Thursday, 23 February 2012

Discover France with In-Room

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
For those of you traveling to France (or those already there) and interested in finding the best of the best on offer in not only Paris but many of the other beautiful regions and cities in France, here is the website that will quickly get you to where you want to go and to what you want to experience.

In-Room is a new, high end and importantly user friendly website highlighting the best of everything on offer in various destinations within here to enter

They tell us.....

''We have kept our site deliberately clutter-free and simple so it’s easy to navigate, with destination links to find that specific place in France, and categories to find where to stay, eat, shop etc'' 

''An event calendar with the highlights in the whole of France is also available under explore. Our special offers have their own spot in the main menu, as they may actually influence your entire travel plan''!

I can personally recommend this site, because I know that the people behind the scenes live and breath France, and appreciate quality and good service.  Now fortunately for us they are sharing their inside knowledge on In-Room!

Bookmark this site and enjoy exploring, discovering and booking the best there is in France.

Millie x

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Le Marais, Paris, France

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Summer play time in Place des Vosges

The Marais, Paris:
I moved apartments so many times when I was living in Paris that I know many of its arrondissements like the back of my hand.

My last apartment before leaving for Italy was located in the Marais and is undoubtedly one of my favourite areas of Paris.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Vintage on Place des Vosges

Many of the districts in Paris have a distinct village feel to them and if you never wanted to venture further than your own arrondissement you would still have everything that you could possibly need or desire within a short walking distance.   It is this intimate village atmosphere that I miss in my daily life when I am not there.

Whenever I moved to a new area of Paris, the first thing I did was to put on my walking shoes and explore every nook and cranny, to find all my 'special' spots that would sustain me in my daily life.

Finding the best coffee and croissant was always number one priority on my list, followed by the yummiest pastries, the freshest fruit and veg (this is very often the closest open air market), my favourite café terrace, the best baguette sandwich, the local cheese shop..... there were of course other non food related necessities to find but they were always a little less important to me somehow.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
The gorgeous architecture of Place des Vosges

For me the heart of the Marais district is undoubtedly the Place des Vosges, it is hard not to love this beautiful historical square and there are many ways to enjoy it.....wander into the many art galleries or cafés, browse the vintage shops and boutiques, enjoy a picnic on the grass or visit the Victor Hugo Museum. The atmosphere always seems to be relaxed and happy and it's a great place to bring the kids, they love the sandpits, play equipment and fountains.

The Marais spreads over the 3rd and 4th arrondissements and is an area of great historical importance and beauty. It became the fashionable area for the aristocracy back in the 16th & 17th Centuries, hence the abundance of magnificent hotels (mansions) that we can still see today.  After the revolution of 1789 the area was abandoned and left to rot, and it wasn't until the 60's that the restoration commenced and the Marais was returned to its former glory and has since become one of the most fashionable areas of Paris.

It is importantly also one of the few areas of Paris that was not razed by Napoleon III's modernization program which saw Baron Haussmann re-plan medieval Paris (1853 - 1870) to its current city plan (long wide boulevards and parks), and is why the Marais still retains its small cobbled streets and authentic Parisian atmosphere, as well as some of the few remaining medieval buildings in Paris.

Here are some of the places that I loved (and still love) to visit and which were also part of my daily life in the Marais, you may also enjoy them. 

Museums and galleries
82 rue François Miron
Permanent and visiting exhibitions as well as a great library, bookshop and café

62 rue St Antoine
A magnificent example of 17th Century Louis XIII architecture, and was the home of one of Henri the IV's ministers. Enter either from Place des Vosges or from rue St Antoine. Enjoy the gorgeous little garden and wonderful book shop. Also housed here is one of the two Jeu de Paume museums of Paris,  which host some great photographic exhibitions. 

Hotel Salé
 5 rue de Thorigny
 Closed until summer 2013

23 rue de Sévigné
A museum devoted to the History of Paris. This is a must do in my opinion not only for the museum and gallery of artwork but for its architectural beauty and its gardens.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012

Looking to the street from the Square Georges Cain on rue Payenne
Cafe / Bistro / Restaurants
Au Bouquet St Paul
85 rue St Antoine
Love the ambiance here, and try the crèpes, a friend of mine couldn't get enough of them and I found her here every morning during her week in Paris.

Chez Janou
2 rue Roger Verlomme
One of my favourite places to have a drink and eat. Book if you want the terrace on a summer night or arrive early.

