Category Archives: Paris

Paris And I – Our 9th Anniversary

Carla Coulson_along the seine winter_ All images from Paris Tango

It was nine years ago this week that I had finished Italian Joy, sent her bundled up off to the publisher and packed up my Florentine life and moved to Paris.

Unlike the modern traveller I poured myself onto the Eurolines bus with my worldly goods (an archive of negatives and photography books) and travelled the old fashioned way kilometre by kilometre from Florence to Paris.

There were a million thoughts going through my head as we drove through the night in a silent bubble with others slumbering around me finally passing the Italian border.  When I arrived in the Marais that first night I remember being filled with wonder and hope.

As the days passed it suddenly dawned on me what had happened.

I had arrived in a city where I knew no-one, I couldn’t speak the language, I had left my ‘happy place’ far behind in Florence, my love was finishing his architecture degree in Lyon and I was freezing my butt off.

Life became really difficult like someone turned the light off.

Carla Coulson place vendome christmas

Christmas Rue Castiglione

But I had done this ‘moving country’ thing before. Why was it all of a sudden so difficult?

Naive as I was I didn’t understand there was a great difference between choosing a country  you want to live in and choosing one that someone else wants to live in (in case you have just tuned in hubby wanted to move to France).

I asked myself over and over again ‘had I ruined my life’, it certainly felt like I had. If moving to Italy for me had been a breeze this was a battle. Finding an apartment impossible, opening a bank account an olympic event without a gas bill and just hearing a ‘yes’ every now and then was a modern miracle. And I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying..

Paris has so many lessons to teach you. Paris was not mother Italy that opened her arms and drags you to her bosom, feeds you or finds a way around everything. At first glance she is a beautiful princess on the outside and a tough old bag on the inside who adores saying ‘non, c’est pas possible’ and entering her bosom is like prising open the door to Pandora’s box . But when you finally enter there is stardust all around!

Carla Coulson_Dior Haute Couture Gown

Dior by John Galliano

Photography, my forever muse saved me! She connected me to people and to Paris. My first job was to shoot the haute couture gowns at Dior, Valentino and Christian Lacroix and off I trotted into the magical world of Paris to become another victim to her enchantment. The feast continued when I started to work on My French Life and Paris Tango and I really had the chance see Paris in all her layers.

Carla Coulson PERFUME djordje varda at the Ritz Hotel Paris

Florist Djordje Varda at the Ritz Paris

 But if our reason for being on this planet is to evolve as human beings, to learn and grow there was a reason I needed to live in Paris. I had so much to learn and she has taught me so much.

Carla Coulson dogs metro

On the Paris Metro

You see before I turned up here I was a ‘pushover’. Paris gave me a backbone, she taught me to stand up for myself and alllowed me to find my voice. She taught me that many things are worth fighting for even if they are on a daily basis!!!

Carla Coulson_Buying Tea at Mariage Freres

Buying tea Mariage Freres

Paris is the keeper of beauty, she understands patina and discretion like no-other country and she will hold off on that reno as long as she can because she knows in her heart that peeling paint is an additional layer of life and part of her story.

Carla Coulson_artist hippolyte romain

Artist Hippolyte Romain

Paris showed me how she respects the world of artists and their art. To live in a world where art is valued and treasured makes my heart skip a beat.

Carla Coulson_luc making baguettes

Baker in the 9th

And no-one loves tradition like France. There are still people that give up a lifetime of nights to bake bread the way it was always baked!

Carla Coulson -chimney sweep

Chimney sweep going down my stairs

Or to come and clean your chimney like an image out of a children’s book.  I nearly died with love the first time my local chimney sweep knocked on my door. Are they serious I asked?

primo maggio 2

Lady selling Muguet at Bastille Markets

And traditions like selling Lily of the Valley on May Day are alive and well and dear women like this one fossick in the forest to gather it and sell on the street corner on the 1st of May.

Carla Coulson BLACK AND WHITE OR LES PARISIAN Jules and Yann at La Perle

Yann and Robert La Perle

And the Parisians themselves are a wonderful lesson in beauty, discretion and I adore how they speak in ‘whisper quiet’ voices as they chat to each other across a small wooden bistro table.

PARISIANS cafe st Germain La Palette

La Palette Paris

Paris showed me that love is all around if you open your eyes and look for it.

Carla Coulson Shay Marais night

Dancer Shay Stafford in the 2nd.

That beauty is in the details and the form.

Carla Coulson Moulin Rouge

Backstage Moulin Rouge

And the fantasy!

Carla Coulson pont des arts

All Images from Paris Tango

I now hoon around Paris on my old bike like I have known her forever. There are moments when I come screeching to a halt, mouth hanging open like a labrador dog in wonderment at something I have just seen. Paris is full of surprises, there is one at almost every corner.

