I wasn’t really feeling the love at the start of March…work was keeping me in London the whole month with no time to fly to the south west of France to be with Steve and Mila and I wasn’t mentally prepared to spend Mother’s Day (UK) AND my birthday alone. So I booked a ticket to head to Paris and ended up spending a fabulous weekend with the favourite women in my life: Mila, my sister, my mum and my best friend. If you are heading off to Paris soon, here are 10 inspiring things that will make you feel good inside out:
1/ Get your hair cut
Coco Chanel once said that “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life” and if you’re looking for someone who is going to make you feel like a Goddess, I recommend Alicia at Camille Albane in Les Batignolles, Paris 17e. My hair was too dark to achieve this look but it’s something we are working towards to and in the meantime, I’m absolutely loving the result.
2/ Have brunch with friends in Merci
If you’re in Paris for a very short time, having lunch at Merci is one way to kill two birds with one stone. You get to eat organic (but not many gluten-free options) in a very inspiring space and you can browse the latest Isabel Marant collection. The dress I’m trying here is this one. This time, I just bought a small linen cushion for Mila to go with our stonewashed linens and a little necklace for Mila and I. Not far from Merci, check Mona’s Market, 4 Rue Commines, 75003 Paris. There is also plenty of great fashion shops across Merci, like Soeur, Bas&sh, Loft Design By.
3/ Have your photo taken at Bonton’s
A few doors down from Merci (5 boulevard des Filles du Calvaire), there is Bonton, a great kids fashion shop with plenty of inspiring details to decorate their bedrooms. The Bonton collection and some of my favourite brands like Bobo Choses, Bellerose, April Showers, are also available from Elias and Grace in London. They have a hairdresser for children on the ground floor and an old-fashioned Photocabine (photo above) which Mila loved. Out of all the things we did that weekend, making funny faces while having our photos taken in the booth was her favourite thing and she loved this mood board for her bedroom.
4/ Have hot chocolate like Coco Chanel
Angelina’s is one known for the best chocolat chaud in Paris. Like having tea at The Ritz, it’s a very quintessential Parisian experience. However, my favourite place is having tea at Ladurée in St Germain-des-Prés (21 rue Bonaparte, Paris 6e) because I could stock up my kitchen cupboard with all their pretty pale green tea boxes.
5/ Go to the Museum
Paris has plenty of amazing museums and if you time your visit right, they are all free the first Sunday of each month: le Louvre, The Picasso Museum, The Rodin Museum, the art world is your oyster. This time, we went to the Centre Georges Pompidou to see the Jeff Koons exhibition which was fun and interesting but we saw some very interesting things on level 1 like this room called Café Little Boy, a space dedicated to encourage reflexion, communication and exchange where visitors were encouraged to leave drawings and message like Mila did here. Little Boy was the name of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. After the bomb dropped, there was nothing left from the primary school except one big board where everyone left a message.
My favourite thing was the videos of artist Lili Renaud Dewar featuring her dancing, naked, with dark-body make-up in exhibitions spaces, museums and her studio in Grenoble. She reinterprets some choregraphy by Josephine Baker, the resistant and activist against racism African-American dancer who lived in France. It was mesmerising and beautiful.
6/ Visit the Atelier Brancusi
One visit that really made my day was seeing Brancusi’s atelier. Next to Beaubourg, the entrance is free and the museum is opened every day except Tuesday from 2pm. When I took sculpture classes in London fifteen years ago, one of my biggest inspiration was Brancusi and I painfully carved a 50cm high piece of wood during a few classes to come up with something which was far from being as beautiful as his sculptures and is now sitting in our home in France.
6/ Head to Montmartre late afternoon
Montmartre is always busy but most people visit it during daytime. I like going there at the end of the afternoon to catch the light and the magical view on Paris and if you can find a nice café to sip a glass of wine while watching the sun goes down on Paris, well you’ll be pretty much close to heaven.
7/ Strolling rue des Martyrs
If you love street food markets, food in general (yes we do!) and want to get a feel of Paris, then I highly recommend strolling around rue des Martyrs. It’s a busy street but it’s such a visual experience. Boulangeries, boucheries, fromageries…You will fill the older purveyors of everything from pastry shops to gourmet cafés.
8/Talk the children to Les Jardins du Luxembourg
Once you’re done shopping, walking and the whole family starts being cranky, head to Les Jardins du Luxembourg. It’s a beautiful place with plenty of things to keep the kids entertained. There is an old-fashioned carousel and poney ride and you will love the Fermob garden chairs.
9/Go on top of the Eiffel tower
I won’t list all the obvious touristic things to do but seriously the Eiffel Tower is really one not to miss. I was planning to take Mila since last time we went it was snowy but the weather wasn’t great.
10/ Scour the flea market
When I lived in Paris after Uni, my best friend and I shared a small apartment next to the Puces of St Ouen (metro Clignancourt, from 9am to 6pm). Every Sunday, we used to stroll there to grab lunch and see if we could fill our little home with vintage treasure finds. Nowadays, the puces are really hip with new vintage shops drawing buzz from fashion fans and cool place to eat like Philippe Starck’s Ma Cocotte. If you’re arriving by métro, walk under the overpass and take the first left at the Rue de Rosiers to reach the center of the market.