I spy with my little eye... a rainy wedding in Normandie.

After a busy week in Paris, we headed to Normandie to marry off D. and S. I've known D. for 15 years, and I clearly remember the first time he told me about this girl he had met at uni and how he couldn't figure out whether or not he had his chances with her. It was the time of our sleepless nights, 6am walks in the countryside, stopping at the bakery for some warm croissants, and breakfasts on the beach, before going to bed at 8am, only to do it all over again the day after... All these memories were witnessed and allowed by C's mother who used to host us, and very kindly offered for us to stay at hers for the wedding. Oh how I love these beds under the roof of that little house in Blonville-sur-Mer. Thank you T. for allowing us to wake you up in the middle of the night, once more. I promise we really try to be quiet every time!

According to Normandie's  tradition, we arrived under a rainy sky. In France we have a saying that can be understood in 2 different ways: "the later you get married, the merrier", or "the rainier the wedding, the merrier". Surprisingly, the 2nd version is the most popular.That being said, Normandie is such a pretty region, it's easy to forget the rain. How cute is this townhall (that conveniently is a cinema too, see the sign on the right hand)?

The funny thing about Normandie is that, a little bit like England, you can have the 4 seasons in a day. Luckily for us, the evening was as sunny as the afternoon had been rainy! So we discovered the Champs Delaunay under a perfect light! The bride and groom had put a lot of effort in the decoration. It was gorgeous.

After the ecumenical ceremony, we all enjoyed the garden and champagne, perfect opportunity to catch up!
As you can see, the flamingos on my Alice + Olivia skirt were very happy to run free.

Happy Shiny people.

And then the dinner... I must admit, I had never eaten that well at a wedding, so a big Merci to D. and S. for organising such a beautiful day. And a big thank you to T. for hosting us. There are no pictures of the evening for the simple reason that we had to leave fast after dinner for a 10h drive the day after, all the way to Albi, in the South of France, stay tuned!

I spy with my little eye... Paris flea market.

When looking for vintage in Paris, you can just wander the streets of the Marais, look for "brocantes", auction houses, or go to the flea markets. There are two of these, one in the South (les puces de Vanves), and one in the North (les puces de Saint Ouen). I personally like the South more because it is more of a market, rather than established shops, and I feel like I can bargain more. But since you never know what and who you are going to find in the South and I really needed a big dose of vintage, it was easier to go North this year.

The Clignancourt flea market is like a little village with different markets. Each one is supposed to have their specialty but I never really got it. For me they are all the same, the only difference I could see is that at some markets, the sellers are nicer than others. I like the Serpette market because it is a maze of mess. I like antics messes, I like the idea that the next treasure is round the corner. And you will really find everything in here: furniture, garments, watches, art, toys, jewellery, china, designer pieces (Chanel, Dior, De La Renta, Hermes, Vuitton...) etc...

I will admit I never found any piece of clothing nor hat. One reason is that I never really tried, the other one is that vendors are not so inviting. They could work on being warmer and more welcoming instead of asking you not to touch the pieces nor take photos, I mean, what's the worst that could happen? You would copy a garment? They are a hundred years old so it's not like it hasn't been done before. 

The Gentleman got a little "silver stamping" lesson.

Very inviting shop, very uninviting prices. I was allowed to take a picture "only because you were nice enough to ask".

After a busy day of walking and unsuccessful thrifting, we met with lil'sis' for a well deserved steak at the very famous Bouillon Chartier. Created in 1896, this canteen is a parisian legend: a simple menu, decent food (don't expect 3 Michelin stars), very effective waiters, very low prices, and a decor that hasn't changed for 100 years. The initial concept was to win customers loyalty with cheap prices. The regulars would even have a tiny mailbox with a key to keep their napkin there.

Lately, it has become lil'sis'headquater but it was a first for me. I found and staff charming, and very effective, the place is full of its legend. Foodwise, the wine was good, the steak was decent but again, don't expect a gastronomical evening and don't expect to spend your evening there, within 45 minutes, we were done and out! It was quick and effective but it was worth it, I loved the retro feel!

I spy with my little eye... St Germain des Pres mon amour.

Ah Saint Germain des Pres! The 6th arrondissement, where the jazz movement started, and the heart of Paris art galleries and inspiration to many french authors! Also one of the prettiest districts. The perfect place to spend a day wandering, letting the city guide you. 

So we had a little walk before meeting M. for lunch in her new flat, in the heart St Germain. How amazing is this crooked little flat?

After lunch, we stopped for coffee! I'm always surprised by the fact that this neighbourhood isn't packed with tourists, I guess there aren't any monument except for the unforgettable Cafe de Flore. Founded in 1887, this now Art Deco Cafe was the headquarter of Paris literature intelligentia in the 20th century, it is filled with anecdotes and regulars as much as tourists. I wouldn't have dinner there but I like to indulge in a glass of bubbly there if I'm in the area.

Working on our smiles...

After this long pause, we strolled along the bank of the Seine. I love having a look at the vendors along the river, they sell mainly old books and magazines. This is where I found 20th century fashion magazines and ads from the 50's. It's right on the street so it could be a touristy market but actually if you take the time to speak to the vendors, they know their stuff. They specialise in specialties: cosmetics, literature, art, cooking, fashion etc... and if you ask them, they will tell you which vendor to go to for what ever you're looking for. An easy, affordable, accessible way to find little treasures!

