Hôtel Raphael

Rooftop terraces aren’t the easiest to come by in Paris therefore the few that the city has to offer tend to either have very long queues or be an addition to luxury hotels sometimes exclusive to hotel guests. Luckily the terrace atop the 5* Hôtel Raphael welcomes non-guests as well as guests and offers views too pretty to miss. Located between the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe the panoramic terrace boasts a spectacular view of both of these iconic monuments. Come here to catch the last rays of sun softly flickering behind the Parisian rooftops and stay until late to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the distance.

17 Avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris | Métro Kléber

Sébastien Gaudard

Sébastien Gaudard has had a pastry shop along rue des Martyrs for a while now and it has been a roaring success so everyone knew it wouldn’t be too long until he opened up his own tea room. After quite a bit of anticipation, the doors to his whimsical tea room were open to the public and surpassed all of our expectations. Of all the patisseries in Paris, this one is hands down my favourite. The inside is interior-decor perfection with egg-shell blue tones throughout, natural light flooding in and marble tables upstairs. The pastries are as good as ever, only they somehow taste even better when eaten in this awe-inspiring space.

1 Rue des Pyramides, 75001 Paris | Métro Tuileries

Palais Royal

I didn’t think it possible for Palais Royal to get any more beautiful but after a lengthy refurbishment this place is even more breathtaking than it was before. Palais Royal is my absolute favourite place in Paris. It is located in the heart of Paris yet feels a million miles away from the honking of horns and madding crowds which lay just outside. If you come here, make sure to take photos by the iconic black and white columns and walk through the enchanting garden which is located a little further in.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris

I frequently receive emails regarding how to plan an itinerary in Paris. It’s true that there are endless things to see and do which makes it pretty difficult to decide what’s worthy of your precious and often limited time in the city. For me the perfect day in Paris combines the ideal mix of walking, cafe-hopping, sight-seeing, absorbing art and cocktail-sipping. I thought I’d share what a perfect day in the city of light looks like to me in the hope that it might help you to plan your own.

Sunrise on Ile St Louis

Wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise. The rewards of watching the sunrise in Paris are always enticement enough to get me out of bed. Ile Saint Louis is a pretty special spot as the rays flicker over the river Seine and the dappled morning light dances off the buildings.

Ile Saint Louis 75004 Paris

Cross Pont Louis Philippe

After walking around the quiet streets of this beautiful island, cross the Louis Philippe bridge back to mainland Paris.

Pont Louis Philippe 75004 Paris

Walk to the Marais

The Marais is one of the oldest areas of Paris. The cobbled backstreets are a beautiful place for meandering and are bursting with boutiques, vintage shops and eateries. It’s a short walk from Ile Saint Louis and a very pretty one too.

Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe 75004 Paris

Breakfast at Carette

I’m sure you’ll have worked up quite an appetite after that early start and all of that walking so Cafe Carette is a great spot to fill up on a traditional French breakfast. I would recommend the tartine which is not only enormous but also comes with the cutest pots of jam and curled butter.

25 Place des Vosges, 75003 Paris

Stroll through Place des Vosges

Carette is located under one of the archways which frame Place des Vosges so it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from this park. The red-brick buildings which overlook the oldest planned square in Paris have become emblematic of the Marais.

Place des Vosges 75004 Paris

Picasso museum

A bit of culture is always a fun way to break the day and there is nowhere better to do this than the recently opened Picasso museum. The building itself is worth a visit with its white-washed interior and breathtaking staircase but it also houses a large collection of Picasso’s and other modern artist’s work.

5 Rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris

Coffee at Boot Café

It’s time for a well-earned coffee break if you ask me and Boot cafe is just the place to stop for a flawless flat white. This speciality coffee shop was once a shoe-repair store and despite its tiny size has more character than most. Now it’s time to jump on the métro for the first time in the day and head to a different part of town; head to the station St-Sébastien Froissart jump on line 8, change at Bastille to line 1 and descend at Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre and you’ll arrive at your next destination below.

