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24 hours in Marseille

August 18, 2018
Marseille, Provence

Marseille has a reputation for being a little gritty, a little unsafe, a little unrefined, a little brutalist.  Not worth going to according to many, especially compared to some of the more attractive neighbouring cities and towns, like Aix en Provence, Montpelier and Nice.  And yet France’s second largest city has always intrigued me, perhaps since it came on my radar when it surprisingly became the European City of Culture in 2013.  Or perhaps even as early as 2012, when I read Mama Shelter had opened there.

So when an opportunity to arose to spend 24 hours here (it was actually a little less), I jumped at it.  And came away so grateful I did.  Marseille is without a doubt one of the coolest cities I’ve visited in a long time, with each of its districts so utterly contrasting you practically feel like you’re in a different city.  It has it all: art and culture (with contemporary art leading the way), a diverse mixture of architecture, a bustling, revived port, fabulous shopping and interesting restaurants.  It has heaps of atmosphere, life and soul.


Here are my top recommendations for a (very worthwhile) weekend in Marseille:


Mama Shelter

64 Rue de la Loubière, 13006 Marseille

Philip Starck designed, modern, quirky, fun.  At worst (and perhaps unfairly) it could be described as a five star hostel – not that there are any shared dorms or bathrooms – but more for the brilliant communal areas, designed for people to mix and meet and have fun.  The guests are impossibly trendy, young couples mostly.  On the weekend DJs play, there is great bar, a 4 metre long table football game, affordable drinks, an apparently incredible Sunday Brunch.  The staff are all smiles and so welcoming you start to question whether you’re in France.  The rooms vary in size (and price) but even our room (the Snug, the smallest) was immaculate, functional, comfortable but still felt like a treat.  Starck quirks like Sylvester and Batman masks hang from the wall; fun is encouraged at all times.  The price point feels impossibly low, I paid 80 euros for a night (without breakfast).  5/5

Mama Shelter, MarseilleMama Shelter, Marseille

Other recommended hotels (in order of cost) are Alex Hotel, C2 and the InterContinental (if you want something a little grander).


There is so much to see and do that we couldn’t fit it all in given the time we had. Must the must-dos are:

  • Mucem – the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Extraordinary not just because of it’s incredible architecture – unusual, eye-catching, photogenic – but also because of the exhibitions it has (when we were there Ai Wei Wei was exhibiting).  But even if art isn’t your thing, make sure you walk through the museum and up to the top floor, from which you can access the fantastic roof terrace* (with brilliant views of the Cathedral and the port) and from there a metal bridge which links you directly with Le Fort Saint Jeanand the Old Port.

Mucem, Marseille

  • Marseille Cathedral – this beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral is a must visit, even if just from the outside.  Its black and white facade remind me a little of that of the cathedral in Orvieto, Italy, or even Siena.  It’s striking and stands out against the port, contrasting wonderfully with the Mucem in front of it.

Marseille Cathedral

  • The Old Port – Central to the city and completely restored in 2013, with the Notre Dame Cathedral overlooking high on a hill, this does truly feel like the heart of Marseille. From the fish market in the morning until the buskers in the evening, there is always something going on, always something to catch your eye, something to stir the imagination.

The Old Port, MarseilleThe Old Port, MarseilleThe Old Port, Marseille

  • Le Panier – Meaning ‘the basket’, this beautiful colourful ‘quarter’ is the oldest – and my favourite – part of Marseille.  It feels like you’re in a little village rather than a large city, with steep narrow twisting alleys, coloured shop fronts and sun drenched courtyards.  Yes, it’s a little touristy at parts, but that does not take away from the fact that it’s brilliant for shopping and small cafes, and for soaking up Marseille’s diverse cultural heritage.

