Portofino guide

This week I’ve had the pleasure of road tripping through the Italian Riviera, the first stop on our map was Portofino. We took the scenic route and passed picturesque towns indented into the coast along the way. The sight of clear blue skies in October and the feeling of fresh air rushing in through the car windows only heightened our excitement to arrive at our destination. Portofino lived up to every hope we had for it. It’s a beautiful fishing port with brightly coloured houses, a cobbled square lined with restaurants and a marina overflowing with luxury yachts. But its appeal comes not only from its beauty but also from the peace and tranquility which the town seems to radiate. Maybe we went in the quieter season when visitors had already packed up and left, but we enjoyed it all the more. Whilst eating out one evening, we asked the owner for his recommendations, to which he replied, “castle, church, lighthouse and you’ve seen all of it”. He wasn’t far off, Portofino is charmingly tiny but it still helps to have a few addresses up your sleeve, so below I’ve curated a few of our favourite places to help you uncover the best of this little harbour town.

Belmond Splendido

The Belmond Splendido is the epitome of luxury. It’s located in the verdant hills and overlooks the bay of Portofino with its deep turquoise waters and extravagent boats docked in the marina. You needn’t stay overnight but can enjoy the glamour of the hotel with drinks and dinner on the flower covered terrace followed by a romantic evening of live piano music.

Hotel Eden

The very pretty Hotel Eden is only a couple of footsteps away from the harbour and could not be any more conveniently located. It has a very Italian ambience due to the laidback owner, the interior décor and the romantic verandas.

San Fruttuoso

San Fruttuoso is the neighbouring fishing village and is much more modest but equally as charming as Portofino. You can hike there in a couple of hours, grab lunch by the sea and catch a water taxi back.

Ristorante Puny

Ristorante Puny has received rave reviews and with good reason. Come here for authentic Ligurian cuisine in the heart of the harbour.

I Gemelli

This restaurant has been in the family for eight generations and you can tell it’s held close to the heart due to the passion and care that goes into the cuisine. We enjoyed a faultless meal and swore that we ate the best pesto and best lemon gelatohere.

Castello Brown

Whilst the castle itself is rather pretty, the real reason to visit is the picture perfect views over Portofino which can be enjoyed from the terrace.

San Giorgio Church

This sunshine yellow church can be seen from meandering around the town but its worthwhile venturing up the slight hill to enter inside.

The lighthouse

Follow the footpath from the aforementioned castle to the lighthouse for beautiful views out to the open Mediterranean sea. At the top lies a little bar with the cheeriest owner so you can cool down and take in the scenery.

Mallorca guide

Mallorca makes up one of the Balearic islands off of Spain. It’s gained quite the reputation as a Brits-on-Tour holiday destination but away from Palma and the buzzing nightlife, there are rugged coves, rocky beaches and incredible viewpoints to be uncovered. There are endless beaches bordering the coastline, some little frequented by tourists due to the difficulty in reaching them. To my mind, Mallorca is a prime example of the best things in life not coming easy as all of Mallorca’s gems aren’t easy to reach. You’ll have to hike over mountains, descend rocky paths and sweat in the summer heat if you want to discover the best of the island. Reaching the secluded coves with their crystal clear waters makes all of the hard work worthwhile though. I would advise heading to the North of the island or along the East coast as those are the less spoilt areas, below is a guide to Northern Mallorca inclusive of the best beaches and bars.

Cala Boquer 

 Cala Boquer is a beautiful secluded beach with crystal like waters and very few people in sight. However it isn’t easy to reach; it entails a long walk over part of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range before you even get a glimpse of the sea but the beautiful beach which awaits is worth the rocky hike.

Cala Figuera 

Cala Figuera is an idyllic cove where the turquoise waters lap against the pebbled shore. You’ll have to descend a steep, rocky path to reach it but the enticing sea below will keep you motivated on your descent. Set up base on one of the flatter rocks with breathtaking views overlooking the sea and the few boats which are anchored a little further out.

Cala Sant Vicenç – Cala Cabro

This area of northern Mallorca is a haven for secluded coves. Each beach is only a couple of minutes from the next but my favourite among them is Cala Cabro which is the furthest one away. It’s the most tranquil and by far the prettiest with its clear blue waters which is probably why its the most popular spot for scuba divers and kayakers.

3/65 Restaurante

This luxury hotel is nestled atop the hill of a vineyard and has all the charm of rural Spain. Luxurious four poster beds border the swimming pool where guests are relaxing with an iced beverage. A sense of calm surrounds the pool where everyone talks in hushed tones afraid of disrupting the beauty that the peace brings. The bar and restaurant are open to non-guests and the tucked away terrace is the ideal shady spot to enjoy a glass of wine from their extensive wine list.

La Moraleja

La Moraleja is a private mansion turned hotel in the aforementioned Sant Vicenç region and is as opulent as hotels come in Mallorca. It has beautiful rococo and neoclassical elements through the hotel and into the secluded gardens. The perfect place to enjoy a flawless frozen daiquiris lounging by the pool.

Cap de Formentor

The lighthouse stop Cap Formentor landmarks the most northerly point on the island. It’s a pretty scary ride to get there and its hair pin bends and terrifying cliff faces ensure you concentrate on nothing but the road ahead. The views make it all worthwhile: a mass of blue as far as the eye can see.

Paris photo diary

My most recent trip to Paris was truly wonderful. It always feels so great returning to familiar places although admittedly it does feel strange to no longer call Paris my permanent home. It was a trip full of emotions as I was overjoyed to be back yet slightly heartbroken to leave again after only a couple of short days. I returned to familiar haunts as well as testing out a couple of new ones. I had the pleasure of staying in one of Habitat Parisien‘s beautiful apartments which made my stay even more magical. Waking up to the the view of the Sacré Cœur bathed in a soft orange glow was the best way my days could have started and going to bed with it glowing in the dark sky filled my dreams and inspired me for the busy days ahead. Below is a photo diary of a few of the photos I took whilst there that didn’t make it into the other posts.

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