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PARIS / Montmartre: Top 5 Places To Stay

There are two ways to do Montmartre.   One is to walk up those famouosly long stairs to the top of the hill (hence the 'Mont'), make your way through a never-ending supply of cheap souvenir shops, snap a pic of yourself in front of the Sacré-Coeur basilica, pay for an over-priced café at the Place du Tertre, get conned into having your charicature sketched by a local starving artist, then make your way back down the hill and take a ride on the carousel and wonder what all the fuss is about.

The other way (read: better way) is to skip all of that -- well, okay, maybe not all of that because you still definitely need to visit the Sacré-Coeur basilica with its breathtaking views of Paris -- throw away the map and just lose yourself in the meandering streets, antique stores and restaurants of this little village within the city's core.   In recent years, Montmartre has become an up-and-coming district for the hipsters and known for its underground nightlife.  This likely originated back in the 18th century when, because at the time it was located outside of the city and thus exempt from taxes, it became a popular place to drink, eventually developing into an area of indulgent entertainment.  This gave way to the infamous Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir, both of which still operate today as sophisticated burlesque venues amongst all of the sex shops and peep shows on the Boulevard de Clichy.

Yes, Montmartre is still considered to be the "artist district", though things have certainly changed since the 19th century.  Long gone are the likes of Piassaro, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani....  Instead, you will have better luck finding some cool hip new "boîte" like La Cigale, designed by Philippe Starck and Thierry Costes, or the retro beatnik La Divette for some authentic bohemian vibes.  For day-time café hopping, Les Deux Moulins is is always full of artist types -- it also happens to be the place where Amélie worked in the movie.  Or sip some wine at the Caves Bourdin, it's a wine shop that doesn't look like much from the outside but is easily somewhere you can kill a few hours on a rainy afternoon.

Due to its relative affordability, Montmartre has also become a popular place to stay.  Hotels are reasonable and with being perched up above Paris, offer some beautiful views of the city. The Terrass Hotel is one such ideal spot, as well as the Hotel Des Arts.  For something more modern there is the Kube Hotel with its floating beds and bar made of ice c(k)ubes, or for something a little edgier you can stay at the Hotel Montmartre Mon Amour which *artistically* explores the many types of love.

Of course, I always prefer to stay in an apartment.  It just feels more authentic.  And in a place like Montmartre, authentic is the way you want to go.  Here are some of my favorite spots.

Also See:

St-Germain: TOP 5 Places to Stay

Le Marais: TOP 5 Places to Stay

1 BEDROOM, 2-3 person(s)
Tour Eiffel
(Métro Abesses)
$288 / night

1 BEDROOM, 2-3 person(s)
Coeur Vue
(Métro Abesses)
$187 / night

1 BEDROOM, 2-3 person(s)
(Métro Chateau Rouge)
$175 / night

2 BEDROOM, 3-4 person(s)
Rue Tardieu
(Métro Abesses)
€249/ night

3 BEDROOM, 5-6 person(s)
Rue des Trois Frères
(Métro Abesses)
€363/ night

HIT LIST / Gianvito Rossi PVC Pumps

So many great things are happening with these Gianvito Rossi leather & pvc pumps.  The pointed toe, for instance, is on point (pun intended) with one of this season's hottest trends.  Next, the clear pvc band allows you to show a little extra foot - sexy - and is a subtle nod to the mule, another hot footwear trend.  Then of course there is the sleek 4" stiletto heel which is so architecturally pleasing to the eye.  Hats off to you, Mr. Rossi.

hand-finished | 4" heel | $760

ART Meditation / Steven Neverdeen

I have been following Steven Neverdeen's work for several years now.  I love the soothing effect it always has on me, whether it be a landscape, still life or portrait.  There is something so peaceful and clear about his work, almost as if time has stood still while he captures these mystical moments in Canadian nature.  Neverdeen's latest body of work does not disappoint, seamlessly layering photography over paint and over photography again.  Dreamy.

NOSE / worthy


Established nearly 344 years ago in May of 1670, The Hudson's Bay is not only one of the oldest companies in the world, it is also older than Canada itself.  Known mostly for its signature blanket bearing the green-red-yellow-navy horizontal stripes, the company has changed ownership several times in the last few years, most recently falling in the hands of retail mogul Richard Baker.