Le Panier, MarseilleLe Panier, Marseille

  • Cours Julien and surroundings – If you stay at Mama Shelter, you’ll walk straight through the Cours Julien to the Old Port.  But even if you’re staying elsewhere, make sure you visit this bohemian quarter, teeming with life and dance and street art.  Known now as one of Marseille’s hippest areas with a mixture of designer boutiques, artist workshops and graffiti works of art, it’s brilliant fun to walk through and gives you a real taste of the city.

Cours Julien, Marseille

  • Le Fort Saint Jean – Best accessed as per the above. I loved the contrast of the old with the new of the Mucem right next door to Marseille’s fort, which was built in 1660 by Louis XIV.  The walk through the fort takes you through the history of Marseille (which is extensive) in a wonderful way.


Turns out the food in Marseille is rather good too.  While known for its traditional bouillabaise (which we never figured out how to pronounce), the food varies hugely depending on where you are in the city, with a good mix of French, North African and Sub-Saharan African food.  For brunch/lunch in and around the Old Port, either opt for Le Mole Cafe du Fort (more affordable) or Le Mole Passedat* (on the roof terrace of Mucem) run by famous French Michelin chef Gerard Passedat (see his restaurant options here).  For something more casual Victor Cafe and Le Petit Boucan are meant to be fun.  Close to Mama Shelter Coogee is meant to be great (especially for coffee) but it was shut for the summer when we were there, and  Le Fantastique looks wonderful too, with a lovely terrace.  If you’re looking for a coffee on the go, then grab one at Loustic.

For dinner you have tonnes of options, especially around the Port.  We had a romantic dinner at Cafe des Espices, slightly set back from the Port but on a fairy-light lit square surrounded by huge pots of olive trees.  The food and service were impeccable, and they served our favourite Chateau la Coste Rosé.  Other recommended restaurants in that area are Chez Fonfon (which specialises in bouillabaise), Chez Madie les Galinette.  A little further away but still on the sea front is Le Peron, which comes highly recommended.

Cafe des Espices, MarseilleLe Mole Passedat, Marseille


I’m usually more of an online shopper than a window shopper – apart from the odd Zara/Mango splurge.  Marseille however, offers such fantastic shopping that even I couldn’t resist.  And I’m not just talking some of my favourite French brands like Maje, Sandro,  Claudie Pierot and Cottoniers des Comptoir, I highly recommend visiting the following concept/vintage/homeware/antique shops(and packing an extra suitcase):

  • Bazar du Panier – Who can resist a shopfront like this?  To be honest I loved all the little boutiques on the Rue du Panier, selling cotton dresses, tasseled pillows, straw bags and hats and colourful scarves.
  • Chez Lucas – Brilliant antique shop.  Was obsessed with a 1940s print of ‘Nationale Cigarette’ from the French Indochine days, but it was simply too huge to take with me.
  • Rita – A true concept store, with beautiful homeware, pretty clothes and a little coffee shop too.
  • La Maison Marseillaise – The ultimate homeware design boutique.
  • Bazardeluxe – Quite wanted to buy everything in this shop and ship it home with me.  I don’t recommend coming here at the start of your holiday with limited luggage space. I ended up buying six glasses (half price) for a bargain 16 euros, totally worth shlepping around the Provence for a week.
  • Allan Joseph – This shop was beautiful to walk through but equally painful when looking at the prices.  Stunning clothes, interiors and smell, but with the price point you’d expect from a shop selling Isabel Marant (i.e out of my budget).

Amsterdam, Blog, France, Italy, London, Marrakech, Paris, UK - Outside London

My favourite restaurants of 2017

December 29, 2017
Le Dali, Le Meurice, Paris

This year blogging has taken a bit of a backseat as I’ve had to prioritise other things.  But below is a summary of all the restaurants I loved this year, from London to Stockholm to Marrakech:


Neo Bistro ££

One of my top 2017 favourites is this slightly under the radar bistro, set up by the ex-Harwood Arms chef and the owner of Anglo. Ignore its slightly dodgy location right by Oxford Street as this cosy restaurant offers a fantastic tasting menu at great value: six courses for £45.

