Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels
When you're in Brussels during the only 3 weeks of the year when the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are open to the general public, you just HAVE to go, right? This was the first time ever, that I queued up to visit a greenhouse. It was also the most annoying visit ever: there were too many loud and impolite people to my liking... there was only one route through the greenhouses and it all felt way too polished, perfect and flowery to me. BUT...
BUT: the final greenhouse, the Winter Garden with the Royal Crown on top, made it all worth it: I mean look at how amazing it looks in the first photo! It was so impressive, with beautifully aligned palms, banana trees and ferns. And this mega giant huge Monstera deliciosa on the side... One of the biggest specimens I have ever seen:
In 1873, architect Alphonse Balat designed a complex of greenhouses for King Leopold II, made entirely of glass and steel, in order to complete the castle of Laeken. He supervised the different stages of its construction until his death in 1895, and was succeeded by the architects Girault and Maquet. Built between 1874 and 1905, the Royal Greenhouses were a spectacular innovation by their size and their architectural quality. King Leopold II was particularly fond of camelias, and thus the greenhouses house an exceptionnal collection of them.
A few facts and figures: The park measures 194ha and the greenhouses complex covers a 1.5ha floor space with a roof made of 2.5ha of glass. 651 Tonnes of steel are used for the Winter Garden. Some plants are nearly 200 years old. 60 Employees take care of the plant collection and more than 100.000 people visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken every year.
If you have the chance to visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken before May 11th, go go go! It is spectacular and so worth the visit, despite the touristic feel of the venue, it is impressive. A definite must-see!
The Royal crown on top of the Royal Greenhouse:
La Serre du Congo:
Along the winding path through the different greenhouses everything is very floral: if you like fuchsia plants, this the place to be: they are everywhere and the small garden parcels are meticulously cultivated.
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, Château de Laeken, Avenue du Parc Royal, Brussels
Open 3 weeks per year (April 21st - May 11th 2018), tickets 2.50€
Highlights from Milan Design Week 2018
Last week I was back in Milan for Design Week. The previous edition (2017) was so good and hard to top, but again it was a lovely trip. Very warm and sunny (27°C), very crowded. In a short amount of time I managed to see quite a bit, but also missed out on so many other design exhibitions. Overall I got the sentiment it was all a bit less risky: no mindblowing lifechanging design exhibitions, but very good ones nevertheless.
The main reason of my visit was to attend the Gardena event at the La Gare hotel, overviewing the Bosco Verticale by architect Stefano Boeri. These vertical forest towers were built in 2014 and are one of the first things you see when you get off the train at the Garibaldi station in Milan. They represent 2ha of forest on a relatively small surface. Stefano Boeri told us all about the choice of bushes and trees and how the greenery was tested in a wind tunnel in the US to make sure they can resist the winds on top of the building. The tenants of the apartments don't take care of their balconies by themselves: the flying gardeners as they call them, have the keys of the apartments and make sure all greenery is doing fine. However, as Stefano Boeri told me when I asked him: most tenants are very inspired by their green frame of their home in Milan, that they enjoy grow plants in their apartments too. I'd love to see what that looks from the inside!
One of the most inspiring aspects of Milan are the green balconies and façades everywhere. That's when you realize there is a lot of work left to do in Paris... looking at you Jardinière Sauvage ;)
The first design stop was at the Objets Nomades exhibition by Louis Vuitton. It was surprisingly good, with these nomad cabins in the courtyard and a very flowery presentation inside the Palazzo Bocconi (more of that below).
Of course I had to visit my friends from Pijama at their boutique in the Isola area (near the Bosco Verticale) where they presented their new collaboration with Waxman Brothers. The very colorful African grocery styling reminded me of Maison Chateau Rouge here in Paris. I really love their cachepots that cover any dull plant pot and add instant style. Also, their laptop covers and pouches are so goodlooking and practical. I just love neoprene <3
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my discoball adventure? Long story short: I spotted an XXL discoball at our local thrift store and my Instagram followers voted for me to get it. So now I'm the proud owner of that huge discoball (and love it!) and keep seeing discoballs everywhere, like this cool "melted" one at Disco Gufram.
Just opposite of the Pijama boutique, was the group show called Mutant Matter by Dutch Invertuals, a carefully hand picked group of passionate, and vision driven designers, pushing the boundaries of their capabilities. I really loved these pieces by Xandra van der Eijk, called Future Remnants:
And these bold shapes by Fleur Hulleman, called Untouchables:
These wall lights by Michael Anastassiadas seen at Nilufar Gallery made me smile:
Pink, Red and bubbly ballons at the Objets Nomades exhibition by Louis Vuitton:
The impressive ceiling dressed in handmade leather flowers (available in their shop at 240€/piece), again at the Objets Nomades exhibition by Louis Vuitton:
The Tropicalist vase by the Campana brothers, inspired by nspired by South American Quesnalia and Bromeliad flowers:
How surprisingly beautiful are these translucent balcony fences?
And Milan in the spring is not the same without the Wysteria hysteria everywhere... it makes the city smell so good:
More to come soon! I have two extra blogposts coming up with my favourite design exhibitions in Milan... and check out Urban Jungle Bloggers too as we'll cover some nice (and new!) plant shops from Italy's design capital!
A walk around the Sukkulenten Sammlung in Zurich
A few weeks ago I was in Zurich together with Igor to speak about the Urban Jungle Bloggers community and our book at the Textile & Fashion Days of the Swiss Textile College. It was really fun as their topic of the year was "Urban Jungle" and they had a Slow Fashion Performance at night with models presenting the student's creations in an underground urban garden. If you would like to see what that looked like, check out my highlighted story of Zurich on my Instagram profile.
But there was more fun to be had as we spent the weekend in Zurich soaking up the first sunshine of the season, made a boat tour on Lake Zurich and indulged in Swiss traditional food (at Zeughauskeller), homemade pasta (at La Pasta) and Oriental mezze (at Neni Zurich West). On Saturday morning we visited the flea market at the Bürkliplatz (found these souvenirs) and of course we also visited some of the greenest places of the city. Our top 8 of botanical & green hotspots in Zurich is live on Urban Jungle Bloggers now, but I also wanted to show you a little bit more of the Sukkulenten Sammlung, as it was my favorite place of all. So here we go!
The Sukkulenten Sammlung is a succulent lover’s dream! Open since 1931, the “Succulent Collection Zurich” houses one of the largest collections of succulent plants in Europe. In the seven greenhouses you can walk past the entire collection that consists of 4500 different species from 78 plant families. Take at least an hour (or better… a few!) to wander around the greenhouses and admire the huge variety of textures, shapes and colours of all the plants on display. The Sukkulenten Sammlung is located at a 20 minute walk from the city center, through the lake-side parks. Like most Botanical gardens, they provide a nice and calm spot to escape the buzzing (or touristy) city life for a moment. The sunshine was magical when we were there, just 30 minuted before they closed, rather early at 16:30. Hope you'll enjoy my photos!
Sukkulenten Sammlung Zurich /// Mythenquai 88 /// Zürich, Switzerland
Open every day from 9:00 to 16:30 - free entry
A quick and cool trip to London
We just got back from a short, intense and very fun trip to London. Robert joined me as I was invited to speak on a panel at the Town Hall Hotel with eve sleep. Our main goal was to eat at any of Ottolenghi's restaurants Spoiler alert: we made it to Ottolenghi's Islington location, we had hot drinks and I indulged in a caramel pecan pie, but we'll have to come to back to have a proper lunch or meal.
But we managed to visit: Tiffany's window styling at Heal's, several book shops where they had our Urban Jungle book laying next to The Kinfolk Home book and Justina Blakeney's New Bohemian's Handbook (it never gets old to see our book in the wild!), the Lego Flagship store, West Elm, Botanique Workshop, Ask for Janice (for much needed coffee!), Monologue London (with a realllllly nice selection of home items!), Labour & Wait (classic "tools" for the home), Sweaty Betty (they have the coolest sportswear!), Unto this Last (plywood heaven!), the Barbican (where a local invited us into his 1.5M£ home to just have a look!), Prick London (for cacti of course!), to several other plant shops, but the best being: Conservatory Archives. If you like I pinned my Instagram stories highlights from our trip to my Instagram profile, called "(peacesign) London".
The least favorite thing that we visited in London was the Sky Garden... yes the plants looked healthy, the view of London was really nice, the elevators were fast (and free)... but all the tourists were a bit too much for me to handle.
During these two days we walked 56K steps as the underground was having issues. It goes without saying that we saw a lot of sunny freezing London. Now we just have to get back asap to have a proper meal at Ottolenghi's. I know there are Parisians taking a Eurostar daytrip to London just to have lunch there, so that's always an option.
Find more of my previous London highlights HERE or HERE. Or check out my Instagram stories highlights on my Instagram profile, called "(peacesign) London".
Orto Botanico in Rome part 2
For the last blogpost of the year, I'm taking you inside the greenhouse at the Orto Botanico in Rome. If you liked the little walk around the botanical garden, you are in for a treat: the inside is gorgeous too! It is definitely not the prettiest greenhouse that I ever visited, but I had the place all to myself, the light was amazing, the plants looked healthy and were full of character and uncommon shapes. It was not too perfect, just the way I like it. So let's have a look inside:
In what looks like the entrance hall, grows a couple of very tall Euphorbia, some of which are endangered.
Euphorbia growing towards the light:
An impressive grid look:
Love the heart shaped leaves (and thorns) on this Alluaudia:
In the side wing they grow the cacti, succulents and Caudex, like these Mother in Law's seats:
Orto Botanico in Rome part 1
Some days feel like you received a precious gift. Not in a monetary way, that you may expect in this month of gift giving, wishlists, giftguides, giving to charity and advent calendars. But more in an "experience" way. Two weeks ago, after spending a wonderful weekend in Rome for #Blago2017 I was lucky to have an extra few hours in the city, all by myself. Now I love to spend time with cool people, but a few hours of calmth and sunshine in the Botanical Gardens of Rome were just wonderful too. Time to get my camera rolling, to soak up all the sunshine I could get before heading home to greyness at home, and to admire the lush palms, cacti, tropical foliage, greenhouses, bamboo and succulents. A true gift!
So let me share my gift with you in this post. Maybe it will inspire you to go visit your local botanical garden, or even visit the one in Rome.
The Orto Botanico of Rome Sapienza University is located at walking distance from the Vatican, on the west bank of the Tiber, outside the boundaries of ancient Rome. It consists of a 12ha parc on the slopes of the Janiculum hill, overlooking the 17th-century Palazzo Corsini, which was from 1659-1689 the residence of Queen Christina of Sweden, now the headquarters of the National Academy of Science and the Corsini Gallery. It looks rather majestic (photo above) I believe.
Two of my alltime faves: palmtrees and Opuntia cacti:
This tall cactus was sunbathing in front of the Palazzo Corsini:
Rome... feels like LA:
The exhibition greenhouse and in the front the "Garden of Simples" with flowerbeds with medicinal plants, structured bricks:
The perfect spot for soaking up sunshine, with a view on palms... and more palms:
One of the unique features of the Orto Botanico, and one of the richest in Europe, is the Bamboo Collection with over 70 different varieties of bamboo!
As the botanical garden is located on the on the slopes of the Janiculum hill, I got a really nice view over the old city of Rome through the autumn foliage:
The French greenhouse was all empty, usually it's full of Haworthia, Lithops and Gasteria, but I loved the detail of the curved window. It was only when editing pictures that I saw there's a large pomelo tree in the background!
Did you like the little walk around the Orto Botanico with me? Check back soon as I'll take you inside the fabulous succulent & cactus greenhouse that you see on the picture below. Look at those blue glass details on the front. Gorgeous, right? Believe me, the inside is really nice too!
Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza" /// Largo Cristina di Svezia, 24 /// 00165 Roma /// Italy
Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5:30/6:30pm, entry fee 8€
A postcard from beautiful Rome
Last weekend I went to Italy for the fourth time this year. In April I was invited to Milan for Design Week and later that month I was in Genoa and we visited Aosta in May. But it had been 21 years and 1 month since I was in Rome, during the typical "Rome reis", a trip for highschool students with Latin & Greek in their curriculum. From what I remember, Rome felt like a giant open air museum with cute carabinieri and all the rememnants of the history that we learned about at school. The city of Rome was also the stage of our teenager adventures, a first longer trip away from our families, with nights on the Spanish steps, cheap Lambrusco and the discovery of antipasti.
Anyway, going back to beautiful Rome for our annual Blago trip was wonderful. Flashes of memories came back, but more importantly: we created new memories that didn't include caribinieri or Lambrusco. This end of November felt like fall, with the colorful leaves still on the trees, instead of on the ground like here in Paris, and we were lucky to have our local friend Kat as our guide. She showed us her Rome, took us to the best places to eat, off the beaten track, organised a pasta cooking class for us, and made us laugh so much. The six of us met more than five years ago at a blog conference and became instant friends. Ever since, two babies were born, careers evolved, some of us even moved countries, but our annual girl's trips are a welcome break from it all. Here are a few snaps of the weekend!
I'm currently preparing a few extra blogposts, about our amazing apartment Casa Cau, the pasta workshop, bubbles and the amazing botanical garden. But first: weekend! Have a good one!
Oh how I love green balconies:
Early morning (8AM!) posing at the Trevi Fountain. Deepa looking all sharp and shiny:
Roman streetart in the Ostiense neighborhood: a colorful mural by BLU on the Fronte del Porto, a former aeronautical barracks:
My favorites from Dutch Design Week 2017
Five years ago was my last time at Dutch Design Week (you can read more about that here), so a visit was long overdue! When Holly from Decor8 invited me to be part of #blogteamDDW I knew there was no excuse ;) We had a fantastic weekend with 15 bloggers, great food, lots of laughter, plenty of Dutch Design... And also a lot of "zachte G", the typical accent in Brabant, the region where I come from and where Eindhoven is located, home of the Dutch Design week.
During this week, Eindhoven becomes the heart of Design in the Netherlands, it's literally buzzing with design exhibitions throughout the entire city that you can easily visit by foot, or if you prefer: grab a free Volvo cab that brings you to the next exhibition.
After an early breakfast at The Studenhotel, we kicked off the day at the Design Academy Eindhoven where 177 students presented their work. We were the firsts to visit, even before the official opening of the Graduation Show, and I loved how eager the students were to tell us all about their projects. I had a hard time moving from one to the next, there was so much to see, so much to ask and so much quality!
A little side note though: One thing that I found to be rather shocking though: the students of the Design Academy don't learn about marketing, sales and social media. They don't learn how to sell their work and make a living. The reason why? "Our students don't want this to be part of their curriculum at the Design Academy. However, there is an alumni programm where they get help with this". As a former art student, I think this is very sad: you can be the best artist in the world, if you don't know how to make a living by creating, you'll end up in a random job just to pay the bills. And while there is nothing really wrong with that, we do need these talented designers to focus on what they're best at...
Anyway, after visiting the Graduation Show, we had a quick coffee break at Bean Brothers and lunch at Kazerne, which is also one of the exhibition hubs during DDW. In the afternoon we roamed around TAC (loved this!) and Strijp S. In the evening we were invited to the launch of the new NLXL Timber Strips wallpaper by Piet Hein Eek, where Paola Navone cooked a delicious risotto alla Milanese for all of us (including the very down-to-earth Rossana Orlandi). She brought the ingredients for the meal directly from Milan: why cook with Dutch ingredients when you can have the very best ;) Despite the 4 hours of sleep the night before, it was a joyful evening and on Sunday we indulged in more design at Piet Hein Eek and Broeinest. For Urban Jungle Bloggers, we prepared a post with our favorite green highlights (coming soon!), but I saw so many interesting things, that I really wanted to share these here with you. So here we go!
My eye caught a few things: new color combinations (like the fantastic vintage pale blue kitchen and yellow/orange shelf) in the showroom of Piet Hein Eek:
Or the deep purple and deep fuchsia at the exhibition of Ontwerpduo:
My eyes (and hands) were also intrigued by some really nice haptic designs that you want to touch, feel and experience, like the erotic sculptures by Fleur Hulleman, called Porn for the Soul:
These flasks with wooden and leather handles by Mickey Philips:
These delicious surface designs by Julia Thomann:
Another thing that echoed with me was the playfulness of many projects. Quite litterally in the building blocks for adults by Michiel van Gageldonk:
Or playful, just by being cute and delicous in shape and color, like this sculpture by Sejoon Kim:
Playful was also the first word that came to mind when I saw the LED lights from Nicks Beens. The super strong LED light in the base, shine through the powdercoated tubes that give the light a colored glow. Can someone (like a cool design editing company) please purchase the rights of Nick's designs and add it to their collection, because I want it!
By accident I caught Nick on photo later at the Design Academy Graduation Show:
Another big crush were these playful vases and pendant lights by Sokolova Design Studio in an incredible color palette combined with copper:
The Suprematic 2 vases, combine different circles and tubes, that are so trendy right now (and for me an alltime favorite, I <3 circles):
I love TextielMuseum ever since I visited as a kid. The museum is all about textiles and its applications, tools, machinery, history and future. In their TextielLab designers can work together with technical staff to create new innovative textiles. At DDW they launched their new teatowels designed by Studio Job, created at TextielLab in Tilburg. If you're ever in the neighborhood, this is a place you don't want to miss (together with De Pont museum). And the exhibition was quite playful (and colorful!) too: you could buy your own teatowel and pick your favourite icon that they embroider live on your towel? Like the Dragonfly in pink below, can you see it?
Teatowels by Studio Job for TextielMuseum:
And the last 3 projects were my favorite, just because they were simple, beautiful, well executed and I liked the shapes. Like the room divider by Nord Interior Design:
This glassfiber Monade Capsule by Alice Bleton:
Another room divider and chair by Mae Engelgeer at the Transitions III exhibition at Broeinest. I loved Transitions II in Milan earlier this year (see it here).
For more highlights from Dutch Design Week, hop over to the blogs of my fellow blog friends that were part of #blogteamDDW:
Decor8 /// Vosgesparis /// Stilzitat /// Happy Interior Blog /// Monsters Circus /// Styled Canvas /// Everyday Marta /// Yvestown /// The Style Files /// Passion Shake /// April and May /// BeeldSteil /// Trendstefan /// Sandra Kaplanovich /// Urban Jungle Bloggers
mini guide Brussels
When visiting our family in Holland, we always (always!) pass by Brussels. And in fifteen years we never ever stopped there. Which turned out, is a pity because Brussels is a sweet and diverse city, well worth a visit.
Igor and I were in Bruxelles recently to promote our book and to host a plant hanger workshop and had an extra day to explore. There were quite a few places that I really loved (and want to revisit on our next trip to Holland!) that go well beyond Manneken Pis, chocolate and beer. So here we go with some of the places you don't want to miss on your next citytrip to Bruxelles, Brussel, or just Brussels.
By the way, I still have no clue which language you're supposed to speak in Brussels. Speaking English seemed safer than French or Dutch, because the Bruxellois would either be insulted by Dutch or by French and reply in a different language. As long as you understand each other, it's OK, but it felt confusing either way.
► I'm still dreaming of the iced coffee I had at Aksum, an Ethiopian coffee house, not far from the Grand Place. My number one reason to go back to Brussels, and I'm not even a coffee-addict. Warmly (or ice-coldly ;) ) recommended!
► The prettiest plant shop in Brussels: BRUT. A real jungle vibe, with lots of pink grow lights, lush plants and vintage rattan furniture. We created an entire blogpost about Brut on Urban Jungle Bloggers if you like to take a look inside. Next time I also want to visit their newly opened sister-boutique La Pharmacie with more vintage & plants.
► Good design and vintage shopping in the Rue Blaes, including Atat and Welcome Gallery with some very nice Calder-inspired stabiles!
► The glazed shopping arcade Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a bit touristy (check the first picture above), but there are a few nice design and interior shops inside and... Meert ;) Need I say more?!
► Forget waffles with too many toppings: go to Aux Merveilleux de Fred for a raisin cramique. Super soft fluffy bread with raisins. Or indulge in his merveilleux.
► Dinner at La Cantina Brasil for nice brasilian food in a kitschy jungle decor. Not tested, but I was recommended to have dinner at Jour de Fête.
► On Sunday, wake up early to visit the Marché du Midi, the fruit and flower and plant market near the Bruxelles Midi trainstation. It is huge and has so many beautiful flowers, very cheap houseplants and the most wonderful fruit en veggies. If you visit at the end of the market day, at around 13:30, you can find the best bargains.
► If you woke up early to visit the market and did some grocery shopping, or maybe even adopted a new plant, walk towards the Marolles area, just south from the Marché du Midi. On the Place du Jeu de Balle, there's a large Sunday fleamarket where you can find anything from complete tourist traps, to the best vintage finds ever. I found it to be rather inexpensive, the vendors were willing to negotiate and easier than the French folks at the vide greniers we usually visit here in France.
► fter (or before!) a stroll around the fleamarket: go for Sunday brunch at Chaff, great for people watching as it's right along the brocante square.
Do you have more Brussels tips? I can't wait to go back, have a nice Aksum coffee, a cramique and for some more junkhunting at the Place du Jeu de Balle ;)
Corsica travel guide
Wow, that was good: three entire weeks on Corsica! Our much needed holiday brought us to l'Ile de Beauté, the isle of beauty. It was our second time on Corsica: after our first trip in 2010 we really wanted to go back and explore this wild island some more.
Corsica really is a beautiful French island with a perfect mix of wild mountains, turquoise sea and private beaches. If you like to be outdoors, walk, hike or hit the beach, this is your island. It is covered with maquis, fragrant evergreen shrubs that smell amazing. I love it! It smells of eucalyptus, juniper, laurel, rosemary, myrtle, sage, mint, thyme and lavender. The aromatic herbs grow everywhere and give that special holiday perfume to your trip. ♥
Before going I decided to give myself a break from social media and to let go of any I-need-to-blog-about-this pressure. The result was that I had a lot of fun sharing daily short stories over on my Instagram and that I took hardly any photos with my real camera for my blog. But then I received so many messages on Instagram asking where I was and if I had some Corsica recommendations. So yes, here we go!
► When to visit Corsica?
In July and August, Corsica is very touristic and busy, so if you have a chance of traveling in the spring or fall (or even the winter!): go for it! We visited in April/May and had many beaches to ourselves, when we hiked we usually only crossed paths with a few locals. And holiday rentals and hotels are more affordable too.
► How to get there?
You can either fly and get a rental car, or drive to Toulon or Nice and take a ferry from Corsica Ferries or Corsica Linea. We really wanted to be on a ferry during day time (I get seasick very easily) and thus opted for a ferry from Genua, Italy to Bastia (by Moby lines). I would recommend to get a cabin (even during daytime), so that you can relax and sleep and have some privacy.
► Where to stay?
• Hôtel Moby Dick We stumbled upon this hotel near the Santa Giula lake and beach. It's located in a peaceful area with a private beach and from the rooms with shutters you have either a lake or a sea view. I'd love to stay here next time on Corsica!
• Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa The hotel has a very classic style, but the location is amazing!
• We booked several AirBnBs during our stay because we wanted to cook our own meals. We booked this apartment in Sari-Solenzara, which was bright, spacious (especially for just the two of us!) and very clean. I also really liked this apartment in Bastia (where we didn't stay by the way!), mostly because of the yellow sofa ;)
► City life?
It may be due to the time of the year (read: off season) or my allergies for mass tourism that brings ferries and cruise ships full of tourists to the Corsican cities: I didn't quite fall for the urban areas of the island. Between Bastia, Île Rousse, Saint Florent, Calvi, Ajaccio, Corte and Porte-Vecchio, I liked Ajaccio best. And I also really loved the amazing Opuntia cacti near the fort walls of Calvi, which are huge, amazing, overwhelming! Don't miss the Sunday brocante in Ajaccio on the Place de Gaulle, it's really cute! I also really liked the village of Cargèse, which was calm when we visited. People in Cargèse were very kind and helpful and during the high season you can take a boat from here and visit the nature reserve of Scandola for example.
One tip if you want to invest in a breezy summer outfit: look for Karma Koma shops (in Bastia, Porto-Vecchio, Porticcio, Île Rousse, Calvi and Bonifacio).
