Long ago are the days of carefree backpacking around Australia (almost four years to be exact), but since my first taste of independent travel, it's all I've wanted to do since. There's nothing quite like the adventure of exploring new destinations.
2017 has certainly been a travel-heavy year, ticking off Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen (again) and even Manchester, now a favorite UK city of mine.
So when TOMS invited me to explore Paris for two days, being the Paris virgin I am (or was, should I say), I jumped at the chance. With the French capital only a 2-hour train from London, something which astounded both Jordan and me (when you live in Norfolk a 2-hour + train journey to any major city in the UK is the norm), I don't know why I hadn't been sooner! Maybe its proximity and ease to travel to had made me put this architecturally pleasing beaut on the back burner.
Before departing, we called upon the usual suspects for recommendations (Oliver Hooson, Mat Buckets, Liv Purvis) but kept our time relatively unstructured. After an arduous final week at work, I was ready to use Paris as a celebratory break before commencing my first week of self-employment.
If you think this is going to be a travel guide, then think again. Call this, Paris unplanned.
Food & Coffee
Telescope / 5 Rue Villedo, 75001 - An inconspicuous coffee shop tucked away in the 1st Arrindosment, with decor as sparse as the menu Telescope focus firmly on the coffee in your cup (The banana bread deserves a shout out also). I'm no connoisseur, but this was a damn good cup of coffee. An ideal rest stop pre or post-Louvre.
Rose Bakery / 46 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 - These guys know their way round baked goods, if you've had a taste of the too-good-to-be-true carrot cake in Dover Street Market then you'll appreciate the hype. With an unsufferable sweet tooth like mine, RB was high on the list to try, and regardless of mixed reviews online the brunch menu did not disappoint.
French Trotters / 30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 - A carefully created lifestyle store, FT's heart lies with quality products built to last. Clothing is still at the forefront and including brands such as Acne, Our Legacy, Veja, Filippa K, astutely merchandised alongside their own line [French Trotters] consisting of simple pieces, highlighting beautiful materials and cuts. All of which are entirely crafted in France.
Aesop / 30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 - Renowned for their unique store interiors, this location did not disappoint. Each Aesop store is designed with the surroundings in mind. Inspired by Parisian parquetry the Saint Honore store is covered, ceiling to floor, in Victorian Ash sourced from Australia, with of course a touch of greenery. I think I just found my new no.1 Aesop store (Lambs Conduit currently competing with Marylebone for second place).
Galerie Patrick Sequin / 5 Rue des Taillandiers, 75011 - Behind a deceptive black facade in the 11th arrondissement, hides repository of midcentury furniture design open for public viewing. So deceptive in fact, Jordan and I couldn't work out how to enter the building & were the convinced space was shut. (FYI, ring the bell and thou shall pass) The converted workshop now houses some of Frances most esteemed designs, including pieces from Jean Prouve and Le Corbusier. Shoot me for saying it; this gallery was 'interior goals.'
COQ / 15 Rue Edouard Manet, 75013 - Located in the 13th arrindosment, Doris and Dicky's COQ hotel (an acronym for Community of Quality) was an entirely peaceful and beautifully designed hotel to retire to after a day racking up the step count. Rich navy walls are complemented by splashes of mustard yellow and gold hardware. The rainforest was 10/10; the best hotel shower experienced to date.
The Hoxton / 30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 - The effortlessly hip new addition to The Hoxton group, still with all the home comforts of its London siblings (breakfast bags at the ready) but with a Parisian twist. The indoor-outdoor bar & lobby are a sympathetic backdrop for the two 300-year-old spiral staircases, the plethora of velvet armchairs and a living foliage wall.
Exploring Paris at a slower pace allowed me to recharge, appreciate my surroundings and savor the good company. This trip was made possible by TOMS, a brand dedicated to giving and improving lives of others. Some of you may or may not already know through the One for One mission, every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS donate a pair to a child in need. The shoes are often given alongside, hygiene education, health care or basic necessities. More information on their important work can be found here.
Photography by Jordan Bunker & Myself