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Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Corsica’s coolest

Yesterday I arrived back in London after a beautiful 11 day trip to France during which time I spent five days in Corsica – the other Emerald Isle, in my opinion anyway.

I spent most of my time in the little town of L’ile Rousse. These were my favourite finds.

For a cute buy

Soi 3 Corsica

Shop for cool quirky stuff and sip on goooood smoothies.

Soi 3 is one of the quirkiest little stores I’ve ever seen. One-of-a-kind stationary sets (black with neon multi-coloured polka dots), frogs in a jar that once you add water turn to dashing young princes. There are also those ever expected photo frames – but seriously cool ones, fridge magnets that double up as bottle openers, belly rings and my favourite, the Freudian slip post-it notes. Genius. Oh and you can also grab lunch from their pasta-only menu or sip on a freshly made fruit smoothie. Find the store in Avenue Piccioni.

Bakeries

Bertini Corsica L'ile Rousse

Bertini

The locals get their paninis, croissants, pizzas, quiches and other sweet delights from Bertini which is in Avenue Paul Doumer or from Tomasini which is on the corner from Rue Paoli and Avenue Piccioni.

Tomasini Corsica L'ile Rousse

Tomasini

Best restaurants

La Crepiere Corsica L'ile Rousse

La Creperie

La Creperie sells good quality food at great prices. Most restaurants in Corsica close from 3pm – 7pm and only start serving food at 12pm. La Creperie is open just about all the time. They have good omelettes, pizzas, salads, yummy crepes (sweet and savoury) and ice-cream sundaes and serve a pretty decent espresso. All round, they’re super and they’re right on the beach front so you get a great view too.

Chez Paco Corsica L'ile Rousse

Chez Paco

For a mind-blowing paella that will leave you gob-smacked, you have to go to Chez Paco. It’s a family run restaurant that’s been around for 30 years and they specialise in paella. I will be dreaming of this meal until I return to Corsica. Unbelievable. The portion is huge so for good reason, they only serve paella for a minimum of two people. They also make their own version of the traditional Corsican lemon liqueur. Chez Paco, 18 Rue Napolean.

Another fabulous restaurant that you should dine at, is L’Altore. They make the most unbelievable mussels with your choice of curry, garlic and olive oil, roquefort cheese and cream. They serve them with super crunchy french fries that have their middles scooped out so each french fry can be used to scoop up the lip-licking sauce of your choice. They also make fabulous salads like their roast vegetable  salad, or the one with warm, crispy octopus on greens and crispy mini-roast potatoes. The bacon and fried goats cheese salad is also super delicious as too their fried calamari-rings that they serve as a starter. And their Irish Coffee? It’s the biggest one you will ever be served and it comes in a venetian glass that could easily double up as  vase. Awesome. L’Altore, Place du marche

Local designers

Bianc' & Neru Corsica L'ile Rousse

Bianc' & Neuru

I was so surprised to see how fashion forward all the stores in Corsica are! I found the boutique shopping to be better than that in Nice and the local jewellery designers make some stunning pieces. There were a pair of rose gold earrings that caught my eye. They were a modern take on the map of Corsica and so delicate and pretty. Local clothing label, Bianc’ & Neru sells high-quality T-shirts, vests and hoodies for guys and girls that have a number of awesome prints, embellished designs and styles to choose from. Look out for their stores scattered in most of Corsica’s main cities.

Markets

Markets Corsica L'ile Rousse

Cheese lovers unite

There are markets in every little town around Corsica. Monday to Sunday farmers, bakers and local producers sell their products from morning till lunch time in L’ile Rousse. There is so much to choose from: cheeses, meat, bacon, ham, fish, local sweet dishes, honey, olive oil, biscuits, nougat and loads more. It’s best to go hungry… So you can try them all! My favourite sweet treats were the honey, polenta and date mini-cakes, the crispy and syrupy bowties and the mini-baklava.

Corsica L'ile Rousse

Yum!

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Corsica in pictures

Corsica

Corsica

Corsica

Corsica

Corsica

Corsica

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Cannes France

Flowers in bloom in Cannes.

Cannes France

Cannes: One of my favourite photos from my whole trip.

Cannes France

Cannes: I am in love with these trees.

Monaco France

Walking the streets of Monaco in my new white pumps that I bought in Cannes.

Monaco France

Monaco: Wow... That's a lot of money right there...

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Juan les Pins

Tucked away on the coastline between Nice and Cannes lies a number of little seaside towns. I haven’t visited them all, but I’m almost sure that none are as quaint as Juan les Pins.

Juan les Pins

Juan les Pins' promenade

While in Nice, I jumped on the 200 bus and headed to Cannes but before I got there, I jumped off at Juan les Pins on recommendation from two people I know who have travelled extensively. Thanks John and Katy. Fabulous advice.

While I was there, I walked along the pretty promenade and had lunch at Esterel Place which dreamily took me back a few years to when I was sipping mojitos in Thailand. Esterel Place serves a fabulous, lip-smacking pot of mussels with crunchy frites (french fries). The portions are huge (and it’s VERY reasonable) so I was grateful that I had le boyfriend with me to polish off the meal. I would rather have fainted than send one mussel back uneaten!

