Paris staycation

Last weekend my Italian and I took a staycation in Paris, crossing the river from rive droite’s trendy 3rd to rive gauche’s chic 7th arrondissement. Why not vacation in your own city? My home was one of Paris Perfect‘s luxurious apartments, and my neighbor was none other than Madame Eiffel herself. Right away I felt welcomed.

IMG_0434IMG_1659

Needless to say, I couldn’t stop staring at the iron lady. Whether I sat on the balcony, lay in bed, or sank into a warm bath, there she was. I daresay the Chambertin apartment has quite the view, not to mention charm.

IMG_0474

What I quickly learned is that Paris Perfect excels in hospitality and services. A few other guests and I took a traditional French cooking class at the glamorous Margaux apartment, learning to make gougère among other specialties, our meal ending with saffron cream and a lesson in champagne and wine pairing. Parfait!

IMG_0490IMG_0505IMG_0547

I was sorry to leave this new home, but alas, every holiday has to come to an end, even one in your own city.

36 Hours in Florence

Last week I had a meeting with bespoke travel company Bella Vita Travels at their home base on the Italian Riviera. Since it fell just before Valentine’s Day, my Italian and I decided to head to Florence for a quick stop. Having recently fallen back in love with Rome after over ten years, it was now Florence’s turn. With only 36 hours to spare, here are the highlights on where to sleep, eat, visit and shop. Feel free to follow in our footsteps!

GMPQ8960

SLEEP : Just steps away from the famous Ponte Vecchio, in the very heart of Florence sits Gallery Hotel Art, a modern boutique hotel, part of the four luxurious Lungarno Collection hotels by fashion icon Ferragamo.

IMG_0939

EAT : Italy is all about the food, isn’t it? Recommendations are always welcome as not to get stuck in a tourist trap. Luckily, we met local artist and friend Kevin Berlin, known in Firenze as Giovanni Rossi, who directed us to traditional Florentine spot Osteria del Porcellino. Delicious! A more gastronomic favorite was Il Santo Bevitore, a tip from local expat Georgette, aka Girl in Florence. She also pointed us towards new hotspot Gurdulù where we enjoyed an after dinner drink.

IMG_0821

DRINK : The aperitivo is taken very seriously in Italy, much like the apéritif in France. Thankfully, Giovanni knew just the spot next door to his home in Piazza della Signoria. Rivoire is the oldest bar in Florence, and almost where the negroni originated (that bar unfortunately no longer exists). If barman Luca is there ask him to mix you a Negroni while you peruse the book he wrote on this very cocktail. Incidentally, some of the best chocolate and sweets can also be found here!

IMG_0833

SEE : With little time and much to see, we made a plan. Having already been to the Uffizi years ago, we paid a quick visit to Florence’s Cathedral, also known as the Duomo with it’s majestic dome, and set out to explore the city. We passed by Dante’s home (photo above) and south of the river Arno to the Oltrarno neighborhood. One afternoon was spent at the Basilica di Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world, featuring sixteen chapels. Here is the final resting place of Italian greats including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Gentile and Rossini. The three cloisters too are worth a visit (photo below).

IMG_1006

SHOP : On my last visit to Florence I bought a leather jacket in one of the local leather markets. (I still wear it.) This time, I wasn’t looking for any souvenirs but did stumble upon the most beautiful perfumerie Aqua Flor, with scents unique to their shop. I couldn’t resist!

IMG_1079

After a last negroni we ran to catch our train, enroute to the riviera, while dreaming of the next visit to Florence.

 

PARIS PICKS : North Marais restos

I’m often asked by friends, fans and clients what my favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, etc are in the City of Lights. Thus I decided to begin a new series,  Paris Picks, where I’ll be highlighting my top five in food, fashion and beyond, beginning with restaurants in and around my North Marais neighborhood. Bon appétit!

Season

Season, one of my favorite new addresses in Paris comes from the team behind Cafe Crème and is located just across the street from this local haunt. With a daily 12 lunch special and an array of salads (including spinach & kale Ceasar), it’s the perfect place to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also serve fresh juices.

