Photos by Ketevan Giorgadze IG: @katie.one
Perched at the top of the steps of Montmartre is the Australian restaurant Hardware Société bringing it’s Melbourne flair for brunching to a space decorated by black and white tiles, marble top tables and colorful golden rimmed coffee cups – a blogger’s dream café.
Though I can’t say I enjoyed the climb up the stairs (it’s next to the Sacre Coeur Basilica), the quiet neighborhood was an oasis in the typically polluted streets of Paris.
I went up with my friend Katie (whose photos I shared) and ordered from the tempting menu. A flat white, a plate of roasted mushroom with poached eggs on a bed of cheese and toast, an egg casserole (fries mixed with chorizo and eggs) and a raspberry pastry. It’s worth climbing the stairway to heaven!
I was never the kind of little girl who dreamt of princesses and castles.Though I did own enough Barbies to populate a tiny island, it wasn’t until recently that I got the idea to spend a night in Cinderella’s abode.
Apart from the many palaces and castles kept as historic landmarks and museums, France has hundreds of castles used as a hotel space where you can book your wedding or just spend the night. I chose Château Landel – a small getaway between Paris and the town of Rouen (where Gustav Flaubert the author of Madame Bovary is from).
The bedroom was small with rose pattern wallpaper, a circlular window that opened to the gardens and lamps whose yellow light made me feel I was in an abbey. The bed squeaked and the wooden beams were ancient, but this is what sleeping in an old French home is like – quaint, cozy, and 18th-century-ish. Of course, it was traumatic when the WiFi wasn’t working, but it was nice to step away from the digital world and spend an evening gazing at the stars. After all, the place describes itself as ‘le relais du silence’.
How beautiful it was when the light of morning peaked through my window, and my breakfast was brought to my bed. I dipped into flaky croissants, orange juice, tea and pain au chocolat. Everything is so fresh in the countryside – the food is warm, the air is clean, the people are kind. A weekend in a castle is a lovely break from Paris.
Château Landel: http://www.chateau-du-landel.fr/fr/
Château de Chenonceau
For Easter weekend I traded noisy Paris for the quaint and quiet French countryside of Le Val de Loire. This area is known for its many castles, among the most beautiful are Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord and Château de Blois.
It was special to see the lovely Château Chenonceau, which I had dreamt of visiting ever since I saw a picture of it in my grandfather’s French book years ago. Though it resembles a princess castle, it didnt’t belong to royalty! The couple who built it were bankers.
Magnolia tree in Château de Blois
Château de Chambord
I stayed not in a castle, but a bed & breakfast in the middle of a forest without Wi-Fi. The next morning I woke up to croissants, granola and hot milk overlooking the woods of which I have no decent photos except of this souvenir. It is lovely to detach from social media and get away for the weekend!
Breakfast of croissants and a warm cup of coffee at Café de Flore, this is how to spend the morning when in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Sitting on these wooden chairs, reading a book in the morning light, projects a peaceful aura among the raucous of incoming tourists. There’s a chirping going on from the right corner of the restaurant – a parakeet. The waiters of this historic place – once the hangout of philosophers like Sartre – actually allowed an old man to bring in his parakeet and it’s perched on his shoulder singing to the content of a toddler in the table next to it.
The Rive Gauche is known for being more laid back, and I assume the more eccentric folk linger here. It’s got none of the hectic stress of the East of Paris, and that’s why it’s perfectly fine for a bird to be in the restaurant. I don’t mind even if the coffee is expensive, and it’s swarmed by tourists. Café de Flore takes you back to the old Paris – rich with the charm of the past.
Find it: 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris