking through the park in the sunshine in Vienna. We packed in plenty of museums, coffee shops and sights before our Sunday evening flight home, but still felt like we had enough relaxing downtime that we could head to the office refreshed by Monday morning. If you haven’t been to Vienna before, I recommend it for it’s beautiful architecture, history and grand old coffeehouses; it is a city just made for romance and cultural enlightenment. Next time we’ll come back in December for the famous Christmas markets and a night at the opera (the weather was perfect so we didn’t take in any of the renowned music halls this time, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a cold winter evening in Vienna).

A Girl, A Style _ Hofburg Palace ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Hofburg Palace Vienna
These were the best things we covered during our stay:

Do // If you’re a culture addict, then Vienna is quite simply one of the best cities in the world. Grand architecture, rich history, breathtaking palaces and wonderful museums are yours to be explored. You’ll see many of the renowned ‘sights’ – the State Opera House, the Homburg Palace (above), St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Spanish Riding School – just walking around the old town and between the museums. On this trip we visited and loved the Belvedere Palace (the largest collection of Klimt and other masters housed in a baroque palace where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand once lived) and the grand Kunsthistorisches Museum, and on our last visit we loved the Albertina Museum and spectacular Schonbrunn Palace (which I posted here).

On both visits, we loved pottering around the fresh food market and eateries at the Naschmarkt (below), and on Saturdays there is a flea market at one end that is worth a visit if, like me, you love an antique treasure-hunt. If the weather is fine, take a stroll through the beautiful Volksgarten in the Museums Quartier, or find a chair beside the roses for a spot of people-watching.

For us, the highlight of the weekend was a sunset carriage ride through the old town. A white carriage drawn by two gorgeous white horses arrived at the entrance to our hotel looking like something straight out of an Austrian fairytale, took us on a tour of the town and then delivered us to Prater, a nostalgic 250 year-old amusement park. There, in the middle of the park, awaited the most exquisite three-course dinner in our own candlelit carriage on a grand old FERRIS WHEEL (so marvellous it warrants capitals for emphasis). As the sun went down, we ate dinner on the Riesenrad twirling high above the lights of the funfair rides below as the Viennese skyline glittered off in the distance, and each time we reached the ground a waiter would pop in to top-up our champagne or bring new dishes. Definitely a date night for the books.

A Girl, A Style _ Naschmarkt ViennaA Girl, A Style _ ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Prate Park ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Riesenrad Prater Park Vienna
Eat // It’s a good thing Vienna is a city made for long walks, because diet-friendly it is not. Here’s it’s all about the three C’s: chocolate, cake and coffee. The Viennese are passionate about their kaffeehaus tradition, and there are dozens of grand old cafes in the city which are worth a visit as much for the political cultural and literary history (these are the places where the likes of Freud, Loos, Trotsky would loiter) as for the confection.

My favourite has to be Cafe Sperl – all marble tables and dark wood paneling – where after spending the morning at Naschtmarkt, we tucked ourselves into a corner booth and lingered a while over coffee and the best apple strudel I’ve ever had as a pianist played all my favourite jazz standards. The next day we found a table upstairs at the equally glorious (though a little more touristy) Demel for tea and apricot strudel, and later stopped for coffee at Cafe Central which serves up some excellent people-watching with a side of history beneath its magnificent marbled arches (the cafe was a favourite of both Trotsky and Hitler during their Vienna years).

Lastly, if the famous Wiener Schnitzel is what you’re after, go straight to Figlmuller. I don’t eat meat so only had a salad, but the boyfriend was exceedingly pleased with his schnitzel – albeit defeated by the vast size – and the original Wollzeile location was oozing with old Austrian charm.

