lunch, shopping, Saturday

One of my favorite places to rendezvous is at the fountain in the Jardin du Palais Royal. I’ve been enjoying the graceful splendor of this hidden garden for ages.

There are restaurants and elegant shops under the arcades. Or you can just sit on a bench or chair and enjoy the sound of birdsong and the splashing fountain.

The garden is a perfect starting point for shopping and lunch. My friend, Monique, and I rendezvoused at the fountain at noon. We headed north to the Galerie Vivienne, built in 1826. See this splendid mosaic tiled floor? It’s the original floor created by Giandomenico Facchina, an Italian mosaic artist who did much of his work in France.


It was lunch hour, but we got waylaid by some linen clothes in a boutique called Manuelle Guibal. We chatted awhile with the woman who worked there. She gave me the address of their boutique in Lisbon where I can find the same clothes.


We then headed towards the Place des Victoires where I wanted to visit the English boutique that I rave over in London, The Designers Guild. This one had just opened. It was a lot smaller and, I’m sorry to say, the customer service didn’t hold a candle to the service you’d get in London.

Directly across the road was this restaurant where we sat at an outdoor table. I ordered a tomato mozzarella salad and a tiny glass of wine, Monique ordered a grilled chicken niçoise salad.


When you think that you can buy a decent bottle of French wine for 6 euros and you’re charged 6 euros for a tiny glass, it’s a little bit scandalous. But this is the price you pay for the privilege of eating in a chic Parisian neighborhood.


Speaking of chic, directly around the corner and located on the Place des Victoires is this gorgeous little boutique where I’ve been shopping for decades.


Upon entering, we spied a bunch of gorgeous scarves. Italian made, some were silk, some were a blend of silk and modal. A type of rayon, modal is a bio-based textile made from the beechwood tree. Modal fabric feels silky-soft on the skin yet is hard-wearing and colorfast when dyed.

A woman can never have enough scarves, is my opinion. Again, we spent a long while talking to the friendly saleswoman and trying on scarves. 


I ended up taking this (blurry) photo of myself in the mirror because no-one could figure out how to work my camera. Sigh. I always end up doing everything myself. The scarf I ended up buying – half silk, half modal – is a gorgeous swirl of mauves, greens, pinks and yellows. It’s lightweight, soft and warm and you can scrunch it up (great for travelling.)

Our last stop was Dehillerin, the kitchenware store located off the rue du Louvre. I was in search of a strainer, called une passoire in French. I have a cone-shaped chinois and a colander but, as you know, a strainer is a different animal entirely. I was also in search of a teeny-tiny strainer for my jasmine tea leaves. Not easy to find!


The place is a sort of Aladdin’s Cave for people who like to cook. Before tourists discovered it, it was a sleepy dusty place. Now it’s super-popular and has a new lease on life.

Bloomsbury and Marylebone – June 2017

Back in central London, a mere 15-minute walk from St. Pancras train station, I checked into Goodenough College which opens up their student residences to the general public through the summer period. It’s located on Mecklenburgh Square beside a large leafy park.


This student room cost me £85 per night (with en-suite bathroom.) A full English breakfast and dinner is served in the Great Hall (in another building on the other side of the square) for as little as £3. Mere steps from the college is the beautiful Brunswick Square Gardens (photo below) and an interesting museum.


The tree in the top photograph is one of London’s “ten great trees”. I wonder where the other nine are. It’s called a Brunswick Plane, it’s over 200 years old, and is thought to be one of the original trees planted when the square was created in the 1790s. Here it is again, isn’t it magnificent? I love trees. And parks.


I have visited (and lived in) a lot of major world cities and London beats them all for the abundance of green spaces, public parks and gardens. Directly opposite this park, and beside the Goodenough College, is the Foundling Museum. Well worth a visit.


Once I had toured my immediate surroundings, I hopped onto the tube (the subway) at Russell Square station and headed over to one of my favorite shopping areas, Marylebone High Street. I totally agree with an old copy of TIME OUT magazine which says – Avoid the mob on Oxford Street. Marylebone Village is where the smart (and posh) shoppers shop.

I like it for its village atmosphere and selection of great shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, as I was crossing the very busy and congested Marylebone Road, a piece of grit flew into my left eye. Temporarily blinded in one eye, I staggered into a Boots Pharmacy on the Marylebone High Street and asked for some eye wash. The kindly salesperson brought me a box of OPTREX eye wash with its own little eye bath. Standing in a corner, I rinsed my eye and the grit came out. Coming out of Boots, I spied an OXFAM charity shop a few doors down. I popped in and bought myself a gorgeous (second-hand) linen jacket for £14 and a pair of houndstooth linen wide trousers for £16. I then went into The Natural Kitchen for a take-out coffee. Clutching my £5 double caffè macchiato in one hand and my OXFAM shopping bag in the other, I joined the smart set and strolled down the High Street in the sunshine.


Looking for the perfect gift? Pop into ORTIGIA, Italian soap and fragrance company, for the most exquisite selection of perfumes, creams, soaps, candles and textiles from Sicily. The little boxes alone are worth keeping.


Scandi design (Scandinavian) at my favorite store, Skandium, where you can find items from Marimekko (Finnish), iittala (Finnish) and Georg Jensen (Danish).


And then I came across a store I had never seen before. Designers Guild. I walked in and swooned. Bed linens and cushions, paint colors to complement the fabrics, wallpapers, home furnishings, tableware, rugs, stationery and other design-led accessories. The shop also stocks a great range of contemporary and vintage furniture. I’ve never seen such a collection of gorgeous things stocked under one roof.


I purchased these soft 100% linen sheets. There’s another, bigger store on the King’s Road.