Neo Bistro, London

Serge et le Phoque, The Mandrake Hotel ££

Well this certainly was a bit of a showstopper.  Not just the restaurant, but the Mandrake Hotel itself.  It’s certainly ‘out there’ in terms of decor and design; fun, over the top and daring.  The restaurant is more toned down, with a real focus on the food.  Which is very good.  Also, the bathrooms are very cool.

Serge et le Phoque, Mandrake Hotel, London

Magpie £

Magpie is the new restaurant by the guys who opened the very popular (Michelin star) Pidgin in Hackney.  Its very central location on Heddon Street means no excuses not to go, and 100% worth it.  Fun vibes, with trolleys of small plates zipping by, ensuring you can try the full range of their delicious dishes.   The tartare in particular was excellent.

Magpie, London

CUT at 45 Park Lane £££

An oldie but a goodie.  You can’t go wrong with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, but it’s been an age since I’ve had meat as good as it was here.  The perfect place for a spoiling dinner.

Wishlist: Southam Street, Clove Club, Lyle’s (yes, I know I’ve very behind)



The Mash Inn, Buckinghamshire 

It’s only been open for a year or so but it’s gone from strength to strength.  This pub with rooms, less than a 30 minute train ride from Marylebone, is ideal for a quick London getaway.  Especially for foodies, their 9 course tasting menu (£65) is phenomenal.  And the homemade breakfast in bed is the best wake up ever.

The Mash Inn

The Bull Inn, Cotswolds

One of my favourite countryside getaways this year was at the adorable and beyond cosy Bull Inn, a beautiful pub with rooms in the charming village of Charlbury.  Every room is carefully designed with a lovely use of colour and different wallpaper, and it was close to impossible leaving their cosy fireplace.  Their restaurant offers well priced, hearty British dishes and the staff are wonderful.

The Bull Inn, Charlbury



Piano Strada, Rome

A new favourite in a city which keeps on giving.  This restaurant, run by four blondes, ticks all the boxes. Great location, cool interiors, excellent food.  We’ve booked to return in January.

Piana Strade, Rome

Apollinare, Spoleto 

Should you find yourself in this quiet but very pretty Umbrian town, make sure you have lunch at this brilliant restaurant.  It was the first lunch we had of our holiday, but safe to say also the best.  Book a table on their terrace and eat pasta to your hearts content.

Apollinare, Spoleto



Oaxen Slip

Our favourite restaurant in the city with a lot of good restaurants.  Charming service, lovely setting, and excellent food. Obviously go for the fish dishes, you are in Sweden after all.

Oaxen Slip, Stockholm

Rosendals Tradgard

The only place for a picnic lunch in Stockholm’s summer months.  No prettier place to be than in Rosendal Park, eating the cafe’s delicious sandwiches and cafes. Affordable too (for Stockholm).

Rosendals Tradgard, Stockholm

More recommendations for Stockholm can be found here.



La Famille

Like stepping into an oasis of calm and green, in the middle of Marrakech’s hectic medina.  If you need a break from tagines then La Famille is the answer, offering incredible salads and pastas and cakes in a beautiful, bohemian setting.

Le Famille, Marrakech

Wishlist: La Table du Marche

More tips for Morocco can be found here.



Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

The most sparkly, beautiful breakfast imaginable.  I can only imagine what dinner is like here.

Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

Le Dali at Le Meurice

There are few more eye catching restaurants than Le Dali, in one of the most iconic hotels in Paris.  And *those* deserts! Not to be missed.

Le Dali, Le Meurice

Wishlist: Carbon, Balagan




Located in up and coming East Amsterdam in the iconic Entrepot dock, this brand new restaurant is not only beautiful to look at, but the food is good too.  And not your standard fare either, often seasonal products are used, mostly cooked on an open fire.  I love the service here, who greet you with a handshake and were exceptionally friendly and helpful all evening.

