Friday, April 30, 2010

Coiffeur Vintage & a dog named Micador

Coiffeur in French means Hairdresser. A Male one. Female would be spelt Coiffeuse (see my weekly French classes ARE paying off).
And vintage by definition is, well...vintage.

But despite its literal translation, you will not be walking out of this little gem of a shop with a 70's wedge or bouffant style hairdo's to complete your modern day, fashionable vintage outfits.

Instead you will walk out with MORE, fashionable vintage outfits.

At this central Parisien address: 32 Rue des Rosiers, 75004, in the fashionable and historical 4th arrondissement known as le marais; 'Coiffeur Vintage' is a vintage clothing shop noted for having the most on-trend secondhand clothes in the city. No wonder it's a favourite among fashion-forward Parisiens as well as my personal favourite (I am a gluttonous vintage hunter and I am a hard crowd to please).

This is 'Coiffeur Vintage' as see through the lens of my Nikon SLR (must remember to brush up on my photographic studies and upgrade to digital for future parisien snaps. Note the boulangerie across the st. mmm).

And here is a better shot.

I wonder if this was once an actual Coiffeur and the owner was just too lazy to change the sign? How cares I LOVE the wood exterior.

What's it like? This tiny shop was packed to the gills every time I walked in. I can't say 'passed by' because every time I 'passed by' I walked in.
Now you wouldn't think such a small place can hold so many winners, but magically it does; it's simply overflowing with gorgeous, unique, one-off's. It sells a mix of first and second hand clothes, shoes, a selection of accessories that has the ability to make myself almost pee with excitement and its a great antidote to the sometimes suffocating Bo-Bo style (Burgeouis-Bohemian) with its mix of androgynous punk, 80's and 90's style.

Prices vary but are consistently reasonable and male and female clothes have devoted sections. The shop receives new stock at least once a week, so although a lot of clothes always seem to be on display, it's rare that you'll spot the same article of clothing twice.

Overall a great vintage experience, complete with dog. And what vintage store wouldn't be complete with a dog (??). If vintage isn't your thing then it's worth a visit just to see 'Micador'; the resident parisien pooch who sits shyly by the register watching the kafuffle and looking terribly cute. Although it has been a while now, so who knows if 'Micador 2' is now keeping watch over les vetements.

What to buy: Jackets and Accessories. I purchased 5 jackets one day and 3 the next once. Without spending more than 120euro (then proceeded to department store for larger suitcase - note 120euro). As for accessories, this place is a total goldmine for bags, belts, shoes and boots.

What I bought: A bright orange tailored knit jacket with vintage gold round buttons, a back chuncky knit cardet (a wonderful mix breed of cardigan-jacket), a 60's black leather side-sling handbag and a gorgeous grey and blue trim coco looking jacket - a snip at 15euro.

Who goes there? Anyone who's awesome.

Metro: Saint Paul.

The fashion fiasco inside:

Other Notable Mentions:

Generique, at 68 Rue Du Cardinal Lemoine 75005. Why? because it's where I bought my love aka my chloe mini dress (see money CAN buy you love even if it is a discounted cost. 15euro thank you very much), a black parker for 5euro because it was raining that particular day and which I ended up wearing almost everyday after that.

Generique is a bit of an eyesore on the inside, with shopping trolleys used as discount 'tables', and you'd have better luck getting changed in a milk crate but a decent little find it was nevertheless. Chloe-worthy of a mention anyway.

Metro: Cardinal Lemoine

Free 'P' Star, at 8 Rue Sainte-Croixe de la Bretonnaire, 75004. Although it's tiny, oven-hot and not very brightly lit, this place is a wall-to-wall treasure trove of vintage anything. I haven't been back for a while but it was the most disorganised fun thrift shop in the city. Any city. Be prepared to loose your arms as you dig deep in 3euro and 5euro discount bargain bins, sandwiched between paris's hippest boys and girls. If you suffer from vertigo you might want to avoid the tight corkscrew staircase down to a basement (entertainment provided by a suitable retro playlist) of incredibly inexpensive leather jackets.

Metro: Hotel de Ville.

This is the jungle you face inside. Goodluck.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paris Style: Older French Girls

If I have to get old, I want to do it in Paris.