Paris taught me to be grateful for daily happiness, friendship and love.

And no matter what happens in the coming years, baby it has been a hell of a ride, you have taught me so much and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to have floated around your streets, your cafes, your museums and your gardens. To have walked hand in hand across the bridges with the man I love and hugged you close to me.

Looking forward to our 10th year together!

‘Rick (Humphrey Bogart): If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman): But what about us?
Rick (Humphrey Bogart): We’ll always have Paris.’

From the movie Casablanca




Please share if you love Paris

All Things French

paris in four months

Photo Copyright Karin Olsson

Big news in Paris – on Sunday the weather gods are promising sun and 23 degrees. It’s enough to bring an Aussie living in Paris to tears and make every Parisian rush to the local fromagerie, boulangerie and cave to stock up for a picnic and head to their favourite park.

As Cole Porter sang ‘I love Paris in the Springtime’ and so do the Parisians and Carrrrlllllaaaaaa..

In Springtime we feel like hugging Paris to our chest and thanking her for allowing us to survive the winter and rejoice in what’s ahead.

For all of you who want to enjoy this moment with us,  here is a little vicarious French living.

Paris in four months 2

Photo Copyright Karin Olsson


Karin Olsson, star photographer and author of Paris in Four months takes beautiful photos and tours us around her Paris. She features a wonderful story on creme puff heaven, the current mono-dessert pate au choux.. Bon Appetit.

haven in paris

Photo Copyright Haven in Paris


This is a question everyone wants to know when they come to Paris. The  talented Erica Berman has put together a wonderful collection of beautiful apartments in Paris. I live in the Marais and lurve the Marais and love this little jewel not far from my place.. For more gorgeous apartments click here.

vicki archer french essence Photo Copyright Vicki Archer


My darling friend Vicki Archer does French better than anyone I know and her latest project Le Petit Bijou, a little Provencal townhouse in St Remy de Provence is almost ready.   Vicki shares her project with us and shopping for antiques in her local area. I can’t wait to see the final product, I know it will be gorgeous. Cruise on over to French Essence to see this little project in the making.


lost in cheeseland

Photo Copyright Lindsey Tramuta


Lindsey at Lost in Cheeseland shares her weekend in the Loire Valley. Castles, fresh food markets, delicious wines and beautiful architecture.. Hop on over to Lost in Cheeseland to visit the Loire.

paris breakfasts

Photo Copyright Carol Gillott


Carol at Paris Breakfasts is such a card. I love her great sense of humour and she is tackling a subject that is dear to any Anglo who loves eating a bag of chips on the streets - French Girls Don’t Eat On The Street. I loved this.. how many times I have dared not eat a hot croissant on the way home from the bakery because of the disapproving looks I will get. Forget ever eating on the metro and even a Starbies take-away coffee could inspire a couple of air puffs.. 


Photos Copyright Antonin Borgeaud


Small share plates and funky restaurants that serve them are on the rise in Paris and the gorgeous gang at Hip Paris feature the cool  La Buvette. A wonderful local bar with mosaic floors, marble counters and delish natural wines and small plates. Stampede on over to Hip Paris to check this cool little place

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend full of light and love and all things French.

“France is the only place where you can make love in the afternoon without people hammering on your door.”  Barbara Cartland



PS: if you know anyone visiting or in love with France please feel free to share.. xx

My Marais – Restaurants Part 2

Thank-you for the fabulous feedback to Part 1 of My Marais restaurants.

As I promised I’m delivering another instalment of the alphabet (and restaurants) where I love to eat, have road-tested personally and find sympa in Le Marais. Just remember I would rather cuddle up to a chick pea than wrestle ‘une entrecôte’. 

Le Marais is my little corner of Paris and I love this quartier dearly. It’s my ‘safe place’ in Paris where I even get a smile at the local boulangerie and a kiss from my favourite bartender!

Spring is around the corner and for any of you packing your bags for Paris or planning a trip you might like to save some of these addresses. Part 1 if you missed it is here and this is Part 2. More to come..

I was introduced to Epouvantail, a fabulous restaurant by a friend of mine who is a neighbour of the owner! Delicious French cuisine, foie gras, saint Jacques and classics like profiteroles on the menu and has a great value lunch menu. Go for lunch..


6 Rue de Jarente  75004 Paris

Tel: 01 40 29 03 03

Metro : Saint Paul 

This is one of those restaurants you go to for the view.  High atop the Centre Pompidou and owned by the Hotel Costes group, expect pretty young things in high heels serving you with lots of cleavage (not so good for a romantic night out)! The view is breathtaking and the décor a little Blade runner but expect some attitude from all. No Website, can you believe it..