Les Temps des Cerises
31 rue de la Cerisaie
A tiny place buzzing with locals so arrive early for lunch, great value.

Village Saint Paul
rue Saint Paul
A village within a village, wonderful bric a brac, vintage, antiques, art and little places to eat and drink. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of my favourite place for  coffee and cake but look for the winiest place tucked into a corner and you will have found it! 

Ma Patissière

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Au Petit Versailles du Marais
1 rue Tiron and François Miron 

Pastries / Desserts / Coffee & Tea
Le Loir dans la Théière
 3 rue des Rosiers
Settle in here for the afternoon, a comfortable, cozy and eclectic café that serves great heart warming desserts.

Mariage Frères 
click here
30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Its a tea emporium, museam and tea salon with beautiful pastries. Visit even if you don't have time to sit and indulge. I always buy my tea here and take it with me wherever I am in the world.
(This is one of only many Mariage Frères emporiums in Paris)

Little specialty food store
Produits Exotiques
30 rue François Miron
It is like stepping back in time, its tiny but it has everything (even my favourite french olive oil from Les Baux )

Square Leopold Achille
rue du Parc Royal

Square Georges Cain
rue Payenne

Place du marché St Catherine
off rue d'Ormesson
Tree lined tiny quaint square with numerous restaurants and only a few steps away from the Place des Vosges.

Food markets
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges
The oldest covered market in paris.
39 rue Bretagne
(Not open Mondays)
click here for opening hours

Bastille Market
Boulevard Richard Lenoir
Situated in the 11th arrondissement but two steps from the Marais area.
The biggest outdoor food market in Paris and in my opinion one of the very best, its wonderful, don't miss it.
(Thursdays and Sundays until around 2.30pm)

rue Saint Antoine
They are a chain, and I love them.  I have always found the staff to be friendly and helpful and they have a good selection.

Department Store
BHV (Bazaar Hotel de Ville)
52  rue de Rivoli
Called as such because it is opposite the Hotel de Ville
You can find anything your heart desires here.... from cosmetics to hardware items

Favourite Streets
rue des Rosiers 
rue Francs Bougeois
rue Vieille du Temple
rue St Paul
rue Bourg  Tibourg

There is so much to discover and enjoy in this area of Paris as there is in all of the other corners of this gorgeous city, enjoy!

Millie xx

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Dance & Arts Festivals 2012

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Flamenco at Corral de la Moreria Madrid 

Classical ballet, flamenco, tango, modern, I love them all. I can't dance to save myself but I could watch any genre of dance for hours on end, and I do.

I have only ever tested my dancing skills in ballet and flamenco, and a one night  quick lesson of tango.  Besides the odd dance here and there my two most recent dance experiences were poles apart.

One experience being a little more successful than the other....the successful episode was a night learning the tango on the banks of the Seine on a warm summer evening. You see I had 'scored' quite unexpectedly as my partner a guy who just happened to be a dance instructor while my gorgeous friend Susan, a professional and very talented dancer had 'scored' herself quite possibly the worst male dancer of the evening! So while she was being quite literally thrown up, down and around, I was slowly regaining my confidence and making moves I never knew I could! 

© Coyright Millie Brown 2012
A night of Dance in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence 

From that moment on I promised myself that I would take the time for dancing classes, that maybe I wasn't a total lost cause on the dance floor. So, ambitiously I skipped myself over to the Centre of dance in the Marais (Centre de dance du Marais) here for another try at ballet.  How hard could it be I heard myself saying...I'm fit I told myself..... I wasn't that bad at it (when I was 12)... I kept thinking.

......And so it was here that I was completely and utterly humiliated by women twice my age. I literally crawled home unable to walk normally again for nearly a week (not an exaggeration I am sorry to say), one and a half hours on a parquetry floor with no mat and half an hour at the bar will do that to you if you are not 'ballet' fit.....I never returned!

So much more comfortable sitting in the theatre watching the pros.  I love nothing more than an evening of dance and I know I am not alone there, so here are a few of the dance / arts festivals happening this year for all of you who love this beautiful art form as much as I do. (Some of these events include workshops and others are purely performance only).