► Where to chill?
• Little Capo (not far from Ajaccio). Hang out on comfy sofas with your feet in the sand, see the sun go down (in the sea, not behind a mountain!) and even do some shopping in the Little Capo boutique. It has a bit of a bohemian Ibiza vibe ;) (or what I imagine to be an Ibiza vibe, as I've never been there).
• The terrace of the Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa. We visited the Cala Rossa beach seven years ago and I never stopped dreaming of this place. Cala Rossa is a neighborhood just north to Porto-Vecchio and the Grand Hôtel is part of a gated community. We even spotted our dream home in this area, in a small forest of pine trees, sea view and large bay windows. It sold for around 4 million euros a few months ago.
• Le Yuka in Cargèse. Coffee, lemonade and salades with a retro vibe and sea view!
• La Sassa in Nonza (Cap Corse). Perfect for Sunday brunch or coffee with a view!
• Auberge A Tanedda in Bocognano. Not the best place to chill, but a really good spot to eat some simple traditional mountain dishes.
► Green souvenirs?
Whether you are allowed to bring home some plants from Corsica depends on the country you live in. As we technically stayed in France (with a little detour to Italy to catch the ferry), there were no legal restrictions. However, because of the parasyte destroying palm trees on the island, it is forbidden to take some specific palm tree seeds from the island.
On the side of the road and in public areas you can find a lot of nice succulents and cacti. I collected quite a lot of them (see here, here and here) and kept them in a few open boxes during our trip and potted them once we got home. Most of these plants are so easy going or even considered weed, that they can easily survive a few weeks without water and soil. They will always remind me of our holiday and make for the best souvenirs! Please note that the flowers and plants in the Parc naturel régional de Corse and all other Corsican nature reserves are protected and you're not allowed to pick up anything there. Just stick to the Opuntia, agaves and aloe that grow abundantly everywhere and you'll be fine!
I also visited several pépinières, garden centers and nurseries. Two of my favorites:
• Les Pépinières de Saint Ciprien (near Porto-Vecchio)
• Jardinerie La Ruche Foncière (near Bastia)
► Where to hike?
If you love walking or hiking (if you have to use your hands ;) ), Corsica is paradise! We went on several walks and hikes and these were our four faves. All of them are easy and up to 4 hours max.
• Gorges de la Restonica. One of the bridges in the valley collapsed a month before we visited and the road was blocked at 9km from the top. Which was also the start of the hike that we planned to do. Adding 18km to our hike was too much for us, so we decided to walk along the Restonica river instead. After the marked path stopped, we did some free hiking on the huge rocks that are part of the river bedding. It was quite a wild walk, but the reward, a spectacular view of a spraying waterfall, was well worth it!
• Sentier du Douanier, Cap Corse. You walk on typical Cap Corse hills that dive into the Mediterranean, with amazing views over the cliffs. It's a rather easy walk, but quite spectacular nevertheless. On one of the beaches along the way is a restaurant and bar where you can relax and grab a bite.
• L'ospédale, Piscia di Ghjaddu. It's a very easy walk to the Ghjaddu waterfall. Be sure to hike down to the foot of the waterfall, despite the warning that "after this point it's on your own risk", because the view from there is spectacular. If you stay on the platform you only see a small part of the waterfall, you really miss out on the highlight of this walk.
• Sentier du Facteur, Girolata. The village of Girolata, where Garance Doré grew up, can only be reached by boat or via this path. It's a scenic track with amazing views over the Mediterranean and the bay of Girolata and you pass by a large beach, where we met a group of wild cows.
► What else to do?
• Take the train! We did it twice and it was really cool! The train from Île Rousse to Calvi (and back) rides along high cliffs and through the maquis. A nice afternoon trip if you're based in either of these towns. More spectacular even is the regular train between Ajaccio and Bastia via Corte. It rides through the mountains and over dozens of bridges and you ride through areas that cannot be reached by car. We went from Bocognano to Ponte-Leccia, but the most spectacular part is definitely between Vivario and Corte.
• Visit Barretalli, where the ancestor of the lemon, the cédrat is grown. The itinery from Nonza to Barretalli was probably my favourite drive on the entire island! Beautiful seaviews and impressive green marble formations that are shaped by the wind!
• Check out the island from above via this 360° viewpoint called Serra di Pigno (not far from Bastia and Saint Florent). You can see a large part of the island from here, including the Cap Corse and the Italian islands like Elba and the Italian coast of Livorno.
For more travel ideas for Corsica, check out Alex's Instagram account (where all spots are geo-tagged!) or her blog On my way (in French), she lives on the island and loves sharing where she goes. For interesting hikes around the island, we used Basile's blog called Les Passions de Basile (in French) which is very detailed, including photos of the directions where you shouldn't go. Very helpful!
mini LIVING breathe in Milan
One of the most sensational installations in Milan was definitely the Breathe tower in the Tortona district. When I heard it was all about conscious, healthy and green living I knew I had to go and see it for myself. Together with NYC-based architects SO-IL, MINI (from the cars!) introduced a creative problem-solving approach for future challenges in urban areas. In other words: how do we "live" in the future. In the next decades more and more people will live in urban environments, apartments will become smaller and more expensive, so we need to re-think how we live. According to Breathe: we will need to share more space and tools (for laundry or cooking for example) with others and make conscious decisions on how we use the few square meters we have. I must admit I was very happy to see that plants are an undeniable part of this concept, because they are vital!
Breathe consists of a tall tower in between two buildings and is composed of a metal frame that is covered with a white mesh fabric. You enter the home via a communal kitchen with modular elements and then reach the other 5 areas via a steep spiral staircase. These areas are for working, relaxing and taking care of yourself in a very minimalistic way, including a capsule clothing collection (!), a few books and some accessories, houseplants and different floor-seating areas and hammocks. As you can see in my photos, the tower is covered by a translucent mesh fabric that filters the air and makes the entire home look very airy and bright.
The entire structure is also "rebuildable" so you can move it to a new location and start all over. It's a bit like a contemporary tent or caravan. It almost feels like glamping ;)
The plants inside Breathe and on the rooftop terrace are selected for their air purifying powers, like this Kentia palm, the Philodendron and the Ivy:
A "hammock" for reading, relaxing and sleeping:
At the lush green rooftop garden, rainwater is collected and stored to use in the rest of the home.
What I liked most about this idea of transparent and translucent living is that, quite unexpectedly, you feel some kind of privacy in all the different areas, but at the same you're not far away from others.
The spiral staircase to the next floors, and the minimal and modular kitchen:
During my visit, the team from Dezeen was there to host a panel discussion with Oke Hauser from MINI, Ilias Papageorgiou from SO-IL, Jane Hall frpm London collective Assemble and Italian architect Carlo Ratti. The final words by Carlo Ratti were definitely what tied the entire Breathe installation together when he quotes Herbert Simon and Albert Einstein: "Science is about how the world is, design is how the world could be." This is definitely an interesting proof of concept!
Read more about the MINI living Breathe installation on Dezeen and Designboom.
A walk around green Milan
As you may know, Milan is so very green: not only the booths and exhibitions of the Salone del Mobile or the FuoriSalone are green (more about that soon!), many balconies, façades and walls of buildings are covered with leaves. It's refreshing, especially in a city that is so dense and suffers from air pollution quite a few days per year. And because the weather was so lovely during my stay, I walked around quite a bit. Here's what I saw:
The staghorn fern, graptoveria succulent (the one bottom left) and the Tradescantia pallida on this balcony are so pretty!
The kind of matchy/matchy I love, in Brera Design District:
Passing by the famous Maryflor florist. They also have quite a few interesting cactus plants in their shop. It was impossible to take their picture because of the bright reflections of the sunlight, but believe me: they were lovely!
I love this light:
The work of Francesca Pasquali, an installation of colored cobweb dusters(!) for Melissa:
More pale pink and green balconies:
And the two most famous green towers in Milan: the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest) by Stefano Boeri:
Stay tuned, I'll show you more design goodness from Milan later this week!
On a blogsafari with Design Diffusion
When someone asks you to go on a blogsafari, how can you say no? Last week I was invited by Design Diffusion magazine to visit the Salone del Mobile in Milan and discover the very best in interior design. So off I went, for a few days of design, sunshine, blogfriends and gelato! Join me on a virtual safari at the Salone:
First stop and also one of my favorite stands of the DDN blogsafari: Arflex! Blush tinted glass, round and graphic shapes, terrazzo, a very nice soft color palette and an overall sixties vibe. Very 2017!
After visiting Annibale Colombo and Natuzzi, there were more new colors for the Random bookshelves by MDF Italia:
Desk candy by Gallotti & Radice. It's very addictive to twirl the brass wheel:
Very hot and happening: mobiles, stabiles and wallhangings. Like these brass and glass ones at Gallotti & Radice:
Do we have a theme here? More brass and graphic hangers at the booth of Poliform, who are known for their high quality furniture:
Interesting shapes and LED lights by Artemide called Yanzi, by Shanghai based studio Neri & Hu:
When we walked into the booth of JPC design, we entered another universe: inspired by nature, with natural materials like rocks, metals and paper (for the white Ixorb bench below!), and the galaxy! According to designer Thanos Zakopoulos you cannot do much better than nature itself.
That's exactly why they used brutal rocks in brass for the Antivol side tables. "Antivol" as in impossible to steal, because they're so heavy ;) And on top of the tables: the planet mirrors called Naia in brushed and matte brass with different kinds of marble:
It's buzzing at the Salone del Mobile (and hi Kate!)
Even more so than the Kartell designs, I loved the graphic background panels in their booth with Mediterranean view with graphic patterns:
New in the Kartell family: these new stackable chairs in biodegradable plastic called BIO, designed by Antonio Citterio:
And what is a Blogsafari without plants? Well, we indulged in lots of lush green at Gianfranco Ferrè Home and kokedama moss balls with big Monstera deliciosa leaves on the stand of Roberto Cavalli Home:
A giant plantshelfie by Gallotti & Radice:
With the beautiful ceramic watering can by Elke van den Berg that is still on my wishlist:
As you know, Milan is a particularly green city, especially when you know that it's also an industrial city. I explored the city for a few more days and I can't wait to share more with you next week! I walked a lot, so stay tuned for more ;)
For now, I hope you enjoyed this Blogsafari and that you maybe even discovered a few new brands?
Thank you Design Diffusion magazine for organising this fun Blogsafari! Check out #ddnbloggers on Instagram and my Salone album on Facebook to see more.
KOTI a Finnish sleepover in Paris
In the middle of this bustling and extremely busy week with IMM in Cologne and Maison & Objet in Paris, I found a slice of calmth and design: at KOTI in the heart of Paris. Although it also felt very Finnish! KOTI, Finnish for home, is a creative idea launched by and in the Finnish Institute in Paris where they built a group of six wooden cottages in a typical Finnish style. You can book a cottage for 1, 2 or 4 via airBnB and "escape the hectic pace of modern life, savour the luxury of simplicity, the importance of home and the value of sharing unforgettable new experiences".
The vibe during the launch event reminded me of the friendly, down-to-earth and unpretentious people we met last year in Helsinki and of the Finnish design (which is not the same as Scandinavian design!). The lovely bites prepared by chef Antto Melasniemi, paired with a cocktail of the finest Finnish gin and apple juice (yum!), reminded me of all the delicious dinners we enjoyed in the Finnish capital. And it reminded me that I really want/need/have to go back and explore some more. Until then, I can pretend to be in Finland, during a sleepover at KOTI in the middle of Paris. Not too shabby if you ask me ;) Have a look:
In the big hall of the former cinema that is now the Finnish Institute in Paris, six cottages were built for the KOTI project: 100 days of Finnish hospitality in the heart of Paris. Each AITTA (cottage in Finnish) has its own pastel colored wooden sliding door: pink, grey, dove, green, white or blue:
"Linda Bergroth is the creative engine behind KOTI and a multi-talented lead designer. Originally hailing from Finland, Linda lives and works between Helsinki and Paris. She brings her signature style: a Nordic love of pragmatism and natural materials, coupled with her unique zest for bold color, to the conceptualisation and curation of KOTI. Inspired by the simple pleasures of holiday stays in a Finnish countryside cottage, Linda hopes to share the delights of an aitta with guests to the Finnish Institute in Paris. With her charming cottage designs and a hand-picked selection of collaborators, Linda invites guests from all over the world to experience the warmth, tranquility and communal hospitality of a shared Finnish sleepover".
The KOTI project will remain open for 100 days (and nights) to celebrate the 100th anniversairy of the independance of Finland. After these 100 days, the cottages will be transported to Finland and reinstalled and opened to the Finnish public for another 30 nights. As the cottages are a living art installation celebrating the Finnish home part of this installation, they are open to public viewing during the day from 1pm-6pm.
On the beautiful wooden bedside tables designed by Matti & Merz you'll only find three items: a wake-up light by Innolux, a vase designed by with a few twigs and a wooden hand mirror by Studio Kaksikko. I love the custom designed bedlinen by Lapuan Kankurit in grey with a bright yellow stripe:
Below: the lovely bites prepared by chef Antto Melasniemi. During a stay at KOTI you can enjoy a communal breakfast on the large wooden breakfast table in the middle of the space. A typical Finnish breakfast is served every day with rye break, finnish butter and blueberries.
A peek inside the family cottage:
More linenware by Lapuan Kankurit:
Even the youngest guest seemed to appreciate KOTI <3
KOTI sleepover Institut finlandais Paris /// 60 Rue des Ecoles /// 75005 Paris /// France /// +33 1 40 51 89 09
All bookings via AirBnB from January until May 2017
Garden banquet with my LZF family
It's the last day of summer and today I want to share with you one of my most memorable evenings of this summer: the garden banquet at LZF Lamps in Spain. As part of Sunny Design Days, our group of bloggers and journalists was invited to attend a garden banquet in Chiva, a small town near Valencia. Little did we know we were invited into a family, the LZF family with the most welcoming, creative, friendly, down-to-earth and talented people. It was a magical evening where everything was so perfect, from the warm welcoming words, to the mini pineapples in our cocktails, to the beautifully designed name badges and dinner menus, to the glorious Spanish food, to all the team members, the garden setting with stunning LZF lighting, the music (yes! even the music was REALLY good!), the chefs, the people from KlunderBie that couldn't be there and created a video message for us. Seriously, everything felt just right. Not over-the-top, but taken care of with such eye for detail, taste and good vibes that it was mindblowing. I felt right at home and didn't want to leave. When Sandro told us, he didn't know how to do these kind of events in any other way, I thought that was SO touching. If the only way that you know how to invite people, is like this... by creating a heartwarming connection and invite complete strangers into your own personal world. That is where the magic happens. Let me try to show you a few bits and pieces of that magic.
Let's first start with the brand itself. LZF (Luzifer) Lamps is an established Spanish design brand that was founded by artist Mariví Calvo and musician Sandro Tothill in 1994. The couple started their business in a small studio in Valencia's historic center and when they grew bigger, they moved to this charming old winery location in Chiva, just outside the city. From the beginning they focus on wood veneer lamps, made by hand. The veneer is incredibly soft to touch and creates a unique light. The veneer is thin enough to allow some light to pass through. Which results in two very different colors & effects when the lamps are switched on or off. But LZF is not only about beautiful lighting, it's also about making, producing and communicating their work in their own personal way. With a little hint of the devil ;)
Throughout our visit we got to see these three sides parts of LZF: we started by visiting the mix-match offices of the LZF team where ideas, prototypes, color tests, plants, sketches and computers lay side-by-side. It felt very boho yet designy, and seeing the graphic designer's offices I could totally see myself working there... sipping a perfect pear-sage cocktail with a mini pineapple, of course. When we moved on from one room to the next, there was always a new surprise: were it the music starring LZF lamps, including CD/record sleeves and music posters (a campaigne that was awarded with several Red Dot awards), or the larger-than-life wooden animals called Funny Farm: it was a labyrinth of people working with other people. One of the values that showed throughout the evening was that they truly value other people's talents and ideas. They give carte-blanche (or lots of freedom) to designers, musicians, photographers, crafters, engineers to create what they think is best. Mutual respect, passion and talents, that is, also, where you'll find the magic at LZF.
We continued our visit through several rooms where all LZF lamps are produced, wrapped and shipped. All products come to life right here: in this former winery building in Chiva! Every lamp even has its own identifier which allows to trace which member of the LZF team created that specific lamp.
After this labyrinth visit, we were invited to join the LZF family outside in the garden for a Spanish feast of cheese, charcuterie, paella (which is a typical Valencianan dish, the rice paddies are just outside the city), salads, deconstructed cheese cake and lovely wine. We made polaroid photos to take home as a souvenir, watched videos of past and current LZF project campaigns in the outdoor cinema(!) and talked, laughed and ate for hours from mismatched tableware that Sandro inherited from his family in Australia.... As you can imagine, we didn't want to leave our new LZF family. I leave you with some more photos by the talented Maria Mira (and a few by me too, when I wasn't too busy enjoying the evening).
Photography by Miria Mira (5-6-11-13-16-17-19-20-21), rest by me (Judith de Graaff). More photos on LZF's blog.
Hotel Alexandra in Barcelona
Staying in a beautiful hotel at two steps from the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona was not the main goal of my stay in the capital of Catalonia last month. But coming home to a very comfortable room after a long day of Sunny Design exploring, felt like pure luxury. Hotel Alexandra Barcelona, part of the Hilton Doubletree group, is a boutique hotel with a contemporary style featuring the best in Spanish design. From furniture, lights to the design of the restaurante y charcutería called Solomillo; all details are designy and elegant. The cool "detail" was that we got to meet several Spanish designers that created the designs used in Hotel Alexandra during our week in Spain. Just like the Santorini lamps from Marset in the urban jungle patio:
Said urban jungle patio was definitely my favorite space of the hotel, the lush plants, comfy couches and view on the pool area and garden were so dreamy. A discreet sanctuary in the heart of Barcelona, at just minutes walk from touristic highlights like Casa Batlló and La Pedrera as well as some of my favorite places in Barcelona. After a busy day in the city it was very nice to unwind amongst big Elephant plants, crawling Hoyas, bamboos and grasses. With a cocktail in hand, of course ;)
Interior architects Maria and Jorge, from Borrell & Jover, designed the luxious patio, pool and garden (as well as several bedrooms in the hotel and the hotel's restaurant Solomillo). They worked with multiple layers to visually separate the different areas, and cleverly covered the roof of an underground cinema with a wildflower and vegetable garden. Which also provides the restaurant with organic herbs and veggies!
Below is a photo of my room with its earthy colors, Spanish fan and Eclipse lamp by Objekto. The bed was actually my second favorite place in the hotel: king size and very comfortable. Unfortunately I spent too little time in there, but you don't want to sleep long hours when you are in a city that has so much to offer as Barcelona, right?
Another great feature of my room at Hotel Alexandra: the view on the lush urban jungle patio downstairs. Those Elephant ears made my heart sing, even before breakfast ;)
I loved waking up to this big city view of Barcelona with drying laundry, the lush veggie and wildflower garden and the swimming pool:
Gorgeous Strelitzia plants waved me goodbye at this sweet boutique hotel. I can't wait to come back here and finally dip my toes into the pool!
Full disclosure: Hotel Alexandra Barcelona was our host during the Sunny Design Days tour in Barcelona, but as usual: all photos and words are my own. I had a wonderful stay and warmly recommend you to stay here during your time in Barcelona :)
Off to Spain for Sunny Design Days!
Au revoir Paris, ¡Hola Barcelona, Valencia y Madrid! I'm really excited, because today I'm off to Spain for Sunny Design Days! After a very busy spring working on #urbanjunglebook on top of regular client projects, and lots of rain, I'm SO ready for sunshine, the relaxed vibe of Spain and the best in Spanish design. I'm invited by RED, the Association of Spanish Design Companies, for a week in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. Last year I was in Barcelona several times and I loved it (hence my Barcelona mini guide). And on our Spanish roadtrip Robert an I also visited Valencia and its gorgeous Jardí Botànic and had yummy pastries at Dulce Leche. I've never been to Madrid though, it will be hot (around 37°C...) but I can't wait to discover the Spanish capital for the first time!
It will be a full-on program, visiting showrooms, workshops, hotels, restaurants and more... so if you like to see what our group of 5 bloggers and 5 journalists is up to, you can check the #SunnyDesignDays hashtag, or follow me on Instagram... or Snapchat!
Have a great week everyone!
Munich mini guide
Two weeks ago I was in Munich, Germany to work on #urbanjunglebook with Igor. The book is nicely shaping up and we're currently in the middle of the last bits and pieces of text. It's been intense and lots of hard work, but so much fun as well! Very soon we'll be able to (finally!) reveal the covers of both the German and the English book... and then in September there will be two books! Between book-work, client work and life, I managed to spend an extra day in Munich to explore and walk around, my favorite way to get to know a city. My starting point was the 24 Hours in Munich guide on Design*Sponge that Igor wrote with photography from Lina. All places that I visited from the guide were spot-on and I discovered a few other ones that I liked. This is really a mini mini mini guide, but some places you don't want to miss when visiting München.
On my way to the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Brandhorst Museum, I passed by this lovely brekky (or brunch) spot: Waldmeister. The posters with Ich will Frühstück auch am Sonntag (I want breakfast also on Sunday) first caught my eye, but the interior and Frühstück were pretty yummy too.
Waldmeister /// Barerstraße 74 /// München /// +49 89 18946956
During my day off in Munich we got some good book news from our publisher, so I decided to celebrate with ice cream. Igor recommended me to go to True & 12 and their blackcurrant and matcha green tea ice cream was really good. So good that I only thought of taking a picture when the only thing left was the cone... I'll never be a food blogger, but warmly (no pun intended) recommend to try True & 12's handmade ice cream!
True & 12 /// Rosenheimer Strasse 14 /// München /// +49 1726761205
The time saving book... it looks beautiful on the outside with its linen cover and nice typography, and Sabine (from Room to Dream) told me that it's very helpful on the inside too, with tips and tricks on how to save time, be more efficient and less stressed.
Next on my list was visiting Room to Dream, a beautiful shop with Nordic interior design and home accessories. Sabine, the owner, was very friendly and invited me for drinks from at new neighbor café/restaurant Herzog. As you can see above, Sabine loves yellow & pink, just like me, and she selects beautiful items from Scandi brands like L:A Bruket, BastisRIKE, Nicolas Vahé and Trimm Copenhagen lounge furniture. Impossible to leave Room to Dream empty handed!
Room to Dream /// Lenbachplatz 7 /// München /// +49 89 2554 7301
At some point I thought Munich quite looked like Copenhagen... but with a Vienna vibe :D It probably looks just like München ;)
By coincidence I passed by Man versus Machine, the best coffee place in the city, according to Igor. It was too late for me for coffee, but the place was still full with cafeine-addicts.
Man versus Machine /// Müllerstraße 23 /// München /// +49 89 80046681
Another really nice surprise was the wood workshop Anton Doll in the Lilienstraße. I don't know about you, but wood is such an attractive material. When the quality is good, furniture in wood can last a lifetime. The woodworkers at Anton Doll work with the best wood from Bosnia and I really liked their different stools and benches. I promoise to show you more very soon!
Anton Doll Holz Manufaktur /// Lilienstraße 3 /// München
A visit to a (new) city is never complete without a visit to its Botanical Garden. The Botanischer Garten in Munich is pretty nice, it was raining outside when we visited and they were renovating the biggest greenhouse, but the other areas are very lush and green. I'll show you more of it soon here on my blog.
Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg /// Menzinger Straße 61 /// Munich /// +49 9 89 17861 316
Cactus Oase in Ruurlo Holland
Last week I had the privilege to visit the Cactus Oase in Ruurlo, the Netherlands. Well, rather than a privilege, it was quite a long and slow ride through the Eastern Dutch countryside ;) but very much worth it if you love cacti as much as I do. The Cactus Oase is the largest privately owned cactus collection in Holland. The owners turned their hobby of growing cacti from seeds into a business and worked as professionals for decades. Some of the cactus plants are 46 years old and because they are all planted in soil (not pots) they extended their roots and grew bigger and bigger. I spotted some cactus plants I had never ever seen before.