Season // 1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 // 01 42 71 52 97

For a night out at a beautiful venue featuring a small seasonal menu, there’s no place quite like Les Chouettes. Be sure to try one of their creative cocktails at their second floor bar. You can read more about it here.

Les Chouettes // 32 rue de Picardie 75003 // 01 44 61 73 21

Located directly across the street from the Picasso Museum, and with the loveliest dining view (ask for a second floor window seat), Glou is the perfect gourmet lunch or dinner stop while shopping in the neighborhood. I’m particularly a fan of their ever changing prix-fixe lunch menu at 17 or 21.

Glou // 101 Rue Vieille du Temple 75003 // 01 42 74 44 32

Modern French gastronomy can be savoured at Pramil, an intimate restaurant located in the ever expanding North Marais. Opened opened nine years ago by chef Alain Pramil (a charming man who makes sure your experience is a good one), he offers a prix-fixe dinner menu for 33€ and an extensive wine list.

Pramil // 9 rue Vertbois 75003 // 01 42 72 03 60

Just north of the Haut Marais sits Chameleon, a restaurant that my Italian and I discovered in its earliest days, which has quickly become a go-to spot. Its minimal decor a direct contrast to its complex taste combinations. I recommend the seasonal 35€ menu including entrée, plat & dessert.

Chameleon // 70 Rue René Boulanger 75010 // 01 42 08 99 41

Mont Saint-Michel

Last week I decided it was time to venture to Brittany. Having heard so much about the charming walled port city of Saint-Malo, I boarded the train headed west, and three hours later was welcomed by gray skies and sea. And so began my scenic sojourn in the land of crêpes, cider, oysters from neighboring Cancale, and rising tides.

IMG_9520

IMG_0040
IMG_0049

The historically independent Saint-Malo, known in the past for privateering (a privateer was often considered a pirate), is still referred to as “cité corsaire”. During World War II 80% of the city was destroyed and rebuilt between 1948-1960. With few tourists in sight, I was happy to explore this walled hideaway. But what I was most eager to discover was Mont Saint-Michel in nearby Normandy. As soon as the sun rose, that’s where I headed.

IMG_0058

At first sight of Mont Saint-Michel I was in complete awe. This wonder of the Western world truly takes your breath away. How did this Abbey come to be, perched atop a rock? At the request of the Archangel Michel, Aubert, Bishop of Avranches built and consecrated a small church on the 16th October 709. In 966 a community of Benedictines settled on the rock at the request of the Duke of Normandy and the pre-Romanesque church was built before the year one thousand. Here is more history and information about Mont Saint-Michel.

IMG_9957

Join me in this scenic journey as I climb up the steps leading to this UNESCO world heritage site.

IMG_9700

The views from the top are simply stunning! Where does sky end and sea begin?

IMG_9770IMG_9720IMG_9705IMG_9757

Not to mention what lies on the inside.

IMG_9789IMG_9852IMG_9861IMG_9867IMG_9907IMG_9914

I will certainly return, and next time stay the night. I hear it’s particularly stunning at sunset…

living a language

Place des Vosges

I decided not to make resolutions this year but I did make intentions. You can’t break intentions, can you? One of them is to improve my French. I’ve been living in Paris for over 6 years, and of course I speak the language. On a daily basis I speak French with my manufacturer, fabric suppliers, yoga teachers, travel industry professionals, friends… and even my Italian on occasion. I get by perfectly well. But I want to improve. My goal is to speak French with the fluency with which I speak Polish, a language I learned as a child. (Thanks Mom!) After mastering French I plan to conquer Italian, which I’ve already started speaking, finding it much easier to understand and learn, already knowing French. In my efforts to speak like a Parisian, I’ve discovered an online course that has been helping me more than the many methods I’ve tried in the past. (And I’ve tried many!) Here’s a little taste…

 

Learning a language should be fun, which is why Frantastique proves to be so successful. Each lesson is short, humorous, and personalized to the student’s level. To share my love of the French language with you, and to better prepare for your next trip to Paris, here’s a month free with Frantastique. I’ll be learning along with you, so feel free to let me know how you’re doing. Enjoy living a language & good luck, or should I say bonne chance!