Today it was announced that following a recent acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue, the company will be selling its flagship location in downtown Toronto -- the 3rd largest department store location in the world -- for a whopping $650 million.  The Bay will lease back its store space as well as introduce a Saks location (the first in Canada).  With Nordstroms moving into the old Sears flagship store across the street in the Eaton Center, this will mark a giant shift in the retail landscape for Toronto in the upcoming months.

Read more here.

More nose-worthy news:

Sears closes Chicago flagship store

Beyonce's Grammy's gown causes a stir

Erin Featherston designs a capsule collection for

Jason Wu's first collection for Hugo Boss to debut next week

Johnny Depp to receive an award for makeup

HIT LIST: severe Acne problems

Acne made such a strong Resort 2014 collection, there were so many pieces that we loved.  A real stand out are the Lark oxfords in a brushed leather.  The hit of mint in the inner-sole just make them so so fresh.  Yup, we've got acne problems and we've got them big.

LARK black & min brushed leather oxfords by ACNE 
Nappa covered wedge | 2" heel |Made in Italy | 100% Calf Leather | $570

LOVE: Viktor & Rolf's ballet class


Never ones to shy away from shock value, Viktor & Rolf's Couture Spring 2014 show was a master class in ballet-meets-80s-deconstructivism.  Even though there wasn't a single tutu in sight (sob!), we especially love the 1,001 shades of blush that are accented with subtle hits of black.  Très chic.  Très Français.

MOMENT OF: blush


In honor of the breathtakingly stunning couture shows that just concluded in Paris this week, we pay homage to the color of blush which not only featuring prominently in Paris on the catwalks, but also happens to be a hip color for this spring.

DREAMING OF: sparkly boat ride

The weekend is upon us, so it's time to start chasing after some dreams.  Despite my phobia of open waters, I still dream of taking a romantic boat ride with my man, the open air, and lots of sparkles.  This photo pretty much sums it up.

Happy weekend!

FRIDAY pin up

It's Friday!  Time to share our favorite Pins.  

This week, it's all about portraits + pink and/or furry friends.

SNEAK PEAK / Valentino Couture SS14


It's the middle of Paris Couture Fashion Week and we couldn't wait to share these photos of Valentino's ethereal show which was earlier today.  Models in frothy tulle creations looked as if they were floating down the runway.  Couturiers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli really took their own moto, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,"to new heights.  This collection is s0 dreamy & pure, I would be scared to actually wear it.

Here are some more of our favorite looks.

View the entire show here

QUOTE / of the day

"Daring to wear something different takes effort."

- Miuccia Prada

DREAMING OF: this Barcelona loft

See more photos here.

SS14 TREND: pastels


The spring 14 catwalks could have walked right out of a painting by Degas or Monet.  Pastels were in abundance whether it be in soft, powdery hues or more vibrant hits of candy.  Definitely the most popular hue was pink, but lavender, yellow and mint were very predominant.  Personally, I just love it when you mix them all together.  Yum yum.

Here are some of our favorite pieces in stores now:

BROSE pastel enamel tank dress $745

MISS SELFRIDGE mint spike necklace £8.50

RIVER ISLAND gold & pastel bangle pack £25

REMINISCENCE pastel drop earrings $425

BALENCIAGA lavender draped crepe dress $1,545

RIVER ISLAND patent snaffle trim loafers £28

PATRIZIA PEPE pastel brooch  $88.50

MIU MIU ciré mini skirt $760

BALENCIAGA classic envelope clutch $895

NOSE / worthy


More hairy news from the red carpet - this time from the most unlikely place: last night's SAG awards.  In general, the SAG Awards are usually a bit of a snooze. There’s no marquee host Tine & May, where were you?) and it gets a old watching all the actors pat themselves on the back for being actors.

One of the most nose-worthy trends was the shaved semi-hawk as worn by Natalie Dormer & Brad Pitt.  Who wore it best?

Here is some more nose-worthy news:

Kanye West launches an A.P.C. capsule men's collection, very inspired by 'himself:Kanye West is going back to design basics — and it's working in his favor. He may be able to break new sonic ground with virtually any musical experimentation, but West wasn't so lucky when he tried his hand at fashion a few years back... 

Vogue squashes the whole Lena Dunham x Jezebel x Photoshop controversy:
In a rather genius move, the women's title shared, on its Instagram feed, exactly what Jezebel was asking for: an unretouched photo of February's cover girl, Lena Dunham. "The Vogue pigeon. Any questions?" reads the caption... 

