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/
The luxury department store Le Bon Marché is home to an equally upscale specialty grocery store called La Grande Épicerie. What is just so grand about it? Well they have every ingredient, sauce, or sweet confection a true Parisian chef can dream of.
Though I’m not a connaisseur of exotic jams or honey, I love to look through the thousands of perfectly packaged items and dream of one day being able to cook my guests a three course meals using these lavish recipes. I do however do plenty of shopping at their baked goods section! Aside from the rasberry cakes, and strawberry cakes, and mousses of chocolate, I love to get a box of macarons. I opted for the following flavors. lychee, yuzu vanilla, pistachio and rasberry. Mmm, c’est delicieux!
It’s finally spring in Paris! The cherry blossoms and magnolia trees are stretching their petals through out the city. We’re also lucky strawberry season is upon us. Time for strawberry cakes and nutella dipped desserts. The whole city is blooming.
Shopping at the market for fruits, flowers and time spent on the terrace drinking tea is never wasted.Hello Spring!
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!
I tend to get lost and lose track of time while exploring through Parisian streets, but I’ve got a handy tool to organize my day. I collaborated with Jord, a luxury hand-crafted watch brand from the U.S. which specializes in wooden watches.
I opted for the Dark Sandalwood from the Fieldcrest series because I like it’s simplicity. The minimal design is discrete – Parisians don’t like anything too flashy – and the wood wraps softly around my wrist..
So I can get breakfast at Carette, macarons at Le Bon Marche, and take photos of my outfit with this cute little wooden arm candy that’s also helpful. Shop the brand here JORD.
It’s officially Paris Fashion Week so I took advantage and poked through showrooms between rue Saint-Honoré and Le Marais to hunt for some serious labels. I discovered Officina del Poggio.
The luxury leather handbag brand is based in Italy and designed by Allison Nicole Hoeltzel, a Texan native with a passion for minimal design and of course, quality leather. In her take on leather craftsmanship, she opts for durability – doing away with synthetic linings in order to make timeless pieces that withstand aging. I’m a fan of the “Bauletto” bags from her prefall collection, but check out her broad selection of satchels, totes and more Officina del Poggio.
Lily of the Valley, not the scented poisonous blooms but the tea room by Temple is a romantic’s fantasy. Run by a married couple, Paul and Pauline, their decor transports you to an Alice in Wonderland tea in the garden atmosphere. The ceiling is covered with lush greenery and flowers hanging low, the porcelain tea cups and even the tiny pink floral details of the sofa pillows give a fairy tale feel.
I stopped by for Earl Grey tea and a chocolate chip cookie which was gracefully brought to my table by Paul in a silver platter. The Parisian born owner evidently cares for aesthetics – pâtisserie books and candles decorate the shelves. Even the seemingly fading floor pattern is vogue. (The owners seem to have a knack for everything adorable, after all their marriage proposal was on an air balloon.) If you’d like the chance to be whisked away on a daydreaming cloud for a moment of your day, stop by for afternoon tea.
Find it: Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003 Paris