co-working cafés

I know many of my readers, like myself, are entrepreneurs, or perhaps dream to be. To assist you in your journey while in Paris, I share my favorite co-working cafés in the city of lights. You can find this article online at Bonjour Paris, and read other features that I wrote about Paris, here. See you at a co-working café…

Anticafé Beaubourg 1

With a growing number of Parisiens and expatriates leaning towards the entrepreneurial life, it’s no wonder co-working spaces are on the rise in Paris. The first opened its doors in the Sentier in 2008 and has evolved into what is now Numa, a start-up acceleration co-working space. Le Loft, a former rope factory boasting 620m² of space, is a co-working incubator also located in what was once called Silicon Sentier. In recent years, over a dozen have followed suit, catered to a community of business-minded creatives who seek a space to work other than their often cramped quarters. As one such entrepreneur, I well understand the importance of an environment where productivity trumps distraction. An alternative to corner cafés, in the past favored by greats like Hemingway, these relaxed professional spaces provide the ideal environment for solo work or a business meeting, some even offering private conference rooms. Where better to create your office and connect with like-minds, than in a comfortable café offering unlimited wifi and café crèmes?

Nuage Cafe 1 (Photo-Romain Reglade Design-Cardinale & Rogeon Architects)

Here are a few of my favorites, where you can often find me designing or writing, thriving in the energy of fellow creatives. Did I mention they all excel in coffee?

Nuage Café

The latest to open in the Latin Quarter is Nuage Café, in recent years a church and once the high school of Cyrano de Bergerac. You might even find his desk in the eclectic workspace. Nuage, meaning cloud, is true to its name, a tranquil lofty duplex featuring various shared and private work environments. Books are strewn throughout the space, hidden even in the stairwell. In-house services include ordering a coffee via your laptop. By registering your seat online, a professional network is created among those sharing the space. A discreet way of connecting. Soon lunch will be offered so you never need to leave your cloud.

Photos: Romain Reglade / Design: Cardinale Rogeon Architects

14, rue des Carmes 75005
Monday-Friday 9am – 9pm / Saturday-Sunday 12 – 8pm
4€/hour, 16€/day
coffee by Coutume


CraftCraft 1

Steps away from Canal Saint-Martin sits Craft, a minimally designed and highly efficient space that has welcomed international clientele for over three years. The unique concept behind this co-working café is the even exchange of food and drink for work time. The 3€ per hour fee can be used for an assortment of local tastes including pastries, sandwiches, coffee and fresh juices, providing the ideal spot for a working lunch. With soft music and the sounds and smells of coffee grinding in the background, it’s easy to feel at home in this intimate space.

24 rue des Vinaigriers 75010
Monday-Saturday 9am – 7pm / Sunday 10am – 7pm
3€/hour
coffee by Lomi


AnticaféAnticafé Beaubourg 2

The creative energy of Anticafé is immediately felt upon stepping into this animated space; upbeat music streams through the air, ever-changing artwork fills the walls, board games line the shelves. The lower level reveals a cozy cave in which to hide away or conduct a meeting. Lunch is not offered but there’s plenty in the way of snacks and beverages, including freshly squeezed juices. The first to open in 2013 sits in the shadows of Centre Pompidou, and already two more locations have opened in Paris and one in Rome. Where next?

79 rue Quincampoix 75003
10 rue Richelieu 75001
59 rue Nationale Paris 75013
Monday-Friday 9am – 10:30pm / Saturday-Sunday 10am – 9:30pm
4€/hour
coffee by Caron


HubsyHubsy 3

Five months ago Hubsy joined the café co-working culture. Located across the street from Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement, it’s the perfect spot to work solo while enjoying street scenes and museum views. The lower level provides a private meeting room which can be booked in advance, or you can opt to lounge more casually in the upstairs balcony. Snacks are plentiful and the owners take great pride in their coffee, Pfaff having been awarded best French coffee roaster in 2014 by the French Coffee Committee.

41 Rue Réaumur, 75003
Monday-Thursday 9am – 10pm / Friday 9am – 8pm / Saturday-Sunday 11am – 8pm
5€/first hour, 4€/each additional hour, 20€/day
coffee by Pfaff

1 2 3 4 5 82