If you would like to visit the Cactus Oase, be prepared that it's an amusement park. There's a Wild West theme with a discovery parcours, electric trains and lots of mid-century agricultural memorabilia. And even a cactus pyramid with a mummy inside. I basically ignored all of that and solely admired the cactus plants, succulents and tropical plants. Right now it's the blooming month of the year, which means a lot of cacti were starting to flower! Join me for a virtual tour of the Cactus Oase:
Helsinki travel guide
Upon popular request: here is my mini guide of all the places I enjoyed in Helsinki, Finland, last month. I can't wait to go back to taste more Finnish pastries, to enjoy more saunas and visit more islands of the Archipellago. And meet more Finnish people, because that's what really impressed me in Helsinki: everyone was so relaxed, helpful and friendly.
Helsinki is not extremely big, the city center is very walkable and public transportation works like a charm. We used a regional week ticket which allows to travel from and to the airport, but also to Nuuksio national park and Suomenlinna. And of course you can take bus/tram/metro/train throughout the entire city and region. We also loved our Pelago bikes to get from one place to another.
Lokal /// Annankatu 9 /// "A concept store and home to Finnish art, design and craft". Art gallery, design shop and coffee corner.
Kauniste /// Fredrikinkatu 24 /// The perfect shop where you can stock up on designy Finnish teatowels, homeware textiles and interior products.
Marimekko Outlet store /// Kirvesmiehenkatu 7 /// Marimekko stores are everywhere in the city center, but to score a bargain, head to the Marimekko outlet store. Samples, previous collections, B products at 30%-50% off. There also a café (closed when we visited), a shop with the current collection and the actual Marimekko factory is there too (no factory tours at the moment though).
Papershop /// Fredrikinkatu 18 /// Heaven for postcard and paper addicts: Papershop is filled to the brim with notebooks, postcards and accessories
Nide Bookstore /// Fredrikinkatu 35 /// Yes you "need" all the (art/design/litterature) books at Nide!
Company x Salakaupa design shop (Secret Shop in Finnish) /// Laivurinkatu 10 /// A little shop with Finnish design secrets in Helsinki. Loved this set of 8 nesting dolls is called "The Life of a Snowman".
Arabia Center, factory and outlet /// Hämeentie 133 /// Factory, museum and outlet store with Arabia ceramics and products from Iittala, Fiskars and Hackman.
Sarjakuva Keskus /// Hämeentie 150 /// Comic book and graphic novel shop by Finnish artists. Flipping through the books (I'm not a comic reader/fan) helped me to better understand Finnish culture and design. There's always something quirky and unexpected.
EAT & DRINKS
Ipi Kulmakuppila /// Porthansgatan 13 /// Gorgeous café that was beautifully designed by Petra Majantie: a perfect mix of contemporary design, plants, good food and great people. Also a social workspace!
Tiedekulma Think Corner café /// Aleksanterinkatu 7 /// Part of Helsinki University, a meeting place for research and everyone who loves cake and good coffee. There's also a little shop with Finnish goodies.
Pastel Paradise in Tallinn
You may have noticed with all the blogposts that we immensely enjoyed Helsinki. But we didn't know that Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was located at only 2 hours by ferry from Helsinki. And did you know that it's only 3 hours by train to Saint Petersburg?! We took the ferry to Tallinn without any expectations, but ended up in Pastel Paradise! The thin layer of snow and cloudy sky definitely emphasized the pastel vibe of the old town:
In the morning, we headed to the ferry harbour in Helsinki by tram (really: Helsinki public transportation is so smooth!), and boarded the Tallink Star ferry in no-time. We were seated in the front of the ship on the Sunset Deck with the best view:
Robert and I visited the on-board supermarket and shops, but most of our time was spent watching the Helsinki Archipellago and the Baltic Sea:
Before we realized we already reached Tallinn, the harbour in the front and the Old Town in the back:
We didn't have any plans in Tallinn other than to spend a day exploring, wandering the streets, do some shopping and visit a supermarket to check out the Estonian products. And that's what we did. We walked through the old town where everything was pastel colored:
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:
The Parliament of Estonia:
And probably the most surprising building of Tallinn, an unidentified mint castle from 1925:
Loved this touch of yellow:
If you're in Tallinn, you may want to check out these cool (and good-looking!) places:
► Estonian Design House - a bit outside the city center: shop and café with the best Estonian design and handmade items
► Must Puudel café - eclectic and cosy café
► Modernne Eesti köök - Modern Estonian cuisine (also love their graphic identity!)
► August café - cosy café with nice coffee and vinyl turntables on the counter
Misty and cold Tallinn from above:
Full disclosure: Tallink Silja kindly offered our ferry trip from Helsinki to Tallinn and as usual: all photos and words are my own. We had a great daytrip and warmly recommend you to travel with Tallink. And an extra tip: we really enjoyed the Comfort-upgrade: you get access to the Comfort lounge, with free drinks & snacks and the best view of the boat. It made our daytrip extra comfy. Merci Tallink!
Lokal Helsinki 72% art 28% coffee
In the middle of Design District Helsinki you can find this Design gem called Lokal. They call themselves a "concept store and home to Finnish art, design and craft". Lokal is a mix of an art gallery, design shop and coffee corner, run by photographer Katja Hagelstam. She opened Lokal in 2012 to showcase the works of Finnish artists and designers, both upcoming young designers as well as more established artists. I loved it! And surprisingly: not a single plant in the entire space ;)
72 Art - 28% Coffee - 100% Finnish!
These handmade porcelain coffee and espresso cups were designed especially for Lokal by Nathalie Lahdenmäki:
The selection of art and products at Lokal is really nice and helped me to better understand the difference between Scandinavian Design and Finnish Design. All products and art pieces are purely Finnish, often handmade, with a strong focus on craftsmanship, or produced in small series.
Coffee, cake, cookies and chocolate are available in the back of the shop. The coffee is roasted by Helsingin Kahvipaahtimo.
This mint/green piece by Raija Malka was my very favorite. It's a big trapezium shape in one (very specific) color. Actually it forms a pair with the painting on the photo above, featuring the same trapezium shape that glows mint on the wall.
Lokal Helsinki /// Annankatu 9 /// 00120 Helsinki
Open tue-fri 11-18, sat 11-16, sun 12-16
Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden in Helsinki
When you want to take a break from the snow and cold in winter-y Helsinki you can either go to a sauna or visit the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden. Actually I like both options equally, although the latter is a slightly more visibly pleasing activity ;)
In all the places that I travel to, I try to visit at least one botanical garden: they are my happy place. Lush greens, tall palm trees, gorgeous cactus plants... preferably in a 19th century greenhouse. Wandering through a greenhouse is particularly exciting when there's snow outside as you can see through the glasshouse windows on the left:
Growing towards the Nordic light:
A rather impressive Opuntia tree:
More fragile cacti behind the glass, like an Opuntia engelmannii (left), different kinds of Agaves and Aloë in the middle and an Opuntia leucotricha (right):
The Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden consists of 10 glass houses that houses a collection of 1300 plant species mainly originating from the same longitude as Finland. Outside is a 4ha garden with a network of paths that is still the same is in the 19th century. It guides you along even more plants, the herbarium's arboretum, a rock garden, a French formal garden and bee hives, all covered in snow when we visited.
Looking up in the humid greenhouse:
Most plants in the garden are labelled with their botanic name and origin. The yellow labels are for useful plants and the red labels indicate the endangered species:
The top of the 19th century Palm House of Kaisaniemi.
If you want to see more botanic gardens, check out my blog posts about the Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil in Paris, the Jardí Botànic in Valencia or the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam.
Who wants to join me on those chairs?
Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden /// Unioninkatu 44 /// Helsinki /// +358 91 91 24 455
Open every Tuesday to Sunday 10-16 (Thursday 10-18) (summer 10-17)
Alvar Aalto Studio in Helsinki
Kabang! After a very nice bike trip from our apartment in the city center of Helsinki, we arrived in a residential neighborhood of the Finnish capital. There are no street signs that indicate where to find Alvar Aalto's studio, and seen from the street it hardly stands out. A handful of Japanese tourists wander in the neighborhood and when we ring the doorbell, a young woman tells us to wait until exactly 11:30 when the guided tour begins. We park our Pelago bikes and enjoy the sun and the frozen Baltic Sea.
At exactly 11:30 the woman welcomes us inside and with six Japanese people we are shown around Alvar Aalto's studio. The famous Finnish architect and designer (and sculptor, painter) designed the building at
"The principal space in the building is the curving studio which has a view opening onto the courtyard. Horizontal battens fixed to the high walls of the studio allowed drawings to be displayed there. The rear wall is covered with climbing plants reaching up to the high-level windows and prototypes of light fittings designed by Alvar Aalto are hung in front of the wall. The slanting bay window of the conference room with its rooflight creates the perfect conditions for examining models and drawings".
One of the (many!) eyecatchers in the room are the big trailing plants in the back. On the original photos from the 1960s the trailing plants are already there. It doesn't look like the exact same plant, but the aesthetic and trailing shapes are pretty much the same ♥
Plenty of classic Alvar Aalto stools 60 and beautiful cardboard boxes (now empty!) that were used to store architectural drawings:
The curve in the main room makes that you cannot see the entire room when you enter the space, there is room for mystery, in a very modest and humble way.
The first floor is dedicated to the real work. And yes, real work: because there's still a team of people working in the Alvar Aalto studio. The team of the Alvar Aalto Foundation works where designers and architects used to design buildings and furniture in previous decades. It's part museum with tools and prototypes of Alvar Aalto's projects, and part workspace. What a privilage to work in a studio like this!
Beautiful tools and light:
The famous layered plywood construction technique:
It's hard to be distracted by things outside when working in the studio upstairs: the windows are positioned very high:
Kabang! This is really a space that you should experience by yourself when you're in Helsinki. It's hard to catch the feeling and design in photos. Visiting Alvar Aalto's studio truly helped me to better understand the core values of Finnish design. The Alvar Aalto home is located at walking distance from the studio.
Alvar Aalto studio /// Tiilimäki 20 /// 00330 Helsinki, Finland
Opening hours (guided tours only) on the website.
Suomenlinna: a not so Helsinki Secret
Everyone, truly everyone: from Helsinki locals to avid travelers, told me to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Suomenlinna when in Helsinki. It felt a bit like: "You have to visit the Eiffel tower", which usually makes me want to skip a site or monument alltogether. But not in the case of Suomenlinna: it is a truly unique place? Suomenlinna (or Sveaborg in Swedish) is an inhabited sea fortress built on 6 islands, just off the coast of Helsinki. After only a short 20-minute ferry trip from the city center, you arrive in what seems like a different world. In our case: a snowy white wonderland, where around 800 people live all year round. No cars, few tourists because of the season, a mariage celebration in the church, a tough guy on a snow bike... and a snow storm!
Let me take you on a little virtual tour. First we hopped on the ferry from the harbour of Helsinki:
We wondered how the ferry would get through the ice in real, winter, because when we were there it was only around 0°C. The ice chunks looks impressive and made quite a lot of noise against the hull of the ferry:
And all of a sudden the ice chunks turn into water-only:
One of the island of the Suomenlinna archipel: Ryssänsaari, Puolimatkansaari:
The first building you see when reaching Suomenlinna by ferry is the pink-blush building (top of this blog post). I think it's the most Instagrammed spot of the entire island, although there are some other photogenic places on the islands, like this pale blue house with veranda:
Ipi Kulmakuppila in Helsinki
Last week we were interviewed by Radio Helsinki about our trip to the Finnish capital as #HelsinkiSecret residents. Live on air (you can listen to the podcast here), we met ice hockey player Eetu Pöysti from the Helsinki Jokerit and Minna Särelä, CEO of Design District Helsinki. Together we spoke about Finnish food, design, my Instagram husband, the specific light in the city and the humbleness of the Finnish people. Eetu told us about his favorite neighborhood in Helsinki, called Kallio, that had a bit of a Berlin-vibe according to him. So of course we had to check it out.
And indeed, the area is a bit rough around the edges with lots of second hand shops and a few cool cafés. My favorite was Ipi Kulmakuppila (in Finnish: Ipi corner café), a very cosy designed café with lots of wood, bright white walls, leather cushions and butterfly chairs. And lots of plants. In the back there's even a giant plant that is taking over the entire wall!
The interior design of Ipi Kulmakuppila was designed by talented Petra Majantie and the graphic design (including the wall decoration pictured above) is by Dog Design & Timo Ripatti. It's a very warm and friendly space, where students, elderly people, businessmen and young moms enjoy their coffee, brunch, lunch or afternoon cake here. And just as good as the look and feel of Ipi corner café, is the concept behind it: it's also a social workspace, where a dozen disabled people and their tutors work every day. No wonder why Ipi feels like such a warm space: there's a good mix of people, design, food and plants!
Besides the plants, the Aim pendant lights by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Flos were my favorite: they add a playful touch to the space. The wooden Hiroshima armchairs by Naoto Fukasawa for Maruni and the Osso bar stools by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Mattiazzi are also very pretty and add just the right amount of wood and comfort. Oh and don't miss the toilets either... they're gorgeous with a dash of bright yellow!
I also really liked the story behind the name of Ipi Kulmakuppila:
The café was named after Pekka Hämäläinen (1938 - 2013), a senior lawyer based in Helsinki. He was a very loved man with a positive outlook on life and people. After his death, an idea of setting up a “monument” for him in Helsinki started spreading among people who knew him. Hämäläinen’s first grandchild was born in 1986, with Down syndrome. Hämäläinen had a positive, constructive attitude to life and people, and the disability of his grandchild did not change this. He was a loving grandfather to all his grandchildren and took genuine interest in them. Pekka Hämäläinen’s children and grandchildren knew him by one name, and that name was Ipi. Thus, the café was named after the nickname of Pekka “Ipi” Hämäläinen, a lover of good food and a famous figure in Helsinki. You can almost hear Ipi greet his guests at the door.
Super comfy butterfly chairs surrounded by lots of plants in terracotta pots, on the mezzanine:
And the tea and coffee weren't so bad either:
In my book you never go wrong when you add several plants to your home / shop / café / workspace / whatever ;)
Ipi Kulmakuppila /// Porthaninkatu 13 /// 00530 Helsinki /// +358 45 6164776
Open Monday to Friday: 8 - 20, Saturday: 10 - 17
Hel Yeah, a week of Helsinki Secrets!
Hel Yeah! We had the most amazing week in Helsinki! Robert and I spent a week as residents of the #HelsinkiSecrets residence to explore the Finnish capital as a local. Before leaving I made a short list of things I wanted to do in Helsinki: eat a Runebergintorttu (a Finnish almond & rum flavoured pastry), go dancing and buy a vintage Arabia plant pot. And while I didn't do a single one of them (Runebergintorttu season is over, our feet were too tired for dancing after walking 25.000 steps/day and the shop with vintage Arabia was closed when we visited), Helsinki didn't disappoint... at all! Let me tell you why:
First of all, we were super lucky with the weather: we had everything between sunny blue skies and snow storms with temperatures between -4°C and +2°C. It was a dry kind of cold that doesn't freeze you to the bones, and of course our Makia coats and Costo beanies (with detachable bobbles!) kept us warm and comfy. It was a nice weather mix that allowed us to walk and bike through the city and feel the (mild) winter weather.
And then of course: Helsinki is an interesting place when you ♥ design. Like in the other Nordic countries, design is part of daily life and not something very sacred: in many public places, like librairies, museums and churches, the furniture and accessories are from worldfamous Finnish brands like Artek, Marimekko, Iittala or Arabia. The Design District of Helsinki includes around 200 independant boutiques and designers that sell anything from wool to contemporary art, the best design books, beautiful paper goods and quirky home goods. I'll be sharing a guide with some of my favorite shops and places very soon.
What struck me most in Helsinki, were the people: they were extremely polite and helpful. Not in a cheerful and upbeat way, but in a humble and pragmatic manner. We walked around a lot and never bumped into anyone (something that happens all the time in Paris) and overall the city was very calm too: no yelling, no loud noises. Even in their enthusiasm there seemed to be some kind of calmness. For example at the ice hockey match that we attended it was rather quiet for almost 13.000 people. But maybe that was also because the Helsinki Jokerit lost with 4-2 to Moscow Spartak... Overall the general attitude of the people in Helsinki felt very refreshing, mature and natural to us.
And another thing that made Helsinki special to us this week was the light. That fantastic Nordic winter (or almost spring!) sun light. Because the sun is still so low, you can rarely see the sun directly in the city center, you rather see it reflected by building facades and windows. It gives a certain Nordic glow to Helsinki that I love.
These were some first impressions of his hel-ish week in Helsinki. Believe me, we didn't have enough time to do all the things that we wanted to, so Robert and I are already making plans to go back and indulge in sauna-visits, Runebergintorttu, design shopping and snowy hikes.
And you probably guessed right: yes I made lots of photos and can't wait to share some of my favorite Helsinki secrets with you in the coming days. Have you ever been to Helsinki? What were your favorite places?
Au revoir Paris, hei Helsinki!
Two weeks ago I walked past Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge for the first time since the Paris attacks. I never really felt the urge to see the places where such tragic events took place, with my own eyes. Somehow I ignored that they put up colorful buntings shortly after the attacks. On the buntings of colorful fabrics people and children from the neighborhood wrote messages of peace and kindness. And look at it: doesn't it look SUPER powerful?!
Today I'm leaving my beloved French capital to explore the Finnish capital Helsinki for a week. Snow, Finnish design, saunas and Laskiaissunnuntai. Yes the latter is a fancy Finnish word for shrove buns, or cream puffs. Yummm! I missed the typical Swedisch version Semla when in Stockholm a few years ago, so I can't wait to indulge ;)
If you want to see what I'm up to in Helsinki, follow me on Instagram or Snapchat. And if you have any Helsinki tips, feel free to share them in the comments below :)
My favorite trips of 2015
For work, for my blog and UJB, for fun and to visit family & friends: I visited quite some lovely places in 2015!
For my birthday Robert and I spent a night at the Joke hotel in Paris and visited the fabulous Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Grand Palais. /// We worked so hard and really deserved (and needed) this long break in October: we spent 3 1/2 weeks in Spain where we hiked, walked, slept and explored so many fabulous places, like the Desert de Les Palmes near Valencia.
In the spring we escaped our (too) busy lives for a week in Western France: we explored the Vendée and biked at Ile de Ré. /// Early October I went on a quick but very fun trip to Amsterdam to speak at Meet the Blogger: we won the Innovation Award and visited the Hortus botanical garden.
In the middle of the summer I was in Barcelona for the first time and LOVED it. So much that Robert and I went back for a week during our trip through Spain in October. /// In November we slept in this cabin on the water, in our Oise region. In the early morning I saw a heron fishing at one meter from our bed. Quite the experience!
► My favorite trips of 2014 are here.
► My favorite trips of 2013 are here.
My favorite fun moments of 2015
2015 meant an overdose of fun and happy moments, photo shoots and exhibitions. Just what I needed to counterbalance all the tragic events this year. These were some of my random fun favorites:
In the spring I couldn't keep taking pictures of the colorful flower extravaganza in Holland /// Food & drinks: the perfect subjects for this exhibition of Jean Jullien's work at l'Imprimerie in Paris.
It was freezing cold, but the videoshoot in our greenhouse with IKEA caused lots of laughter and giggles! /// This sugarfree lemon meringue pie was simply delicious! Especially the lemony goodness filling. Yumm!
Cutting off the mistletoe twigs from the tree in our garden for this wreath took 1 hour, but it was so much fun! /// Zilverblauw's book launch, workshops, flowers, happy faces and blogger fun at Snor Festival!
Satan's Coffee Corner in Barcelona
Plant-loving coffeelovers, I found THE place to go... if you are in Barcelona. This coffee place is called Satan's Coffee Corner and I stumbled upon the address when looking for the beautiful Matagalán terracotta pots. Matagalán's designer Caroline styled the entire coffee place with her creations. Don't you love how the terracotta pots and plants pop against the blue wall?
At Satan's Coffee Corner you can get the best (self-proclaimed) coffee of Barcelona and they serve different coffes like a V60 or aeropress. I ordered a simple and delicious flat white. Please note: no decaf, no wifi, no unattended kids. Cash only. Fuck Tripadvisor, fuck Yelp, aussies keep it quiet!
And right there... in the back...
... a spiky & stylish bathroom corner:
Satan's Coffee Corner /// Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 11 /// 08002 Barcelona, Spain /// +34 666 22 25 99
Open Monday through Saturday 8 am - 6 pm and Sunday 10 am - 6 pm.
Jardí Botànic in Valencia
With the current COP21 conference in full swing here in Paris, I can only find one reason why the climate change would be a "good" idea. It would make it possible to plant my cactus plants and palm trees directly in our garden instead of keeping them in pots. I would be able to grow my own botanical garden with dozens of cactus species, succulents and strong palm trees right here in Northern France. No seriously: let's try our very best to prevent this from becoming a reality! I really don't mind traveling southwards to admire lush Mediterranean gardens. The Jardí Botànic in Valencia for example: it was truly one of the (many) highlights from our trip to Spain.
For the first time ever I saw an Opuntia just like mine: they clearly like growing in the strangest directions while keeping perfectly balanced:
Extremely spikey Cylindropuntia:
What's not to love: the pattern, the abundance, the shapes:
The botanical garden of Valencia, El Botànic, was founded in 1567, but only in the late 1980s they started restoring the garden until its completion in 2000. The garden has over 3000 different tree and plant species and it's known for the many varieties of palm trees and cacti. The botanical garden carries out research into plant diversity, conservation of rare, endemic or endangered species of Mediterranean flora and the conservation of natural habitats.
Yummy figues de Barbarie, also known as cactus fruit:
Botanical gardens make me happy:
I couldn't help but picking some palm tree seeds from the ground. It was pretty hilarious because the flower beds in the entire garden were covered with baby palm trees (that grow from the seeds that fall from the trees). They will probably remove these off sooner or later, because palm tree roots are really tough, but it looked so cool!
The perfect bench in the sun:
Amazing palm tree seeds from a species I had never seen before (unfortunately I don't recall its name...):
Strong and tall palm trees everywhere:
And as logo-obsessed as I am: the logo of the Jardí Botànic is actually a leaf drawn by Matisse! Love it!
That moment when you recognize a plant in the wild from Justina Blakeney's drawings:
Jardí Botànic /// Calle Quart, 80 /// E-46008, Valencia /// +34 96 315 68 00
Open every day (except Dec 25 & Jan 1) from 10:00 - 18:00 (winter) / 21:00 (summer) /// admission 2,50€
Desert de Les Palmes
What a heavy week. Ever since I heard that there was "something" going on in Paris on Friday night, my emotions were all over the place: horrified, shocked, angry, sad, scared, invincible... We hear about suicide attacks in far-away countries, war crimes, poverty, epidemics, natural disasters every day on the news. But this week the horror was here in Paris. So close and the consequences directly influence our daily lives. My first impression was that people around me, friends and strangers were so extremely sweet, supportive and cohesive. I wish that this will become the new "normal": that we help others, share more and care for each other.
Horror like this makes me realize how furtunate I am to do what I do (and love), and travel to so many beautiful places. One these gorgeous places is the Desert de Les Palmes, north from Valencia in Spain. It was one of my favorite hikes during our trip through Spain last month. According to Robert, it's not a hike if you don't have to use your hands. And really: we climbed over the ridge of 3 mountains, with steep precipices and giant rocks. The views over the Mediterranean were dreamy and it smelled like pine trees the entire time. Pure bliss!
Robert "tricked" me into this hike by explaining this was the only place in Europe where you can find indigenous(!) palms. The Chamaerops humillis were beautiful, and yes: we climbed to that mountain peak in the background:
The mountains were so peaceful, and from almost anywhere we could see the Mediterranean and the cities of Castellón and Benicàssim. We didn't cross paths with anyone the entire afternoon, except for one trail runner and a mountainbiker. Really, if you love hiking and being outdoors, you should go here: it's beautiful!