Entrepot, Amsterdam


Despite its odd location, just outside the city along a motorway, Restaurant Bureau is a unique restaurant with an incredible rooftop terrace and a well priced menu.  It’s not the place for first time Amsterdam visitors, but if you know the city well, this is the ideal place to try something different.

Bureau, Amsterdam

For more Amsterdam tips, click here.

Wishlist: Choux, Marius, Vinkeles (at the Dylan)



The Japanese Restaurant, the Chedi

The most romantic setting for dinner, sitting at the candlelit Long Pool of this beautiful Muscat hotel.  Phenomenal Japanese food.  More tips on Oman can be found here.

The Chedi, Muscat



The Palmenhaus

The Palmenhaus has been around for years, and I still remembered it from my time of living in Vienna almost 20 years ago.  It’s a beautiful, airy, old tropical house, perfect for a coffee and an excellent cake, or for lunch or dinner, overlooking the Burggarten.  A special place.

Palmenhaus, Vienna

More recommendations for Vienna can be found here.

Blog, France, Paris

Brunch in the Marais, Paris

October 16, 2016
Brunch Marais Paris

The Marais is an area in Paris which you must visit when there.  The best time to go is undoubtedly Sunday, when much of Paris is closed but when the Marais comes fully to life.  Do not be stupid like me and think you’ll spontaneously find a nice brunch place here.  You might find many great looking places, but they won’t have a free table for you.  You really need to book for Sunday brunch.

Starting in the northern Marais, the more residential, local part of the area – there are plenty of wonderful places for brunch. Healthy hotspot Season (for other healthy options check out this post) has a terrace in the sun, as do a number of other lovely looking places on Rue Charles-Francois Dupuis.

brunch marais paris

Cafe Pinson and La Petite Table are both small but come very highly recommended.  There are always queues so, if booking is possible, book!  If you want to just grab a coffee on the go, I’m told that Ob-la-Di (so tiny it’s almost like a hole in the wall) makes the best coffee.

La Petite Table, ParisCafe Pinson, Paris

Walk south down Rue de Turenne, which for 5 minutes or so is a bit of a brunch waste-land.   Soon you’ll notice more people (tourists!) and more restaurants, more bars and more shops.  This is the heart of the Marais, around Place du Voges (a must-visit) and Rue Vieille du Temple.  It is a shoppers paradise, with plenty of vintage shops, as well as all your favourite French brands (Maje, Sandro, Claudie Peirlot, Cottonniers des Comptoir).

Place du voges paris

The most popular place by far seems to be Benedict.  I’ve never seen queues like it (not even in London).  They (apparently, I obviously wasn’t going to wait) serve an excellent French/American brunch.  I guess it’s popular for a reason!

Benedict, Paris

Les Philosophes is brilliantly located on Rue Vieille du Temple, with a fairly large terrace and thus ideal for people watching.  This is a bit of an institution, the food is as French as it gets (if slightly unrefined) and the prices reasonable (they rip you off though on the bottled water – 5 euros, opt for a carafe instead). The waiters are either friendly and upbeat, or over-worked and stressy (in which case you just can’t take it personally).

Les Philosophes, Paris

For something slightly more upmarket and quieter, try Jaja.  It’s set back from the Rue Saint-Crois de Bretonnerie, with a lovely courtyard and a small, more exclusive menu (more lunch than brunch).  Opposite, you will find the charming Au rendez vous des amis, which you again must book – it serves traditional French food and the staff are charming.  I was gutted not to be able to get a table here as it looked heavenly.

On the way to St Paul Metro station you must stop by Maison Georges Larnicol, for the best chocolate in town (and good as a snack on the Eurostar home).  You won’t regret it.

Maison Georges Larnicol, Paris

In short, there are plenty of options for an excellent brunch in the Marais, but just save yourself a lot of hassle, and book before you go!

NB I have not eaten at all the above recommendations.