Beyoncé attends Michelle Obama's 50th birthday bash - Jay-Z, baby Blue-Ivy, and poodle en tow...

Cavalli-designed Miley Cyrus' Bangerz tour looks revealed...

L'Oréal and e-Bay bury the hatchet after 6 years of law-suits:
Cosmetics giant L'Oréal and online auctioneer eBay buried the hatchet on Wednesday after more than six years of court battles over the sale of counterfeit goods, a joint statement said...

HIT LIST: handwoven tote

For those of us lucky enough to be getting away to somewhere hot this winter, we have found the most amazing beach totes.  Hand woven in Thailand, the seagrass for these totes is harvested and dried throughout the year, then handwoven and painted with a lacquer to protect the the bag from the elements.   Perfect size to fit a beach towel, bottle of wine, and some cheeses.

Handwoven Tote by PROVISIONS
Made in Thailand |Small $50, Large $100

PARIS / Le Marais: Top 5 Places to Stay


When I come to Paris, If I am not staying in St-Germain-des-Prés then I am definitely staying in Le Marais.  Just on the other side of the Seine, the Marais is one of the oldest districts of the city and has even been dubbed "the aristocratic district" dating back to 1240 when a number of religious institutions were built, namely the Knights Templar which still stand there today in the northern part of the district.  But by the 17th century when the Parisian nobility began to relocate to the St-Germain area, the Marais became an active commercial area hosting Paris' main Jewish communities.  Indeed until today, synagogues and Jewish institutions & businesses continue to thrive in the area - another reason for which the Marais is the only area in Paris where you can shop on Sundays.

Since the 1980's, the Marais has become a popular area for the gay community to which we can credit the sudden proliferation of trendy retaurants, cafés and boutiques.  There are so many that, in fact, to list all of my favorites would take too long.  For starters, I never miss a glass of rosé at La Perle, the café where John Galliano infamously made some racial slurs ultimately leading to the end of his career at Christian DiorOr you can simply walk down Rue Vieille du Temple which is the heart of the Marais and you will find all of the main hot spots - Les Philosophes, L'Etoile Manquante, and Les Etages are the ones not to miss.  Right around the corner is La Place des Vosges - Paris' oldest square - where you can meander under the arcades and ogle the various art galleries and antique stores.  For a place more off the beaten path, Café Charlot has become a local hot spot for the hipsters with its authentic wrought iron bakery shop and sunny terrace.  Or if you want to see and be seen, it doesn't get much better than Le Progrès for a fun night out.

Where to eat?  One of my favorite restaurants in all of Paris is Chez Janou whose convivial atmosphere and traditional 'home-cooked' French fare never disappoint.  For a little more action, Derrière is too much fun with their eclectic decor and lively staff who will not be shy to join you in a drink.  For the best crêpes I go to Crêperie Suzette which serves crêpes and galettes in the traditional Breton style (that is where they were invented). The Marais is also famous for its shawarma "à emporter" (take-out) where lineups are sometimes around the block.  

Some great small hotels are the Grand Hotel Malheur,  the romantic Hotel Caron de Meaumarchais, the more modern Hotel Caron, and the newly opened cute Hotel Emile right near Place St Paul.  But for me, the Marais is all about staying in an apartment and feeling like a local, if not just for a short time.  The Marais is probably the district with the most options as many of the agencies seem to have a substantial amount and variety of apartments in this district.  Hands down the best agency for Marais apartments is without a doubt Paris Autrement.  I have personally stayed in about a dozen of their properties, each time it was an amazing experience: the apartments were "nickel" (spotless), the staff super friendly, and because their offices are located right in the district there was always someone readily available to come by if there was a problem or another. 

(Please note that prices are quoted for high-season.  If traveling in low-season, rates tend to be 20% lower). 

Also See:

St-Germain: TOP 5 Places to Stay

Montmartre: TOP 5 Places to Stay

STUDIO, 1-2 person(s)
Rue Béranger
(near Métro Filles du Calvaire)
€167/ night

1 BEDROOM, 2 person(s)
(near Métro Saint Paul)
€133/ night

1 BEDROOM, 2-3 person(s)
(near Métro Rambuteau)
€147/ night

2 BEDROOM, 4-6 person(s)
(near Métro Rambuteau)
€290/ night

5  BEDROOM, 10 person(s) 
(near Métro Les Halles)
€4,716/ week

FRIDAY pin up

Yay, it's Friday!  Time to share our favorite Pins.