February 27 - March 4

March 9 - 12

March 9 - 11

February 24 - March 18

March 2 - 18

April 8 - 14

May 5 - 6

May 11 - 26

April 23 - May 19

June 21 - 24

June 23 - July 19

June 25 - July 21

July 7 - 15

July 7 - 28

August 8 - 18

August 16 - September 2

Millie x

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
These photos are copyrighted, please do not download :-)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Mauvais Président.....and protest marches in Paris

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
I found this image while going through my archive tonight, it is from the year 2008 and it reminded me of the great photo opportunity that the endless protest marches in Paris provide, and I admit to enjoying getting amongst it all with my camera.

I remember the first large protest I came across,  a sea of people was streaming down Boulevard Beaumarchais from  Place de la République on its way to Place de la Bastille.  I unfortunately didn't have my camera on me and was simply on my way to the supermarket.  Just negotiating the crossing  was an experience in itself and in doing so I was surprised to notice that everyone seemed to be in good spirits and pretty much enjoying themselves.  I have a feeling that some Parisians quite simply love a good march! 

I am not sure what you think about involving children in the adult world of political demonstrations, I know what I think.  I do wonder when I look at this photo how much this boy knows of President Sarkozy and his policies (then again the same question could be asked of many adults too I am sure). Food for thought in any case.

By the way the literal translation of his placard is bad President.

Millie x

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cultural Guides for what's on in Paris - Pariscope & L'Officiel des Spectacles

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Roaming Paris at night with my tripod when the crowds have usually disappeared

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast - Ernest Hemingway 

I have just finished reading Ernest Hemingway's 'A moveable Feast'.  Love the book, really enjoy Hemingway's style, its so to the point.....and of course its no secret, I love Paris.

As I prepare slowly to go back to the city I love so much, I feel excited again about doing all the things I love to do in Paris, even if that means doing not terribly much sometimes.  Sipping a rosé on a warm day on some café terrace, or reading a book by my favourite fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg, or maybe simply enjoying the sunday papers over a fresh buttery croissant and café crème.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
 I am on the outdoor terrace of Printemps (department store) photographing La Basilique du Sacré Coeur in Montmartre.

I can't wait to speak the language that I love so much again and hear it spoken, to walk miles and miles of museum corridors and rooms devouring history, art and all the photographic exhibitions that I can find, and to pop in to see some of France's best actors treading the stage in one of the city's many gorgeous theatres. There is simply no end to the possibilities in Paris. 

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012

When you arrive in Paris and you don't have much time, (or even if you do), grab one of these publications from any newsstand or newsagent and hit the ground running.

Pariscope or L'Officiel des Spectacles both great weekly publications / cultural guides that cost next to nothing and list simply everything that is happening in Paris for that week. Throw one of them in your bag and keep it there (with the umbrella)! 

Pariscope website here

L'Officiel des Spectacles website here

Millie xx

These photos are copyrighted please do not download, thank you :-)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

South Australian Landscapes, The Coorong

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012

Birdlife is abundant in this part of the world with many Egrets and Pelicans inhabiting the gorgeous and delicate environment of the coorong. 

This particular Egret finds itself competing against the freshly painted jetty on the foreshore of Milang, a small town situated on Lake Alexandrina, an hour and a half drive from Adelaide's CBD

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
If you love nature and pristine wilderness this area of South Australia is definitely worth visiting, you'll discover sand dunes, beaches and waterways all inhabited by an abundance of rare and wonderful bird life.

Millie xx

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Cassie Thring the Artist paints Hugo the dog

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012

The most exciting part of my Christmas this year was waiting to see my parents reaction to our (my and my sibling's) best kept Christmas secret, the unveiling of Hugo......the portrait (and our present) of their much loved, very spoilt and very large dog.

To be able to commission Cassie one of South Australia's most talented and exhibited artists to capture Hugo on canvas was one of the most exciting elements of the surprise.  I am a huge admirer of her incredible talent and creativity.  She is not only an immensely gifted artist but is also one of the warmest and wittiest people I know.  An all round great girl.
© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Cassie in her studio with Hugo

No need to go into detail on their reaction, but it couldn't have been a happier one.  Cassie has captured Hugo to a 'tee',  the special 'Hugo' expression with his soft caring eyes that we know so well absolutely shines from the canvas.

Cassie works from her studio in the Adelaide Hills, where she sculpts with clay, and works with ceramics and paint.

Visit her website here, get a glimpse of some of her unique work in both sculpture and painting, and see why she is in such high demand  as an artist.

For me personally it is her distinctive sense of style and humour that emanates from her work and draws me to it.

Millie xx
© copyright Millie Brown 2012
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