An Unusual Night at the Hotel Original, Bastille

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Whenever one of my London friends comes to visit me in Paris, we always try to make the most of the occasion and reserve something special… lunch at Le Fumoir, brunch in the Rue des Martyrs or even a weekend escape into the nearby Forest of Fontainebleau, these treats always make the weekend feel more like a mini vacation and it’s a great excuse to splash out a little!

Last weekend, my best friend came to stay for a long weekend and for the extra night we booked an unusual boutique hotel right near the Place de la Bastille. Let me just say that the Hotel Original is probably the weirdest hotel I’ve every stayed at! Everywhere you look, there’s something unusual staring back at you… jellyfish lamps, faux deer heads and neon butterflies; it’s definitely not your usual 4* hotel and it ended up being a really fun experience and definitely a more amusing type of accomodation for a short break in Paris.

The interior was entirely imagined by designer Stella Cadente, who has worked with numerous hotels as well as launching her own collection of clothing, accessories and fragrances. You’ll see even from the reception, the decor is something else and every room has its unique theme from quirky Alice in Wonderland decorations to a cosy Chalet feel!

Hotel Original, 8 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75011 – Metro: Bastille

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The Legendary Shakespeare & Co, Paris

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Sometimes, every now and then, you come across a place which touches you in some way. It can be anything, an interesting building or a curious little coffee shop… For me, one of these special places is Shakespeare & Co, the dusty second-hand bookshop along the banks of la Seine in Paris.

It’s small, and the books have seen better days, but it’s enchanting; you feel like Alice in Wonderland. The history of this little bookshop transports you and it’s hard not to be swept up in its stories…

Founded in August 1951 by the late George Whitman, the shop is set in the very heart of the French capital on the Left Bank opposite Notre-Dame (another location of magic and mystery). George had spent several years travelling in South America where he was moved by the hospitality of locals who would feed and accommodate him willingly. From this moment he decided he too would create a sanctuary for writers, artists and aspiring talent in the form of a bookshop. Inviting guests into his home, over 50,000 heads have slept on the pillows at Shakespeare and Company many sharing tea and pancakes with George such as Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Allen Ginsberg.

The best thing about this little bookshop full of tales and talent are the stories you can find directly on the bookshelves. It’s not impossible to be leafing through a James Baldwin only to discover the author has signed it to the bookshop! Today the bookshop is home to an array of events such as poetry readings, concerts, lectures and bilingual readings; you can find out more on their website but more importantly in the shop itself.

So the next time you’re passing through the City of Love, take a moment to unglue your eyes from the stunning Cathédrale Notre-Dame and look to the other side of the river, to a smaller sight with a less impressive façade but just as much mystery and delight to be found inside its walls…

Shakespeare & Co, 37 rue de la Bûcherie 75005 (Metro Saint-Michel)

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Christmas at Disneyland Paris

Disney 6Disney 4Disney 3Disney 1Disney 19If there’s one place you can rely on for the full Christmas atmosphere, it’s Disneyland in Paris! Fake snow, toys, gifts, sugar highs and smiling faces everywhere you look, it really doesn’t get more Christmassy than this and it was the perfect Sunday destination for two big kids this weekend!

Giddy boyfriend in tow, I couldn’t wait to shut out the real world for 12 hours of pure fantasy and cartoon-character-filled-joy which began the very minute we stepped into the first park, Universal Studios, which I had never visited before. Here the Christmas theme was subtle but present in tree-shaped decorations and candy canes hanging in all the boutiques and stalls around the park. We began with a visit to the brand new Ratatouille attraction which is incredible! If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to be shrunk down to the size of a mouse (ok, rat!) then trust me this is the closest you’ll ever get to finding out… 3D videos screens, giant-sized decors, drastic changes in temperature and a cosy rat-mobile will have you whizzing around Gustau’s restaurant, feeling like you’re pretty lucky to have made it out alive!

Inspired by the morning’s rat-adventures, I decided to brave my fear of rollercoasters and took a ride on Crush’s Coaster (terrifying!) followed by an even more daring venture onto the Rock’n’Roller Coaster with Aerosmith (absolutely flipping terrifying!)… I don’t know whether it was my love of Aerosmith music or the relief at still being alive after such an experience but I was in a mad laughing fit as the ride came to an end, though not in any way tempted to go through it a second time!

