Paris is always a good idea. Especially in Springtime. And yes, this is all beginning to sound extremely clique because I’m also writing this post on Valentine’s Day. All I need now is to mention the film, “Amelie”. Okay, too late. This is definitely the cheesiest intro to a Paris story…
I promise this gets better. Much better. Because I have 5 incredible tips for you for next time you travel to the (clearing throat), city of lights. But first, back story…
New issue of HOLLY!
Okay so did you know that in the latest issue of HOLLY magazine (shown left, click on the image to buy it directly, it will ship to you no matter where you live because we want the WHOLE WORLD to have it), anyway, in this issue of HOLLY there is a HUGE story about me in Paris?
Maybe the “me” in Paris isn’t so interesting to you (ha ha) but trust me when I say THE STORY (wow) took weeks to produce and it’s definitely worth the 5 Euro mag price just to have the Paris Story because the tips are really so good and there are about 13 pages of PARIS in this magazine. That’s enough to make any Francophile swoon. It’s the best travel story ever. I feel strongly that you’ll book a flight immediately after reading it. It’s that good.
So now I wish to tell you a little bit about how we produced this story, who photographed it and how I ended up going home with an afro in my suitcase.
Okay, so it was around midsummer last year (2019) during an editorial meeting that the HOLLY team decided that I will go to Paris for my next travel story. I definitely had no problem saying Oui to that. But why Paris? Well, besides the obvious (food, fashion, design), I wanted to pick a location that had deep, personal meaning, like the previous two travel stories I’d done. If you remember, the first city was Hannover where I live, Copenhagen was next because my husband works there and I have a lot of clients there, and then Paris because this is the first city that I fell in love with when I was 22.
After deciding on Paris, we had to find the RIGHT photographer. I am picky and the magazine is very picky when it comes to who we hire. It cannot just be a “friend” or someone without a portfolio or anyone off the street. They definitely run a very strong and successful publishing house for a reason – their expectations for all freelancers is high – particularly for photographers because magazines are primarily visual and sell based on how appealing they look.
The lovely HOLLY photo editor, Lisa N., came to me with several portfolios to suggest. She knows I love a certain aesthetic and style and so she shows me what she imagines I’ll love instantly. She’s so good!
Though in the first few months of working together with my team, before they eally “knew” my style, it was a more difficult and long process for us all. I felt bad rejecting certain suggestions and I know it was hard on them (and on me because I don’t like to turn people’s ideas down). But I also came into this project with a very strong vision of my own and I didn’t want to lean in too much and lose my own style and flair. Plus, they hired me to help create a magazine called HOLLY so my input has to be there because without that, there isn’t a project.
Still, I have always viewed this a team project and I value and respect my team. However, when issue one came out in January 2019, I knew it needed to evolve aesthetically. We all knew. It needed to be more “me” somehow and now we are there. The current issue, January 2020, is different from the January 2019 issue and the team and I see that and love it. We know this came through a lot of hard work but the change was needed in order to embrace fully what I, and my community, represent online: creativity, curiosity and international flair, handmade, attention to detail and the love of being at home and making it a nice place. And yeah, THE COMMUNITY has to be part of the magazine just like it’s part of decor8 online.
So back to Paris and photographer selection. Lisa N. showed me some portfolios and the minute I saw Oliver Fritze, I felt a connection. Not only does he shoot for my favorite French magazines MilK and MilK Decoration, but I loved that his photos were not so warm and cozy, or “yellow” as many Paris photos are often shown in magazines and books with warm lights and pastel balloons, they were more cold and “fashion” with a blue-tone to them, but also very detail-oriented, a little abstract, and I could see he had the potential to capture emotion but to make it still feel like how Paris feels to me: Chic.
I wanted to present Paris in HOLLY mag with this more cool, blue tone since I first went to Paris as a young woman in winter, and I photographed the city on my Canon film camera back then in black and white. Over the years, it’s rare that I’m in Paris when it’s warm. Now that I think about it, I’ve been to Paris about 20 times in my life and it’s always during sweater or even wool jacket weather, so showing Paris in the middle of January in HOLLY, shot by the great Oliver Fritze, would definitely capture my vision of Paris for a shopping and eating story.
Once we discovered Oliver was originally from Germany and spoke German, I was thrilled. I thought he was French, speaking only French, which would have presented many challenges for us to work together. Later, I was told he is fluent in English, French and Italian too. Oliver was getting more and more interesting to me with such a diverse background – he speaks 4 languages and has lived in 3 countries (that I know of) and when we had a chat on the phone, I knew immediately that he was a professional that I could imagine working with for 3 days. Because honestly, you have to work so closely with a photographer when you are directing a story, the last thing you want are communication problems or to work with someone who is a pain in the ass (!).