Blog, France, Paris

Healthy Paris

October 16, 2016

Paris, like the rest of all European cities, seems to have jumped on the health bandwagon too.  While croissants, hot chocolate and macaroons are still definitely the top things to consume while in the city, if you need a break from all the butter then the following are some excellent healthy alternatives (without compromising on quality):

SEASON – the Marais

The northern Marais is wonderful, especially on a Sunday morning.  And walking from Temple Metro to Season, through this lovely, vibrant neighbourhood, there are multiple brunch places I wanted to check out. If you want to explore the Marais it’s a good way to do it, starting north and ending south near Place du Voges.  Yes, you’re going from more local and residential to fairly touristy, but it’s also fun to compare.  Anyway, Season is a lovely little cafe, perfect for a healthy breakfast in the sun (their Acai Bowl and Maca cakes look incredible).  They have a small terrace and it’s quiet.  They serve ‘Juice it’ juices (see below for further info) which are 6 euros and they have a whole fridge full (good for a takeaway).

Season, ParisSeason, paris


JUICE LAB – Saint-Germain des Pres, Pigalle & the Marais

Wow, this is as slick (and minimalist) as it gets.  There are three of these trendy juice bars in Paris, one in Pigalle (very close to Le Pantruche, which is meant to be great for lunch), one in the heart of the Marais, right by the stunning Place du Voges and the other in gorgeous Saint-Germain des Pres (below).  If you need a solid vitamin intake, this place has whatever juice concoction you might wish for.

Juice Lab, Paris


WILD & THE MOON – the Marais

This might have been my favourite healthy cafe.  While some of these places can be a bit smug, Wild & the Moon is very welcoming, with beautiful interiors.  Their main focus is on vegetables, super foods, and organic, seasonal food.  And they love to serve their food ‘cold-pressed, raw, intact, and prepared with love’.  This is clear.  Their ’boutique cafe’ in the northern Marais is an ideal place for brunch (though it does get busy on the weekends of course).  They also have a ‘Wild lab’ in Pigalle.

Wild & the moon, Paris


JUICE IT – Louvre/Palais Royale

This more relaxed juice bar is the perfect place to head to for a juice on the go in the cultural heart of Paris.  If you’ve tired of the Louvre or shopping on the Rue Saint Honore (or in nearby uber trendy concept store Colette), grab an excellent juice here and head to the Tuileries Gardens for a stroll.  Perfect!  They also stock their juices at other healthy cafes (like Season). 

Juice it, Paris



Blog, France, Paris

Alcazar, Paris – EAT

October 10, 2016

Saint Germain de pres is one of my favourite areas in Paris.  Ever since my grandmother first took me to Paris, and we stayed there in a beautiful pied a terre, I’ve been enchanted by the area.

And so it only seemed natural to return, this time for lunch.  I’d heard via via about the Alcazar, had seen on Instagram quite how pretty it looked, and heard about its ‘epic’ brunches.  We were not going for brunch, but Saturday lunch, and we arrived having walked through the city for a solid 3 hours that morning.

Alcazar, Paris

Arriving at a beautiful restaurant, with a mouth-watering menu, and being hungry, is one of my favourite things.  The minute a basket of ridiculously good bread was placed on the table I nearly inhaled the lot.  Which was a mistake as I still had lunch to eat.  They do a great lunch deal: two courses for EUR28, which is perfect.

Alcazar, Paris

To start Gene opted for the terrine and fois gras which was heavy (as predicted) but melt in the mouth.  I had wanted to go for the burrata, but it was finished, so I tried the ceviche.  It wasn’t particularly French, I know, but it was very well done.  For mains Gene tried the duckling, with butternut squash puree and baked figs.  The duck came a little too pink, but they whisked it away without a problem and returned it perfectly cooked.  I went for salmon tataki (again, not very French!) which was the perfect light main course (though a huge portion).

