I want you to meet my latest Young Girl in Bloom — she’s what the world needs right now, a giant delirious pink bouquet of hydrangeas and positivity!!!! Her name is Free and Fearless. This girl has a skip in her step because she is free, she has walked away from things that held her back and has stepped out of her own invisible prison. She knows the only person that can truly hold her back in life is herself.
Saying yes to yourself is the ultimate freedom. You always have a choice and when you feel truly free you feel fearless. This girl was created to remind you that freedom is your divine right, you are born free, you are free and it’s always just one decision away. Free yourself!
I hope you enjoy this pink hydrangea bomb that was created in one of my favourite streets in Paris for you to enjoy, even if you can’t travel there for a little while. She is available via my online shop at this link and via the divine peeps at Forman Art and Framing for orders in Australia.
A huge shout out to the people of Victoria, the United States, Brazil, and to every individual challenged by COVID in this moment.
I want to share with you something that happened in Paris after COVID.
Paris is a city that makes many women and men go weak at the knees. As a girl that has been known to love wearing rose-coloured glasses, I know many people around the globe love popping on those rose-coloured glasses when they think of Paris. When you live in Paris, she can be everything including a tough old broad that slams the door in your face, utters instantly mais non madame as a knee jerk reaction, long before she considers a Yes and a day can be filled with neutral stares and harsh rebuffs from the folks at the post office or any government body. She was as equally well mannered, chic, and impossibly beautiful if not just a little distant!
Pre-COVID, there were days I went out loving her and came home wondering why she made it so hard to love her!!!
Then something happened, we got locked up, they took away the parks, the restaurants, the post office (yes, it was closed for 2 months), the boutiques, the florists, the schools, the offices, the famous Parisian cafés with her beautiful cane chairs and the right to leave our homes for 8 weeks without a piece of paper. For 8 weeks, we couldn’t go more than 1 km from home and only for an hour a day.
Like many people around the world, we experienced a lockdown that was confronting, challenging, emotional, aggressive, controlling and everything in between. At some point, it also became grounding, slow, calm, passive, and gentle.
When we emerged from 8 weeks of silence and confinement, for many solitary, Paris was different. She went through her own transformation and out the other side she became a village.
People were different, we were different. In the place of being in a hurry, we all seemed to have time, in place of indifference we all were connected and concerned, in the place of blank stares we looked one another in the eyes.
The city slowly came back to life, terraces grew and grew wherever there was free space or even when there wasn’t. Umbrellas went up, inflatable flamingos appeared at the entrances of restaurants and even the smartest restaurant managed to add a rogue terrace with a white tablecloth. Waiters greeted us like long lost friends.
Gratitude filled her streets and our hearts, wonder abounded as we had the right to roam again and every detail was fascinating and beautiful. The gardens that had been locked away and had grown wild, were filled again with flowers and colour.
As the weeks passed, the village atmosphere remained as all of us started to roam even the most touristy restaurants that now stood empty, places that we once fought to sit in, we could finally get a seat outside with a spectacular view.
It was like being a kid in a lolly shop, Parisians and adopted Parisians had the menu to a moveable feast and now we could finally get a seat at the table and order up big!
The weeks keep passing and the kindness remains, conversations with strangers have become the new normal and the level of gratitude to sit on a beautiful café terrace is still as joyful as the first time we ever did it.
There is a feeling of spaciousness that wasn’t here before, it’s luxurious and with that spaciousness the city is softer and less aggressive. That constant feeling of FOMO that we would miss out if we didn’t get there early, has disappeared.
Why am I telling you this? There is a reason, particularly if you are in lockdown and your heart is breaking from the feeling of confinement, restrictions, loss of income, contact, unknown and more.
My wish for you and wherever you are in the world that you too will emerge from lockdown with a gift of humanity and that your world no matter how big and scary it is right now will too become a village. That what once was invisible will now be visible, including you.
This weekend really brought home to me why Paris deserves her reputation for fabulousness on the world stage.