19 Rue du Pont aux Choux 75003 Paris

Palais Royal

The recently refurbished Palais Royal is even more beautiful than it ever was, if that’s possible. A perfect day in Paris would always involve wandering around this charming garden. The peaceful nature of the gardens make it feel far removed from its actual location in the center of Paris.

Palais Royal 75001 Paris

Café Kitsuné

Coffee lover that I am, my mentality is that you can never drink too much coffee in a day not to mention it would be sinful to pass by Palais Royal and not visit Café Kitsuné. Grab a coffee to-go or a coffee affogato (espresso poured over ice cream) and enjoy it by the fountain in the gardens.

51 Galerie de Montpensier 75001 Paris

Lunch at Ellsworth

This spot has become very fashionable of late and its marble tables and instagrammable dishes might have a thing or two to do with it. Not only for aesthetic reasons though, the menu here is a stellar one and the food is a sensory delight.

34 Rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris

Dessert at Sébasiten Gaudard

If I’m not too full up from lunch at Ellsworth, I’ll stop by this tea room for dessert as the pastries inside are worth making a bit of room for. This whimsical party shop is the ideal place to come for a little over-indulgence, after all when in Paris…

1 Rue des Pyramides 75001 Paris

Walk through the Cour Carré du Louvre

The Louvre is a very short walk so I would recommend passing by to marvel at this architectural gem. Come here to take a few fun shots in front of the pyramid and just generally goof around the courtyard.

Louvre museum 75001 Paris

Jump on the ferris wheel

There’s nothing quite like seeing a city from above, so a perfect day in Paris always has to include a panorama. Riding on the ferris wheel is sure to put a smile on my face and make me feel like the luckiest person alive for having such an incredible day.

Tuileries Gardens

Rest those weary legs on one of the iconic green chairs in the beautiful Tuileries gardens. I always take a moment to take in all of the famous monuments which surround these gardens and pinch myself that I’m in Paris.

Tuileries gardens 75001 Paris

Cocktails at Hôtel Raphael

End the most wonderful day with a cocktail or two at Hôtel Raphael and catch the last rays of sun softly flickering behind the Parisian rooftops. I can’t imagine a better way to draw the day to a close than watching the sunset and the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the distance with good friends and good cocktails.

17 Avenue Kléber 75116 Paris

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. What would a perfect day in Paris look like to you?

Île Saint Louis

One morning on my most recent trip to Paris, a friend and I woke up at the crack of dawn, dashed around the apartment and left in a hurry to catch the sunrise. We caught the last flickers of the morning sun rising over the river Seine and it was magical. The reflection created a warm orange glow over the water and the dappled light danced off the buildings. We had the whole island to ourselves and strolled around the quiet streets anxious not to disturb the peace. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Loire Valley photo diary

The Loire Valley is an area in central France replete with French Renaissance magnificence. Whilst some people come for the wine, I came for the châteaux which dominate the region. Every castle and every landscape looks as though it belongs in a postcard. It seems funny that I’ve lived in Paris for so long yet haven’t travelled very extensively around the rest of France but as of now, I endeavour to change that. High on my list are the lavender fields of Provence, the medieval villages of the Dordogne and the sun-soacked Côte d’Azur. For now here are a few photos of my trip with a guide to the region coming soon.

 

Photos by Faye Bullock

Château de Chenonceau

The Château de Chenonceau is undeniably the most beautiful of all the castles I visited. It’s something of a dream seeing this castle sitting on the river Cher in all its French romantic splendour. I canoed down the river at sunset which provided unbeatable views over the castle and floating underneath the arches was by far the most serene moment of my time in the Loire Valley.  I was too scared to bring my camera and phone along for fear of them falling in the water but fortunately the moment will be etched into my memory for a long time. I would highly recommend waiting at the gates at the opening time to be the first one in here to beat the swarms of tourists, that way you’ll have the chequered and marble grande salle all to yourself and get some iconic shots of the castle without people in the way. Make sure to spend a whole day here basking in the glorious rose gardens and later picnicking along the water.