Subtle colors of pink and orange heather:
My sister asked me to bottle the smell of the pine trees, because it's one of the best natural perfumes in the world. Unfortunately I don't know how, so i brought her one of these pine cones:
Desert de Les Palmes /// Parque natural del Desierto de las Palmas /// Perfect for a day trip from Valencia
More information about routes here. We parked our car in the National Park near the visitor center and followed routes 1, 2 and 3. We covered a total distance of 10km in 4 1/2 hours, including breaks ;) Not very fast, but we loved it!
Dulce de Leche in Valencia
Coming home after a three and a half week break meant it was back-to-business straight away. It felt like we hit the ground running: new projects, new clients, a weekend in a cabin on the water, and a bathroom that needed our attention too. Knowing that I have so many sun-drowned photos and stories that I want to share here... oh sometimes I wish I could skip some work and go straight to photo editing and blogging. And go back to Valencia to have a delicious raspberry muffin at Pastelería Dulce de Leche:
Souraya from Binti Home has a big crush on the city of Valencia and when we met at Meet the Blogger in Amsterdam in October (we were actually on stage together!), she suggested me to check out the tips on her blog. I did and had to check out Pastelería Dulce de Leche, because it's not only a bakery, they also sell beautiful lifestyle products... and plants!
It was super busy when we visited Dulce de Leche. Really: coffee, cake and plants are such a successful combination! And their staff is super friendly and laid-back, like most of the people we met in Valencia. The neighborhood Ruzafa is probably the hippest area of the city, lots of fellow graphic designers have their studios in Ruzafa and there are some really nice boutiques, restaurants and coffeehouses too. If you're in the area: don't forget to visit the Ruzafa food market. It's so vibrant!
I'm not sure if it's the delicious cakes, the abundance of sanseveria, monstera or rubber plants, or the nice coffee, but everyone at Dulce de Leche was smiling. Including us, because what's not to love when you're in a lovely and sunny city with your favorite person, eating cake, drinking coffee, surrounded by plants? Yes, I know, I want to go back too ;)
Funny detail: I immediately recognized the ochre plant pot that Souraya has in her plant hanger, next to the counter:
Pastelería Dulce de Leche /// Carrer de Cuba, 43 /// 46006 València, Spain /// +34 (0) 960 03 59 49
Open every day from 9AM to 9:15PM
Vale - Venga - Adios!
Finally after some very long and intense months (ehmmm it's been 2 years since our last big break!) we arrived in Spain. This past week we stayed in the Pyrenees, or even better in Spanish: los Pirineos. And that's immediately my biggest frustration of the week: I don't speak Spanish. I read and understand it globally as it's so similar to French, but I was unable to ask specific questions about the almonds they were harvesting or the ceramic workshops that I wanted to visit (and didn't find). Of course, with French and English, a few Spanish words (mixed up with Italian... oops!) and lots of gestures you get a long way, but still, it's a little bit frustrating for a curious person like me ;)
Anyway, I'm happy to spend my days with my husband, discovering something new every day, reading books, exploring the mountains, sleeping, hiking, and gathering some nice green souvenirs. I picked some fresh palm tree seeds in the palmeraie in the botanical garden in Zaragoza and cut a few cactus plants as well. We've just arrived in Valencia, so I think I "may" bring some more souvenirs. If you'd like to see what I'm up to, check my Instagram, as my blog will be quiet for the rest of October. Here's a big dose of sunshine and palm trees from Zaragoza for you to enjoy, maybe it helps to keep warm as I've heard it's freezing in most parts of Northern Europe... oh and if you have any tips on learning a few words of Spanish?
Almost just as good as the real deal: palm tree shadows:
Oh yeah, I know what to do with these:
Praktik Garden Hotel Barcelona
When looking for a nice place to stay in Barcelona, I found THE perfect hotel for a plant lover like myself: the Praktik Garden hotel. It's a hidden oasis in the middle of the city, conveniently located in the Eixample area between the Passeig de Gràcia and the Sagrada Familia. Even before entering the lobby that's filled with an abundance of potted plants, you know you have arrived in a "green" place: the pavement is full of potted plants and trees. But the very best feature is their lush green private terrace where you can hang out and relax, have a cup of coffee or sunbathe on the lounge chairs.
The rooms at Praktik Garden are beautiful too: very clean with black & white details, nice lighting, graphic tiles in the spacious bathrooms, a nice view (garden or street) and the artwork is different in every room and has a botanical touch!
By the way: Praktik Garden doesn't offer breakfast, but there are plenty of options in the neighborhood (like Restaurant Norte with excellent brekkie or brunch) or get something at a bakery and eat it in the garden. There is a coffee machine and a soda & water machine as well.
Full disclosure: Praktik Garden offered me a discount for my stay with them and as usual: all photos and words are my own. I had a great stay and warmly recommend you to stay here during your time in Barcelona :)
mini Guide Barcelona
A few of my favorite places in Barcelona:
► Trait Store /// Carrer del Parlament 28 /// In the beautiful Sant Antoni's neighborhood, close to Barcelona's biggest food hall you'll find Trait store: they carry a cool selection of (Scandi & US) fashion brands and a lot of plants. The space is designed by talented designer Miriam Barrio.
► Café Cometa /// Carrer del Parlament 20 /// After shopping at Trait Store sit down & relax at Café Cometo, with fresh juices, pastries, yummy sandwiches and... good coffee!
► Gràcia neighborhood /// Lots of healthy/bio/ecological shops and delicious artisanal ice cream places. For lunch I can warmly recommend Mama's Café: lovely biological food and they have a nice private terrace too!
► Parc de la Ciutadella /// Passeig de Picasso 21 /// On Sunday go for a stroll around the park, rent a rowing boat and go for a little tour around the lake. Lots of family activities (music and siesta) all around the park too.
► University garden /// 226 Carrer de la Diputació /// A small garden around the university building with old palm trees and other species, occasional summer parties. The university buiding is also worth to check out (nice corridors and courtyards).
► Praktik Garden Hotel /// A budget-friendly design hotel in the middle of the Eixample area with a lush garden terrace and beautiful minimalistic rooms. The lobby is filled with potted plants too and makes it a true Urban Jungle Bloggers hotel!
► Satan's Coffee Corner /// Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 11 /// Delicous coffee in a stylish place with lots of plants in beautiful Matagalán terracotta pots. Their motto says it all: no decaf, no wifi, no unattended kids. Cash only. Fuck Tripadvisor, fuck Yelp, aussies keep it quiet!
► Mies van der Rohe pavillion /// Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7 /// If you love marble and the work of Mies van der Rohe you should go here. The pavillion is not very big (entry fee is 5€) but it's worth visiting this super avant-garde construction that's almost 90 years old! /// On the other side of the road is the CaixaForum, an art gallery funded by the Caixa bank in an abandoned factory. When I visited there was an Alvar Aalto(!) exhibition. The wavy rooftop (without specatular view though) is fun too.
► Bang's Gelateria Artesana /// Carrer del Carmen area (can't find the exact street on Google maps) /// A trip to Barcelona isn't complete without gelato. I really enjoyed the blackberry yogurt ice cream (without artificial flavours & colors) at Bang's.
► On the list for my next time in Barcelona: the botanical gardens (closed on Monday's), see this language school designed by Masquespacio with my own eyes, visit the Hibernacle garden center (or leave the city and visit some Catalonian nurseries), check out the greens at Palo Alto, visit the MACBA, and get myself some decent xurros con chocolate, because I had bad luck this time and ate the most aweful ones ever... oops! If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments. I can't wait to go back soon!
► Previously: my favorite places in Paris /// Stockholm /// Berlin /// Copenhagen /// Antwerp /// London
Before sharing my favorite spots in Barcelona, I wanted to show you these first photos from sunny Barcelona. The city pleasantly surprised me, the people were very kind, slower and more relaxed than in Paris (fore sure!) and kept talking to me in Catalan, which made feel less like a tourist. There was an abundance of palm trees, nice typography, sunshine, good food, even better gelato and very nice company. It was pretty hot with temperatures up to 35°C, but there was a nice sea breeze that kept it enjoyable. According to my tracker I walked a lot: 55km in less than 3 days. Through neighborhoods like Gràcia, El Raval, La Barceloneta, El Born, El Poble-Sec, El Eixample and my favorite Sant Antoni...
And somehow I looked up, a lot:
Have you ever been to Barcelona? (or maybe you live there! lucky you!) If so, how did you like it?
When browsing my latest Instagram pictures, I realised there's a pattern. A pink pattern! This past year I spotted several pink houses and façades everywhere I went. Not sure if it's my pink glasses that make me see "la vie en rose", but I just wanted to share this little collection here. Do you "suffer" from a similar silliness?
Above in Paris, below in Nice, France:
Above in the Baie de Somme, below near the Lago Maggiore, Italy last year:
Above in Paris, below in Nice, France:
Again in Nice:
And just because I loved this one so much... a mint pharmacie in my Oise region in France:
I'm currently on my way to Barcelona where I hope to spot some more colorful buildings! If you like, you can follow me along on Instagram :)
The Barbican Conversatory London
The contrast between the grey sky during my visit at the Barbican Conservatory and today's blue sunny sky in France, could hardly be any bigger. Unfortunately there was not enough time for a trip to the Kew Gardens or Botany in the past Blogtacular weekend, but I made a quick stop-over at the beautiful Barbican Conversatory. There's something about the Barbican that I find very attractive: it has a true soul and feels like a throwback to the '60s and '70s. I love it :)
This hidden tropical oasis in the middle of the city houses more than 2000 species of tropical plants and trees. If you want to visit the greenhouse, just note that the Conservatory of the Barbican is only open on Sundays and Bank holidays. I was there on a Friday, but found an open door and a kind resident with his granddaughter told me I should just take a peek (and a few pictures ;). So I did!
Can you see the purple/bordeaux hanging leafs down on the right? That's a giant bunch of Purple Heart just like mine <3
The Barbican Estate & Centre: dark & grey, with lots of rooftop gardens, balconies, palm trees, amazing apartments (for steep prices: I spotted a 30m2 apartment for almost 500K£ in a broker's window...). Last time there was the fabulous Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, this time I just got to visit the beautiful Conversatory.
A gorgeous fan-palm... the future of mine :D
The Conserveratory at the Barbican /// Silk St /// London EC2Y 8DS
open on Sundays (11-17) and Bank holidays (12-17)
54 hours in London
For my third trip to London in a year, I made hardly any plans. My goals were to get some decent sleep and to have fun: the weeks leading up to this Blogtacular weekend were packed with (too much) work and I was exhausted and ready to see something else than my screen. But the main reason for my trip to London was our talk about Urban Jungle Bloggers at Blogtacular, you can read more about that here. The talk went great, Igor and I were both really humbled by the great feedback, the very supportive crowd and the enthusiasm about community building and plants, of course.
So instead of shopping and museum visits, I took it nice and (relatively) slow. First I met with Anne for tea and a gallery visit. As we both happened to be on the other side of the canal at the same time, we went for tea instead of catching up over coffee in Paris. Together we visited the Play: Toys Sets Rules exhibition at Walter Knoll, which was really nice and featured a cool collection of vintage toys with very simple and graphic shapes and designs, like this Lunatrack cardboard toy from 1968, designed by Roger Limbrick:
Last year I already played with this great wooden toy called Serpentino by Fredun Shapur for Naef (1980) at the Kemistry gallery, and we tried it again. Practice makes perfect: I actually managed to keep the orange ball in the loop for more than one turn! I wish they still produced this toy, because it's addictive!
We headed for tea at this London-cool coffee bar with mismatched chairs & tables, called Ask for Janice:
And here's a peek into the stunning Ham Yard hotel where I had a nice breakfast meeting later that weekend. The interior of the hotel is eclectic, very British with a stylish twist, all designed by Kit Kemp. If you love luxurious fabrics, patterns and colors, this is your go-to place:
The weather was pretty nice and before crashing in my hotel bed, I went for a little walk along the South Bank and enjoyed the London skyline from Tower Bridge:
And enfin, on the other side of the Thames, next to The Gherkin...
... and just a few walking minutes from the Tower bridge and the Tower of London...
... I found my hotel for the next few days: the new Motel One Tower Hill with their cool bar & lobby:
As you can see below, I was SO happy to get some sleep and the comfortable room and (very!) friendly and helpful staff didn't disappoint.
The location of Motel One Tower Hill is great, it's super central (only 5 underground stops from KingsX where Eurostar arrives) and if you're looking for an affordable (!), comfy and clean hotel in London, this is the place to book.
Even though I wish I could have spent more time in my comfy hotelbed, I had a great stay. And above all: the staff was very friendly, which makes really all the difference, don't you think?
I'll be back later this week to show you around my favorite urban jungle in London and some extra pictures from the Open Garden Squares weekend that took place last weekend. Have a great week!
Motel One kindly sponsored my stay at their Tower Hill location, but all opinions and photos are my own. Merci beaucoup Motel One!
Dutch color therapy
Have you ever seen the most colorful extravaganza in the Netherlands? Until a few weeks ago I only ever saw the tulip fields from a train or car but when I found out I had a meeting at 10 minutes from Lisse, I knew I had to see this from up close.
When there's such an abundance of color (and smell! really I wish the Internet had smells, it's impressive!) I cannot stop making photos... so I decided to show 'em all for a huge dose of color therapy. Enjoy!
Don't you love the stranger in the crowd?
More than 3000 varieties of tulips exist and really: no two flowerbeds were alike. Tiny mini bulbs, two-tone tulips, wild peonie tulips and crown-like spiky flowers like these:
Another little stranger:
What do you do when you have 90 minutes in Amsterdam and you want to visit a really nice store? You visit Restored, on the Haarlemmerdijk. In a gorgeous old Fish and Fruit warehouse you'll find a beautifully curated collection of design products: from backpacks to ceramics and preserved flowers.
What I love about the store is that Restored is not just a nice collection of goods, they also like sharing the inspiring stories behind the makers of the products they carry. The lady in the store asked me if I had heard of Herman Verhagen, an Amsterdam-based pottery maker that made a capsule collection for Restored of cups and storage jars. I loved the glazings!
And in my book, you cannot go wrong when you sell plants (including the clean machines by Ogreen), Urban Jungles terrariums, watering cans and the second edition of Strange Plants:
Restored also carries lots of beautiful independant magazines like Gather, Desegno and my favorite The Plant:
It's a new day, a new life a new dawn... fooooor you!!
The Alocasia Cucullata plant also loves the shop window:
Intriguing preserved flowers by Nienke Sybrandy and beautiful geometric jewelry by Turina:
In the same street, the Haarlemmerdijk, you also find beautiful shops like Sukha, Store Without a Home, and Tenue de Nîmes (with super friendly staff!)... and after all the shopping, treat yourself to a delicious French mini pastry at Petit Gâteau.
For more interior and design hotspots in Amsterdam, you can also download the Amsterdam Next app!
Restored /// Haarlemmerdijk 39 /// Amsterdam, the Netherlands /// +31 (0) 20 337 6473
Open mon 13-18 and tue - sat 11-18
La Vallée des Singes
After lots of island fun on l'Ile de Ré we drove through the French countryside to a valley that I have been wanting to visit for years: la Vallée des Singes, the Monkey Valley! I heard it is a place where monkeys live in near wild conditions. And actually that's pretty much it! We had a lovely afternoon walking around the park in close (very close!) presence of over 400 monkeys.
La Vallée des Singes opened its doors in 1998 and is completely different from a "regular" zoo. There is very little "entertainment", unlike anything Disney, and you experience a complete immergence in the monkeys' territory. You can walk through the 16 hectares park with several different areas and where the larger species live on their own islands, separated from you by water. There are hardly any fences and just a few panels with information about the different breeds of monkeys. They want you to really watch, observe, experience and become aware of the importance of protecting these beautiful animals. Through their Primate Conservation Trust they fund conservation programs for populations of wild primates.
Capuchin monkeys, gorillas, bonobos, makis, gibbons, magots, mandrills, chimpansees... I think my very favorite monkey was this male Saki monkey with his beautiful bangs and haircut:
The most wonderful experience in the park, was that at some moments it was just like a regular walk in the park although we realized there were dozens of monkeys above our heads in the top of the trees. It makes you so aware of how we are part of nature and not the masters of the universe like we tend to behave like.
How many Maki eyes can you spot:
A quick and quirky Squirrel monkey (a.k.a. Mr. Nilsson) making a rude gesture:
One more gorgeous monkey that I had never seen before is the Black and White Colobus with a wonderful drapey tail and jacket:
Another facinating thing was that most of the monkeys completely ignored us. They didn't interact with us or any other visitor and lived very independently. Through movies and media we get a very human impression of monkeys and sure: we look very much alike, but these are wild animals and the Vallée des Singes created a very natural environment for them where the balance between "nature" and "zoo" is particularly well respected.
Several times a day the team of La Vallée de Singes feed the monkeys in front of the visitors. A unique moment to observe the monkeys up close:
And yes, we also saw a lot of baby monkeys! In 17 years there were over 500 births in the park! Look at this cute South American Titi:
Or this adorable baby Magot monkey (the only free-living primates in Europe by the way!) that held on to his mama:
I also loved it when they fed the chimpanzees some fresh endives: they just came out of the trees (not all of them, one was having more fun in the top of a tree!), just ate their veggies and went back into the forest. No show or "entertaining the audience", just food. Well, it was actually very entertaining to watch them and their movements, sounds and interaction, but it felt all very natural ;)
La Vallée des Singes /// Le Gureau /// 86700 Romagne /// France
Open from February to November, all opening hours on the website.
The park is located at less than 4 hours from Paris, in the Vienne region, not far from Poitiers and Angoulême and totally worth the time spent in the car to get there. For an extra special experience, you can spend the night in a beautiful tree hut in the nearby Les Cabanes de la Belle and/or visit Futuroscope.
île de Ré
This was probably the happiest day of our trip to the West Coast. The sun was out and we visited the island of Ré. I've heard so many friends raving about this place ever since we moved to France so I was really curious to discover what it was all about. And l'Île de Ré did not disappoint! At this time of the year (mid april) the island is still rather calm and the tourist traps easy to avoid.
We rented some comfy French bikes at Cyclo Surf, one of the manys bike rental places on the island, and off we went! Most cycle paths on the island are car-free which makes it really safe to bike around, unlike the rest of France. But beware of French cyclists... they seem to forget the obvious traffic code like keep right, never stop in the middle of the road and always keep your kids to your right (closest to the side of the road) ;)
Like the entire West Coast there are salt marches everywhere. Their slightly lilac hue (because of microorganisms) of the salt pans looked gorgeous against the beautiful sky an yellow flowers:
To my surprise, all houses on Île de Ré are white with green shutters. All kinds of green: mint, teal, shamrock, olive, pistachio, forest green. It's truly stunning:
Proof that this all made me really happy:
Biking along the ocean is so nice: wind blowing through your hair, a mix of spring flowers perfume and the sea smell, the view to the horizon... bliss!
We also went to the Phare des Baleines on the North East of the island. It's turned into a tourist trap with many souvenir shops and crêperies at the enty of the site, but the view on the ocean is pretty nice. There are two sea currents meeting in the middle which creates a mesmerizing wave movement.
The Island of Ré als houses a long sentence prison. I can imagine lesser places to be emprisoned, even though you're no supposed to venture around the island. Actually every year at least one prisoner is tempted by the beautiful island and tries to escape. Someone told us that last year a prisoner disappeared and they found him on his way to the continent on a stolen surf board. Haha!
The well preserved windmills near Ars en Ré, Les Moulins de la Boire, used to crush the salt cristals that were collected from the salt marches. Nowadays it's a bed & breakfast called Le Senechal.
By the way, from this beach near Sainte-Marie-de-Ré you can see Fort Boyard on the horizon, known from the famous television show :)
Ile de Ré is connected to La Rochelle by a 3km-long toll bridge constructed in 1988. You pay 8€ (in the high season it's 16€) to get onto the island and can leave for free. Hope you enjoyed joining me on this little virtual trip to the island!
A week in the West
We didn't know this part of France: we spent a week in Western France, just above La Rochelle, in the armpit of the country called La Vendée. A week of exploring, sleeping and relaxing near the ocean: bliss! We rented a little house in the dunes and headed out to small cities like Olonne-sur-Mer, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and Jard-sur-Mer... But we preferred the seaside in between where we looked for buoys, but only found these beautiful stones.
It wasn't as sunny as in Paris, but we found some interesting color combinations in Les Sables d'Olonne:
The Atlantic Ocean was never far, with its strong waves and relaxing sounds and of course I took way too many sea pictures ;)
And with the Oean comes fish and sea food. This man was fishing for sardines:
We hopped over to the island of Noirmoutier where we walked along several salt marches. I just loved the small cabans where they sell salt. The marketing is brilliant, just SALT:
The advantage of traveling in the off season is that it was very quiet everywhere, we walked along emtpy beaches with only a few Sanderlings. The tides of the Ocean are strong near the island and when we wanted to leave, this is what the road to the continent looked like:
But we were lucky: l'ile de Noirmoutier also has a bridge! And this Wednesday I'll take you to the next island of our trip: the beautiful Ile de Ré! I loved it and hope you'll join me!
Sla Amsterdam salad bar
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I was in Amsterdam the other day. I met up with my blog pals Deepa and Giova for coffee and pancakes and a stroll around de Pijp. They know me well and took me to Sla, because it's a true Urban Jungle Bloggers hotspot. Ever since I saw pictures on blogs and Instagram of this small chain of salad bars, I loved their look. Delicious veggies and lots green plants hanging around.
But when we had a closer look we realized the "famous" hanging plants in the baskets are artificial plants! Wow! I thought this was very surprising, especially since the salad bar was drenched in sunlight. I'm sure real plants, like a string of pearls or some ivy would survive here with a little bit of love and attention. Anyway, I'm happy to tell that most of the other plants were real. In the end, Sla looks stunning and you can't go wrong with a delicious salad with lots of veggies and healthy ingredients. I wish more restaurants would work with vegetables, like Ottolenghi who made veggies sexy again ;)
Sla also carries a nice selection of healthy cooking books, like The Green Kitchen, and the lovely Bag to Nature herbs:
We already had lunch, so we didn't get ourselves something to eat here, but the food looked really good. I'll keep it in mind for my next trip to Amsterdam.
After this tiny plant disillusion, Deepa & Giova took me to Circle of Trust, a new concept store just around the corner from Sla. And they got it: real cacti and succulents everywhere (and not just on their wall!)!
Do you have any other green recommendations in Amsterdam? And did you ever have lunch at any of the five Sla restaurants?
Nine minutes in Nice
Today I wanted to share a little bit of extra sunshine and color with you, from my little trip to Nice a few weeks ago. It was so nice to escape the grey & cold for what seemed like just nine minutes. The weekend was full and busy and I spent my time off snapping pictures of the blue blue sky. It totally reinvigorated me.
How crazy and pink is the famous Auer patisserie:
I never get enough of palm trees! It will take a few more decades until mine will be this tall:
Look at how it filters the sunlight, the perfect spot for a siësta:
There's definitely an Urban Jungle Blogger living here:
Beautiful and tasty garlic from the Provence at the market in Vieux Nice:
Le Promenade des Anglais:
And another Urban Jungle Blogger having fun with planters at le Comptoir de Nicole, a Niçois bistrot:
Great choice of color for this tricycle truck:
Je suis Charlie... at only a few meters from where earlier this week, three soldiers were stabbed outside a Jewish community center. It's a small and crazy world we're living in!
Never enough greens, never enough blue skies. It's such a cliché, but we're in the middle of the winter here in the Oise ;)
Have a wonderful and sunny weekend!
Prom'Classic in Nice with Kalenji
I never imagined running a race would actually be FUN! When I teamed up with Kalenji a few months ago to celebrate my 200th run, they challenged me to run 10K in Nice in January. For me running is rather personal, a way to just be outside, clear my head and get sweaty. Not something I imagined sharing with almost 9000 other runners. But I was curious and accepted the challenge. After a particular rough week, with the tragic terrororist attacks in France, I left Paris for Nice "right in the middle of it". The sunshine and beauty of Nizza warmed my heart.