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

Apart from the food itself, the restaurant’s interiors need a little praise.  Visually it is stunning; it may be one of the most instagrammable restaurants in Paris  I love being surrounded by plants, and here it feels almost like you’re eating in a greenhouse.  But with elegant marble tables, and an extraordinary light installation.  It has two levels, the ‘balcon’ has a very cool bar and you get great views of the restaurant below.  Plus the staff are very friendly and helpful, which I still find a bit of a rarity in Paris.

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

We were too full to even consider pudding, and decided to walk to the newly renovated Les Halles for a coffee at the very cool Champeaux instead.  But seriously, if you’re in Paris, make sure you reserve time (and appetite) for St Germain, you won’t regret it.

NB If you come here for dinner and looking for a place for post dinner cocktails, head to the nearby Prescription Cocktail Club.


62 Rue Mazarine,

75006 Paris


Blog, Bordeaux, France

Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux

August 15, 2015

Saint-Emilion sits proudly on a hill, surrounded by never-ending vineyards and chateaux.  This blonde stoned beauty is possibly Bordeaux’s most famous town, and we found while the surrounding countryside was largely devoid of people and cars, it seemed Saint-Emilion was where everyone was concentrated.  Yes, it is touristy, full, noisy – but perhaps only really in and around the main square. And the car parks. If you wander off down a cobbled side street, or climb some stairs up the hill suddenly you find yourself alone.  And you can observe this beautiful town in peace and quiet.


Saint-Emilion is prime wine country, so you can expect a huge amount of wine shops. On every street, round every turn, there will be a wine shop. Or somewhere to do wine tasting.  So that’s definitely something you should do. Whether you are buying or drinking, there is a huge amount of choice – from the Grand Crus to the Grand Cru Classé.  Other than that wander up to the watch tower for sublime views of the town and its surroundings. Or take a look at some of its simple but charming churches.



Hostellerie de la Plaisance is Saint-Emilion’s Relais & Chateaux hotel. The place to stay (rooms from about £300) but it also hides the most stunning terrace with heavenly views.  While very centrally located, just above the main square next to the church, it feels worlds apart from the heaving square below. If you can afford it, have lunch here. If not, have a ‘café au lait’ (or a glass of wine) and enjoy the views in relative peace. The service, coffee and complimentary chocolate biscuits are phenomenal.

Hostellerie de la Plaisance, St EmilionHostellerie de la Plaisance, St Emilion

As the town is so touristy, avoid most of the restaurants close to the square. Prices are high and the food tends to be OK (this is France after all), but you can certainly do better.  Instead, wander a little further to Les Delices de Roy. It’s quieter here and the food (and prices) is good.  But if you really want a bargain, and something a little more authentic, drive 9 minutes down the road to the river side town of Branne. While the town itself is nothing special, Cafe de Cuisine is worth the journey. You’re not really here for the setting – views from its shaded terrace are of a metal bridge over the Dordogne river and a road – but the food is simple and delicious.  Classic French food, and 17 Euros for a three course menu scrawled on a blackboard. The service is brisk but friendly and we noticed lots of French here too.  We had a chicken pate to start, followed by a light and zesty cod and cold cauliflower salad. The puddings may have been the best of all – my chocolate gateaux was everything you’d expect from a French pudding, and Rob’s lime panacotta with red fruit couli was delicious.  Add a glass of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru for 5 Euros and you’re sorted.

Cafe Cuisine, BranneCafe Cuisine, BranneCafe Cuisine, Branne

Otherwise L’Atelier de Candale at Chateau de Candale (2km from Saint-Emilion) is also meant to be delicious, and very peaceful.  They have a lunch menu for €15.

For more tips of the Bordeaux region, check out A weekend in the Medoc.

All photos mine, mostly from my Instagram.

Blog, Bordeaux, France

A weekend in the Medoc, Bordeaux

August 14, 2015

Known to produce some of the finest wines in the world, the wine region of the Medoc in Bordeaux is one top vineyard and stately chateau after another.  It is here where you’ll find some of the world’s most prestiges wine villages, such as Pauillac, Margaux and Saint-Julien.  The chateaux we past – such as Chateau Lafitte and Latour – produce some of the most expensive wines in the world.