Mussels and frites

Mussels, frites and mojitos

If you’re ever in the area, check this place out. It’s worth ever second of your adventurous time.

Deets: Esterel Plage (Juan les Pins promenade) – 04 9361 0118

Need to know mojito information: Regular mojitos are topped up with soda water. Royale mojitos are topped up with champagne.

Juan les Pins

The perfect place to soak up the sunshine...

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Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris

No caption needed

Sacre Coeur Paris

Sacre Coeur, Paris

Michael Bolton, Paris

What's more '80s than a sunburn? Michael Bolton.

My travel tips when visiting Paris:

1. Get hopelessly lost on purpose. It’s the best way to see the city – there’s something fabulous in every nook of this city.

2. Skip the croissant and munch popcorn instead while starring at the Eiffel Tower. It really is as wonderful to watch as your favourite DVD.

3. Pack comfy shoes. Very very comfy shoes. Stop thinking you can compete with the fashion pack, wearing those heels. Honey, you’re not French. It’s not going to happen for you.

4. Having lunch any where on the Champs-Élysées is expensive. And no, McDonalds doesn’t count.

5. If you’re keen to shop, make sure you’ve got a full bank account. Or daddy’s credit card 🙂

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Point Ephemere

Point Ephemere

Point Ephemere's website

On our first night in Paris, le boyfriend and I were feeling a tad bit buggered. We had just walked the city flat, jumped on one tube after the next and gawked our way through one tourist hot spot after the next.

We heard it before we spotted it – the music was pumping, the lights were flashing, people were chattering so loudly that between the music and the lights and the doof-doof, it was just what we needed to collect the last few joules of energy rushing through our veins for a little bit of a party.

Point Ephemere is where it’s at people. The food is awesome. The bar is crazy cool. The people are eclectic and a little boho and weird enough for you to think that they’re fabulous. There’s mad art hanging off the warehouse-looking walls and also sports the same bright graffiti art that adds character and grit to the rebellious neighbourhoods of Paris.

If you’re in Paris, you have to pay this place a visit.

Deets:

Point Ephemere, Centre de Dynamiques Artistiques Tel: 01 40340406                                                                                                                                                                                                           Email: restaurant@pointephemere.org                                                                                                                                                                   Addy: 200 quai de Valmy 75010 Paris                                                                                                                                                                Website: www.pointephemere.org

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Yesterday I decided to get lost. More specifically, I decided to get lost in Notting Hill. So, I did.

Portobello Road, Notting Hill

Portobello Road, Notting Hill

I jumped off the tube at Notting Hill Gate and then made my way down to Portobello Road and the infamous antiques market where you can get trinkets with all the brass bells and whistles that you could ever wish for. I’m not a massive fan of antiques, but the quirk and nostalgic nature of it all leaves you with a little giddy feeling that somehow, you just can’t shake for the rest of the day.

But there were loads of other places that caught my eye. Like Appletree Boutique which has the prettiest, most floaty chiffon dresses I have ever seen. They’ve got a crazy sale (50% off) going on at the moment and it took all the control I could muster up not to swipe away. Just a little further down from Appletree is Fussy Nation – home to oddball bits and bobs like cupcake-flavoured lip balm where you can get your fix in peanut butter, double chocolate and cinnabon.

Cupcake lip balm

Cupcake lip balm... Told you so!

Or if you’re having a rockstar moment, grab a gold-studded black leather clutch. And of course, le boyfriend would be terribly sad if you didn’t get him anything so swipe a Sherlock Holmes action figure and get some brownie points in the process. Staying with laugh-out-loud buys, Octopus has the cutest hair clips, brooches and alice bands I have ever seen. The bright plastic pandas, scottish terriers, wide-eyed anime girls and fried eggs brought out the pop-art lover in me. I love!

My last stop in Portobello road was at Jack Wills. Girls, if you’ve looking for slim-fitting, straight-cut vintage school blazers to wear to the Cambridge vs Oxford race next weekend, hot foot down to Notting Hill. They’ve got them in royal blue with white pin-stripes and pink with lilac pin-stripes. Stunning.

Jack Wills

Jack Wills

Before your journey veers you away from Portobello road check out the Electric Cinema Theatre – the oldest purpose built cinema in the UK. It opened its doors for the first time to the public in 1911, survived the war and celebrates the world that was with regular vintage screenings. It’s a definite must-see.

Electric Cinema

Electric Cinema

When your tummy starts to grumble, head to Westbourne Grove road and sample the wares at Daylesford Organic. It’s a little pricey but the salads are fresh, the bread is baked to perfection and the selection of take-away sandwiches will have you reaching for your magic 8 ball. For those on a bit of a budget, take a short walk to Ledbury Road and take a seat at the communal table at Ottolenghi. The spread of mouth-watering grilled fish, salads, bakes and pastries will tempt you to want to eat all day. I had aubergine, tomato and goats cheese bake (£4.50) and then as I was paying, a little buttermilk scone with orange and currants called out my name. I couldn’t say ‘No.’

Notting Hill has all the old-school charm of a pocket watch. Between the monument-sized Victorian houses and high-street boutiques there’s a modern sensibility about it that makes it feel familiar and homely. So next time you have a free afternoon, skip the hussle and bustle of Soho and head to Notting Hill instead. And leave your watch at home.

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