The Prom'Classic is a 10km race along the world famous Promenade des Anglais, along the Mediterranean. You run from the Old town, Vieux Nice, to the Airport and back. The entire time you can see the sea, the many many palm trees along the promenade and pass by the gorgeous Negresco.
Part of the challenge was to run on the new Kalenji Kiprun SD3 running shoes. I've been running on them since December and they are bright neon pink, super light and I honestly like them a lot. Ever since my first visit at Decathlon (where you can buy all kinds of Kalenji running gear), I've been running on their shoes. First a pair for short distances, then a pair for medium distances with a little bit more bounce and firmness. But design-wise they were not the prettiest. Their new 2015 range is definitely more up-to-date!
Now let me tell you about the race. My first race ever! I was ready, the weeks before the Prom'Classic I ran 10km twice. I was also slightly nervous. Because how do you run with so many people around you? Would I need to use my elbows?
Minutes before the race, the mayor of Nice (one of the runners!) reminds us that we all wear the same shirt. That we run to show that we are free, that we are not afraid and that the values of solidarity and sharing will triumph barbarism. Followed by a minute of applause and then the first group of runners, that would run 10km in less than half an hour, are off.
Le Tri Postal in Lille
Welcome on the other side, in 2015! So far it's not too shabby, right? We started the New Year in Lille, in the North of France. We strolled through the city center Vieux Lille, ate hot waffles and crêpes, visited the Christmas market (and left as soon as we could, aarrghh it was awful!), walked along the beach near Dunkerque, went to the famous Meert patisserie, visited the Louvre Lens, slept in and... wished we could add a few extra weeks to our little trip ;)
We also hopped by Le Tri Postal, a former mail sorting office that was saved from destruction in 2004, when Lille was the European Capital of Culture. The building was converted into a cultural center: a multifunctional exhibition and festival space. The current exhibition Secret Passions showed contemporary art collected by private collectors from Belgium. Very diverse and eclectic!
I love spaces like these, that are like a blank canvas (with character!) for all kinds of events and exhibitions. And the bookshop had a surprisingly nice selection of art books. I finally got myself Yohji Yamamoto's My Dear Bomb.
Have you ever been to Lille? And visited Le Tri Postal? If you love NEON, this is the place to be ;)
Le Tri Postal /// Avenue Willy Brandt /// 59000 Lille ///
2 min walk from Gare Lille Flandres and Lille Europe
Open wed to fri: 12:00 - 19:00 and sat-sun 11:00 - 19:00
My favorite trips of 2014
Between all my work projects that kept me in home office, I managed to travel quite a bit in 2014. For work, for my blog, for fun and to visit family & friends. Of course I hope to explore some more in 2015. In the next couple of days I'll start with Lille and Nice, not bad, right?
A little daytrip to the beautiful Baie de Somme in France /// We wandered around one of the most beautiful villages in France: Gerberoy
Hats and horses at the Prix de Diane in Chantilly /// Our very fun Blago bloggers trip with dear friends to Milan and the Lagio Maggiore
The exciting Middelheim Museum park in Antwerp, Belgium /// A colorful walk around Notthing Hill in London
► My favorite trips of 2013 are here.
My London tips
By popular demand I gathered some of my favorite places in London (oh and I also updated my Paris tips!):
As usual my first citrytrip tip is: simply walk around. It's my favorite way to discover a city and get a sens of its size, the different areas, the people and the more uncommon areas where you won't cross many tourists. And at the same time you are outside and exercise a bit ;) Oh and if not: buy yourself an Oyster card and pay as you go.
► Go colourhunting in Notting Hill preferably on a weekday without the crowds gathering around Portobello Road. You won't be disappointed!
► You Can Now // 72 Rivington Street /// London EC2A 3AY (Shoreditch) /// A shop and a creative hub for graphic designers and illustrators.
► Tokyobike /// 87-89 Tabernacle Street /// London EC2A 4BA /// If you love your bike or like nicely curated products (ponchos, helmets, home goodies, bags, socks).
► Notting Hill Kitchen /// 92 Kensington Park Rd /// Notting Hill /// London W11 2PN /// Who wouldn't want to eat at a place where the tiles look this good? With flavors from Portugal and Spain.
► Present & Correct /// 23 Arlington Way /// London EC1R 1UY /// Vintage stationary and super contemporary paper goods and everything that you'd want on your desk.
► That Flower Shop /// 100 Shoreditch Hight Street /// London E1 6JQ /// A lovely flowershop by Hattie Fox near the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch with a nice selection of plants.
► Ottolenghi restaurant & deli /// 287 Upper Street /// London N1 2TZ (4 locations in Islington, Notting Hill, Belgravia and Nopi) /// Lunch or cake at Ottolenghi's is something else. It's so good, Otam Ottolenghi made veggies sexy again, there are Parisians taking the Eurostar to London just to have lunch at one of his restaurants. Go there, you won't regret it!
► Kemistry Gallery /// 43 Charlotte Road /// London EC2A 3PD /// Kemistry is an independent design gallery dedicated to exhibiting the work of outstanding designers. We saw the super cute exhibition of work by artist Fredun Shapur and I tried this (it's tougher than it seems!). Currently: Jean Jullien! Charlotte Road is also very nice for shopping in independant & stylish boutiques.
► Pedlars /// 128 Talbot Road, Notting Hill /// London W11 1JA /// Vintage with a modern twist, good coffee and very friendly staff. I need to get one of their fleece blankets!
► Fish & chips at the Island Grill at the Lancaster hotel. And Banamel cheesecake as desert. Yummm!
► Ally Capellini /// 312 Portobello Road /// London W10 5RU /// Bags and accessories made in Italian veg tanned leather and waxed cotton.
► Sweaty Betty /// If you're into colourful sportswear (I must admit I'm slightly obsessed since I'm running so often!) you may like Sweaty Betty. I really like this fancy bathing suit <3
► Fairground London /// 260-264 Kingsland Road /// London E8 4DG /// Going to London soon? Check out what's on at the Fairground. It's a creative venue with cultural events that connect food and drinks with a wider audience.
► Glyphics /// 75 Leonard Street /// London EC2A 4QS /// Creative sign makers and vinyl graphics. A sign-lovers paradise!
Artist's Entrance Middelheim in Antwerp
This weekend I was in Antwerp with my family and besides some shopping, we spent an afternoon at the Middelheim Museum park. Even though it was wet and cloudy, it was lovely to stroll around the Museum park. This curvy red, white, pink building is one of the entrances of the park. At first I thought it was a vintage gas station, just like the Brabant Service Station. But when I looked up close, the name of the building, the Artist's Entrance, made sense.
Dutch artist John Körmeling built the Artist's Entrance in poured concrete and glass between 2004 and 2012 as one of the 9 entrances of the park. The neon letters emphasize some artists' names that are featured in the Middelheim Museum park. The concrete roof is white, but the bright red floor reflects on the ceiling which gives it this wonderful gradient glow.
I love how the building is so tongue in the cheek: it's a nice sheltered entrance, the perfect place for an exhibition opening for example (you could show some smaller art pieces in the glass "room"!), it has beautiful curves and a bold color, it includes nice letters and neons and the proportions are really good. It's on the border between architecture and art, a place that I can truly appreciate.
A little bit of Vegas on top of the roof:
A perfect pink gradient:
Names of artists with sculptures in the Middelheim Museum park are featured on the roof:
Middelheim Museum /// Middelheimlaan 62 /// 2020 Antwerpen /// +32 3 288 33 60
open tuesday to sunday from 10:00 to 17:00 (longer in the summer) admission free
Le Comptoir Général in Paris
Le Comptoir Général in Paris is one of these places that's been in a corner of my mind for a long time, but I never visited it. While filming for Urban Jungle Bloggers this weekend (see our Facebook page for a peek behind the scenes) we walked by the Canal Saint Martin on our way to Holybelly and had to go in. It's a real urban jungle out there with surprising details everywhere. They call themselves the "Temple of Ghetto Culture as well as an art museum: the result of creativity that springs up in poor or marginalised places all over the world. And especially in Africa."
Have a look:
Lots of potted plants, succulents and cacti... in a true cabinet of curiosities. Or like they call it: La Petite Boutique des Horreurs...
The trees and plants grow across the entire (huge!) space:
Unfortunately we didn't have time to sit down for a drink, but it looked very relaxed, a bit boho and a bit Berlin (it is so un-Paris-like spacious here!):
My favorite details were not the plants (wow!) but these African hairdresser signs. Straight from another era:
I also loved to see that this place is not another hipster-white-Parisians place. Sorry, but it's just very nice to see a large variety of people here, old, young, European, African, Asian, vibrant!
Le Comptoir Général is also quite a nice place to write a bit next to a thriving Monstera:
The entire space has different areas, the Endemic Garden, a ballroom, a hairdresser, a library, a classroom and a coffee shop:
What do you think? Don't you agree this place doesn't look like Paris?! Definitely a nice spot if you need a break and want to enjoy something a little different.
Le Comptoir Général /// 80, Quai de Jemmapes /// Paris 10e /// +33 1 44 88 24 48
open every day from 11:00 to 01:00
Present & Correct in London
Since like forever I had been wanting to visit the brick and mortar store of Present and Correct in London. Their online presence is so so good, clever, hilarious and witty. If you love checkboxes and beautiful forms, their website is heaven. Plus who has ever enough notebooks, pencils or vintage office supplies? My job is rather digital, but it's my not-so-secret pleasure that I love having all kinds of scissors, pencil sharpeners, rulers, staplers around to shape my offline ideas.
Little did I know that the Present & Correct shop is stationary heaven, but it was torture to choose something to bring home! So many vintage notebooks, postcards, pens, staplers, erasers, brushes, paperclips, organising tools, envelopes, planners, calendars, tape dispensers... What would you choose?
Look at those pink eraser brushes:
Gorgeous gold foil post cards and notebooks with lines or grids and more...
pencils and more notebooks with block grids:
mini notebooks, washi tape, staples in vintage boxes:
L'agenda de l'année:
I totally forgot I need new glue! This green bottle looks great. I also wishlisted this vintage Super tube organiser and brought home a Present & Correct notebook.
Present & Correct /// 23 Arlington Way /// London EC1R 1UY /// +44 20 7278 2460
Open tuesday to saturday 12 - 18:30 /// but of course you can shop ONLINE!
Lunch at Ottolenghi London
This lunch in London was a much anticipated one. Ever since I visited the Ottolenghi deli in Notting Hill this spring, I planned to come back and indulge. The large dishes with gorgeous veggies and the most perfect pastries called my name.
Back then I didn't know much about chef Yotam Ottolenghi, I liked the logo and the food looked so good (I must have been hungry!) but realized later that he is actually very famous! He's the chef that "made vegetables sexy again". And who writes good looking books, like Jerusalem and his latest Plenty More. I read that some Parisians even take the Eurostar to have lunch at Ottolenghi...
So there we were, ready to eat! Look at those platters full of salads! Don't they look appetizing?
We ordered different kinds of veggies, a beef dish and a selection of bread:
Doesn't this sound nice?
Mixed green beans with fennel, grilled spring onion, tarragon, lemon zest and fennel seeds
Roasted saffron cauliflower with dates, crispy capers, red onion and parsley
Roasted mixed peppers with burnt aubergine tahini sauce, pomegranate seeds, Urfa chilli and herbs
Roasted aubergine with almond yoghurt, pickled chilli and paprika toasted almonds
I love how eating at Ottolenghi's deli was so laid-back, "just" good food & drinks and a sleek interior. Other people were celebrating their child's birthday with a pastry and candles and catching up with friends. Down to earth, simple and honest food.
Look, that's a gorgeous cookbook right?
That piece of bread on the right... I'm still dreaming of it, I still have no idea of the herbs that were in it, but believe me: it was succulent!
Then it was time for dessert...
Dripped caramel cakes:
As you can imagine, it took me a while to choose from this all. This vanilla and almond financier topped with blackberries and mascarpone cream and pistachio had my name written all over it:
And really, it didn't disappoint. It was very rich and sweet, especially since I rarely eat sugar anymore. Obviously I took eating it VERY seriously ;)
Together with the yummy lunch at Al Boeuc it has been one of my favorite foodie moments of the year and found a new London tradition: to eat at Ottolenghi's ;)
Ottolengi restaurant & deli /// 287 Upper Street /// London N1 2TZ
mon to sat: 8am - 10:30pm sun: 9am - 7pm
In London there are 4 locations: Islington, Notting Hill, Belgravia and Nopi.
Tokyobike in London
The difference between the Dutch and the French riding their bike: the Dutch ride from A to B, the French from A to A. Even after more than 12 years in France I still ride almost exclusively from A to B. My bike is a very Dutch old one-gear bike, the first 3 bikes were demolished at the train station. But I do love spotting beautiful bikes in interiors, even though I wonder how their owners handle the dirty tires and how they lock their fixed-gear when drinking a handcrafted beer at the pub...
Anyway, I loved this bike shop called Tokyobike in London! They sell beautiful bikes and carry a very nice selection of innovative bicycle gear and lifestyle accessories. Definitely a must-visit when you love your bike, need a beautiful bike helmet or simply love beautiful products.
One of my favorite products on display was the brand new Plume Mud Guard. It works just like those metal neon slap bracelets from the 80s: very fun!
For the first time ever I tried on a Hövding, an invisible bike helmet that inflates like an airbag around your head when you have an accident. It looks just like a colar:
I think Jillian should get herself this bike and rain poncho, decorated by Swash:
And fun fact: Tokyobike also carries Orontas (spotted in Stockholm) and the Ally Cappelino leather plant pots that I featured in a previous edition of Urban Jungle Bloggers. And yes I told them to water their money plants, they don't look very happy ;)
These beautiful bikes are also for hire from their Shoreditch shop for 12£/day. I don't think a pair of these fun Tracey Neuls shoes is included, but of course you can buy one at the store:
Tokyobike /// 87-89 Tabernacle Street /// London EC2A 4BA /// +44 20 7251 6842
Open tuesday to friday 11am - 7pm and saturday 11am - 5pm
Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil in Paris
Yes, I'm done editing some of the 250 photos I took at the Jardin botanique des Serres d'Auteuil. Botanic gardens make me so extremely happy, especially if they include palm trees, cactus plants and succulents, that it always results in too many pictures ;)
This garden in Paris has been on my must-visit list for so long and when I heard a few months ago that it risks to be closed and destroyed on behalf of another Roland-Garros tennis court, I knew I had to go NOW. I sincerely hope the City of Paris, who owns the botanic gardens, realizes the value of these 19th century greenhouses and gardens in time, because it's so very gorgeous. Have a look:
I wondered around the garden before and after my visit of the Molitor Rooftop garden while it was empty and sunny. A few gardeners were around taking care of more than 10.000 different tropical and subtropical plants. Some of which are ultra rare and almost extinct.
One of the most amazing elements of the garden is the Palmarium: it seems like the Palm tree is captured in the greenhouse:
The majestic palm tree is really tall, nearly 16 meters and grows up to the top of the dôme of the greenhouse:
The Typography of Travel 24
Beautiful typography and lettering spotted on some of my recent travels:
Pharmacie Méot - Neuilly-en-Thelle, France
Pinoli restaurant - London, UK
10 Corso Como boutique - Milan, Italy
Modern' Cordonnerie - Creil, France
Mademoiselle M culinary workshops - Paris, France
Fairground creative venue - London, UK
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here.
Wandering around Gerberoy
While I just told you I was working while everyone seems to be on holiday, these pictures have a pretty real holiday vibe, right? Well... my stepson and stepdaughter spent a few days with us in France, so we decided to visit the prettiest village in our Oise region: Gerberoy. The village is part of this national ranking with the most beautiful French villages, just like Roussillon that we visited last fall.
Gerberoy is really small with a population of only 115, and no traffic lights or billboards. It's known for the Rose Festival and the famous impressionist painter Henri Le Sidaner who created a wonderful garden on the remains of the castle. From the top of the monochrome gardens (in white, red & pink, blue & yellow) we appreciated the view over the rooftops on our countryside. A stunning view!
The people of Gerberoy really love their village, it looks pristine and very well maintained. I don't think I could live in a small village like this with so many tourists visiting all year round, but at night when they're gone it must be rather special to live here.
We wandered around the village with cobbled streets and timber framed houses, watched the geese and sheep in the surrounding fields and walked up to the Temple de l'Amour:
Rose loves roses and the love temple too: <3
There were very few roses left, but in June Gerberoy probably smells (and looks!) amazing. We may have to come back during the Rose Festival next year...
Les grandes vacances
Not going on holiday in the summer months is such a joy. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel and would hop on a train, boat or plane in a second. But it's nice to work while life slows down around you. Many of my French clients are en vacances, which means my phone doesn't ring as often. The harbour in front of our home is empty, the school and the snackbar are closed. The cordonnier is on holiday and we find cheesy postcards in our mailbox from dreamy destinations. And I love that my instagram timeline is filled with sun drenched holiday pictures.
It also allows me to sneak out of the house and spend a random weekday at the Castle of Pierrefonds and eat violet & liquorice icecream. Or to make lots of ice cream myself and work on nice projects for La Rentrée. Because life starts all over again in September ;)
These are a few of my favorite details of the Château de Pierrefonds, a half hour drive from our home. The BBC series Merlin was filmed here and really, it's how you'd imagine a real fortified castle. I'm particularly fond of the hand painted hedgehogs with golden details. There are thousands on the walls in one room, they're all slightly different and the reflections of their gold stripes in the light is so gorgeous.
Are you working this summer? Or did you already enjoy a little break? If not: at least enjoy the weekend!
My Paris tips
By popular demand ;) some of my favorite places in Paris (updated February 2016):
► La Trésorerie /// 11, rue du Château d'Eau /// 75010 Paris /// a mix between Dille & Kamille and Merci: goodies for home & kitchen.
► Kidimo /// 227, rue Saint Denis /// 75002 Paris /// Vintage letters for your home from France, Eastern Europe and South America.
► Merci /// 111, boulevard de Beaumarchais /// 75003 /// Merci doesn't need an introduction, right? Trend setting homewares, goodies, furniture, fashion and more. The Used Books Café is a nice place for lunch or drinks. Also visit Bon Ton (kids furniture, fashion & goodies) and get inside the photomaton.
► Adeline Klam /// 54, boulevard Richard Lenoir /// 75011 Paris /// Japanese paper goods, stationery, pillows, photo albums, Japanese fabrics, DIY books, wooden toys and more.
► Papier Plus /// 9, rue du Pont Louis-Philippe /// 75004 Paris /// Quality paper goods in a wide range of colors, since 1976.
► Rooftop view over Paris /// Take the escalators to the top floor of Printemps Haussmann for a 360° view over Paris, 100% free and without standing in line /// 64, boulevard Haussmann /// 75009 Paris.
► Institut Suédois /// 11, rue Payenne /// 75003 /// Delicious Swedish kanelbullar and nice art exhibitions & concerts at the Swedish Institute.
► Les Succulents Cactus /// 111, rue de Turenne /// 75003 Paris /// Cactus & succulents a.k.a. Urban Jungle Bloggers paradise.
► E. Dehillerin /// 18-20, rue Coquillière /// 75001 Paris /// Traditional kitchen utensil paradise, for chefs & foodies. It's a true cavern of Ali Baba with cookware from basement to ceiling.
► Papier Tigre /// 5, rue des Filles du Calvaire /// 75003 Paris /// Beautiful paper goods with a humorous twist.
► Green Factory /// A new Urban Jungle Bloggers paradise in Paris: a workshop & boutique close to the Canal Saint Martin, where owner Noam propose creative terrariums that need very little attention.
► Molitor rooftop garden /// Avenue de la Porte Molitor /// 75016 Paris /// Relax in one of the Moroso Tropicalia chairs, with a view on the Eiffel tower, after a dive into the famous piscine.
► Jack Gomme /// 16, rue St-Claude /// 75003 Paris /// leather goods made in France since 1985. I particularly like their clutches.
► The Broken Arm /// 12, rue Perrée /// 75003 Paris /// Good coffee & very well curated shopping (fashion, accessories, books...).
► Klin d'oeil boutique & galerie /// 6, rue Deguerry /// 75011 Paris /// The clan of Klin d'oeil now have a fabulous new boutique & gallery (open since January 2016). If you love color, plants and handmade, this is the place to go.
► La Grande Epicerie (at Le Bon Marché) /// 38, rue de Sèvres /// 75007 Paris /// Food from around the country & world (I go there for the nice packaging design), nearby you'll find The Conran Shop.
► Jardin des Serres d'Autueil /// 1 avenue Gordon-Bennett /// 75016 /// Nineteenth century greenhouses with a giant palm tree, tropical plants, cacti, Monstera... an Urban Jungle Bloggers paradise!
► Muskhane /// 3, rue Pastourelle /// 75003 Paris /// rugs, cushions, baskets and objets in felt and wool from South Asia.
► For the best coffee in town, check out Lindsey's fab coffee guide (I had coffee at Fondation Café the other day and it was really good).
► Le Comptoir Général /// 80, Quai de Jemmapes /// 75010 Paris /// An urban jungle where you can get a coffee, a haircut, buy plants, listen to music: a creative hotspot that doesn't feel like Paris. At. All.
► Paris isn't particularly colorful, apart from the beautiful grey rooftops, so if you crave some color, take a walk through the Passage de l'Ancre, a small private passage in the 3rd. /// 30, rue de Turbigo /// 75003 Paris.
► More unexpected color in the most Instagrammed street in Paris: la Rue Crémieux, with its colorful houses (including a small hostel-hotel!), potted plants and cats /// Rue Crémieux /// 75012 Paris
► If you have more time:
►In stead of visiting the Castle of Versailles, I warmly recommend you to visit the Château de Chantilly. It houses the largest collection of paintings after the Louvre, a splendid library, wonderful gardens. And nearby you'll find the Horse Museum, several beautiful hotels including the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, race tracks & forests for a nice long walk. And of course, don't forget to get yourself a hot chocolate with crème Chantilly a.k.a. whipped cream in the tea room of the castle ;)
► Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace (Air & Space museum). Even if you're not an aircraft nerd, you can have a great time at the oldest Paris airport. The halls are a little vintage, or beautifully renovated like the former departure hall, and you can visit the inside of a Concorde, see some real "wings" and the first hot air balloons, there are flight simulators and more. I love this place. Very kids friendly too!
► And my best Paris tip ever: walk around! You don't need a cab, a bunch of metro tickets and a nice pair of shoes (and some good company!) is all you need. Take a metro to a random spot on the map and get out, walk around, explore. Don't be afraid to miss the touristic spots! Simply sit down for coffee, pick something from a bakery, have a little pique nique, visit a gallery or museum. When publishing this guide there was a fabulous exhibition of Dries van Noten at les Arts Décoratifs.
Have a great time in Paris! Profites-en bien!
This weekend I was in Amsterdam to attend a friend's wedding. And while I hoped I could squeeze in a little time off in the city, I was too busy to help with the 9 layers weddingcake my sister created for the happy couple. Which was fun though!
Somehow I never fell in love with Amsterdam. Well over a decade ago, before moving to France, I even worked here, but I think I need more time to go beyond the clichés of agressive cyclists:
the beautiful canals:
Amsterdam gable galore:
and the Amstel:
So I made plans to come back very soon! Of course I'll include some libary love (at the Public Libary), water love (at Stella Maria Maris, a new water & care brand) and meet up with friends for real friendship love ;)
What about you? Do you like Amsterdam? Any suggestions of places to visit that could make me change my mind?
Thank you so much for all the heart warming comments, tweets, emails and messages on my personal love story that I shared the other day. It made me very happy that it brought a smile to so many faces! And even made a few people weep. Including me when I read my stepdaughter Rose's comment <3
A nice bridge for some shop love today ;) I already showed you some other London favorites like You Can Now and Ally Capellino and on my quest for color in Notting Hill I found another gem, called Pedlars.
If you're into vintage with a modern twist, this is your shop. In our own home we use quite a few thrifted lamps and objects we found in our building when we bought it, like the emergency stretcher and laboratory items.
