February Getaway to Paris and London

March 04, 2018 8 Comments

Notre Dame from the Pont de l'Archeveche

Those of you who are friends in Oldwick and on Instagram know I’ve been out of town the last few weeks.  I was in Paris and London, where I stocked up on inspiration as well as one-of-a-kind antique and vintage treasures for the shop.

Had I been more organized, I would have posted while I was on the trip.  However, every day I came home, warmed up (it was freezing in both Paris and London!), poured a glass of wine, made dinner, and planned the next day’s adventure. Now that I’m home and finally over my jet lag, here is a bit of a recap and photos.

Paris was wonderful; cold and rainy for most of the trip, but still very beautiful and inspiring. I'd been to Paris twice before, many years ago.  I saw everything with fresh eyes, not only as, eh-em, someone older, but also as a new shop owner.  I was struck by how many fantastic, small, independent shops there are - housewares, bakeries, grocers, fromageries, florists - and the attention to detail they clearly strive for.  It's that exacting nature, engrained in their character surely in part from being surrounded by exquisite architecture and art at every turn, that helps make the most ordinary item - umbrella, dishcloth, baguette - special. Their shop displays are perfection.  I soaked up as much as I could before heading off to London.

The tidy, white courtyard leading to our apartment in the 6th arrondissement 

 L'Orangerie at Luxembourg Gardens, steps away from the apartment

Delicate white meringues in a bakery window in the 7th

The Musee Chasse de la Nature, or Museum of Hunting and Nature, is a wonderful gem.  I've been on the fence about taxidermy but when I walked into this grand and elegant place and saw the respect given to these magnificent animals, it made me realize it's a way to celebrate and learn about them.  

The decorator in me couldn't help but stare at the curtains and their passementerie.  Like I said, it's the attention to details.... 

At Vanessa Bruno, I spied a perfect outfit for Oldwick in the spring....

French cobblestone

A view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset.  How does anyone not fall in love with Paris?

Shopping at the Paris puces was a learning experience and such fun! I filled a box with lovely, small pieces for the shop and shipped it home.  

A cook's dream, E.Dehillerin.  In addition to copper pots, there is a fantastic selection of knives and bakeware.  

Nowhere in Paris were the concept and display of tabletop and entertaining items more inspiring than at exquisite Au Bain Marie. 

I spent hours in Le Bonne Marche's food hall, Le Grande Epicerie de Paris.  If you have any doubt about the French mastery of cooking and food, this incredible place will put them to rest.  I found myself staring at the dried herbs, wishing I could take them all home!  It's wonderful to see the care given the simplest items, as it should be.

Paris' many flower shops brightened up the gray days....

 I've decided this is the perfect shade of garden green!

Garden store by Pont Neuf.  Look at all the types of green bean seeds...green bean-obsessed Lord Grantham back home would be impressed!  

An outdoor food market, discovered on the walk back to the apartment.

Institut de France

One last look at the magical Seine before heading to England.

London was London, my favorite big city.  Its combination of space, greenery, architecture, history, and DOGS just works for me, makes me happy. After taking the Eurostar from Paris, I checked into my small hotel near Kensington Garden, chosen for the little kitchen in the room where I cook my breakfast and dinners, and took off on a tear.  So much to do!  The tube is easy to use and I use it often to save time but my preference is always to walk and look.  My favorite first thing to do is stroll through KG and Hyde Park, towards Buckingham Palace, Westminster and the Thames.  Then I know I’m in London and get really excited. 

 The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace

I made it to one museum while in London, the Royal Academy of Arts, where the Charles I exhibition is being held. It's been awhile since I looked at Baroque and Renaissance art and it's truly mind-boggling how skilled the artists were. It also boggles the mind that at least half of the masterpieces on display were on loan from Her Majesty The Queen.  I can't imagine what it's like to walk through her palaces.

Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden

St. Paul's at night

I was sad to hear the legendary interior design firm, Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, had moved from their incredible Georgian townhouse on Brook Street after 70 years.  It makes sense they are now on Pimlico Road, along with so many other English decorating stars. The new space is lovely and their incredible style hasn't changed at all. 

Proper scale and understated yet beautiful decoration - of course! - outside the C&F showroom.  Next door is fantastic Howe, another source for Larger Cross inspiration...

Everything at Daylesford is perfect.  In fact, almost too perfect for my taste - I like things just a bit rough around the edges - but I admire what they do and the standards they keep.  It's a pleasure walking through their shops.

Do I say The Cloth Shop in Notting Hill is a cult favorite? It's a tiny fabric shop, yet, when I mentioned I was stopping in before I left the States, a few people told me they were dying to go there as well.  It certainly has a well-deserved following...they stock beautiful fabrics and their one-of-a-kind pieces have great style!

A Liberty of London flower shot, of course....

 John Derian and Astier de Villatte together is magic, the perfect collaboration.

London's foodie heaven, Borough Market, albeit much less formal than Paris' La Grande Epicure de Paris.  It is south of the Thames in Southwark and this part of town, along with neighboring Bermondsey, has a great vibe.  Next time I'm in London I hope to explore more.  

The Floral Studio, Portobello Road

Clifton Nurseries, Maide Vale

In both cities there were flowers everywhere.  Not only in the shops and on their sidewalk displays, but also in the parks and gardens. It made me realize spring is just around the corner, even if the UK just got hit by the Beast from the East (I got out the day before it landed!) and, back home, the Northeast got socked by a nasty Nor’easter with another on the way.  I took in and learned quite a bit on this trip and look forward to returning to both places, soon I hope!  For now, though, I’m happy to be home in Oldwick with this guy :-). 

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Nancy Halstead
Nancy Halstead

November 03, 2019

New to instagram and you. Seeing your shop is very inspiring! Love floral fabric shown with cat, is this still available? Info on that and throws shown in basket on floor in post on 11/3. Pictures of buying trip so wonderful. Thank you.

Joan Brady
Joan Brady

March 30, 2018

Hilary Prouty just led me to your shop and you! I’ve just finished Alice Waters’ “Coming to my Senses”, the story of how she fell in love with France, it’s food and wine etc (delightful book!) So, now reading and looking at your blog and recent trip…AND seeing you, too, have a black lab…AND remembering that Deck was going to bring you over to see my gardens last summer, I just need to say HELLO, ALICE!

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