Photos by Faye Bullock

Château de Villandry

The Château de Villandry, one of the castles that I was most excited about visiting prior to my trip. I had heard wonderful things about the gardens and was impatient to see them. A friend had told me that they are among the most beautiful gardens in Europe and as her parents are both landscape architects, hers is a recommendation I can trust. Needless to say she was right. Whilst the castle is undoubtedly beautiful, the real attraction is the gardens. Often referred to as a tapestry of gardens and it’s not difficult to see why. The intricacy of the landscape design is astonishing and best seen from the elevated platform which provides aerial views over the gardens.

Cœur Vue

When I was last in Paris, I had the chance to stay in the most gorgeous Parisian apartment courtesy of Habitat Parisien. It was the kind of apartment that I dream of one day owning so I was pinching myself just staying in it for the short time that I did. As you enter the apartment, the most breathtaking view of Sacré Cœur greets you and standing on the balcony you almost feel close enough to touch the dome. It was the perfect place to rest our weary heads after long days of exploring. Waking up in the comfiest double bed with the Sacré Cœur peeping through the french windows bathed in a pink, sunlit hue was one of the most surreal moments of the trip. Come breakfast time we would stroll down Rue des Martyrs and pick up our morning croissants from Sébastien Guardard and a baguette from the local boulangerie which we would savour at the breakfast table. We would get out our map and plan the busy day ahead, reassured at the thought of our little abode awaiting us at the end of the day.

Just a few of the reasons I loved the apartment so much:-

The amenities: the apartment was fully equipped with all of the necessities which made our lives so much easier especially upon arrival. There is a landline and a television installed, which admittedly didn’t get used much but it was still great knowing that they were there. Chilled water in the fridge and travel sized samples in the bathroom made our stay feel more like a hotel.

The view:  Perhaps the reason that I feel so deeply in love with this apartment. Having such an iconic monument constantly in sight makes you appreciate every minute of being in Paris.

The métro: The apartment was located a 2 minute walk from the métro which was not only extremely convenient but also very assuring when returning late at night.

The location: The location was superb, there are so many hotspots on the doorstep that we needn’t have ever left the neighbourhood. You can walk to KB cafe shop for your morning coffee run, Rose Bakery for brunch, Hotel Amour for the leafy terrace and the Musée de la Vie Romantique for a quiet escape. The fact that you can fill your days with endless activities all discovered by foot without the need for public transport is a godsend.

The atmosphere: Standing at the veranda and watching everybody stare in awe at the Sacré Cœur is a wonderful feeling. Seeing other people with smiles on their faces makes me inexplicably happy.

The buzz: Come nightfall the area comes to life. There are dozens of hip eateries, mixologist cocktail bars and night clubs which will keep you dancing into the early hours of the morning. The best part is that they are all located on your doorstep. For a night to remember head to l’Artisan for a bite to eat, Glass for a killer cocktail, followed by the tiki bar Dirty Dick and lastly Carmen where you can dance until dawn. Top the night off by watching the sunrise over the whole of Paris from the foot of the Sacré Cœur basilica. The best part: you can quite literally see your bed waiting for you a couple of strides away.

Habitat Parisien offer a wide selection of rental apartments to make your stay in Paris as memorable as possible. If you’re interested in staying in the beautiful Cœur Vue apartment or any of the others, feel free to take a look at their website.

Château d’Ussé

It’s astounding to think just how many châteaux there are in one region of France and impossible to even contemplate tackling them all. All of them have their own charms but there is something distinctively enchanting about the privately owned ones. A favourite among these was the breathtaking Château d’Ussé otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty’s castle as Charles Perrault was inspired to write his famous fairytale after setting eyes on this château. You can climb the bell tower where Sleeping Beauty was kept for years for beautiful views of the manicured gardens flowing into the natural landscape of field after field of greenery. For some reason this château seems to escape the hordes of tourists so why don’t we just keep it between ourselves in the hope of keeping it that way?