When I spoke with Sarah, the shop manager, she told me that the Pedlars team was currently in the US, searching the best vintage items, like maps, lamps, prints, bags, flags. And that they even invited a Pedlards "fan" to tag along on their vintage road trip. Because they love sharing their passion and organize lots of competitions and challenges for the Pedlars community. It's really cool to follow their trip via Instagram and virtually meet all these vintage obsessed folks!
I particularly loved the nice mix between vintage items, British quality, and contemporary design. And their selection of stationary... and toothpaste:
And I think I need a nice Pedlars fleece blanket (in the third image) in my life. Their quality is so nice, incredibly robust and perfect for picknicks or to stay warm during cold summer nights on the porch (hahaha we don't even have one, but it sounds good right?!).
Vintage only in the back of the store:
Including a nice selection of buoys (remember these?):
So if you'll find yourself in Notting Hill, be sure to hop by this store! Oh they also have a nice online presence and webshop, if you cannot make it to London.
Nice to meet you too Pedlars:
Pedlars /// 128 Talbot Road, Notting Hill /// London W11 1JA /// +44 207 727 7799
Open Mon-Sat 10-18 Sun 11-17
The Typography of Travel 23
Beautiful typography and lettering spotted on some of my recent travels:
Boucherie & charcuterie (butcher) - Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
Lali shop - London, UK
Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican Centre - London, UK
Higher Ground creative agency - London, UK
Blood Brother Never Alone O+ - London, UK
Temporary Museum - Milan, Italy
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here.
You Can Now London
If there's one talent that I developed in the past few years, it is to stumble upon the coolest places in the cities I visit. Maybe it's not a real talent, but simply luck and an overdose of cool hotspots in cities likes Stockholm, Antwerp, Berlin or Copenhagen. Anyway, I found some in London too and here is the first one: You Can Now, or to go short: YCN.
YCN exists since 2001 and is so much more than just a shop: it's a network for creatives, a place that aims to inspire "creative people to do new things". Our central teams work daily to put the wind into all of their sails; drawing from members' collective experiences, sharing ideas, inspirations and guidance, elevating the best of their creativity, connecting them with partners and opportunities and empowering them along the way to wherever they want to go next. What's not to love?!
I also loved browsing around and didn't leave empty handed: I just had to get myself some of Daniel Frost's work. Another highlight was finding Jean Jullien's artwork here: I've been following him on instagram for quite a while and his witt & wisdom always make me smile.
And although these terracotta planters didn't quite fit in my suitcase, I would have loved bringing them home for the greens in my urban jungle:
This mirror screamed for a selfie ;)
Four times a year, YCN publishes a magazine, filled with ideas to inspire action. The Winter issue's theme is "Get Lost" as an adventurous springboard into the welcome unknown. You can buy your copy here.
Members of the YCN network can borrow books from the library in the back (including some very covetable books!) and also get priority access to events and digital content, personal creative support and a first look at New Opportunities. Wohoow! Find out how to join on their website.
These little eating & cooking spoons and a special scoop for drinking water from mountain streams were so very pretty (and detailed!). They are designed by Miscelleaneous Adventures for YCN:
Oh yeah, definitely see you again soon!
YCN /// 72 Rivington Street /// London EC2A 3AY (Shoreditch) /// +44 (0)20 7033 2140
Open Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm /// Saturday & Sunday - 11am - 4pm
The colors of Notting Hill London
Our French weather man a.k.a. Monsieur Météo predicted a rainy weekend in London, but I was very very lucky: as soon as my Eurostar arrived at Saint Pancras station last week the sun came out and didn't disappear until I left four days later! Super convenient, because what I like best when visiting a city is walking around. Preferably all day and without an umbrella ;) While my feet hate me for that, my eyes loved it: especially when walking around Notting Hill. I know there are already so many pictures of the colorful houses in this part of town, but I just couldn't help myself. Sunshine & color simply make me happy.
I first spotted these polka dots on Blogtacular speaker Joy Cho's feed and accidentally walked passed "her" house:
And I found so much more color, I hope it makes you happy too:
Looking through a beautiful fig tree in this front yard:
And a beautiful platan tree:
sweet spring foliage:
wedding cake pastels on top of the Notting Hill:
And this last picture of the famous Portobello Road. At the very end of this road, passed the tourist shops and the Spanish institute, I found this very nice shop that fitted our next Urban Jungle Bloggers topic perfectly: greens in cafés, restaurants or shops. I asked if I could take some pictures and they agreed, so that's what I'll show you here on Thursday! See you soon!
These are a few of my favorite quotes from speakers of Blogtacular, a creative blog conference I attended this weekend in London. Apart from top notch speakers, a great venue (The Royal Institution of Great Britain), my personal highlights were the more personal conversations I had with blog friends, old and new. During the weekend I also completely fell for the quirky British humor & creativity (not in the last place because of the creative duo behind Mini Moderns: Keith & Mark). It's very refreshing when you're used to working with French creatives ;)
If you like, you can check out all the official pictures taken at Blogtacular right here (with actual people in them, as opposed to mine hihi). As you may have seen on instagram, part of the conference was a colorful photowalk lead by the very talented Xanthe Berkeley. If there's one regret, it's that I didn't attend one of her workshops, it looks SO much fun, don't you think? The great news is that you can buy a virtual ticket to Blogtacular with access to videos from the conference (available in June). Read more about it here and sign up for the newsletter to be the first in the know. Yay!
Quotes from: Anne Ditmeyer - Annabel Beeforth - Will Taylor - Joy Cho - Natalie Lue - Yvonne Eijkenduijn
second image kindly provided by Mollie Makes /// handwritten words & all other photos by me
Next week I'll be in London and because I expect it to be quite an urban trip, I'm "virtually" preparing myself with some airy views from our #blago2014 adventure.
I love these pale blues at the Lago Maggiore and the Lago d'Orta at this time of the year. As well as the eternal snow on the mountains in the background, the palm trees, the islands...
Hope you're having a great weekend!
Green Balconies in Milan
When strolling down the streets of Milan, I was pleasantly surprised by the omnipresence of greens! Of course the upcoming Urban Jungle Bloggers topic was in the back of my head: balconies & window sills, so I guess I was a little obsessed... So if you're looking for some last minute inspiration, look no further ;)
One of the design showrooms in the Brera district was covered in greens (and a hint of yellow from the #blago2014 ladies):
I didn't really get the purpose of ceramic Italian coffee pots and espresso cups for your plants, but well... it looked kinda cute:
More green balconies and notice:
This Italian chef enjoyed his break in the green patio featuring a variety of Italian vases and random planters:
You cannot go wrong with palm trees in my book. I loved these, they look so proud:
And of course I spotted some fresh lemons that reminded me of the ones in Corsica. I brought one home and used it for the sugar free lemon muffins that I baked the other day... even though they looked more like flat cookies, they tasted pretty good.
Check back tomorrow for my Urban Jungle Bloggers post. And if you like: there's still time to join us and show us your green balcony or window sill! Subscribe here and you'll receive all the information you need by email. Arrivederci!
Yummy lunch at Al Boeuc
One of the things that I was looking forward to in Italy, was the delicious food. Not that I lack of delicious food here at home: we have so many beautiful French products and of course I have my own private chef. But still: Italian food also has a reputation ;) Of course our lovely guide knew exactly where to take us for the perfect lunch. Nothing ultra gourmet or fine cuisine, but beautiful local products, wine from the next village and a friendly owner.
Welcome to Al Boeuc, a wine bar where they serve typical Piemontese food. We ordered a cheese & meat platter, bruschetta (toasted bread with different toppings like truffle & mushroom, radicchio cream and tomato & basil). And of course the famous Bagna Caöda: a hot dip made of garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter and cream. You eat it by dipping raw veggies. Accompagnied by a fruity wine and nice conversations, this lunch was so so good!
Al Boeuc serves simple and honest dishes and it's all very tasty. If you're ever in the Lake area, this place deserves your visit! Buon appetito!
Enoteca Al Boeuc /// Via Bersani, 28 /// Orta San Giulio, Italy /// +39 3395840039
open every wednesday to monday from 11-15:30 and 18:30-01:00
Hay Mini Market in Milan
You didn't need a map to find the Hay showroom during the Salone del Mobile in Milan: you could simply follow the cool folks sporting the limited edition Wrong for Hay totes to get there. It's the first time since 2008 that Danish furniture & accessory brand Hay and sister brand Wrong for Hay were exhibiting in Milan. And they made it into a very clever exhibition too, because it included a pop-up shop where you could purchase affordable small goods to bring home. Very suitcase proof ;)
Hej! oh I mean: Hay!
We've seen it everywhere in Milan & online: African wax inspired prints are HOT! I love how these are slightly different, yet very bold and happy. Designed by Nathalie du Pasquier for Wrong for Hay:
Contrary to the Hay House in Copenhagen, the Hay showroom didn't feel like a home. It was a true exhibition space with private areas for retailers & buyers. But a very creative and bright one. Plus the staff was very friendly and helpful. Even when I was clumsy and accidently tipped over a banner and a candle holder ;)
Nothing new, but I can't get enough of Scholten & Baijings sense of color:
Color & stationary heaven: the Mini Market. Also loved the super simple candle light:
And this beautiful Spine notebook:
I wish our home had more walls, because this setup with 16 hooks by Line Depping looks great:
The number of times that we sighed and smelled wisteria during our Blago trip, were countless. I haven't seen any wisteria here in the Oise yet, but in Italy they were blooming on every street corner. And because unfortunately I cannot include perfumes on my blog (yet!), I tried to capture the purple flowering plant in images.
Eternal snow in Switzerland in the back and blooming wisteria in the foreground as seen from the Hermitage Santa Caterina del Sasso on the Lago Maggiore:
No doubt about it: we're in sunny Italy:
One day, my palm trees will be as high and pretty as these beauties:
The view from that boat must have been amazing:
By now, can you smell the wisteria? Is there any growing where you live?
Patterns in Milan
My five days in Italy with friends were bright and colorful, just like the tiles above at Temakinho in Milan. We walked for hours along several lakes, enjoyed the abundant sunshine, ate the most delicious Italian food, had many interesting conversations, laughed a lot, smelled the blooming wisteria on every street corner, got our design fix at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, had gelato only twice (!) and slept way too little. And what do bloggers do when they stumble upon patterned floors like this? They take a #fromwherewestand :
These amazing tiles made me wish I could run to Milan just to add another colorful picture to my IG running series ;)
These stars were a little bit more subtle:
Behind the scenes of this instagram picture with Deepa, Jillian and Kat:
And more pattern love near the Duomo, in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II:
Of course I took way too many pictures, so this week you'll be showered with a lot more Italy-love here on the blog. I hope you don't mind ;)
Ciao from the Concrete Jungle
A quick hello from this concrete jungle called Milan! As you can see the sun is shining bright and the many many plants on the Milanese balconies seem to love it. There's so much inspiration everywhere for the upcoming topic of Urban Jungle Bloggers later this month! By the way, Louise from 30smagazine did an interview with Igor and myself about our green adventure in the new sisterMAG issue. It explains what it's all about, how we started and of course how you can become an Urban Jungle Blogger too. Check it out here. I hope you like it!
Oh and I can't wait to show you the charming little villages around the Lago Maggiore later next week, it's truly beautiful here... I wish you all a great weekend from sunny Italy!
Going back to Italy
In a week from now I'll be on a plane to Italy! It has been well over a decade since my last visit and I'm super excited to go back.
When I was 16 I was very impressed by the Italian guys and Italian shoes. At 17 it was lambrusco that made my head spin in Rome. And at 19 I was even more impressed by the giant collection of contemperary art at the Venice Biennale. The national pavillions blew my mind: so many cultures and different approaches to modern art, craftsmanship and aesthetics. With my analog Minolta camera I took pictures of the art and city of Venice only. No selfies or pictures of friends as you can see.
Next week I hope to be impressed by ice cream, design and friendship as I'll be strolling around Milan during Design Week with dear blog friends.
Have you ever been to Milan? I know some of you here are Italian and even though we'll have a wonderful guide, maybe you have a recommendation of a place that we shouldn't miss in Milan? Grazie mille!
All pictures were taken by me in 1999 in Venice, Italy with my analog Minolta camera.
The Typography of Travel 22
At the occasion of Maison & Objet in Paris this weekend: a 100% French Typography of Travel today! With beautiful typography from my trips around the country:
Papier Plus paper & stationary - Paris, France
Galerie Pont-Neuf residence - Nice, France
Calligrane stationary shop - Paris, France
l'Hostellerie du Royal-Lieu hotel & restaurant - Compiègne, France
Tudo Bom fashion - Paris, France
Optique Photo Scala - Monaco, Monaco
Coiffeur Barbier barbershop - Paris, France
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here. Also, if you'd like to contribute beautiful type from your travels to this series, drop me a line!
Sunday in Canada
On Monday Megan from The Fresh Exchange wrote about the importance of the Sunday walk. I can totally relate to that! Ending the week with some fresh air and exploring before the next week begins is just wonderful.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent the last few hours of the weekend in Canada. Or that's what I saw. I've never been to Canada, but the colors, the lakes and the light of our Oise region, totally looked like Canada to me. A different kind of traveling without moving ;)
I know what I'll be doing tomorrow, and you?
My favorite trips of 2013
In 2013 I traveled quite a bit. For work, for my blog, for fun and to visit family & friends. Of course I hope to explore some more in 2014. Already in my agenda: Italy and London.
We started the year in Burgundy, France /// and spent a weekend at the beautiful Auberge du Jeu de Paume in Chantilly, France, at 10 minutes from our home
In February I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden where I stayed at the wonderful Hotel Skeppsholmen /// and I broke a new personal record of fewest days spent in Holland in one year: only 10!
Berlin was so much fun, colorful and eclectic and I met so many cool people /// and I time traveled at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace near Paris
In August I was in sunny Copenhagen, Denmark /// and also crossed the bridge to visit Malmö, Sweden
In October it was time for a long & sunny holiday in the South of France /// and a lovely weekend in Antwerp in November
The Recollection Antwerp
I love shops where it's not only about products, but also about styling and creating a unique setting. And when shop owners decide to add some greens... you know I'm in ;) Some of my favorites include HAY House in Copenhagen and La Maison Pernoise in the Provence, but this weekend I discovered a new favorite in Antwerp, called The Recollection.
In the Kloosterstraat, not far from the former RA13 store (they moved to Kleine Markt 7-9), the team of The Recollection proposes a wonderful selection of furniture, lighting, books by 't Stad leest, fashion & accessories, cosmetics by Aesop, objects, ceramics, plants and flowers. It feels like a mix of urban jungle and a cabinet of curiosities. Different from anything I'd ever seen, yet so contemporary and personal: a shop filled with objects of desire.
Unfortunately you're not allowed to take pictures inside, so I'll leave you with the (pretty) store front and a few images from their Facebook page. But I promise, it's way better in real life.
The Recollection carries brands like Maison Martin Margiela /// Petite Friture /// Piet Hein Eek /// The Gentle Factory /// Jars /// Studio Simple /// Les Rebelges /// Labels Inc. /// Nico Uytterhaege /// 't Stad Leest /// and is collected by BVVD, styled by Uber & Kosher and young talent is scouted by ♥ Studio Attenzione
The Recollection /// Kloosterstraat 54 /// 2000 Antwerpen /// +32 3 257 36 14
Open every monday, wednesday to saturday: 10:30-18:30 sunday: 12-18
The colors of Antwerp
Our weekend in Antwerp was cold and foggy but also rather colorful! For the first time ever we visited the Botanical gardens with colorful sculptures:
The Fashion Museum, MoMu, celebrates its 50th birthday with an exhibition of graduation and recent work of students, including the famous Antwerp6+1. Happy birthday Dear Academie!
A = Antwerp
I loved these Fishbone side tables in glossy acrylic by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso, available at KaaiDesign:
Colorful streetart just across the street from Juliette (delicious vegetarian quiches, salads and pies!) and the brand new HAY store.
Oh and did you ever have Iranian food? If not, I can warmly recommend to book a table at Persepolis. Super friendly service and the food is sooo good.
Also check these Antwerp highlights from last year :)
Le Palais Bulles
Visiting le Palais Bulles felt a bit like meeting a superstar who turns out to be super easy to approach, but hiding his best side from you.
My husband has been in love with bubble houses for ages, and this huge house designed & built by architect Antti Lovag is one of the superstars in its genre. Le Palais Bulles was built in the late 70s and early 80s and is now owned by fashion designer Pierre Cardin. Located at only 10 minutes from our temporary home, we drove up the hill and saw for ourselves. Unfortunately the house is closed to the public, except during a few summer concerts and corporate events, but what we saw from the outside (as seen above) was good, really good.
What struck me most:
► the color: the same pinkish earthy red as the nearby Estérel mountains ♥
► the accessibility: it's "just" another villa in a residential area
► the vastness of the entire house: it's so much bigger than I imagined (1200m²!)
► the pebble cactus plants near the fence: their simple shapes really compliment the palace
► the panoramic view over the bay of Cannes
According to Antti Lovag, it's the inside that counts, so now I'm on the lookout for tickets to any of the concerts next summer to truly experience Palais Bulles. I wonder if I could live in a home without any straight walls as it's the complete opposite of our home. Until then, there is this video of Pierre Cardin showing us around his house, filled with contemporary design pieces:
My favorite Aire de Jugy
I love traveling in my own country. The Oise region is really nice, but nothing makes me happier than driving on the Autoroute du Soleil. Ohhh... the promise of sun, la mer and pine trees in the South of France... ♥
A break at one of the many rest areas along the road makes it even more fun and relaxing. Especially if you happen to stop at Aire de Jugy. Before reaching the aire de repos, located near Chalon-sur-Saône (in the Burgundy region between Dijon & Mâcon) there's little bit of suspense:
As a kid it was always such a joy to spot these fellows along the road. On our way to the Provence last month I couldn't help but stop to take a few playful pictures. Unfortunately most mushrooms are for kids only, but they look fantastic.
I can highly recommend to make a stopover at Aire de Jugy if you'll ever travel southbound, with or without kids!
Domaine du Rayol
One of the urban jungles that we visited in the South of France is called the Domaine du Rayol. Not far from where we were married, located on the most beautiful part of the coast, lays this botanical garden focused on Mediterranean species. As you know, I'm very much into agaves, palm trees and cactus plants, so this Mediterranean garden was just my thing.
The mix of pine trees and sea smells sooo good, I wish someone would create a perfume with these scents:
There was one reason why I wanted to visit the Camargue region during our stay in the South of France: the color pink. Pink flamingos and pink salt flats. I had seen flamingos before and find them so elegant and gracious. And their color: wow! But in October many of them are already on their way to Africa so we only spotted a few smaller groups far far away. I watched them with binoculars and took a few pictures through their lenses with my camera. To my astonishment it worked:
A few miles later we spotted this one flamingo parading and showing off his (or her) beautiful feathers.
Our afternoon in the Camargue was lovely. When quiet we'd hear thousands of birds chirping and making all kinds of pretty (and weird!) sounds. The Camargue is a truly remarkable wetland area and Europe's largest river delta. If you're into horse riding (*hint hint* Rose!), this is THE place to mount a white Camargue horse and go for a ride.
In the south east of the Camargue, near Port Saint Louis, we visited the Salins de Giraud, the salt flats with their beautiful colors. Depending on the time of the year, the light and the amount of salt and halobacteria, the salt pans become pink, violet, red, yellow... or lilac:
I imagined it stronger, but it's nice and subtle. Isn't it pretty?
Fall colors in Roussillon
The best thing of a belated summer holiday, is that you have touristic places like the ochre quarries in Roussillon, all to yourself. You can just wander around and be amazed by the colors and textures without any distractions. And that's just what we did.
We both visited Roussillon several times before, but how can you not be blown away by the intensity of the colors? I thought my ugly hiking boots would become all red and yellow but the ochre powder is so fine and dusty it doesn't stick.
Next time I'd love to spend more time at the ochre conservatory and learn about ochre and other color pigments. Their program of color trainings looks pretty exciting! In art school I painted quite a lot with oil paint, pastels and acrylic, but never got to use any real pigments. It would be fun to give it a try some time...
Have you ever been to Roussillon? Did you like it?
Back home from the South of France
Our 3 weeks in the South of France were super relaxing. We swam in the Mediterranean, hiked in the Alpilles and Estérel mountains, visited some exciting urban jungles and museums, and above all: soaked up all the sunshine we could. I wish I could share scents through my blog, because the Provence and Côte d'Azur always smell so wonderful. Even in october! Pine trees, oleasters, fruity apple trees, wild rosemary, fresh figs, olive trees and of course: the Mediterranean.
And because I can't believe that the december festivities are coming fast I'll share some sun drenched pictures with you today:
I know it's super cheesy, but I just love palm trees. Of course I brought home new kinds of palm tree seeds to grow in my greenhouse. And also a bunch of cactus plants and some fig tree branches.
Every morning we woke up to new colors, from pink...
... to silver ...
... and everything in between... Bliss!
But for now this sunshine will have to do. It's back to business and from a lovely Indian summer we fall right into fall with heavy rain and storms...
I hope you all are well! Are you in full pumpkin mode already?
The Typography of Travel 21
Beautiful HAND written or HAND crafted typography spotted on some of my travels:
Dynamo @ Grand Palais - Paris, France
Kliim hairdresser - Copenhagen, Denmark
Bruno & Joel shoes - Copenhagen, Denmark
Mant - Copenhagen, Denmark
Photography museum & café - Malmö, Sweden
Recycling bin Prinzessinnengarten - Berlin, Germany
Exclusiv Golf de Raray - Raray, France
► For all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here. Also, if you'd like to contribute beautiful type from your travels to this series, drop me a line!
La Maison Pernoise
Shopping in the Provence can be very boring: lavender sachets, ceramic cicadas, table cloths with provencal prints... not the things I'd bring home. When I heard that a concept store opened in Pernes les Fontaines, in the middle of the Provence, I was intrigued. Last week I visited La Maison Pernoise and found it such a breath of fresh air.
In this old grange-atelier, Lau de Casalil and her team propose an eclectic selection of home goodies, fashion, books, kids products and much more. Everywhere you look you find new things: inspiring moodboards, new and vintage furniture, wooden cutting boards, dresses & heels, books, magazines, super cute tutus for little ballerinas, graphic wall art, oversized mirrors, bags and baskets, kids toys, bed linen and more. Starting this fall La Maison Pernoise also organizes different interior workshops.
I particularly liked that they carry creative brands like Le slip français, tyvek® Maybebags, the diamond lights by Eric Therner and textile creations by Copirates.
Obviously my husband fell in love with these vintage lamps:
If you are in the neighborhood (Avignon, Marseille, Aix en Provence), stop by for coffee & shopping at La Maison Pernoise. I'm sure you won't leave empty handed ;)
La Maison Pernoise /// 167 avenue de la Gare /// 84210 Pernes les Fontaines - France /// +33 9 81 45 04 22
Open every tuesday to saturday 10-12:30 + 14:30-19
Urban Jungle Bloggers #2
After a very warm welcome to our new blogseries last month, today we are sharing more urban jungle love. Together with my jungle buddies Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Jocelyn (The Little Room of Style) we decided upon a common theme for this month: urban jungles in our neighborhood. And as my current home is in the South of France (I'm on holiday here) I wanted to show you a Mediterranean jungle.
As you may or may not know Marseille is the European Capital of Culture in 2013. Since the last time I visited Marseille a few years ago, the city went through an interesting transformation to show off some of its assets and make it a more interesting place to visit. One of the larger changes, was the restoration of Fort Saint-Jean, a military complex from the 17th century. While the inside now houses a variety of exhibitions, the outdoor areas were landscaped by Agence APS into a garden promenade.
The Garden of Migration, as it's called, is a unique Mediterranean botanical footpath with amazing views over Marseille, the Vieux Port (the old harbor) and the sea. The 15 different mini gardens feature a mix of plants from across the Mediterranean to portray the diversity of culture, people and plants. Imagine orange trees, lots of scented herbs, fresh salads, myrtles, olive trees, sempervivum and more... of course it will take a while to become as green and "full" as the gardens were imagined by the landscapers, but it's very promising.
What I loved most: lots of locals were hanging out at Fort Saint-Jean, enjoying the view of their own city from the comfy lounge chairs and benches. Which shows that these gardens are not only for tourists, but for everyone!