Paris over the past couple of years has been through a lot. Devastating terrorist attacks, regular weekend strikes from the ‘yellow jackets’ that often ended in rioting, and like the whole world, its large dose of #COVID19.
Every city and country lived COVID in their own unique way, everyone has their stories and they are all valid and impactful.
But this weekend, Paris showed us what she’s made of. She really is a ‘moveable feast’ as Ernest Hemingway once said, as restaurants in Paris are currently banned from having indoor dining, so guess what, she picked up all her tables and chairs and moved outside. Every and any available space was fair game, umbrellas went up, flamingoes were blown up, waiters were smiling as were the Parisians as the terraces went rogue.
Scenes of old friends who hadn’t seen each other for months were moving as they hugged and glowed with joy to be together again, the terraces just grew and grew and grew as another table was added each time another party of guests arrived.
Paris is a conundrum, you can never really put your finger on it, she’s changeable just like a woman and she is full of surprises. Just as the French were strict in regards to the confinement laws, they turned an equally blind idea to streets being roped off and parking spaces being reclaimed by the restaurants and cafes and their citizens celebrating.
Paris’s motto, Fluctuat nec mergitur (she is tossed but does not sink), was introduced in the 14th century and no matter how much you throw at this city, she keeps dodging and weaving, reinventing yet never forgetting her past. She is modern and old fashioned, chic and a ball-tearer, pretty and ugly, she is cultured and street smart, and it’s all these facets of her pretty face that makes us all want to hold her tight for being the original gal that the world loves so much.
Keep being you Paris, in all your glory.
If you enjoyed this, you may also like this post on my favourite places to visit in Paris
I wrote this blog a couple of years ago for one of my best friends who was coming to Paris and have updated it today as it is still one of the most questions I’m asked, “What would I recommend for a groovy gal if she just had a couple of days in Paris?”
As a coach and photographer, one of the things that I believe in is the power of pleasure, beauty, and joy and the wonderful benefits it has on our nervous system and mindset. So my version of Paris has plenty of things on the list for the senses! So I have written an updated version, of my ‘best friends’ guide to Paris, where I’ve put a lot of thought into it and jammed packed it with things I love about Paris and can’t wait to do myself.
The first thing I hear when I meet up with most Australians in Paris is ‘agghhhh the coffee’. Now for the uninitiated us, Australians have some of the best coffee in the world (move over, Italy!) so when we arrive in Paris and see those gorgeous cafes, we are imaging great coffee. Wrong!
Now, anyone that gets off a 24-hour flight deserves a good cup and here are some of my favourites where UHT milk (that is widely used in Paris) is banned.
I love this place! It is a teensy weensy cafe in the third and it is gorgeous in every way. This cafe was the former home of a boot maker and the owner has kept the sign out the front and added even more atmosphere and beauty inside. Be warned it’s tiny, 2 tables but they do great coffee to take-away. It’s just around the corner from groovy Merci so you can stop in for a coffee on the way. This place makes me happy.
The fabulous boys at Coutume Cafe have opened an ever so cool space right next to the Sorbonne. You feel like you are in Finland or Australia. White trestle tables to share, big open space and lots of light and heavenly coffee. Tell your 20 year old friends they will love it as will you!
Tucked behind the busy Boulevard Beaumarchais Fragments is not a place you accidentally walk by. Look for the traditional Parisian shopfront painted black. These guys are serious about their coffee, the pace is slow and relaxed so don’t come screaming in for a quick take-away. The coffee is great and they serve a delicious range of cakes and salads. Hubby rates this as one of his best coffees yet!
A French/Aussie combo started this cafe and were at the forefront of Aussie’s doing great coffee in Paris. Not far from Le Bon Marche in the 7th these guys take their coffee very seriously. Bare-bones decor and yummy things for a light lunch. Coffee and milk 5 stars!
The French guy that owns KB took a trip to Australia, walked into a Bondi cafe, couldn’t believe the coffee and remained for a couple of years. On his return to Paris he opened KB Cafe in gorgeous SOPI (south Pigalle) and has a stream of devoted customers each day. If you are in the area and hankering for a good coffee or a great green tea drop in and say hi.