Beauty and style is not reserved for the young in Paris. Older french women are seen as sexy and attractive and just as 'tres chic' as the young, if not more so. That's partly because they haven't been sidelined. Men's sideway glances are not just for the under 35's. French girls keep up their looks well past their 40's - as well as their far from mythical affairs of seduction and romance. (throw out 'le creme de la mer' - what a way to stay young!) Call it vanity if you will but I am always awe-struck by the simple sophisticated and classic bourgeois style of these older 'girls' when I wonder the streets of Paris. What taste, what confidence, what natural beauty, what refinement, what self preservation and most of all what fun!!! Can I be an 'Older French Girl' now sil vous plait?

This is my favourite 'Older French Girl' photograph which I took candidly in the fashionable marais district during my last winter trip to Paris. Love Love.

PP xx

A Home Away From Home

This post could of also been titled: 'Reasons why Petite Paris Bed & Breakfast kicks Hotel derriere'. But I couldn't decide which one to use so I tossed a coin.

The difference between a bed and breakfast and a hotel is huge. But you wouldn't know it if you've never heard of a B&B or if you don't understand the nature of a B&B. The biggest difference is cultural exchange. (and personal exchange). Far greater and more authentic in a B&B. There is a great divide between the richness, level of cultural exchange and overall travel experience in a B&B than that of a hotel. And isn't that the whole point of travelling? Meeting and interacting with the natives in a real way and not just the concierge, tour guide, bus, train or information guide? (or other tourists).
It should be I think, but I believe we also live in a shut-down society where people fear people and we all, to a degree, still travel in our own bubbles (double locked fortresses), unintentionally (or maybe intentionally for some, in which case: proceed to hotel) shutting ourselves off from any real form of interaction resulting in no personal growth. And I think we are getting worse. But I stop myself as I realise I have just gone off on a tangent with an argument based on my biased opinion which is best saved for another post elsewhere. The purpose of this post was to create a little friendly 'competition' between our B&B and les hotels, not a bitter battle. The purpose of educating (scratch that) ...teaching (still too biased) ...describing (better) the B&B environment as opposed to Hotels in an informative and objective manner. So lets get on with it shall we.

Below I have jot down the fundamental points of our B&B service, accompanied by some elaborate descriptions (my favourite kind) and examples that will hopefully lead you to a clear B&B portrayal. And I promise, with only brief cynical references to les hotels. For differentiation purposes of course.

(any hotel lovers please understand my words are not intended to offend or dis-credit hotels, they certainly serve their purpose: a room to sleep in, a few convenient services for far too much money. Oops I've done it already. Forgive me it's just my strong belief in the B&B service and experience.)

Other peoples homes: Whenever I walk past a beautiful or interesting home I wonder who lives inside and what the decor is like (and maybe fantasise about what it's feel like to live there). And it's more than just that common curious urge to go through other peoples bathroom cabinets or peeking into the 'off-limits' room with the door closed when no one is looking. Do you do that too? Well imagine being able to step into a typically quaint Parisian apartment, occupied by real native Parisians and living there with your host and their family (if they have one) and observing home life in another country and culture, while drinking in the atmosphere and magnificence of the typically furnished baroque, art deco, french country, modern or 18th century style french family home with generations of family photo frames on display to satisfy the fascination with 'other peoples lives'; and a host who welcomes you into their life/world to enjoy their home and give you an authentic Parisian experience. A B&B apartment is quite literally finding a Parisian home away from home. Thats why they also call it a Home Stay!

We have one gob-smacking deluxe mansion that's so exquisite it's frequently used for shooting french films and magazines and rented out to actors and celebrities.

We have another in the 16th whose interior and decor resembles that of French castles.

Discover these Parisian Haussmann buildings and apartments, rooms, nooks and crannies. But don't get me wrong these homes belong to real people not professionals with private lives and there will be certain rooms and or things that you still must respect the privacy of and cannot touch (just think of it as if you were offering your spare room and house), but you get my point.

Now unlike a hotel where you could be forgiven for forgetting which country your in until you step outside of your generic 4 walls and a bed, the B&B offers a warm intimate atmosphere. The interior life reflects the outiside world and culture and you will actually feel like you're in Paris.

Let me point out now that unless you're a millionaire and can afford one of the extravagant French hotels, then maybe superficially you might be happier in one of those. But you still don't get the complete experience and personal touch of a B&B. Keep reading.