Once we booked Oliver, I booked my tickets and found a hotel. Then the research period began. I turned over every stone to find the best places, referring to previous spots I’d visited as well like Bonton, Merci and many more. Several of my favorite spots had closed, so I researched for weeks to find great places where Oliver and I could take photos for this story.
My team back at HOLLY also compiled suggestions. And in the end, a shoot list was provided with a map to both Oliver and I from my team. We met in Paris and began working together immediately on a Sunday. Each day we wrapped up around 8pm. It was an intense but wonderful three days. Oliver felt like a long-lost brother to me, albeit a much cooler and sophisticated version of how I’d often imagined my older brother would be. I loved that he has a family and a wife, and that he was so tied in to art and design. I also liked how he enjoyed hosting me in Paris, I didn’t feel like a burden or a tourist – he instantly made me feel like I was part of the city. I loved his spontaneity best. Sometimes we’d find a good place just by walking around and he’d say, let’s go here, do you like it, want to include it? And we’d just ask the owners and start shooting. It was a great adventure for me to get out from behind my laptop and explore. We really worked well together. He also shared secret spots, like the pet shop where magazines “rent” pets for photo shoots, the restaurant under the bridge that’s built into stones (it’s in the magazine!), the food halls at Le Bon Marche (that I’d never known before) and a section of Paris that has about 500 African beauty salons and afro shops (where I bought an afro for a costume party I was hosting a week later). Speaking French, he was able to get us everywhere without hassle. We rode the metro, taxis, buses. We walked and walked, talked and talked and worked so hard to produce the PARIS story that you can see now in the magazine. It’s full of beautiful things, so I hope that you’ll check it out.
Now, for the grand finale, the fireworks, the moment of truth (le moment de vérité)… I want to share 5 places we went to that were really special to me, to show you photos that didn’t appear in the magazine because I think they are really lovely and worth showing. Ready?
1. 25 Hours Hotel (Terminus Nord )+ NENI (to eat!)
I must start with a good, affordable, hotel because that’s what we want most when we travel to Paris. A great bed, fantastic shower, delicious breakfast, ideal location, safe and secure, wonderful decor… This place has it all. I loved having breakfast each morning at Neni. It’s a gorgeous spot to eat inside of the hotel and is open day and night. The food is exquisite but the breakfast buffet was most impressive.
What a cool concept. You can walk-in and try your luck at seeing the whole gallery, or you can call or email in advance for a special appointment. Basically, you get to walk around the living gallery of the owner, Amélie du Chalard, who bought this property just to live in the roof and use the rest of the space to sell art, sculpture and other beautiful things. This is everyone’s dream come true – her magical life – to live in Paris surrounded by art and so much beauty. You really can’t miss this place. It’s not in the tourist guidebooks, so count this as your super special, precious gem of a tip.
This shop is beyond colorful and lovely, and it bursts with the same joy and radiance that the owner, Marina Mussat, (whom we met) possesses in great measure. Colorful wallpaper drawn and produced by her and her colleague, special paper products and totes in their striking patterns, along with things that are not produced by them like leather goods, scarves, vintage furniture and lights, succulents in little jewelry pots and teacups… This shop just opened late 2019 so it’s also a gem of a find so go go go and tell them HOLLY sent you. They are lovely.
Maybe you don’t shop for plants when you travel, but you are perhaps shopping for prints and plant pots, or maybe to take a workshop and meet the locals, or perhaps to simply be inspired by a lovely space. Leaf is a special, modern plant shop and filled with a really nice energy. I loved seeing Leaf, you will too.
I can’t stop telling people about this shop, I even have referred to it on several occasions recently in my trend lectures at the big fairs (Domotex, imm and Formland). Selency is a purely VINTAGE resell shop so you won’t find anything new there, but the catch is that they have a concession in one of the finest stores in Paris called Le BHV Marais where everything is brand new… So imagine Selency sharing a floor with brands like Ligne Roset, yet it all works AND also shows you that people are now looking for vintage to mix in with their new stuff and a department store like BHV that is creative and innovative enough to take the risk to offer a vintage concession, well, that deserved a spot in my magazine and here on the blog. Psst: Selency has a book and a fabulous online shop, too.
Hungry for MORE PARIS? Pick up my magazine, there are about 20 more great tips inside!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my PARIS post. I wish you a lot of love and happiness today on Valentine’s Day whether you have a kid, a man, a woman, a cat, or just Netflix and a pizza – the greatest and most beautiful lover you can ever have is yourself – so love yourself and be your own Valentine first today.
(Photography: Oliver Fritze for HOLLY magazine with special permission)