A Girl, A Style _ Cafe Sperl ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Kaffeehaus ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Cafe Sperl ViennaWearing: Boohoo dress // J.Crew necklace // Lulu Frost necklace // Valentino bag // NARS ‘Charlotte’ lipstick // NARS ‘Gaiety’ blush

Stay // We stayed at the beautiful InterContinental Vienna, located just opposite Stadtpark and just a few minutes walk from the MuseumQuartier, the Old Town, the Naschtmarkt and the Belvedere Palace. Our suite had views over the park and was possibly bigger than our apartment at home. The staff were utterly delightful and organised that magical carriage ride and candlelit dinner on the Riesenrad for us. If you have a special occasion to celebrate (perhaps an anniversary or birthday or part of a honeymoon), then I can’t recommend the ‘romance‘ package enough. No detail was spared, and they really did go the extra mile to make sure we felt pampered and welcomed.

A Girl, A Style _ InterContinental ViennaA Girl, A Style _ InterContinental ViennaA Girl, A Style _ InterContinental Vienna
Souvenir //  You really can’t go to Vienna without trying a slice of the famous Sachertorte (a rich dark chocolate cake with layers of apricot jam inside and a bittersweet chocolate icing, invented in Vienna in 1832). Better yet, take one home to share. Only Hotel Sacher and Demel sell the real deal. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet-tooth, pick up some longues du chat or a tablet of dark chocolate at Demel, or a box of Sissitaler or Mozartkugel (the city’s iconic marzipan chocolates). Yum!

Good to know // The city is compact enough that you can walk just about everywhere, but otherwise the subway is clean, easy to use and goes everywhere you’ll want to visit. Most Viennese speak excellent English, but will appreciate your efforts to try your best German (the official language).

A Girl, A Style _ Demel ViennaA Girl, A Style _ ViennaWearing: ASOS dress (I’m wearing the ‘tall‘ version for a slightly longer length) // Chanel bag // Dune sandals // Tom Ford sunglasses // Mimco bracelets (old)

Have you made it to beautiful Vienna yet? Let me know if you have any recommendations I can try on my next visit!

Love, Miss B xx

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This post is partnership with IHG Rewards club; the world’s first and largest hotel loyalty programme. Sign-up for free to start earning points from stays at IHG properties worldwide at ihgrewardsclub.com 

City Guide: Weekend in Brussels

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Between all our recent European travels, I feel as though my feet have barely touched the ground the past few months. But one of my big New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 was to take more frequent small trips and explore Europe more (rather than eschewing the cities on our doorstep in favour of the extended long-haul trips we usually take).

Although I frequently travel to Brussels for work, I only ever get to see the Government district and the inside of the European Commission buildings while I’m there (with an occasional detour through the Grand Place on the way back to the Eurostar station if the weather is behaving). Given how easy it is to get there from England, I decided it was about time we properly explored all the city had to offer (which is so much more than just the seat of the European Union).

So when Alcatel asked if I’d like to put together a city guide in conjunction with their current promo (get return flights to one of eight European cities when you buy the new Pop4 handset), it was the perfect excuse to finally explore this grand old city. It was my first time trying the handset, but I have to say it was the ideal phone for travelling; because of the dual-SIM function I could put both my UK and travel SIM in at the same time, and the camera and maps were excellent for navigating our way around town without getting lost (and snapping everything along the way, of course).

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Brussels is the perfect size for a weekend city break; small enough that you feel you can cover a decent chunk of it in two days, large enough that you’ll have no shortage of things to do. These were the best things we covered during our stay:

Do // For a dose of culture, start with the magnificent Grand Place. A large cobbled square bordered by the opulent Town Hall and guildhalls which marks the centre of the old town; it is a Unesco World Heritage site and surely one of the most beautiful squares in Europe.

Afterwards, walk over to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (around €8) on Rue de la Régence for a morning with Rubens, van Dyck and all the Flemish greats. Afterwards, head to the Royal Palace next door; it is free to visit from July-September when the Royal Family go away, and the spectacular rooms are worthy of any Disney princess (I’m not sure I have ever seen quite so many chandeliers in once place). Afterwards, we bought an ice cream and happily lazed beneath the canopy of trees in the Parc du Bruxelles across the road.