The rest of the day was spent in the main Disneyland park, wandering from the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse to Aladin’s cave stopping for a quick spin at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party! The Christmas decorations were spectacular in the Main Street with foam snow falling from the beautifully lit boutiques and cafes, so tempting that we left with two bags of Christmas goodies (tree decorations, gifts and candy canes)!

Christmas runs until January 7th at Disneyland Paris so if you’re looking for a fun day trip or weekend getaway, check out the website and head back to your childhood!

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Lunch at Le Fumoir

Le FumoirLunch at Le Fumoir has been on my to-do list ever since I arrived in Paris. Two years ago. With a reputation whispered amongst those in the know, the hipster-style, vintage-themed restaurant has become the stylish place to hang out in Paris for light snacks, work socials and Sunday brunch.

Despite it’s location right opposite the Musée du Louvre near the Rue de Rivoli, Le Fumoir has managed to avoid the tourist tag and is a definite favourite amongst the Parisian locals!

Fun, jazzy and as-laid-back-as-Paris-gets, Le Fumoir has the perfect balance of being cool and elegant without the ridiculous prices and pretentious ambiance that usually goes hand in hand with this kind of establishment. Discussing a client meeting with a colleague, it was easy to chat amongst the light music and animated chatter in the background and we both opted for sandwiches from the light snacks menu. Obviously with fresh lobster sandwich on the menu it was impossible to see anything else but I was still tempted by my colleague’s tartine of goat’s cheese, aubergines and sun-dried tomatoes! Definitely a place to bring the boyfriend so you can share dishes.

Le Fumoir, 6 Rue de L’Amiral Coligny, 75001, Paris  (Metro: Louvre-Rivoli)

Le FumoirLe FumoirLe FumoirIl y’a déjà deux ans que je suis arrivée à Paris et même si depuis mon arrivée on me parle du fameux restaurant Le Fumoir à Louvre-Rivoli, je n’avais jamais encore eu l’opportunité de le tester.  C’est donc avec grand plaisir que j’ai accepté un rendez-vous avec ma collègue (il faut dire que jamais je n’ai été aussi enthousiaste pour une réunion de travail).

Alors, que pourrais-je vous dire de ce magnifique restaurant, dans un super cadre juste en face du Musée du Louvre ? Je l’adore ce restaurant. Menu gourmand, musique discrète et sophistiquée, même les boissons sans alcool sont un régale (vous voyez, le cliché de la petite anglaise bourrée n’est pas toujours juste) !

Malgré son emplacement au cœur du 1er arrondissement de Paris, Le Fumoir a quand même réussi à éviter l’étiquette du lieu touristique car s’il y’a une chose que j’ai appris ici a Paris c’est qu’un vrai Parisien évite a tout prix les endroits rempli de touristes.

Chic et décontracté, Le Fumoir a trouver l’équilibre parfait entre élégance et prix abordables sans l’ambiance prétentieuse que l’on trouve souvent dans des restaurants similaires. Et pour le menu ? Je peux vous dire que mes yeux ont tout de suite flashé sur le sandwich homard et je n’étais pas du tout déçu en voyant mon plat arrivé… même si la tartine fromage de chèvre, aubergine et tomates séchées de ma collègue me paraissait super appétissant.  Notez bien cette adresse pour un repas en amoureux, l’occasion idéale pour partager les plats.

Le Fumoir , 6 rue de l’ Amiral Coligny , 75001 , Paris ( Métro: Louvre – Rivoli )

Interview with Alain Rondini, Les Sandales Tropeziennes

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They used to say ‘see Naples and die’, but I say it of Saint Tropez.  This little gem of a village, discovered by Brigitte Bardot, is synonymous with the luxurious lifestyle of the rich and famous; impressive yachts rival one another along the quays lined with top designer boutiques and fashionable cocktail bars where you can watch and be watched.  Madonna, Tom Cruise, Karl Lagerfeld, … For some, it is all they will see, and they’ll be perfectly happy. But step away from this dazzling façade, into the heart of a charming fishing village and you’ll be rewarded with one of its best kept secrets: L’Atelier Rondini.

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