After a sunny afternoon at the Mucem, I spotted this other urban jungle in the Le Panier area of Marseille:
Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series initiated by 3 bloggers: Igor (Happy Interior Blog), Jocelyn (The Little Room of Style) and Judith (JOELIX.com). Every month we share ideas to create an urban jungle through styling ideas, DIYs and green tips & tricks. You can find additional inspiration on our Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board. Want to join? Use #urbanjungle on twitter and instagram. Or let us know and we'll send you a mini-kit with all details. Let's bring some green into our homes and blogs!
Also check out Peg London and Un23Ilaria and Pinspiration and Mouseblossom and Flora Inspiro today for more jungle love!
Bonjour from down under
Bonjour from down under! No not from the other side of the world, but "just" from the South of France. We're enjoying a belated summer holiday here, amongst apple trees, sheeps and mountains. Even though it's october, it almost feels like summer with blue skies, fresh figs and that famous smell of the Provence. Life is sweeter and slower in the South and after a busy summer I'm happy to adapt to the local rhythm. I may even slow down my blogging pace ;)
Oh and please forgive me for this random cat picture... our housecat here has the brightest blue eyes that match the blue sky perfectly. But of course she was lazy and didn't want to open her eyes for me.
You can also follow me on instagram for more holiday updates if you like.
The Typography of Travel 20
Beautiful NEON typography spotted on some of my travels:
Dynamo @ Grand Palais - Paris, France
Café Wilder - Copenhagen, Denmark
Kuchi sushi - Berlin, Germany
Dalle Valle café - Copenhagen, Denmark
Bolia furniture - Malmö, Sweden
Another Nué - Copenhagen, Denmark
Dynamo @ Grand Palais - Paris, France
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here. Also, if you'd like to contribute beautiful type from your travels to this series, drop me a line!
On my walk through the King's park not far from the Malmö castle, I stumbled upon this organic community garden called Slottsträdgården (Castle Garden). And I loved it! A community garden showes so much of the character of the locals. The one I visited in Berlin is very cool and focuses on recycling and creative solutions. Near our home, most community gardens are used for growing vegetables or as a nice spot for l'apéro. The castle garden is very structured (look at the sharp green paths!), very colorful and filled with lots of different flowers and plants that looked very Nordic to me.
I overheard a few conversations from the international garden "crew". This guy was visiting his family in Ghana soon and his Japanese co-worker would miss him deeply. But he'd be back. I would too, this place is just lovely! Apparently the garden also hosts a lot of events throughout the year: concerts, workshops and plant days...
In the summer you can purchase vegetables and plants from the garden. And last weekend Sophia Callmer teached a garden photography course. Sounds fun!
And of course (we are in Sweden after all!) there is also a small kaffeehus for good coffee and a cinnamon bun... you gotta love fika!
Slottsträdgården /// Malmöhusvägen 8 /// Malmö /// Sweden
Open all year round.
Malmö Västra Hamnen
Let's go to Malmö today! After all, it's only a short ride over the Øresund bridge away from Copenhagen! Welcome to Sweden!
Both Elise and Sarah recommended me to visit the Western Harbour in Malmö: a modern part of the city which is becoming an example in urban planning, sustainability and environmentally-oriented development. So in stead of visiting the Castle and old city center, I made a walk through this neighborhood with lots of water, colorful architecture, a GREEN supermarket (so much better than our Biocoop or Naturalia!), schools, green oases, creative businesses, lots of space and of course: the sea!
The Eiffeltower of Malmö, the Malmö tower:
And there's the sea. Of course some courageous Swedes were preparing to take a plunge in the 16°C water ;)
Hay House Copenhagen
Located on the 1st and 2nd floor of a downtown Copenhagen apartment, HAY HOUSE made me fall in love with pink again. Over the past couple of years I've visited several of their stores (in Berlin and Oslo and Copenhagen and Antwerp) but I like this one best: it's spacious, the (sun!)light is great and it almost feels like a real home. I'm very curious what their soon-to-open shop in Amsterdam (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 326) will look like...
HAY's design and curated selection (like this feather mobile) is so well balanced. Their use of color and black&white is exquisite: soft, not too girly, graphic patterns, strong shapes & materials. Can you believe I left here empty-handed? Ohhh the "perks" of traveling light... but there's always the online shop!
HAY HOUSE /// Østergade 61 /// 1100 Copenhagen /// +45 42 820 820
Open every monday through friday: 10-18 saturday 10-17
mini guide Copenhagen
Some of my favorite places in Copenhagen:
► Cinnober /// Landemærket 9 /// mon-fr 11-17:30 sat 11-15 /// Independent bookshop with a lovely selection of books (graphic design, illustration, architecture, street art, fashion, industrial design), paper products and prints.
► Another Nué /// Krystalgade 3 /// mon-thu 11-18 fri 11-18:30 sat 11-16 /// Nice selection of women's fashion (V Ave Shoe Repair, Camilla Skovgaard, Vibe Johansson, ...), jewelry, shoes and handbags. Just across the street is Henrik Vibskov, also worth checking out.
► Kompa'9 /// Kompagnistræde 9 /// mon-fri 8-18 sat 10-17 /// Good (eco) coffee, a nice spot for breakfast with croissants and yogurt with granola. They also serve delicious sandwiches for lunch.
► Lego store /// Vimmelskaftet 37 /// mon-thu+sat 10-18 fri 10-19 sun 11-17 /// I love Lego, and second best after the Lego theme park in Billund is the Copenhagen store. Build your own minifig, buy a limited edition set or play with some bricks ;)
The light of Copenhagen
What struck me most in Copenhagen were not the delicious Danish pastries, not the laid back people, not the view, not the beautiful ceramics, but the blue skies and bright light. They say the light in Venice - Italy is the best, but oh boy: Copenhagen your light is amazing! I kept looking up and taking pictures, so here is a selection. Wish you a wonderful & bright weekend!
On the right is the Black Diamond, the Royal Danish Library:
Remember this "g"?
The amazing CPH view
Before taking you into downtown Copenhagen, I'll show you the view from above today!
I guess it was the exterior staircase swirling around the top of the tower like sundae ice cream, that made me convince Giova to climb to the top of the Vor Frelsers Kirke. The view over Copenhagen promised to be "amazing" from the spire. So there we went.
The first 250 steps inside a wooden winding staircase construction were small, dark and steep. We were happy to reach the outside staircase with fresh air, until we realized the tower was waving in the wind... we snapped a few pictures and with wobbling knees we started our way down to the base of the tower. Pfewie, we're such heroes ;)
90 meters and 400 steps above the ground:
The view didn't blow us away, but the young & hip Danish families celebrating a wedding at Sunday church, did. Impeccable style, great hair (Scandinavian hairdressers are the best!) and a very laid back vibe. So cool that I didn't even take a picture. Argh, next time! Although I won't climb to the top again ;)
One week ago I was here: at the Stilleben shop in Copenhagen. It was on top of my must-visit list, after visiting their former shop a few years ago. They were launching their new Memphis tableware collection and throwing a little party. Yay!
In Scandinavia people take their ceramics very seriously. In all the homes I stayed in, I found nice collections of cups, vases and bowls. Not like here in France where many homes are equipped with factory-made tableware. Last time I visited StillebenI fell in love with the bonbonnières by Julie Bonde, and this time I found their pink cones, inspired by sugar loafs, to be so pretty!
The packaging of these beautiful Scandinavisk candles immediately caught my eye, as well as those cute leather suspensions by Caroline Gomez.
A yellow surprise
Nothing makes me more curious in a city than open doors. I love peeking behind them to see what's going on: how people live, where they work and simply discover what's going on behind the pretty façades. When I spotted this classy grey staircase in the city center of Copenhagen, the bright yellow glow called my name. I had a look and took my most liked instagram picture. This yellow courtyard is such a perfect place for breakfast or a break from the city rush. Very invigorating, don't you think?
No more Danish pastries
Hi! I'm back from a short trip to Denmark and Sweden. I said goodbye to clear blue skies (and a few clouds), salty air, sweet friends, delicious Danish pastries and lots of Scandinavian style. But I brought home lots of pictures and a few hotspots to share with you in the upcoming days and weeks. And I'm back to running again, because my gear didn't fit in my little suitcase. Feels good :)
Off to Copenhagen and Malmö
After an entire summer in France, I'm flying to Copenhagen today! I visited Copenhagen during our Scandinavian roadtrip two years ago and at the time I liked it even better than Stockholm and Oslo. After exploring Stockholm earlier this year, I can't wait to see more of Copenhagen, indulge in Danish pastries and meet up with friends in kaffehusets...
I will also cross the bridge between Denmark and Sweden to visit the charming city of Malmö. Have you ever been there? Any recommendations? I know there is a Granit store that I'm looking forward to visit ;)
Oh and of course you can follow me along on instagram and twitter if you like.
Did you have a nice weekend? Here in the Oise we enjoyed a super sunny Saturday and decided to visit a random place. Along one of the roads leading to our place, is a sign that points to a castle where we had never been. We Google Streetviewed the sign, tried to see what it read (as you can see it's very pixelized), found out and drove to the Château de Raray.
We were in good company, so no matter where we'd end up, we would have a good time. Turned out: the surrounding village was cuter than expected and the very well maintained castle overlooked a huge golf course. Perfect for a nice little walk along the green, where I spotted this cool trash bin.
There were also 40 hunting dog statues, some with quirky tails:
The castle itself is used as a conference center and hotel, there's also a restaurant and sunny terrace, but above all: it's a really nice and quiet place to play golf (which we didn't).
I liked that they used the deer and dogs in the logo too:
It was a very random visit, at less than 25km from our home, that felt like a mini-vacation. Do you ever go on trips like these?
A floating hospital
When I told you that I'm fan of the weekend, I didn't know what the weekend had in store for us. Turns out I'm not a big fan of this past weekend. Even though I had lots of fun and was surrounded by my favorite people, it was also very stressful and included a visit to 2 different hospitals. So today, let's leave all of these troubles behind and go on a little tour to Portugal!
I realized I never showed you any pictures from our visit to the Gil Eannes ship last year. What used to be a floating hospital for deepsea fishers in the cold waters near Greenland, is now a museum and hostel. What I liked most about the visit, was to imagine the life of the crew on board. Can you imagine practising surgery on someone at rough sea? Or baking bread, or taking a bath?
The doctor was really handsome (and the photos of him posing with the same patients, quite hilarious).
He also was the only one that had a bathtub in his suite. Maybe that's why he looked so smooth?
The Gil Eannes ship was built in Viana do Castelo in 1955 and served up until 1984 in the seas of Greenland, Newfoundland, Canada, Angola and Norway as a hospital, as well as a flagship, icebreaker and post ship. In 1998 the Community of Viana do Castelo rescued the ship from being scrapped and entirely renovated the ship, to show the world what life on the ship was like.
The renovation is very nicely done. You can visit the chapel, kitchen, engine room, bedrooms, waiting room, bakery and the surgery room:
If you're ever near Viana do Castelo, Portugal, I warmly recommend you to visit the Gil Eannes. It's nice to travel back in time and I promise you'll have a better time in this hospital than you've ever had in a regular one. At least I know I did!
The Typography of Travel 19
Beautiful typography spotted on my recent trip to Berlin:
Alexander Technik center - Berlin, Germany
Frohen Yogurt (German pun: frohen means happy) - Berlin, Germany
Fräulein Frost (frozen yogurt) - Berlin, Germany
Fadeninsel (wool store) - Berlin, Germany
EG (Planet Modulor) - Berlin, Germany
Wostel (event and co-working space) - Berlin, Germany
Eat Burger - Berlin, Germany
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here. Also, if you'd like to contribute beautiful type from your travels to this series, drop me a line!
A playful week
When Tina and I were playing around with Google doodles for her Vive la Différence series, she mentioned that both our homes are full of toys even though we don't have kids. I guess we both have a playful spirit!
This week I stretched the limits of my playfulness by going on a little tour through the park on a miniature steam train. The Friends of Steam, organized an afternoon of free rides for everyone, which turned out to be a great dose of unexpected fun! I loved it!
And later this week I was invited to the oldest theme park in France: La Mer de Sable. Fifty years ago it started as a playground near a natural dune in the forest, where retired circus camels enjoyed a calmer lifestyle. Many Isariens visited the park during their colonies de vacances, but recently it was completely updated.
For younger children (4-12) it's a great alternative to bigger parks like Asterix and Disney: hardly any lines, it's very clean, spacious, well decorated and I never heard so many laughing kids in other parks. The stunt show with Cowboys and Indiens was also a highlight. And a big plus: no It's A Small World tunes on repeat the entire day ;) La Mer de Sable is located at 45 mins from Paris. More info here.
The palm trees at La Mer de Sable made me dream of summer holidays in the sun, chilled drinks and the sound of cicadas...
Probably I won't hear any cicadas during this upcoming Bank Holiday weekend, but it will be a festive weekend, that's for sure! Hope your weekend will be sunny & festive too!
While most of the visitors of the Paris Air Show were enjoying the buzz outside, we went inside the Museum of Air and Space for a quick visit. As I've said before, this museum is really one of my favorites ever. The atmosphere is so unique, a little retro, but in a good way. And surprise surprise: the former arrival and departures hall was entirely renovated. Including this wonderful clock:
All of you that have been reading my blog for a while, know that I love traveling. I was seventeen when I boarded my first airplane and I still think it's a little magical to go somewhere else so fast, in stead of long hours by car, bus, train or bike.
People at airports make me so curious: where are they going, why are they going there? What's their story? Who are they leaving behind? That's why I'm a total sucker for television shows like Hello Goodbye (in France and NL). I'm always amazed by how much people share in front of the camera... but that's a whole other story ;)
The renovation of the Salle des 8 Colonnes took well over a year, but wow, it's really breathtaking (watch the 360° panorama view!). It transports you right back to the 1930s. I love time traveling. Do you?
At the Paris Air Show
This weekend I spent some time in this male dominated environment called the Paris Air Show. Lots of state of the art aircrafts, engine noise and numerous drones, which I guess is the latest aeronautic hype. I was mostly drawn to the blue white and red smoke from the Patrouille de France team that performed above our heads. It had the same effect on me as fireworks... Woahhh!!! And it looks rather romantic too, don't you think?
mini guide Berlin
A few of my favorite places in Berlin:
► Factory Girl /// Auguststraße 29 /// mon-sun 10-20 /// Super nice cafe (their fresh ginger tea comes with honey and a cute felt sleeve), with very friendly staff and fresh food. Hmmm!
From your comfy chair at Factory Girl you have the perfect view on the huge JR stencil outside. Many people stop to snap a picture so you can sit here for hours and enjoy the people watching. Giova looked so tiny:
► Hüttenpalast /// Hobrechtstraße 66 /// Café, hotel and garden: enjoy campinglife in the middle of the city at this "indoor campsite" with comfortable hotel beds, breakfast and nice cafe. I blogged about it here.
► Prinzessinnengarten /// Moritzplatz - Prinzenstrasse 35-38 /// Community garden in the center of Kreuzberg with gardencafe and restaurant with homegrown fruit and veggies.
► Wostel /// Hobrechtstraße 66 /// mon-fri 9-18 /// Creative co-working + event space with furniture from the 30s to 60s.
► Voo store /// Oranienstraße 24 /// Concept store with fashion & design objects and a coffee shop by Companion Coffee. Really liked their selection of fragrances like Henrik Vibskov and Carven...
► Street Food Thursday /// Markthalle9 Eisenbahnstraße 42 /// every thursday 17-22 /// Eclectic food from around the globe: every thursday night at Markthalle9. Great atmosphere, friendly chefs and delicious food. And frozen yogurt from Mr. Whippy of course! I blogged about it here.
► Fräulein Frost /// Friedelstr. 39 /// mon-fri 13-late sat-sun 12-late /// Delicious homemade (bio & vegan) ice cream and cafe (with terrace!). In Mitte you can also get some delicious frozen yogurt at GoodQ. Hmmm!
► Do you read me? /// Auguststraße 28 /// mon-sat 10-19:30 /// A wonderful selection of magazines from around the world... try leaving this store empty-handed ;) Nearby are many art galeries, small design and fashion boutiques or go for a dance at Clärchens Ballhaus (on sunday afternoons).
► Modulor /// Prinzenstraße 85 /// mon-fri 9-20 sat 10-18 /// A.k.a. material heaven: at Modulor you can get any kind of material for your DIY project: foam rubber, wooden balls, glass, bamboo, paper, aluminium, silver. Very basic, in any color, size and shape. There's also a furniture shop (with Hay, Muuto, Wilkhahn, Minimum...), a catering supply store, print shop, tools & machine rental service, workshops and more... heaven!
► Flamingo fresh food bar /// Neustädtische Kirchstraße 8 /// mon-fri 7:30-18 /// Great place for a quick lunch, theirs soupes are delicious (and fresh!).
► Westberlin /// Friedrichstrasse 215 (near Checkpoint Charlie) /// mon-fri 8:30-19 sat-sun 10-19 /// Coffee & Mediashop, which means lots of good coffee, fresh drinks & sandwiches plus magazines, books and free wifi. And lots of nice designer chairs (Muuto, J110 windsor chairs...).
► Tempelhof Park /// U-bahn Tempelhof (simply look for the "empty" spot on the city map) /// open from sunrise to sunset /// This abandoned airport in the middle of the city is the perfect place for a picknick, some community gardening, kiteboarding or jogging. Or simply for a nice walk on the former runway, like I did with Lena. You can actually see the horizon here!
What are your favorite places in Berlin? Any recommendations?
In the air
After a crazy week, I'm more than ready for the weekend. Yesterday I spoke in front of 200 people in the Horse Museum in Chantilly about blogging in the tourism industry and I think I had reached my maximum dose of craziness by then.
What are your plans for the weekend? I'll be unwinding at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget where it's all about aircrafts, aeronautics and space. I'm not all that interested in airplanes and such, but the Museum of Air and Space is absolutely one of my favorite museums ever. It has this retro interior with lots of old aircrafts, vintage mannequins, glossy linoleum floors and dreamy air balloons. And it's very photogenic with all the bleu-blanc-rouge. I wrote about it last year, if you'd like to read more.
Wish you a wonderful weekend!
On the last day of my stay in Berlin, I met for tea with the lovely Lena from Minamoka. While sipping gingertea, she told me that we were actually at a very special hotel. A hotel where you can sleep in a real caravan. I was so surprised! Of course! This was the place that I saw in some magazine a few years ago and that I couldn't find when preparing my trip to Berlin. I even asked around on different travel forums, but without any result. So Hüttenpalast it is!
Lena asked if we could visit the hotel and the manager was kind enough to show us around. He told us they were actually building a second adjacent "campsite" to receive a few more guests. Not too many, because they'd like to keep a more personal contact with the guests.
So, if you want to go camping this summer but prefer a really comfy hotel bed plus the urban Berlin lifestyle, Hüttenpalast is the place to go!
What do you think? Would you consider sleeping here?
Oh by the way, the Hut Palace also has a few "regular" hotel rooms ;o)
My Boarding Pass
Earlier this week, my maptastic friend Anne from Prêt-à-Voyager featured me in her wonderful BOARDING PASS series. I'm so honored to be in company of some amazing fellow travelers like Sivan Askayo, Pia Jane Bijkerk and Elodie Rambaud. Check it out here, I included images, animated gifs and a little video. Merci beaucoup Anne!
And in other "news", I finally joined the Instagram community. It felt like I missed out on so much stuff (Giova, Jillian and Elodie definitely convinced me too) and I'm discovering so many cool things.
Amongst the people I follow are quite a bunch of Dutchies and to see the dinner food pics popping up at 4:30PM just after our goûter, made me smile. Are you on Instagram? Any people that you can recommend me to follow?
Have a wonderful sunny weekend!
the colors of Berlin
While flipping through the photos I made in Berlin last week, I realized that:
► almost half of them included beautiful type... oops!
► I captured lots of blue skies... after a long dark winter, I guess that's what I needed
► Berlin is even greener than I remembered
► there was color everywhere, hence this post :o)
On the Oise
This weeked, I did something that I've been wanting to do for over a decade. Do you see the above picture? That's the view from our home: we live along the riverside of the Oise. Every day we see transport ships, rowing boats and swans go by but we had never made a boat trip on the Oise, ever!
During this l'Oise Verte et Bleue weekend (an event to promote outdoor activities in our region) we joined about 50 Isariens for a tour on a small péniche. The absolute highlight was to see our home from the water. From the inside we have a clear view over the river, but seen from the water it is actually pretty much hidden behind all the greenery:
We passed by the transport ships...
...and the rowing boats (look at that happy Weimaraner dog!):
and the swans:
Now all I want to do is take a boat and make a long trip: over the Oise to the Seine (through Paris of course!) then to Burgundy and its famous Canal, onto the Saône... to the South of France... just dreaming out loud ;o)
Have you ever been on a boat trip?
A few of my favorite quotes from speakers at The Hive, the European blog conference, that I attended last weekend. As twitter was buzzing, I also added some interesting tweets, that spoke to me.
My overall highlights of the weekend in Berlin were the more personal conversations that I had with blogfriends, old and new. Sharing ideas & experiences with so many different people is empowering, inspiring and so much fun. Merci!
Quotes from: sisterMAG - Katrina Tan Conte - Tina Fussell - Marlous Snijder - Desiree Groenendal - Anne Ditmeyer
kilometers of handsewn orange+pink beehive garlands by Lauren Lou Bate /// photo of Betahaus staircase by The Hive /// handwritten words by me
Street Food Thursday in Berlin
I wish I were in Berlin tonight so that I could visit Street Food Thursday at Markthalle9 in Kreuzberg again. On my first night in Berlin last week I walked there from my apartment and really really enjoyed it. The relaxed athmosphere, the friendly vendors, the good looking food booths, but above all: the delicious food!
Every Thursday night, young chefs & food enthusiastics propose a large variety of eclectic food from around the globe. In the markethall, built in 1891, you can try anything from smoked bbq, gluten-free bakings, Korean kimchi, English pies, Spanish tapas, Mexican tostadas, fish tacos, cheese platters, Vietnamese Bánh mì to French crêpes with cidre... I had some delicious vegan springrolls, a fresh Thai salad and a mango lassi and bumped into my blogfriend Eleanor from e.m.papers who also loved it here. Fun!
The food was so good that I ate everything before taking any pictures. Hmmm!
Make sure to arrive with an empty stomach, bring some friends and try as much as you and your appetite will like. There are over 20 food booths, so it's rather difficult to choose...
For dessert I had a frozen yogurt (of course!) from Mr Whippy... although the Philly cheesecakes by Five Elephant looked very tempting too...
Street Food Thursday /// Markthalle9 /// Eisenbahnstraße 42 /// Berlin Kreuzberg
Every Thursday: 5PM - 10PM
I'm still on a high from my trip to Berlin. I met so many wonderful people and saw so many amazing things that I'm a bit overwhelmed. Probably I'll need a few days to get back into the groove!
Flying from Paris to Berlin looked so different from above than flying from Paris to Stockholm:
Yesterday I flew from here...
Very happy to be back home! But I haven't quite landed yet ;o)
I'm in Berlin!
While you are reading this I'm in Berlin, Germany! I'm exploring the city and this weekend I'll be attending The Hive - the European blog conference. I was there last year as well and can't wait to catch up with many fellow bloggers & friends. If you're at the Betahaus too: I'm wearing my pink glasses, come and say hi! ;o) And if not: I hope you'll check back next week as I'll share some highlights of my stay here. Liebe Grüße aus Berlin!
I've been in Berlin before, if you like you can read more about it here and here and here!
The Typography of Travel 18
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Ecole Saint Joseph (school) - Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France
Mariapaviljoen (restaurant) - 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Grocery store Tetrel - Paris, France
Het Rooie Leeuwke - Den Bosch, The Netherlands
Picasso (restaurant) - 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Café Bar - San Francisco, Galicia, Spain
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here. Also, if you'd like to contribute beautiful type from your travels to this series, drop me a line!