This is the perfect place for a wine-filled weekend break.  Combine a day of sightseeing in the city of Bordeaux (blog to follow soon), with a couple of days in the peaceful green Medoc countryside.  Less than an hour north from Bordeaux airport, I was taken aback by how many beautiful chateaux and vineyard we drove past.  Flights to Bordeaux are affordable if booked in advance (our BA flights booked in February were £100) and there are numerous chateaux you can stay at, as well as plenty of fantastic restaurants to try.   A wine and foodie heaven.


CHATEAU ORMES DE PEZ, in the hamlet of Pez, is a complete delight.   It is a little quiet haven; grand and beautiful while homely and warm at the same time. Owned by the Cazes family, who also own the Relais & Chateaux Cordeillan Bages and one of Bordeaux’s top vineyards Lynch Bages, this idyllic five bedroom chateau truly represents what the French do so well.

Ormes de Pez, BordeauxOrmes de Pez, BordeauxBeautiful, intricate wall paper cover the well-sized bedrooms, the beds – all white crisp sheets and marshmallow duvets – ensure you have the best sleep, large French windows let in plenty of light and allow views of the local vineyard and the garden. Charming Gilles – the concierge/chef/general manager all in one, is welcoming and helpful – recommending where to eat in the area and booking wine tasting for us. During the afternoon he conjures up amazing cakes in the kitchen, smells of which waft through the chateau.

Ormes de Pez, BordeauxOrmes de Pez, BordeauxThe hotel’s black and white bushy tailed cat is constantly doing the rounds – enjoying human contact enough to follow us around, even joining us for breakfast, but making it quite clear he is not there to be cuddled or picked up.  The garden is huge, with pear trees and romantic benches scattered around. The pool is tucked away in a sunny corner behind a hedge, where we relax in the sun and read our books.  Breakfast is served until 11, with fresh breads and croissants, Giles’ cakes and buttery scrambled eggs.  Grab a table outside on the terrace and have the most languid breakfast in the cool morning sun.  This is a place to forget your busy life and just enjoy the best of France.  Rooms from £90 per night.

Ormes de Pez, Bordeaux

Ormes de Pez, BordeauxOrmes de Pez, Bordeaux


Grab one of the bikes at Ormes de Pez and cycle from vineyard to vineyard (the countryside is relatively flat), admiring the 17th and 18th Century chateaux as you wiz by.  A stay at either Ormes de Pez or Cordeillan Bages allows you a complimentary visit to the Lynch Bages vineyard, with wine tasting of course. Definitely take them up on that offer, our guide was theatrical and extremely knowledgeable and tasting the Lynch Bages wine (the 2007 in our case) is not something quickly forgotten.  The village of Bages is also very picturesque.  Or for those super fit and active, there is the Medoc Marathon through the vineyards – a stunning region to run those 26.5 miles!

Lynch Bages



Ormes de Pez is just a B&B so venture out to the riverside town of Pauillac for lunch or dinner.  If you want something super close, the Chateau Pomys offers dinner on their terrace. The food is very French, the portions large and opt for their three course menu for 30 Euros. The food is far from Michelin starred but their chocolate gateaux was absolutely delicious.  Or, for better food, drive a little further to the village of St Julien, for simple but excellent home cooking at Chez Meme.

Chateau Pomys, Bordeaux


Chez Meme, St Julien


For a real blow out meal, the two Michelin star Cordeillan Bages is where you have to be.  Possibly the most refined and wonderful lunch I have ever had.  A blog about this hotel & restaurant will follow.

