Tag Archives: sunglasses

Weekend in Paris: Day 1

I’m not a Paris-y girl. I can admit Paris is beautiful, it’s clean, the French are actually so much more pleasant than they are depicted in cartoons. I can see why it is the most popular tourist destination in the world. Everyone loves Paris. I guess it’s that I never know what I’m looking for there – the food is superb, the shopping is world-class, the cityscape views are ridiculously romantic. It just seems almost too easy. There’s no need to explore off the grid, no reason to trek off the beaten path in search of some little-known hidden gem. It seems to me, the best of Paris has already been discovered.

Paris was the rendezvous point for me and my good friend – a journalist who’s been living in Cairo for several months; she was desperate for a European citybreak. I slinked onto the Eurostar with two changes of clothes in my weekend bag, and arrived two hours later at Gare du Nord.

Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais is a gem, though anything but hidden. Fantastically located in the Marais district, it occupies the lovely little Rue Vielle du Temple just off Rue de Rivoli. As soon as you cross the threshold it’s like stepping back into Old World Paris. I love all the charming period details. And how quaint that the room key is actually a key (rather than a key card) which you leave and pick up from reception whenever you come and go!

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hotelliftCutest upholstered lift in Paris

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It was time for a girlie debrief and we both needed to wet our whistles with a little of the good stuff, so a table on the terrace of Tresor was a perfect nearby place to escape the light drizzle. A bottle of chardonnay and a plat du fromage was our first taste of Paris.

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The shopping in Paris is insane. It overwhelms me – in a magical way. For high-end Parisian design and tailoring (not to mention accessories) there is only one destination – L’Eclaireur. The vibe here is artsy, futuristic, conceptual – but the clothes are classic, structured, and strikingly feminine. What hangs on the rails here is transformative – these pieces will literally transform you.

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For shades, I recommend Marcel Bihan Opticien. They stock so many fun and funky brands, you’re sure to find a pair that will really stand out from the Sunglass Hut mediocrity. I was partial to these round beauts by Linda Farrow for The Row, and these oversized tortoiseshell cat-eye Karen Walkers.

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For high street fashion, check out the quirky Eleven Paris. Their tag line is “Life is a joke,” though their designs are anything but. I snagged this sleeveless graphic tee with floral cross for 39€.

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With our chip and pin cards all warmed up, we headed over to the glitzy Beaubourg district for dinner at Hôtel Costes. Sure, it’s sceney and the cocktails are over-priced and the food isn’t exactly haute cuisine – but it’s stylish and moody and, like all good things in Paris, it is tried-and-true.

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After our meal, we took one of Ladan’s friends up on an invite to the closing party of Pompon on Rue des Petites Écuries. It was bonkers. It seemed like everyone wanted to be there. Ian the bartender welcomed us with some fiery shots called Kalashnikovs.

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We lingered for a bit with some fellow DC ex-pats, then left to get some air and stopped by Le Baron for a cocktail. It wasn’t as crazy and raw as it was depicted in the opening scene of “Little White Lies”, but it was unarguably Parisian. Go here for the music, they know what sounds good. Great place to get silly and dance!

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Well, Paris, it isn’t love – and it surely won’t last – but if I’ve learned one thing from you, it’s that a time-tested classic never goes out of style.

Sunday, Literally

On Sunday morning, Londoners across the city awoke and drew back the shutters (initally with puzzlement, then in a state of rapture) peering up at an unfamiliar glowing orb in the sky. Was I still dreaming? Was my hangover making me extremely sensitive to natural light? No, it was defintely the sun!

Hallelujah! It still existed! Sensing the mass exodus about to break out in every borough, I knew I must act fast to secure a table for brunch. I dressed in a frenzied stupor and lunged out onto the streets, determined to beat the queues forming outside kitchens citywide.

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An excuse to rummage deep in my closet and knock the dust off a Londoner’s most neglected accessory – sunglasses!

There was a nebulous queue of about a dozen people outside Granger & Co by the time we arrived. Run by Aussies or New Zealanders (definitely from that area of the map), where “reservation” is a foreign word, a wait list did not occur to their laid-back senses. Rather, the confused mob is encouraged to crowd the door, looming awkwardly over a few al fresco diners brave enough the endure the morning chill in exchange for more direct access to a few rays of London’s most limited natural resource.

The total wait for a table for two was only 20 minutes – not bad. Once seated was when the real wait began. A true test of endurance. It’s been too long since I had to wait an inappropriate amount of time for a scrambled egg breakfast. My only respite was the sunshine streaming in the room and the excellently executed Bloody Mary I had to sip for the eternity that stood between me and my avocado salsa. In the back of my mind, I somehow knew the infinite wait would be worth it, and it was.

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The 40 minute egg breakfast!

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Look at them – one heady mound of silky organic Cotswold Legbar eggs

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I’m sorry, maybe it was my hangover, maybe it was my indomitable optimism about the sunny day, but these eggs were worth waiting 40 minutes for. Crazy? Maybe. Try them, love them, you could never recreate them.

Belly full, the day demanded a long stroll – punctuated with intermittant spells of shopping. A few hours of uninterrupted sun and I was already at Peter Jones fantasizing about patio furniture for the terrace.

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The first hint of spring, and my head is spinning with garden lantern inspirations!

By afternoon, it was time for a retail hiatus and a glass of chardonnay at Bibendum Oyster Bar in the Michelin Building. I have long been curious about this Art-Nouveau landmark, but at present it is undergoing a structural renovation and the exterior is entirely cloaked in tarps and scaffolding. There is still plenty of interior charm, including this playful mosaic of the tire company’s mascot, the Michelin Man.

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The Bibendum Oyster Bar is an elegant spot to enjoy a glass of wine and a half-dozen natives.

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Hark, spring! What a perfect Sunday.