Shop // Treasure hunt for antiques: We visited both the Sablon (every Saturday and Sunday at the Place du Grand Sablon) and Les Marolles (every day on the Place du Jeu de Balle) flea markets and the surrounding antique shops. On the first Sunday of every month there is also a vintage market at Halle Saint-Géry. I picked up vintage postcards from Paris and a set of 1960s cocktail glasses at the Sablon, and an antique bust of Marie Antoinette and a pair of golden pheasants for the dining room table at Les Marolles. During a sudden downpour at Les Marolles, we dashed into the Cafe La Brocante on the corner of the square for coffee, which was charmingly stuffed with locals and antiques in equal measure.

Grand arcades: Don’t miss the beautiful Galleries Royales Saint-Hubert near the Grand Place. Built in 1847, it is a beautiful glass-roofed passageway housing luxury shops and cafes. We loitered for nearly an hour in the magnificent Tropismes Libraires bookstore in the Galerie des Princes section.

Hip boutiques: For the best small, independent fashion, design and lifestyle boutiques, head to the Rue Dansaert / Rue des Chartreux district. We made the mistake of visiting on a Sunday morning when many stores were closed, so visit on a Saturday or weekday instead for the best range of options.

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Eat // It would be positively remiss to go to Brussels and leave hungry. From the famous chocolate and waffles to the traditional carbonades flamandes (beef stew) and moules frites (mussels and fries), there is no shortage of gourmand delights on offer.

For brunch, head to Peck 47 on Rue du Marché aux Poulets for eggs + savoury waffles or the original Le Pain Quotidien on Rue Dansaert (both a short walk from the Grand Place).
For lunch or dinner, make for local-favourite Le Fin de Siecle on Rue des Chartreux. We had dinner there on Saturday night and the atmosphere was lively and cosy; the food a delicious offering of Italian and authentic Belgian dishes.

Craving something sweet? Head straight to haute chocolaterie Pierre Marcolini for the best chocolate the city has to offer (not to mention glorious macarons and ice cream pops dipped in the chocolate of your choice). For a snack on-the-go whilst sightseeing, the chocolate-dipped strawberries at Godiva and the cheap as frites nutella-topped waffles (find them beside the Manneken Pis fountain) both earn an honourable mention.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Souvenir // I’m sure it’s obligatory to return home with a stash of Belgian chocolates in your suitcase. Pick up a box from Pierre Marcolini, Mary or Elisabeth (all have several locations dotted around the city), and a few blocks of Dolfin from the convenience store (I’m especially taken with their Earl Grey-infused dark chocolate tablets). A tin of Belgian waffles or speculoos (traditional cinnamon-spiced biscuits) from Maison Dandoy will also make a marvelous gift for friends back home. For something more unique, hunt for a vintage copy of Tintin or an antique tchotchke from the Les Marolles or Sablon flea market.

Good to Know // Brussels is small enough that you can walk just about everywhere, but if the weather is bad or you want to save your feet, the subway is clean, easy and goes everywhere you need to go (aside from hopping on the subway to get to our hotel, we walked the entire weekend). Everyone speaks English perfectly, but otherwise it’s the perfect excuse to practice your French.

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Look 1: J.Crew jacket // Gap jeans // J.Crew top (similar style here) // Ferragamo shoes // Chanel bag // ASOS hat // Kenneth Jay Lane necklace (similar style here) // Chanel brooch // Karen Walker sunglasses.
Look 2: Zimmermann dress // J.Crew necklace // Ferragamo shoes // Valentino bag // ASOS hat // Karen Walker sunglasses // Michael Kors watch.

Have you been to Brussels before? Let me know if you have any more recommendations and I’ll try them on my next trip!

Love, Miss B xx

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This post is in partnership with Alcatel, who are offering return flights to eight European cities when you buy the new Pop4 handset.