Two cafes on the same street!! Ahh Holybelly, this is the ultimate “I’m missing my Aussie cafe breakfast’ place! I love Holybelly, eggs like you were in Sydney, coffee like you were in Melbourne, friendly staff and a cute space to boot…
Something magical happened in Paris a couple of years ago, the once very busy road along the river was closed to traffic and has become the most magical place to bike, walk, drink or eat with your friends. Paris has turned parts of the left and right bank into boats with bars, restaurants, dance schools and places to grab a beach chair and relax. One of my all time favourite things to do on a beautiful day.
First shopping stop Merci. Merci has become my second home. I love eveything about this shop, the products, the space, the wonderful restaurants and cafe.. But most of all I love that a percentage of profits are donated to charity. I lunch at the canteen downstairs as it has great ‘girl food’ Paris and you look out onto a beautiful herb garden. There are lots of lovely fresh salads, soups and organic juices that are hard to find on the menu in Paris.
I love Paris’s bistrots and there is nothing better to do on a cold, rainy Parisian day than to eat in one of these wonderful, atmospheric bistrots. There are so many glorious ones and if you are lucky to sit in front of someone you love, the memory will be burned into your heart forever. These are two of my favourites
Now who would have thought when you are not allowed to lie on the grass in almost all of Paris’s park (except for handkerchief size squares) yet you are able to picnic amongst the hedges of the Louvre. Go figure?? I love it here in Summer, smack bang between the Tuileries garden and the Louvre you feel like you are in the centre of Paris and what a backdrop. Take a picnic, spread out and enjoy the long summer nights.
6. Rooftop Bars – Get up high!!
One of the most fabulous things to do on a spectacular Paris day is go to one of the many rooftop bars around Paris. You feel like you are top of the world and seeing Paris from a different viewpoint feels all so glamorous. The rooftop bar at the Hotel Raphael spoils you with a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe and has serious cocktails. Bring your wallet!!
17 Avenue Kléber,
75116 Paris, France
7. Small Museums
There are so many wonderful museums in Paris but I love the small ones. The Louvre is incredible but I get an anxiety attack everytime I go, I leave feeling guilty that I haven’t seen it all. Instead I discovered the small ones. Galerie Musee Baccarat is irresistible. Housed in ancient Hotel Particulier, France’s most glamorous glass is awe inspiring. I also adore Musee Bourdelle, Antoine Bourdelle’s incredible sculpture museum with monumental sculpture and original artist’s atelier and for photography lovers, the MEP is a must.
Galerie Musée Baccarat
Place des Etats-Unis
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5-7 Rue de Fourcy
(Metro: St. Paul)
One of the most beautiful things I love about Paris is her flower shops. Those sweet little local shops with their fine selection of peonies and sweet peas, lillies and roses and their devoted staff creating bouquets with love.
L’Artisan Fleuriste is in my hood and has been my go to fleuriste for all my flower photos and it fills my heart with joy and beauty everytime I walk in the door. Most markets have a wonderful flower section.
Why?? Because it is an oasis of gorgeousness in urban Paris. When I have a giant case of jetlag I cross the river and jog in Jardin du Luxembourg. I feel like calling out ‘silence please’ as I enter this garden. For me it’s a spiritual experience to walk underneath the chestnut trees in bloom and try and discern one perfume from another. If you want to see the world’s greenest grass, this is the place. French attention for detail in every leaf.
10. Le Palais Royale
This is the double whammy.. Whilst all the tourists are circling the Louvre and trying to find space in the Jardin du Tuileries the Palais Royale is left to the locals. Tucked behind the Comedie Francaise it is one of Paris’s most beautiful spaces with a garden to boot and some of Paris’s best shops. If there is one place in Paris you should buy perfume it is in the ultra French space of Serge Lutens in Les Salons du Palais Royale. Oodles of French ambience. This place makes my heart skip!!
