Dreams of Paris

I think a piece of my heart must surely belong in France. Whenever skies are grey, or a case of the ‘blahs’ strikes (that drab feeling you can’t quite place), a little dose of Paris is always the cure. And because persistent rain has thwarted all my plans for outdoor fun, this weekend is all about my favourite french movies, books, food and music in honour of Bastille Day.

Of course, all of this French-enthusiasm has me dreaming of the month I plan to spend in Paris next spring. I plan to rent a tiny apartment (preferably one with a little balcony, wooden floorboards, and view over the rooftops of Paris), spend my days feeding my brain at French class, and my afternoons feeding my soul with the wonders of the city. I’ll loiter on the Left Bank for cerebral pleasures, eavesdropping on modern French philosophers debating over strong coffee at the Cafe de Flore before a trip to Shakespeare and Co and the vintage booksellers that line the Seine.

I’ll listen to the jazz musicians on the bridges and the chic soundtrack at the Hotel Costes. I’ll ride a velib, take a dance class on the banks of the Seine, hop on the metro and walk and walk and walk all over the city.

I’ll buy cheese and flowers and strawberries at the market, have picnics in my favourite gardens , take one too many trips to Laduree and Pierre Herme and learn to appreciate red wine.I’ll window shop on the grand boulevards, hunt for treasures at the flea markets, add a souvenir from Chanel to my collection and rummage for vintage in Le Marais. I’ll pack just my favourite clothes, and pick up sartorial tips from the chic ladies (and cute French boys) who pass me on the street.

I’ll stop to admire the spring flowers, remember to look up at the architecture, and trawl through galleries and museums. I’ll climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower (because no matter how many times I do it, it always makes me smile) and kiss beneath it’s twinkly lights at nightfall. I’ll take a moment at the Sacre Coeur and skip down the steps at Montmartre. I’ll float down the Seine and gaze up at the sunset, which always seems a little more golden in Paris.

But most of all, I’ll have an adventure.What are your favourite French things? Do you dream of Paris as I do?

Love, Miss B xx


My Favourite Things To Do in Paris, pt. 1

As an unfaltering Francophile/Parisian wannabe, I am often asked for my recommendations on my favourite things to do in Paris. I’ll leave it to your guidebooks to tell you all the obvious places to go, but here are a few of my favourite Parisian places and whimsies.

1. Get a sugar rush: I can still vividly remember the glee of my first visit to Laduree back in 2003 (I was travelling to Paris for the first time, all by myself, and it remains one of my fondest memories). Whether you go for breakfast, a pot of afternoon rose tea, a magnificent raspberry and lychee ispahan or a plate of jewel-like macarons, make sure you pay a visit to either Laduree or Pierre Herme for the best sugar rush you’ll ever have.

2. Stroll the Seine. I firmly believe that a long, aimless walk along the River Seine is good for the soul. Last time I went, I passed young lovers kissing, old couples dancing, tiny dogs trotting and the sounds of a French accordion floating on the air as the sky turned fairy floss pink at sundown. Magic!

3. Get a literary fix. For generations, the Left Bank has been the spiritual home for generations of French philosophers, bohemians and intellectuals. Take home your own piece of this history from the English-language Shakespeare & Co. bookshop, where there is always shelf upon shelf of new and second-hand books (they have a superb edit) and a steady stream of modern-day poets and academics.

4. Wander Montmartre. And to that other home of arty bohemians, beatniks and romantics; Montmartre. Pass the iconic red windmill of the Moulin Rouge, climb the hill to the foot of the Sacre Coeur (enter to pay your respects if you so wish) and just take a moment to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views over the rooftops of Paris. Find the big pretty pink wedge-shaped building, then walk down the gorgeous cobbled steps and stop at the bottom to take in the golden dappled light over a peppermint tea.

5. Leave a little bit more lovely. When in Paris, it seems only fitting to treat yourself to a few loveliness-enhancing luxuries. Stop by any number of boutiques or grand department stores that dot the city to buy yourself a gorgeous new French perfume, some silk lingerie, a new Chanel lipstick or some decadent truffles.

Part deux up next!

Love, Miss B xx


Bastille my heart

Bonjour! In honour of Bastille Day, this week I’m happily indulging in my love for all things French. Tomorrow i’ll be donning my favourite breton stripes and Chanel heels before popping to the Pierre Herme counter at Selfridges for a fix of rose macarons. After work, i’ll hop home, via Paul’s bakery at St Pancras (for baguettes fresh off the Eurostar from Paris), to whip up an asparagus et chevre tart from my favourite French cookbook (which requires my full concentration to decipher – the whole thing is in French) while listening to Hotel Costes’ achingly hip soundtrack.

Although it’s surely anathema to my family history to feel such a way (the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, is a relative of mine)*, I’m certain that a large chunk of my dreamworld-self belongs in Paris.

From Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, Laduree macarons and French pastries, champagne and vin rouge, lipstick, high heels and parfum, French Vogue and Collette, Louis chairs and Diptyque candles, Serge Gainsbourg and Phoenix, Louboutin and Vivier, jaunty berets and breton stripes, Left Bank philosophers and bohemian Marais artistes – my love of all things French may be cliche, but it runs deep to my soul.

So tell me, is there a particular place you fantasise about?

Love, Miss B xx

* Apologies for the name dropping – it’s not my usual style to do so unless it serves to illustrate a point