19, rue Beaubourg (Centre Georges Pompidou),

75004 Paris

Tel: 01 44 78 47 99

Metro: Rambuteau

 The terrace at Jaja

Opened by the ever so cool and onto it folks at Merci (must visit), Grazie has a fantastic New York feel about it, great cocktails and fabulous authentic Italian pizza. Hard to get into so you will need to book..


91, Boulevard Beaumarchais

75003 Paris

Metro: Richard Lenoir

Open: Everyday lunch and dinner

Tel: 01 42 78 11 96

You could walk straight past dear sweet Jaja if you weren’t paying attention (which I wasn’t for 3 years). Set back off the street with lovely courtyard for outdoor dining in the summer I think this is one of the Marais’s best quality/price restaurants. I go for lunch with my architect girlfriends who work just around the corner. We LOVE Jaja for lunch.


3 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie

75004 Paris

Tel: 01 42 74 71 52 

Metro: Hotel de Ville  

Open: Every day from de 12h00 à 14h30 et de 20h00 à 23h00 

La Briciola Pizzeria 

At La Bouledogue it’s bull dog central – paintings, drawings and even the name was inspired by the owners bulldog Elliott. I have had many a cosy winter’s lunch and dinner at La Bouledogue, love the owners, old fashioned service, the décor and a great traditional French menu.

La Bouledogue

30, rue Rambuteau

75003 Paris

Metro: Rambuteau

Open: Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 11.30pm

One of the few authentic Italian pizzeria’s in Paris and our local. They serve mainly pizza’s with a small antipasti menu, a pasta of the day and Italian desserts and Pozzetto gelato. You can book for the first seating around 8pm otherwise if you come later join the queue.

La Briciola

64 Rue Charlot

75003 Paris

Tel: 01 42 77 34 10

Metro: Republique

Open:  Monday to Saturday from 12.30 to 22.00

 This tiny restaurant in a side street off rue Rambuteau is a culinary surprise in the Marais. The chef once worked at Pierre Gaignaire’s Gaya, the decor is very modest but you can expect a great meal at Le Gaigne and the bill to match it.

Le Gaigne

12, rue Pecquay,

75004 Paris

Tel: 01 44  59 86 72

 Metro: Rambuteau 

Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 12 to 14 and 19.30 to 22.00

I go to Merci every opportunity I get. This fabulous store is like a breath of fresh air in Paris and so is the food in the canteen downstairs. A salad counter to make your head spin with treasures of ginger, coriander and spiced lentils. Sip your juice whilst gazing at their beautiful herb garden. Girl food central. No reservations. Lunch only but go early to get a seat.

Merci Merci

111 Boulevard Beaumarchais

75003 Paris 

Metro : Saint Sebastien Frossart

This is what you do on your very first day in Paris. You get yourself, not a drizzle, but some honest-to-goodness rain, and you find yourself someone really nice and drive her through the Bois de Boulogne in a taxi. The rain’s very important. That’s when Paris smells its sweetest.  It’s the damp chestnut trees.”  Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina.



PS: If you know anyone coming to Paris please feel free to share this post or to those who might like to travel vicariously.. 

My Marais – Restaurants Part 1

Since the minute I arrived in Paris I have never lived anywhere but Le Marais.

When I am on the Metro and I pass the Tuileries Stop in one direction and the Bastille in the other it becomes the jungle to me. My little corner of Paris runs from the Ile-St-Louis to Republique and each day I  eat, shop, drink and scour her streets.

I am always being asked for good addresses, so in a series of blog posts I hope to bring you I will give you some of my favourite addresses in Le Marais.

Just remember I’m a simple gal who loves ethnic food and only a couple of times has stepped inside a Michelin restaurant so expect a mix of all the good things Paris offers.


So here are some cafes and restaurants I love in Alphabetical order from A-C (the rest of the alphabet to come soon). 

Au Petit Thai

4 Rue Roi de Sicile,

75004 Paris

01 42 72 75 75

Metro : Saint Paul

I love the first floor of this Thai restaurant with a mix of sandstone walls and hanging plants. This isn’t Sydney Thai but it comes close and we have had many a delicious meal here.


20, rue saint martin

75004 Paris

01 42 72 25 76 

Metro: Hotel De Ville

Open:  Every day from 12 to 14 and 19.30 to 22.00

Thanks to a friend and a special invitation, dining at Benoit was my first Alain Ducasse experience.  The classic French menu was spot on, the bistrot décor from your French dreams and the service impeccable. I am sure the price tag matched all the above (my friend picked it up) but it was a wonderful culinary adventure for me that I would have hated to miss. 