Chateau Bordeillan-Bages, Bordeaux

Cordeillan-Bages, Bordeaux

France, Paris

Shakespeare & Company, Paris – SHOP

June 21, 2015
Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company is the cutest bookshop you will ever come across.   Right opposite the Notre Dame, on the river Seine, you will find this small, higgledy piggledy book shop, first opened in 1919.  It’s friendly and welcoming. I love the fact that the staff there put their own reviews on their favourite books.  Sadly it has become a victim of its own success – it was so overcrowded when we went that I struggled to walk around.  This may have been because it was a Saturday afternoon but I think also simply because it is so famous and everyone wants to have a  look.  They also do a few cool literary events in the shop every month.

Shakespeare & Company

37 Rue de la Bucherie

France, Paris

Raffles Le Royal Monceau, Paris – EAT

June 21, 2015

Such a cool, eccentric hotel!  Interior designer and architect Philip Starck has cleverly thought out the ‘look’ behind this arty hotel.  Its quirky and fun and bordering on slightly surreal, it still retains the highest standard of luxury.  Some may think it a bit OTT – and it’s certainly not for those who want a traditional Parisian hotel – but I loved it.  The bathrooms are covered with so many mirrors you don’t know where to look.  Starck’s signature chandeliers hang everywhere.

le royal monceau

The best bit was their main restaurant and bar, with mismatched colourful glasses all bought at a flea market, huge pieces of art of the walls and wonderful waiters.  For normal people who can’t afford to stay here (sadly), come here for their weekend brunch instead.  The buffet offers everything you want.  The puddings are all made by Pierre Herme.  It will be a treat as it doesn’t come cheap, but utterly worth it.


Raffles Le Royal Monceau

37 Avenue Hoche

France, Paris

L’Ange 20, Paris – EAT

June 21, 2015

L’Ange 20 is a charming French Bistro.  I found it by googling ‘Paris Bistros’ and was curious because of its exceptionally high rating on Tripadvisor (I think number 7 of all the restaurants in Paris).  None of the reviews had a bad word to say.  And it was very reasonably priced – 2 courses for €22, 3 courses for €28.  Situated right by the Pompidou centre (not my favourite building but always quite fun to see) in a small, quiet side street, but surrounded by a few other tempting looking restaurants, Le Ange 20 is a very welcoming place.

It is TINY, with an open kitchen and as many tables squashed in as possible. The waiter was charming, spoke perfect English and was very attentive.  The food was a bit more refined than A la Biche au Bois (another recommended Paris Bistro), I had gambas with guacamole and salad to start and slow-cooked lamb with fresh veg and pumpkin puree to follow.  I skipped pudding.  The only bad thing was the other guests.  All decidedly not French.  We had a Russian family next to us who unapologetically spilt wine all over us. And a lot of Americans.  I was obviously not the only one who read Trip Adviser.  Still, I would recommend it.  Book at least a week ahead.

L’Ange 20

6 Rue Geoffroy l’Angevin, 75004 Paris, France
+33 1 40 27 93 67

France, Paris

Cafe Flore, Paris – DRINK

June 21, 2015

Cafe Flore is one of Paris’ most renowned cafes, in the trendy area of Saint-Germain.  Join ladies of leisure lunching in the sun and sip champagne cocktails while watching the creme de la creme walk by.  This is a bit of an institution, and while it has become a bit of a cliche, I wouldn’t miss it on your first visit to Paris.  Famous writers Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso used to gather here in their day and discuss literature and art, making it, even centuries on, a special place to have a drink.

Cafe Flore

172 Boulevard Saint-Germain 75006 Paris

Metro: Saint-Germaine-des-Pres

France, Paris

Chez Prune, Paris – DRINK

June 21, 2015
While the Canal St Martin area of Paris used to be a working class neighbourhood, it has slowly transformed itself into a hip and trendy area. Chez Prune is a great little wine bar with a slightly studenty feel, and its terrace is perfect for sitting outside by the canal. It’s no wonder that it is so popular among the Parisian young professionals. Go for the meat or cheese platter if you get hungry, they’re good value for money.
Chez Prune
36 Rue Beaurepaire
Photo by Babs Armour

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