Then we headed the other side of the district to catch up with C. How could I explain the concept of the C.... Yes, I don't think about her as a person but more as a concept (read her HOB interview here). She is the essence of the Parisian. She is simple, nuts but in a very distinguish way, she doesn't care about a lot of things except those she loves and her art gallery, she is amused by my "crazy way of living" and, three years later, she is still struggling to understand why in the world I left Paris?!! Our little ritual is for me to visit her at her gallery Perception Park, go to the Mexican restaurant round the corner to get a couple of margaritas, and sip them on the bank of the Seine a couple of meters down or just on the street, by her gallery. This time it was barefoot, in the street!

I spy with my little eye... Paris, from the 8th to the 19th district.

When in Paris I love to walk for hours! This is how I beat the macaroons + champagne + cheese + red wine equation. 
Since I can't resist Pierre Herme's colourful and surprising macaroons, especially with my coffee at breakfast (he just opened a shop in Dubai at Mall of Emirates... People, we have officially entered the era of indulgence), and since Paris greeted us with a gorgeous weather, the Gentleman and I put on our walking shoes and off we went!

 From the 16th dictrict where we were staying, down the Champs Elysees, up to the 8th district, where luxury houses have their headquarters (Hermes, Richemont, Dior...) for a cosy lunch in a little alley with an ex colleague from my Lacroix days:

We then took the metro to reach The Marais in the 4th arrondissement (aka as the trendy area). We wandered around the vintage shops, and met my good friend Melanie for a drink and a healthy chat since she is a naturopath and well-known french food blogger. Check her website here.

Finally when the sun started to set, we headed towards the arty 19th district to meet with S. She is a documentary director and always surprises me with quirky venues.This time it was the Ourcq Canal which I am not familiar with. It actually looks like a whole other city, reinforcing the idea that Paris is a multitude of villages.

That was a long, full day, that ended up with laughter, pasta and a glass of red wine!

I spy with my little eye... Oh Mamie, Mamie Blue.

Vintage shops and flea markets are what I miss the most in Dubai. So when in Paris... you literally have to pull me out of them!

Starting with my favourite shop of all times: Mamie! There are actually 2 sister shops: I love the joyful mess at Mamie, I never found any piece of clothing there but they always have great accessories, and Mamie Blue is my go-to place for hats! These places are often visited by theatre and cinema professionals. I love the ambiance as much as the owners who are the essence of parisians: moody, big mouth, loud, joyful, and I am still trying to figure out how the hell they keep track of their stocks...

Alice in Wonderland...

I can spend hours trying on hats at Mamie Blue, and if I have any doubt on how to wear them, I usually ask the owner. This day she actually decided to do my hair...

Sometimes it works out better than others:

But it is definitively my happy place!

And the answer is yes, I did find an other, actually 2 other hats: 40's and 50's!

For more information on Mamie and Mamie Blue, click here.

I spy with my little eye... a merry day in Montmartre.

One of the reasons of my trip to Paris was to attend two friends weddings. I've known them since we were teenagers and they decided to get married in Paris one week apart from each other, how convenient for the expat that I am!
On my first parisian Saturday, the weather was absolutely sunny, the city was calm, it was the perfect day to head to Montmartre and marry T. off. He is french, she is romanian, they met and live in China, and they said yes in the most romantic part of Paris.

So we put our nicest outfits on... Vintage dress and bag, Miu Miu sunglasses and Bourjois matte lipstick!

 and headed to the 18th district townhall.

Where we waited for a solid hour. It seems to be a tradition in France, even townhall is late. I can't complain since it was a great opportunity to catch up with everybody and to meet the bride!
The Gentleman was happy to document the event with his camera as while we patiently waited in the corridors of the french administration.

The bride's clear and loud "Yes!" was definitively the highlight of the day!
After officiallising T. and M.'s international relationship, M., C., the Gentleman and I headed to the heights of Montmartre for an Art deco lunch at La Mascotte. Oysters and fish on the menu with a sunny glass of white wine, that's my kind of day.

Lil'sis' joined the fun for lunch and stayed for a little walk in this neighbourhood where we both lived.

Ice cream stop was definitively required and mandatory! Happy happy gal'!

Our little wander took us to the 43 up Rooftop where M. had booked a table. Amazing view!

I spy with my little eye... Bonjour Paris!

Bonjour pitchouns! I have been in France for a week now, running up and down Paris for a wedding, thriftshopping, catching up with friends, family and mostly eating and drinking wine (life is a question of priorities). As children, my sister, cousin and I use to love play dress up with my aunts clothes. The family flat in Paris was an Ali Baba cave where we would find all sorts of treasures, heaven for 3 little girls who were rather "coquettes". This probably explains how I ended up working in fashion, my sister and cousin in cosmetics.

Catching up with my sister, all we needed was a glass of champagne (graciously offered by my father) to start reminiscing...

Amongst Paris treasures, my mother found my great-grand-parents wedding invite. Such a lovely and priceless surprise!

Champagne and family reunions often come with pastries that my father loves to go and buy for the Sunday lunch. I have to admit I love this ritual. This is what my first day in Paris looked like.

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