Paris has the best desserts in the world. I can’t get excited about the Beef Bourguignon or the Confit di Canard but put a tarte citron or chocolat chaud in front of me and I am purrrringggg.. I love the atmosphere of Angelina’s on rue du Rivoli and they make the best hot chocolate in Paris. Old world Paris, pure rich hot chocolate in silver pots with whipped cream – it could get a girl into a lot of trouble!! ps. go for morning tea and don’t even think about going on Sundays!!
You all know about Laduree and their to-die-for macaroons but there are so many wonderful local places to try in Paris. I live just around the corner fromPatisserie Pain-de-Sucre and these guys take cakes very seriously. Lots of original flavour combinations and they have just opened a new shop with a wonderful bench out the front where you can sit and savour them!!
Chambelland (Gluten Free bakery)
14 Rue Ternaux,
12. Astier Villatte
If I had a shop in Paris I would love it to be like Astier de Villatte. A little run down, like tumbling head first into a magical Parisian version of Alice in Wonderland. Magical teacups and ceramics all in beautiful white, hand-picked diaries and paper weights that lift a nostalgic heart to new heights.
Astier de Villatte
173 Rue Saint-Honoré
Astier de Villatte
16 Rue de Tournon
I had the great fortune to photograph many Parisian perfumeries and I LOVE THEM! Serge Lutens in the Palais Royale has atmosphere and perfume ‘a go go’. Frederic Malle makes some of the best perfumes in the world and his Carnal Flower full of tuberose is my favourite.
You musn’t leave Paris without visiting the top end of the Marais where all sorts of grooviness happens! Between rue Francs Bourgeois and Republique flanked by Bld Beaumarchais and in the heart along rue de Bretange there are divine boutiques, bars, cafes and the fabulous market of Les Enfants Rouges for lunch. It’s where all the grooviness is happening right now in Paris.
15. Wild and The Moon
For my lovely vegan and gluten free friends Paris is tricky to find the right food but one of my favourite haunts is Wild and The Moon. This fabulous eat in or takeaway chain has delicious prepared food that will make your gluten free/vegan heart pound with delight at the choice.
Wild and the Moon
55 Rue Charlot,
Wild and the Moon
9 rue du Plâtre,
You know I love animals so you are probably wondering why I like Deyrolle? Deyrolle is a taxidermist with a difference and one of those old worldly, quirky places that possibly you don’t expect Paris to have. Deyrolle proudly state that all animals have died of natural causes. Polar bears and lions, baby elephants and advarks.. One of Paris’s most fabulous shops is found in the elegant 7th.. As you mount the old wooden stairs and enter into animal fantasyland you will be forgiven for the ‘oh my god jaw drop’.. Out the back you can have your made to order butterfly or bug selection framed. An exquisite present that has a constant line of Parisians queuing..Only in Paris.
I was stumbling around the Jardin des Plantes one Sunday morning when hubby and I decided to enter the above museum. If I have ever had a ‘OMG’ moment in Paris it was here. Holy Dinosaur Batman!! If you are a stylist, a five-year-old boy, a set designer or a lover of beauty run to this fabulous museum. It’s amazing!!! Feels like it hasn’t been touched since they dragged all those bones in here. No interactive screens, no illuminated gadgets just good old fashioned wood, bones and cabinets.. I LURVE THIS PLACE.
Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle 57 Rue Cuvier 75005 Paris
18. Go Glam
Paris has some of the most glamorous decors in the world. Walking into a high end, sophisticated bar or restaurant in Paris transports you to another world and another sensation.
If you don’t want to break the budget but still want a super luxe experience you can have high tea at the Ritz or a drink at the swish Le Meurice or possibly my favourite summer lunch at Lou Lou’s at the Art Decoratif where you sit out on the lawns of the louvre under white umbrellas and with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
107 Rue de Rivoli,
228 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
15 Place Vendôme,
19. To Market to Market…
And what is a visit to Paris without a visit to a local market?? I would say it is essential!! As important as standing in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre!! Real Parisian life revolves around the market and all you need to do is to join the crowd at Paris’s biggest market on sunday at Marche Richard Lenoir and you will see just how important food is still in a Parisian’s daily life. Keep moving otherwise you might experience caddy rage!!