Meeting Parisian people other than the concierge, bus, train or info guide: Our hosts are all well educated fascinating people with fascinating lives, careers and backgrounds. Here is the list I love to boast: We have numerous artists (some are current exhibitors in museums in Paris, they offer to show you their workshops, talk to you about their work and even give you drawing or art lessons, one of our B&B apartments is quite literally the apartment that belonged to French Impressionist Pissaro, and some artists have turned their art studio into your private B&B suite). We have actors, a well renown french actress who loves to meet travellers in her home, a theatre director who offers you theatre lessons and home cooked meals, interior designers, a radio personality with a home within arms reach of the Eiffel tower, an antique art dealer who offers to take you along to some popular markets, photographers, journalists, an advertising rep, a clown - yes a clown, a chef who worked in some of the most luxurious hotels and restaurants in Paris and offers to give you French cooking lessons, singers, several writers with published cook books, children's books and Parisian architectural books, we have a host who is an art teacher at the famous Louvre Museum, a children's book publisher, a cinema critic and so many more. Ok ok we also have the less exciting, less boastful: insurance brokers, lawyers and salespeople. But you get that.

Personal and cultural exchanges: Viewed as special friends rather than paying customers your arrival is anticipated not simply expected (like a you-know-what). Our hosts are all lovers of travel and all view their service as a window into the world, to meet people of different cultures, exchange life experiences, share passions, share their knowledge of the city and advise you on the must do's. But ultimately our hosts love to share their love of their city with foreigners. Our hosts will spend time with you if you want it, offering to chat with you over a drink to discuss Paris and your adventures. Ha, I'd like to see a concierge do that.

A real value is learning about the 'real' Paris through the eyes of real Parisians. Our hosts offer: Personal guided tours of the 'real' Paris not the one in your guidebook - day tours, night tours of the city of lights, local market tours too, they will advise you on the best shows, exhibitions and restaurants to go to and generally provide the best advice. To heighten your cultural experience some hosts offer: French cooking lessons with or without a sit down meal with your hosts, French language lessons with your host, sharing stories of their family and life in Paris during their childhood - what richer experience could you find?!

If you select an unhosted apartment of course you wont experience the full connection but if that's your choice then at least you get your own Parisian apartment and feel just like a local.

Please note: hosts can be very discreet and will always offer not impose their company, presence, knowledge and assistance. They all understand the importance that you also need privacy and a sense of independence even within their homes. Do not feel as though you must spend every waking moment with the hosts - they have work and their lives too.

Still there? Ok Ill keep going.

Value for money: Ok so I'm not going to lie. Although the prices can be somewhat cheaper than a hotel (its no secret hotels are hugely expensive in Paris), many are just as expensive and a few are more expensive. But if you consider what you're getting it is truly 'value for money'. Imagine your own apartment, or if shared an apartment with a Parisian host where you still have your own private 'area' not just bedroom, often with your own private entry, terrace or tranquil garden, with all of the above mentioned experience opportunities. What do you overpay for in a hotel? - A bed, in a room, perhaps breakfast is included - and, that, is, it.

Petite Paris - As the happy medium between you and our Parisian host and home; the tailored service, communication and interaction starts with us. Or more accurately, moi. There is no automated on-line booking system where you can pick your dates, apartment and confirm. To book a Parisian home away from home you must have direct contact with me. I communicate with you to help find and agree on an apartment that best suits your needs. Our hosts are not professionals, they are normal people with their individual homes and thus another reason for no online booking. The homes are obviously not like generic hotels room where the same standard room features apply to each one. Our apartments have features and elements different from each other and these need to be considered. For example some buildings do not offer lifts or have narrow staircase access therefore unsuitable for people with physical difficulties, some hosts accept families and babies, some B&B are not allergy free etc. The process of finding a suitable B&B starts with our lovingly lengthy descriptions on our web page (coming).

Ok so thats the basic soul and essence of Petite Paris Bed and Breakfast; in as much a summary as I can manage. Can you see the difference now? When I first discovered B&B accommodation I wondered, how or why would I ever go back to a hotel stay. It was my first trip to Paris and I stayed in B&B number 84 on our Petite Paris roster. My experience there was unforgettable. That's another story I'm saving for another day.

Bonne nuit, reves doux. PPxx

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Blog, Blog Buddies and the new B&B.

Ok so I'm still talking to myself. No blog buddies yet for Petite. Oh well, nevermind. Just as well the website isn't up and running yet, nor are we 'officially' operating (soon, soon). But who am I kidding, I'd love some fellow Paris fanatics to bond with and I'd love to log in to discover some comments already. Even if its just one. Anyone?