 Bistrot Des Comperes 

16 rue Charlemagne 

75004 Paris 

01 42 72 14 16 

Metro: Saint Paul 

A young French couple have turned this traditional bistrot into a warm, family friendly place. We often lunch with friends here and love the ambience and the good food.

Breizh Crepes

109 Rue Vieille du Temple

 75003 Paris
01 42 72 13 77 

Metro : Filles Du Calvaire

I walked past this little place a thousand times and saw that it was always packed and finally decided to join the melee with friends. Loved it, organic delicious buckwheat savoury crepes and caramel beurre sale (be still my beating heart) and icy cold cider! Kids and adults alike will love it.

Open:  Lunch and dinner 7 days.

Caffe Boboli

13 Rue Roi de Sicile

75004 Paris
01 42 77 89 27

Metro : Saint Paul

A little bit of Tuscany in the Marais. The Florentine owner of this tiny restaurant is committed to serving authentic Italian products and dishes in a lovely quiet ambiance. Delightful.


24,rue des Francs Bourgeois,

Paris, France

01 42 72 20 50

Metro: Saint Paul

Loved by Christian Lacroix and other fashion friends, Camille has a solid reputation as a great bistrot in the Marais but a little more expensive than the average. I have always eaten well here. 

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson 

Chez Nenesse

17 Rue de Saintonge  75003 Paris
01 42 78 46 49

Metro: Temple

This place is great on a winter’s day, family run and looks like you are eating in a Robert Doisneau photo with a giant heater in the middle of the tiled floor room. Traditional French food.  Photo Opportunity!


Village St Paul

7 Rue Charlemagne

Paris 75004

Metro : Saint Paul

Open : Every day except Sunday for dinner and Monday 

A mix of cooked and raw food based on Italian cuisine – lots of carpaccio. Wonderful for a summer lunch in their beautiful courtyard or perfect for light eaters.

Stay tuned for more fabulous addresses in the Marais. If you are looking for 4 Star Hotels in the Marais check out these or a little of Italy in Paris you might like this post.

“Everything ends this way in France – everything. Weddings, christenings, duels, burials, swindlings, diplomatic affairs -everything is a pretext for a good dinner.” Jean Anouilh


Links to Put a SPRING in Your Step

Natural Room Scents

The sun shone this week in Paris and the weather went from 0 to 15 and so did our mood. We are skipping around Paris, almost hugging strangers with happiness. It is so good to see the sun god shining his light down on us. Hallelujah! Things were getting dark there for a moment.

This post has nothing to do with photography (except the wonderful link at the end) but these links I adored this week on the net and even a photographer needs a little juice, fun stuff, wanderings and inspiration when Spring has sprung. So here is my pick of this weeks wonderful links.

Above Images via Thistle Wood Farms


I am going to open the windows, pull back the curtains and freshen the apartment with a little spring magic using these natural  personalised room scents. What a fabulous idea to give the house a little scent of citrus and herb after our long and stuffy winter. Get the recipes here. Love them..

Image Copyright of Meg Zimbeck 


We all love to travel to wander and to promenade….  PARIS IS ITS PEOPLE………..A collection of stories/photos of  interesting characters of Paris another list to add to your must do’s next time in Paris!

AFAR website is a gold mine of information on anything and everything  travel they also have a published and online magazine that is a wonderful travelers resource as it is a collaborative travel guide so the everyday traveler is able to submit their story/tips to be published.  As they say on their blog Travel Deeper: Get Inspired. Plan a Trip. Share your discoveries shimmy on over and take a look you may be starring on their pages with some of your travel gems sometime soon x

Image Copyright StickyGram


I am in love with  instagram and this fun website StickyGram lets you turn your instagram favourites into magnets so cool and so simple to do see how easy  it is here…. sweet gift idea for any instamaniac friends!! Plus they have a cool sping competition on their blog

 Image Via Samantha Wills


Every girl needs a little glitter glam in her life and the talented young Australian designer  Samantha Wills has a jewellery range that has something for all of us! I personally need a little spring revival!  Samantha also has a stunning Bridal Boutique for anyone tying the knot‘. Just  loving Samantha’s style….

Image Via Samantha Wills


Time to give my body a jump start from the inside out and drink my way to better  health…so here are 4 Green Smoothie Recipes  from  Body and Soul the home of health and happiness!

Body + Soul Green Renewal Juice 


Eloquence of the Eye the latest series on the blog of photojournalist Steve McCurry his portraits and images peppered with beautiful quotes  have long been a source of beauty to my eye so this series resonates……always inspiring thank-you Steve the world through your eyes is a better place!

Umbria, Italy. Image Copyright Steve McCurry  

Love life a little extra when the sun is out. Hope the sun is shining in your world. Thanks for sticking with me through winter.

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  Mark Twain

Love and light

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