The greatest thing about visiting Paris is to take your time, wander the streets, sit in the cafes, push open big heavy doors that lead to secret courtyards to see what is revealed and discover Paris one layer at a time. You will always have your version of Paris, what lit you up, a conversation with a kind person that stays with you or a bite of a choclate fondant that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
I hope you enjoyed my addresses. I would love to hear in the comments section below what you love about Paris or a favourite address that I might like to try next time I’m out and about.
When I was a kid, I was attracted to women who had giant rings on their fingers, often glamorously referred to as cocktail rings. I noticed these women seemed to belong to a special club! They were a little louder, noisier, a tad more free-spirited and sometimes downright naughty.
I watched with intent from the front row of my parent’s parties, barbecues and events how different types of people did life, I decided a long time ago I wanted to join the ‘cocktail ring club’. I wanted to be a glamorous woman with cocktails rings, living ‘who knows where’ in the world, doing something interesting and fabulous whilst being slightly naughty.
Even as I kid, that wild maverick side of me wanted to be unconventional. There were so many things that just the thought of made me feel hemmed in. A picket fence (would love one now), a grinding routine and conforming to the norms of society.
I remembered in my late teens announcing if I ever got married I wouldn’t choose a diamond ring I would have a piece of rock instead and I would wear something weird to the wedding. My poor mother would just roll her eyes and deal with my latest rant on whatever I thought about life or my weird fashion moment.
When I was growing up I was attracted to excitement. I guess it was wanting a ‘bigger life’ and excitement felt like that, a little dangerous, a little sexy and a little like the ladies wearing those cocktail rings, doing something you shouldn’t do whether it was going to a party you shouldn’t be going to, hitchhiking to see Barnesy at the Kempsey RSL (sorry mum never told you about that) and being attracted to the funster men (mostly proved to be heartbreakers and very unreliable)!
When my sisters started having babies I was the most excited Aunty on the planet. They did the most amazing job being mums whilst I was still kicking around Sydney single, a little lost in a life that didn’t feel that exciting. How did the girl with the cocktail ring fantasy end up single at 35, in a job with a grinding routine, pretty much conforming to the norms of society!!!!! What happened to that bigger life?
Well, I took my Aunty duties very seriously and packed as much fun into our lives as we could when I still lived in Sydney near these beautiful poppets. We would go to the pool together, dine in Darlinghurst (aka sip a babycino) and I would just love to look at these beautiful creatures and watch them grow.
A lot has happened in between and last night (aka 19 years living in Europe) and one of these poppets was in Paris this week and is now a grown, beautiful woman. I took her on one of my favourite tours around my local area in Paris, starting with a coffee at Caffe Tortoni and little something from Bully, off to see an exhibition of Elliott Erwitt, we dropped into Merci to check the wares and then weaved our way through the cobbled streets of the Marais eating Pierre Hermé macaroons on the hop before delving into Eataly just to please my Italian heart.
We watched Jessica Chastain shooting a movie on the corner of Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe and then we headed to the river and found two empty beach chairs (modern miracle) on 29-degree days and drank Aperol Spritz as the sun went down along the Seine with the whole of Paris.
There was a moment that I looked at my beautiful niece Isabella and got choked up at her beauty, intelligence and kindness and with all my heart and felt grateful to share this moment with her.
I reached down to get something out of my bag and I saw my handful of big rings, you could almost call them cocktail rings on my leopard print dress and I was wonderstruck — sitting on the edge of the Seine in the spectacular afternoon light watching the sun going down behind Pont Louise Philippe, I realised I had become the little girl in my childhood dream without even noticing. I was no longer watching from the front row I was her and ever so naughty!
The spirit of the unconventional girl may have been covered up for the best part of 20 years in the middle of my life whilst I lived the wrong life for me but she triumphed in the end. My spirit kept whispering in my ears all these years and like the words in my own jumbled Cat Stevens song (needs to sung to The Cat’s in the Cradle) I formed my own lyrics as I headed home.
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