Being new to the world of blogging I wonder; am I doing it right? Maybe there are some basic ‘rules’ I should be following. Maybe I'm not writing 'right'. Maybe I'm not writing enough or as often as one 'should’. Maybe it’s the design or more so lack thereof. Or maybe there are some promotional, networking or pr-ing tools that I should be employing.

Regardless, what I know for certain is that I am absolutely loving writting le blog. So far it serves its purpose, even if it is to an empty audience. Truth is I love Paris, I love my pending B&B business and I love writing about both. And I am (quite freakishly) utterly content to keep writing anyway, hoping that simplicity and content will suffice, atleast until the arrival of:

(which i ordered over the net today); at which time I plan to become a blogging, writing, designing and networking queen.

There's just too much valuable information to share about our unique B&B’s, our hosts, our services, the districts, travel, Paris and our seasons of special discounts and promotions; just to have it all fall on 'no ears' or to slip by unnoticed. I’m bursting with impatience. Must get website up asap too.

Today we reached 51 B&B apartments on the Petite Paris roster. B&B No 361; another fantastic home stay in the art inspiring Montmartre district has just been acquired. Here are couple of snapshots.

So what do you think?

oh wait...anyone?

A bientot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quiet Corners of Paris

I found this delightful little book on and I was immediately won over when I read the title. I have an undeniable thirst for discovering and spending precious time, admiring and romanticising in beautiful tranquil nooks in Paris. And here was a book that promised to make my quest easier. I was thrilled.

Paris may well be the most beautiful city on earth, but as any resident or visitor knows, its not exactly a haven of peace; too much traffic, too much noise and too many people. But away from the swarm of tourists and everyday city hustle and bustle, I have found the most exquisite spots 'off the beaten track', which exist quietly and modestly around unexpected corners and behind misleading bland facades, in places that are often right under your nose but are easily missed. Not surprising really when there are looming iconic metal towers or giant glass triangles jutting out of the ground to hog all your attention.

So now with my new 'guide' in hand, I simply can't wait for my next trip to Paris (8 weeks, 4 days but who's counting ay)

If you're in Paris for a limited time then by no means would I advise you to disregard your regular guidebooks. Those touristy destinations listed inside are the 'must sees' and 'dos' that simply must been seen and done! But if you want a break from the crowds and clutter, or you simply love discovering secret unspoilt spots of beauty, nature and architectural extravagance then this book can navigate you to a completely different world within Paris.

Divided into chapters by arrondissement, discover cloisters, courtyards, gardens, museums, passages, shops, historic houses, architectural ruins, churches, arborteums, islands, hilltops and winding lanes. Most of the places listed are outdoors with pleasant green-garden atmospheres.

As my new guide/bible states:
'The madding crowd is a predictable beast, rushing from one trendy, new, hip, must-see spot to the next. When it comes to still backwaters, to uncluttered nooks and noiseless crannies, the crowds simply shy away, uninterested. Crowds draw crowds. Quiet places stay quiet.'

I agree with this whole heartedly. No one need fear that these secret spots are being unveiled - a good thing for those of us who like life on the quiet side.

My quick flick pick:
La Mouzaia, 19th arrondissement
Entrances: rue de Mouzaia, rue David-d'Angers,
rue Miguel-Hidalgo, rue de General-Brunet
Metro: Pre-Saint-Gervais, Botzaris
Open Daily

'La Mouzaia is the name of a neighbourhood that has Paris' largest number of low rise, freestanding or semi-detached garden homes - hundreds of them strung along some 30 streets, villa and hamlet complexes and cul-de-sacs. Why here? Because the quarter sits atop former gypsum quarries, in use until the nineteenth century, then filled and built over. The unstable soil can't bear weighty buildings.

It's lovely to get lost wandering down these streets or narrow alleys, some of them set at a tilt, most garlanded by greenery that often submerges yards and houses. Many are modest, in keeping with their original, largely blue-collar inhabitants. Others stand three or four stories tall; still others are half-timbered. Dreamily strolling from one leafy lane to the next, you'll gradually forget the twenty-first century and the rumbling city out there, and be sorely tempted to ring someone's bell simply to ask if life really is as sweet here as it seems to a passing stroller'.

