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Paris when it sizzles...a city of old and new.



In my interior design projects, either for clients or myself in my own home, I like to work with old and new. Whether it is giving a well loved piece a bit of a face-lift, mixing something contemporary with some antiques or even just being aware that an item you've had for a while can become fresh when it's placed next to a new piece of furniture or an accessory. It's important especially when working to a budget, that you try to see what you already have in a new light first, as there may be more potential there than you think or a way to make it work harder and become more useful within your space. It is the layers and stories of the things in your home - a hand-me-down from an aunt, a charity shop find, a discount bargain, or that piece you saved and saved for - that make up the personality of your home and give it life.


Last weekend, during the heatwave I was in Paris with my husband and my parents (very lucky for us). A city which I have been to a few times before and that I really love. It is full of elegant, historic buildings and not just the famous landmarks, block after block of apartments with iron balconies, canopies, carved stonework and shutters. Even the Metro has some excellent tiles!



This historic city is still modern, still works now, contemporary pieces have been added along the way to make it rich and complex and I think, even more spectacular and full of life!


Luckily, I had made some slight edits to my packing list (which two days before leaving still included a down jacket and woolly hat) and thanks to the air-con not working on our Eurostar carriage, we were nicely acclimatised in time for our arrival! As with most of our trips, a lot of the fun for us is to spend time planning and researching where we want to go beforehand and as we only had a few days there this time we needed to be clever with our time. My parents had never been before, so the challenge was set - could we show them what we love about Paris with a few tourist sights thrown in, all in two (and a bit) days and all in 27 degree heat?!

First stop after dropping off our bags at our Airbnb in Marais (and a swift change into our shorts) was our favourite place to eat in Paris, Cafe Hugo, in the corner of Place des Vosges.

You are seated under the vaulted stone ceiling of the walkway enclosing a central square park (the oldest planned square in Paris), surrounded by art galleries. It's always busy and bustling offering excellent people watching as the sun goes down and I get to eat croque monsieur, what's not to love?


The following day was spent heading up and down the Seine by boat (the Batobus to be exact - less of a tour more of a floating, hop on hop off shuttle bus, with the main sights pointed out to you by the friendly driver) taking in the views and watching the Eiffel Tower get larger and larger on the horizon.

After seeing the tower we wandered to checked out some of Paris' oldest covered shopping arcades and the black and white column installation by Daniel Buren in the courtyard of the Palais Royal.


Who doesn't love some stripes?! I read before I came that it was a little controversial when it was installed in 1986, with people concerned it was not in-keeping with the historical setting. But we all loved it, it was a fun place to have a wander, take some snaps and see how well old and new can work together and I'd say much better than a car park which what it apparently used to be!


The afternoon ended at the Louvre, admiring yet another controversial and very famous mix of modern and historical. Carved, classical Renaissance stone work with a glass and metal pyramids.

I have to say, I love it. Apparently many felt it wasn't right to tamper with the history of the building in such a way, but having been inside the Louvre and not finding it particularly thrilling, a bit of a more contemporary pop on the outside couldn't hurt! Compared to so many of the city's other historical landmarks, the Louvre is now unique, an icon of Paris. This edit to make it more accessible for tourists (the original entrance could not accommodate the number of visitors) has given it a new look, and a new life, making it functional for the modern city.

Day two and we are doing a little shopping at Merci (mercimerci.com). I failed the last time I was in Paris to see this store and I was not making that mistake again. What a beautiful place. Housed in an amazing old building with an industrial vibe, metal beams and staircases and an open mezzanine level. It is like a mini department store that mixes old and new seemlessly. It has a cafe and second hand book shop opening out into a homewares, furniture, lifestyle and fashion store with their own brand items, independent brands as well as vintage pieces.

Not cheap and I would have needed several carriages on the train to get home all the things I wanted to buy (everything) so my husband and I had to settle for a more transportable tote bag and some sunnies which are still both amazing.


It was such a lovely shop to be in, the way shopping should be. Carefully considered items which worked beautifully together and a fine balance that made it interesting but not overwhelming. The mixture was unique, not like anywhere else that I had been. I wish it was in my town, although my husband is glad that it isn't! And their profits go to their Endowment Fund, which helps underprivileged women and children gain education in Madagascar (check out their website for more information). All in all, a lovely place!

We had made the decision that art galleries were not on the cards for this trip, you need a decent amount of time in them to make the most of it and as we were there for such a short trip we didn't want to "waste" our time in a gallery all day and the amazing weather only confirmed that that had been the right choice. It doesn't mean we didn't see any art though. Street Art. Whether you love it or hate it, Paris has loads and I'm a lover! A fantastic example of old (architechture) and new (art) working together to create something striking. A couple to note, firstly, our favourite artist to spot in Paris, Invader.

I first came across him in some street art books from my art college days. He makes his work out of square ceramic tiles which give the pixalated quality of 80's computer games where he takes his name and inspiration. We've seen a few of his pieces on our other visits to Paris, but on our first evening's slight detour on the way back to the apartment we came across his Frankenstein, which is pretty impressive and I love how he uses the existing lines of the building to create the level where Frankenstein is walking. A couple of the others to note were the penguin (which includes a subtle space invader on his belly) and Mario and Yoshi! Check out his instagram @invaderwashere for more pieces, some with locations so you can go see them. It is really fun spotting art like this, it feels like you are working harder to see interesting things in unexpected surroundings, rather than just walking around a gallery.

We also saw a piece by Andre of his characters Mr and Mrs A. These appear on some current limited edition Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances. Was fun to see them in print as well as straight on the wall.

Exploring Paris thoroughly can not be done in 2 days, it probably can't even be done in 2 weeks, which is why we keep going back for more. There is so much to see and do, but with it feeling like it is almost on our doorstep with the availability and ease of the Eurostar and the affordability of AirBnB, it makes it simple to spend a few days taking in the city and its pleasing and sometimes surprising mixture of old and new. Don't forget to look out for those things you didn't plan to see, as sometimes they can be the most beautiful part!

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