Here are some of our Bed & Breakfasts located near La Mouzaia:

B&B #213: Irma and Alfio's cosy little garden nest.

B&B #345: Anne's refined and romantic dwelling.

B&B #188: Genevieve's remarkable 17th story residence.
Visit our web site for our listing of B&B apartments, with their very own tranquil gardens and/or courtyards.

Bonne nuit. PP x

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paris Bed & Breakfast Apartment of the Week

I catch my breath and get a pang of nostalgia and longing every time I look at this B&B (No 339) - i want it, or one like it - and I think how lucky I am to have this beautifully decorated typical Parisian B&B on the Petite Paris B&B roster to work with. I get to look at it all the time, visit it and the best part (a close second to visiting it) is reading the 'oh-my-god', 'i love', 'its gorgeous' and 'i want it' responses from Australian travellers who fall in love with it too.

There is nothing more energising and reaffirming than having customers share their enthusiasm and excitement over the obvious visual appeal of a unique B&B such as this. Just looking at it propels your mind to wonder off into a romantic dream of being right there at the delicately arranged breakfast table and the magical atmosphere and experiences that surely must follow.

Perfectly located in the 18th arrondissement also known as Montmartre; in my opinion the most romantic and creatively inspiring area of paris that has held onto the authentic and typically old world Parisian bohemian village feel; this apartment has been superbly decorated by your hosts, a lovely young couple, both artists, who will welcome you into their home and offer you a true Parisian experience.

Located on the 2nd floor of a Haussmann building from the 1890's, we offer on behalf of our Parisian hosts:

* a bedroom for two people.

* in an apartment with an elaborate and romantic boudoir atmosphere

* lavished with furnishings that will delight

* art to admire

* a private bathroom decorated with much detail

* breakfast served

* plentiful and diverse

But daydreaming won't get you there;
Contact me to book your Parisian home away from home.
(more photos and information on our website)

Bonne nuit mes amis xx

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Porte de Vanves Markets

While I patiently wait for the finishing touches on the website - or rather not so patiently, hurry up already - I'd thought I'd share an all time favourite way to spend a Saturday (and/or Sunday) morning in Paris. Porte de Vanves Flea Markets.

Anyone who has been there needs no further explanation. But for those who have not, and love pretty antiquities for la maison, put it on your 'to do' list immediately.

Leave the famously overpriced flea market at Clignancourt (I purchased a 2 cup 2 plate tea set for 200euro, uugggh, granted I do love it but uuuggggh nevertheless) and follow the Parisian collectors to Vanves. It's a huge strip of street-side dealers selling antiques, furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables on Saturdays AND Sundays.

Starting with a flaky croissant purchased from the Patiserrie at the cafe around the corner or sipping on Vin Chaud I spend the entire morning slowly sifting through the masses of gorgeous items, haggling with the sellers; some extremely friendly and patient with my part french part english part sign language fiasco and willing to be be haggled - while some not quite so.

Its not always cheap but even looking is fun. I've never spend more than say $40 Euro per visit and come away with some real world-class treasures.

These markets were started in the late 19th century and today you are likely to find anything from trinkets to treasures as well as vintage designer clothing, agate cigarette holders, swanky barware, ancient archaeological treasures, even the occasional world-class find - monet,
cocteau paints and more.

Where is it? The market stretches for blocks along Avenue Marc Sangie and around the corner on Avenue Georges Lafenestre on the southern border of Paris.

How to get there? Metro station Porte Vanves, line 13.
My tips:
1. ARRIVE EARLY - it opens at 7am and dealers start to pack up at noon. Closes by 1pm
2. Don't worry if a seller wont budge on price, more often than not they counter offered before I got far.
3. Pace yourself.
4. Look for the bargain tables: Toute a 1E cette table - everythings 1 euro.
5. Bring a bag.

It's a good thing they close around midday and I'm forced to leave otherwise Id quite happily spend the entire day there and miss out of seeing the rest of Paris.

Favourite purchases: livre de lettres d'amour (a miniature volume of love letters in french from the 18thC - I cant understand it but one day I will and it looks divine on my shelf - a perfect item for the knowledgeless fan of beautiful art and antique ... stuff). My vintage Celine silk blue red and white polka dot shirt for 20Euro and my 15Euro ring which I wear eveyday, yet to be apprised. It has a secret compartment which I will always remember the girl telling me: 'good to keep drugs to kill your boyfriend'.