Brabant Service Station
Not far from where I grew up and the nearest bigger city you can find one of the oldest petrol stations of the Netherlands: Brabant Service Station. When the entire area was restructured, the classic building from 1933 faced demolition. But somehow the city council "splurged" 800K€ on moving the gas station 55 meters from its original spot and the building was saved.
I only knew this architectural gem as a gloomy hangout covered in graffiti, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that it looks so good today!
You can even have a look inside, as Maxx Floors set up their new showroom here. Apparently the interior features some beautiful art-deco details...
Matisse cutting into color
Situated along the highway between our home in France and our family in Holland, is this lovely museum: the Musée Départemental Matisse. Both my husband and I are big afficionados of the work of Henri Matisse. Many years ago we visited his home in Nice (turned into a wonderful museum) as well as the famous Rosaire chapel in Vence, South of France. But, as Matisse was born in the North of France, we are lucky to be able to pop by the Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambrésis every once in a while.
We went there last week and it was (again) such a breath of fresh air. The current exhibition shows Matisse's paper cut-outs that were not used in his finished works. I love the "perfect" proportions of these shapes in gouached paper and the book covers on show were also really awesome. Seeing Matisse's work always moves me: it has this rare quality and sensitive handwriting that really speaks to me. It's hard to capture it in words or photos: you should really see & feel for yourself :o)
Unfortunately no photography allowed at the exhibition (as opposed to the permanent collection) but these few phone pics will give you a little preview of what's there to see.
So next time you'll drive from Amsterdam to Paris or vice versa, make sure to stop by the Musée Matisse. It's worth it!
Musée Matisse /// Palais Fénelon /// 59360 Le Cateau-Cambrésis /// +33 (0)3 59 73 38 03
Open every day except Tuesday: 10AM - 6PM
The Typography of Travel 17
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Le Rex Club - Paris, France
De Boshoek (private home) - Vught, The Netherlands
Les Bains des Docks (aquatic center) - Le Havre, France
Polkagriskokeri (candy factory) - Gränna, Sweden
Kusine Bodil (toy store) - Copenhagen, Denmark
Het Rood Hekken (bakery) - Den Bosch, The Netherlands
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9 and part 10 and part 11 and part 12 and part 13 and part 14 and part 15 and part 16!
Spending a long weekend in Holland with family and friends was really nice (and sounds like such a cliché, but it's true!). I also spent some time at the hospital... or better: at the recently opened restaurant Mariapaviljoen in the old sanatorium in Den Bosch.
Around the corner of where we used to live, you can now have eten+drinken (food+drinks) in this new old place designed by Studio Boot. Over 40 years ago my aunt was treated in one of these hospital rooms, but today the staff of Mariapaviljoen takes very good care of its "patients" too.
The modern interior contains a large collection of vintage medical equipment, skeletons, canvas emergency stretchers, folding screens, anatomy posters, and also this IXXI flamingo poster:
Hmmm always coca cola...
Spacious & bright makes you feel better:
With places like Eetbar Dit, Dit Ook and the new Mariapaviljoen, Den Bosch (in the south of the Netherlands) is so much hipper than the city that I used to know. A nice surprise! And an extra bonus: drinks and food are affordable: I payed about 2 euros for my diet coke, in stead of the regular 4 or even 5 here in Paris...
Mariapaviljoen /// Burgemeester Loeffplein 70 /// 5211RX Den Bosch /// +31 (0)73 303 1500
Open every Thursday through Sunday: 11AM - :o)
Les carrières de Montigny
When we ride 50km south-west from our place, we are in the middle of Paris. And if we ride 50km up north-east, we're in the middle of nowhere. Well almost but not quite. Near a small village called Machemont, there is this huge stone quarry site called Montigny.
As of the 19th century stone was excavated from Montigny and transported (via the Oise river) to Paris and beyond. That's why many Haussmannien houses in Paris are built with limestone from Montigny!
Workers used their environment to its full potential by digging their homes directly into the rocks. These troglodyte cave houses stay at a constant 12°C, which makes them convenient all year round.
Les carrières de Montigny are best known for their function during the WWI: the French army resided in the cavehouses and even opened an army hospital. Up until the 70s families actually lived here and today an Association is taking care of its renovation and nomination for inscription on the World Heritage list of Unesco.
We visited during the Nature & Garden fair, which was cute because the crew and exhibitors were very enthusiastic. The man of the Mushroom Truck showed us in detail how they used to grow mushrooms in the quarry. Unfortunately the subterranean galleries and tunnels were not open to the public that day, so we need to come back soon and discover what everybody is so excited about!
On our way back home we passed by this Manoir. The gently sloping countryside of the Oise is so pretty:
Inside la Sucrerie
Last week I showed you some pictures of the Sugar Factory in Francières. The weather was rather gloomy and like for our first visit, I photographed in black & white. Today I'll take you inside where it's a little bit more colorful (but also colder than outside!).
I really liked the color of the walls in the factory's chapel. It looks rather contemporary, but old pictures of the chapel before the renovation, show exactly the same colored walls! The minty blue ( or how would you call this color? ) goes perfectly well with these tiles:
In the factory's school they used a slightly different shade of minty green/blue. I never knew it used to be such a fashionable color!
In the main factory, which now houses a permanent exhibition on today's agricultural industry in France, the architects cleverly re-used this color:
Minty green/blue, jungle green, toothpaste green, jade, aqua blue... What would you call this color?
Weekend tip: la Brocante
My favorite season started: brocante season! Visiting a flea market on Sunday is like a national sport here in France. After visiting numerous marchés aux puces, I must admit that I became quite addicted to the art of junk hunting. It's a nice opportunity to visit new places in the Oise, discuss (or negotiate!) with locals and maybe find that one thing that I've always wanted but didn't know I needed.
The best online resource to find out if there's a marché aux puces going on somewhere nearby is vide-greniers.org. The site really hurts my eyes, but has very up-to-date info on brocantes all accross France. You simply select the region or département of your choice and off you go. I always prefer the vide-greniers (empty your attic) over the brocantes, because it's more exciting when there are less professionals selling their overpriced antiques. Simply strolling around the streets, watching people and their old stuff... aahhh I love Sunday mornings!
My best find ever was a pair of near new Ann Demeulemeester riding boots for 10 euros. Unfortunately they were too small for me, so they were sent off to a lucky Australian eBayer...
Do you like visiting flea markets? And what's your favorite brocante treasure?
The Typography of Travel 16
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Belloy et Cie (seeds & grains) - Estrées-Saint-Denis, France
Design Panoptikum (museum of extraordinary objects) - Berlin, Germany
Le Mon Bar - Montbard, France
Comédie Musicale theatre - Paris, France
Grocery store Tetrel - Paris, France
Snickarbacken (concept store) - Stockholm, Sweden
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9 and part 10 and part 11 and part 12 and part 13 and part 14 and part 15!
The Typography of Travel 15
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Garage du Chateau - Vineuil-Saint-Firmin, France
Stalands furniture - Stockholm, Sweden
La Bellevilloise (event space) - Paris, France
Comptoir des Archives - Paris, France
To Be Perfectly Frank exhibition at Svenskt Tenn - Stockholm, Sweden
Miss J - Stockholm, Sweden
► To see all previous editions of The Typography of Travel, click here.
An afternoon at the race course
My stepdaughter Rose is a so-called Horse Girl. She has been riding horses for over 12 years and now that she lives with us, she really misses her dear Dutch Warmblood. As we live at 10 minutes from Horse Capital Chantilly, we had to catch one of the race courses.
On this overcast (and freezing!) saturday we found ourselves a bench at the stands near the race course. As the 3-minute race started, gamblers cheered their favorite horse. While we appreciated the lean long bodies of the race horses with names like Jason Bourne and Amuse Gueule, Rose was glowing with enthusiasm ;o)
I must admit I didn't quite understand the game of betting, neither do I understand why the jockeys wear these ridiculous outfits with stars and weird color combos...
But it's really impressive to watch the horsepower and to see how the jockeys seem to stand still on a horse in movement.
Have you ever attended a race like this? And did you like it?
To kick off this week I wanted to show you the cool lighting in my home away from home in Stockholm. In the public areas designer & architect trio Claesson Koivisto Rune decided upon some funky lamps, like the Sticky lamps by Chris Kabel for DROOG:
The artistic theme uniting the hotel and its facilities is fog. It relates to the surrounding water & marine historical past. It somehow also makes sense as the hotel is central yet secluded. And very quiet too.
One of the lamps in my room (and those amazing Pool curtains again):
Sometimes unpractical design is cool. Such as this pebble in the wash basin. It is removable so that you can also wash your hands without splashing water everywhere ;o)
Love those oversized wooden lampshades by David Trubridge:
Ten reasons to stay at Hotel Skeppsholmen in Stockholm:
► a central, yet secluded location (you're staying on an island!), at only 15 minutes from the city center
► the seaview
► very comfortable beds by Duxiana (traditional Swedish bedding)
► a delicious breakfast buffet ( no individual portions of butter and marmelade here! It feels like you're in your family kitchen with homemade bread & fresh juices )
► a great hotel restaurant called Långa Raden (I need to come back to try it! Everyone told me it was really good)
► quirky lighting everywhere
► Byredo toiletries and signature scent (the entire hotel smells lovely!)
► your neighbor is the Moderna Museet
► very friendly staff, dressed by Swedish fashion brand Acne
► the hotel is eco-labeled
The Typography of Travel 14
For this 14th edition of my Typography of Travel column, Clara from Tastesheriff is joining me with this amazing pink Konditorei signage she photographed! Merci Clara!
Expressen Newspaper - Stockholm, Sweden
Svenskt Tenn (interior design) - Stockholm, Sweden
Nybergs Konditori - Stockholm, Sweden
Story Hotel - Stockholm, Sweden
Stalands furniture - Stockholm, Sweden
Moderna Museet - Stockholm, Sweden
Pubologi (gastropub) - Stockholm Sweden
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9 and part 10 and part 11 and part 12 and part 13!
Come into my room...
Come into my room... at Hotel Skeppsholmen! Last week I introduced you to my island getaway in Stockholm, and today I'll show you around my room. From the window above I had an amazing view of the Stockholm skyline...
The sun shining through the curtains designed by the famous Swedish designers Claesson Koivisto Rune. Actually the entire interior design was done by these talented designers. Their famous designs were everywhere, from the lamps above my pillow...
...to the wardrobe cabinet they designed for Asplund. I also really like the typefont used for all Skeppsholmen communication, like room numbers, hotel signage and stationary. The sign in my room told the story of Hotel Skeppsholmen and The Long Row... At times in history there slept at least 10 men in my room!
I love how the print of this chair (called Metropolis) reminds me of maps... and the Map Design course by my friend Anne that I'm starting today... it promises to be so cool!
The office desk with a W08 task lamp by CKR and two Marimekko brochures I picked up at their SoFo store.
And oh those curtains... I like them so much! They are called Pool and have this "pattern" of water in a pool, translated into a graphic pattern of small and smaller dots. Really pretty!
It snowed overnight... It wasn't extremely cold when I was in Stockholm, but usually in the winter you can ice skate just outside the hotel! The water is so pure in Stockholm that you can swim here in the summertime! I wouldn't do that in Paris ;o)
mini shopping guide Stockholm
Some of my favorite places in Stockholm:
► Silververket /// Skånegatan 79 /// Silversmith material & jewelery maker tools & accessories /// mon-fri 11-18 sat 11-16
► Konsthantverkarna /// Södermalmtorg 4 /// Shop & gallery of contemporary crafts founded in 1951 /// mon-fri 11-18 sat 11-16
► Pärlans Konfektyr Stockholm /// Nytorgsgatan 38 /// Toffee caramels paradise! /// mon-fri 11-18 sat 11-17 sun 12-16
► Coffice ///
► Boqueria /// Jakobsbergsgatan 17 /// Very tasty tapas & seafood restaurant /// open: check website (and book a table, it's always very busy!)
► Papercut /// Krukmakargatan 24 /// Magazine (&book & stationary) heaven (Kinfolk, Frankie, Cereal, Acne Paper, ...) /// If you love brands like A.P.C., Isabel Marant, Jerôme Dreyfuss, Helmut Lang etc. also hop by neighbors Nitty Gritty /// mon - fri 11-18.30 sat 11-17 sun 12-16
Pärlans Konfektyr Stockholm
Usually I'm more into very contemporary places, but when it's done as well as at Pärlans, I'm more than happy to make an exception. Even more so if it comes with toffee caramels, sweet music and a fashionable staff. Pärlans is a cute little shop in Söder, Stockholm, where they make and sell delicious caramels. And serve great coffee too.
One of the things I realized when visiting several smaller craft shops in Stockholm, is that Swedes really like translating old fashioned traditions into 2013. Lisa, Pärlans' owner, told me she was inspired on a trip to Japan. The Japanese love candy. Back in Sweden she started trying different recipes and her friends really enjoyed the caramels she made.
She did some research and found out the caramel toffee rose to fame in the 1930s, the decade of the Lindy Hop dance. As a fervent Lindy Hop dancer, Lisa decided to open a caramel store and asked her swing dancer friends to help her make and sell the sweet candy. It became a huge success. Once I tasted a kola with ginger, I got it: these caramels are divine! Hmmm
Besides a very cute blog, Pärlans also published a beautiful book with stories and delicious recipes:
Through the window you can see how the caramel toffees are made & wrapped. It reminded me of Gränna in Sweden, where the famous Swedish peppermint candy comes from.
Oh and you should absolutely take a look at this lovely video by Ignant Travel. It's so sweet:
Pärlans Konfektyr Stockholm /// Nytorgsgatan 38 /// 116 40 Stockholm /// +46 (0) 86607010
Open monday through friday 11AM - 6PM, saturday 11AM - 5PM, sunday 12PM - 4PM
My island getaway in Stockholm
When planning my trip to Stockholm I was looking for a calm & inspiring place to stay. Conference days are long and though being among awesome people is wonderful, a place to recharge my batteries was important. I remembered the Skeppsholmen island from my first trip to Stockholm in 2011 when we visited the Moderna Museet. We walked around the island, at only 15 minutes from the city center, and appreciated the sea view.
(photo by Hotel Skeppsholmen)
When I was invited* to stay at Hotel Skeppsholmen it sounded like a great place. But little did I know that it would be so very perfect. I arrived at the hotel in the early evening and was welcomed by two (real!) ice sculptures and candle light along the pathway. The guy at the front desk was all smiles and very helpful. Oh and he was, like the entire staff, dressed by Swedish fashion brand Acne!
Walking to my room was intruiging: the corridor was really long and painted in a melancholic grey color, which appeared very Swedish to me. Actually the building of Hotel Skeppsholmen was built from 1699 with bits & pieces of ruined castles from the countryside and was called The Long Row. Over the years, it housed Navy staff, was used as a hospice for poor & plaque infected people, and then again was used by the Navy as offices, warehouses and apartments.
The hotel consists of 2 long buildings, so if you're staying in the second building like I was, you hop outside and use your keycard to get across.
As The Long Row buildings are part of Sweden's heritage, the entire interior is removable without deteriorating the original parts of the building. The walls in the breakfast room for example, are made of glass panels. Clever solution, right?
Breakfast at Hotel Skeppsholmen is really good. It includes beautiful homemade breads, traditional Swedish crisp bread, delicious granola & muesli, fresh juices, bacon & scrambled eggs & sausages ( presented in beautiful Le Creuset cookware! ) and of course homemade kannelbullar <3
Everything I needed to start a beautiful day in Stockholm!
Hope you like it so far! There is much more I want to share with you, so check back soon as I'll show you my room and some Swedish design elements from the hotel...
* I stayed at Hotel Skeppsholmen free of charge, but all words and images are my own. I had a wonderful stay :o)
A paper globe
This weekend I got the flue. After lots of sleep, painkillers and oranges, I felt a little better and made this paper globe. We saw several of these beautiful paper globes in Stockholm and when Elodie ( of the pretty flower & decoration blog Madame Love ) sent me a link to Joachimesque's Le Paper Globe, I couldn't wait to make one.
I have been dreaming of a white globe for a few years now, because I like the idea of coloring all the countries in the world that I've visited. Even though I have no particular intention of "coloring" the entire world ;o)
The nice thing about this globe is that you don't need any glue. It fits together perfectly. I didn't have any sturdy paper in stock and simply printed it on 90grams paper. And it worked!
You can find the template & assembling instructions of this globe right here.
A walk around Stockholm
Flying to a tropical island in the middle of the winter to get a boost of sunshine & vitamines (and additional tan!) may sound attractive. But to me visiting Stockholm, with temperatures at around 0°C had the same effect. Except for that tan of course. The extremely blue skies reflected by the water and the fresh frosty air were just what I needed to keep me going until spring.
The sun shining through the windows of the National Museum, on the last day of a beautiful exhibition called Slow Art, about contemporary fine craftsmanship:
Winter in Stockholm means shorter days, from about 8:30AM to 3:30PM, which made the blue tones of the sky change fast...
But don't worry, Stockholm by night is almost just as pretty:
And the best thing was that I didn't feel unsafe even once. Or well maybe 1 time, when I saw the outlines of this homeless fox statue in the dark... creepy but funny when I saw it again the next morning :o)
I'm on cloud fine
Pfewy, I'm slowly getting back on track after a few wonderful days in Stockholm. I met so many amazing artists, bloggers and other creatives, that I'm still buzzing!
When looking down from my plane from Paris to Stockholm, I saw some familiar silhouettes and realized we were flying above Holland! It reminded me of the Map Design Course that my friend Anne from Prêt-à-Voyager will be teaching in a few weeks. Of course I enrolled (and so should you!) and I can't wait to see what we all come up with!
I took over 900 photos (oops!) in Stockholm, so please check back soon for posts about my beautiful hotel in Stockholm, cool business card designs by fellow Meettheblogger attendees, my favorite spots ( I'm completely smitten with one of them! ), beautiful Swedish typography and cool lamps that I spotted across the city.
I'm in Stockholm!
While you are reading this I'm in Stockholm, Sweden! I'm exploring the city and this weekend I'll be attending the Meettheblogger conference. I can't wait to meet many fellow bloggers & friends and to find out what Swedish design has to offer during Stockholm Design Week. I hope you'll check back next week as I'll share some highlights of my stay here. Hälsningar till alla från Stockholm!
I've been in Sweden before, if you like you can read more about it here and here.
A whipped weekend
In French Chantilly also means whipped cream. So, besides the Chateau and the horses, that's what Chantilly is known for as well.
Last weekend, Framboise invited* me & my husband for a romantic get-away in a brand new hotel in Chantilly, called l'Auberge du Jeu de Paume. I think it was the first time that we spent the night somewhere so close to our home (at only 10 minutes) and it felt a bit weird. But the venue made it all worth it.
In complete opposite to our all-white bedroom at home, our Suite looked like a classic French fairy tale: with a toile de Jouy headboard, mirrors in Murano glass and Musée Condé reproductions everywhere.
Highlight of the weekend was a treatment in the luxurious Spa. I didn't get a simple exfoliation... but a "Crème de Chantilly wrap". In other words: I got covered in whipped cream! Cleopatra bathed in donkey milk to hydrate her skin and that's exactly what whipped cream does as well. The application of the cream feels sensational: it's very cold and milky. It made my skin feel super soft & smooth.
My favorite decor in the hotel were the original (!) 18th century wooden panels with monkey scenes, lent by the Musée Condé. They are over-the-top kitschy (see first photo), but the monkeys' faces are hilarious!
The hotel is a located at 30 minutes from Paris and at a stone's throw from the Château, its park and the Grand Stables:
Auberge du Jeu de Paume /// 4 rue du Connétable /// 60500 Chantilly /// +33 (0)3 44 65 50 00.
* We stayed at the hotel and received a Spa treatment free of charge, but all words and images are my own. We had a fabulous stay :o)
When traveling there are so many things that catch my eye, like beautiful typography, pretty street art or bold colors. Here are two unexpected drawings I liked: above a comic drawing by Got & Pétillon in the French capital of comic books: Angoulême.
And below the beautiful traces of the sea on a beach in Galicia, Spain. What do you like to spot when you travel?
"Seriously, aren't you bored with sheep?", Le Baron Noir by Got et Pétillon:
The Typography of Travel 13
Inspired by this Neon post by Plenty of Colour, here is a bunch of beautiful NEON typography spotted on some of my travels:
Adeline Klam boutique - Paris, France
WoWo children's clothing - Paris, France
Modified Spaces @ Verbeke Foundation - Kemzeke, Belgium
Over Here @ Verbeke Foundation - Kemzeke, Belgium
Photo store - Paris, France
Mood restaurant bar lounge - Paris, France
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9 and part 10 and part 11 and part 12!
A Bright Boost
While my part of the world is covered in snow, I long for sun and colors. Hope you need it too, because that's what I'll show you today: a few colorful snapshots from sunny Spain.
The end of the day in Muros...
Woooshhh, the wind blowing through the waves:
Feels good to get a bright boost, right? I'll be in Stockholm next week, so I better be prepared for more snow! Are you in need of some sun & colors too? Or are you more than happy with all the snow?
The Chateau of Chantilly seems to be the favorite spot of many fellow Isariens. All the people I've met for Styloise mentioned it. Chantilly is actually Versailles' lesser known little brother and is at only 10 minutes from our home.
We come here often for a walk around the famous racecourse or through the primal forests. Or we visit the Musée Condé with it's extensive art collection ( second after the Louvre! ) and the precious library. I can't get enough of the portrait paintings in the portrait gallery: the faces are so quirky, detailed and unique!
Walking around the racecourse, where many kiters practise their skills, is always fun. If you love horses ( like Rose! ) you should definitely visit Chantilly, as it's known as the Horse Capital. The Living Horse museum is famous for its horse shows and its expertise in Haute-Ecole training.
Chantilly covered in snow is extra magical... and even a bit romantic:
Some Oise news!
A while ago I was invited to meet Framboise, the mascot of my region in France: the Oise. She knew my blog and wondered if I would like to share some of my adventures on the blog Paroles d'Isariens Bavards, "blog of talkative people from the Oise". And to become an ambassador of the Oise. Sounds like fun, right?
I can't wait to go back here ( and to go inside this time! ) and to find out if they make cheese here, as I've never eaten a Oise cheese in 10 years... and... and...
French readers can find me here, but of course I'll continue to share my stories here on my blog as well.
The Typography of Travel 12
Beautiful BAKERY / PASTRY SHOP / BISCUIT FACTORY typography spotted on some of my travels:
Heudebert biscottes factory - Augy, France
Bread & pastry shop - Burgos, Spain
Biscuit manufacturer Mistral - Semur-en-Auxois, France
Bakery - Semur-en-Auxois, France
Bread & Pastry shop - Bayonne, France
Générale Biscuit France - Augy, France
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9 and part 10 and part 11!
Furry friends from Burgundy
Just a few pictures of the furry animals I "met" last week in Burgundy!
Two very friendly and fluffy donkeys with the softest ears ever:
Most Charolais cows were very shy and ran away as soon as I approached them ( which my husband thought was very hilarious ).
These young ones were curious at first, then joggled away through the mud...
Les anis de Flavigny
Today let me take you to the village where the movie "Chocolat" was filmed. You know that movie with Johnny Depp & Juliette Binoche that you can't watch without craving something sweet?
When you walk along the streets of this (very pretty!) medieval village you smell something sweet. It's the anise & sugar used for the famous bonbons that are produced in the Abbey. I came here first when I was a little girl. Both my sister and I got car sick on our way in, but we calmed down as soon as we tasted a Flavigny bonbon.
When we visited the village last week, everything was closed for the holidays, including the factory and the cute little boutique. But gladly you can buy a little tin of Flavigny candy in many places around the world! They come in 10 different natural flavors: anise, of course, blackcurrant, lemon, orange blossom, ginger, tangerine, mint, liquorice, rose and violet. Hmmm!
Oh and for a mouth watering recipe for anise ice, inspired by the Flavigny bonbons, head over to Tarte Taart An ( English version here ).
Have you ever tasted one of these Flavigny bonbons?
Bzzz Bzzz from Burgundy
If there would be one profession I would ever "consider", it would be beekeeper. Being surrounded by the zooming "bzzz" of my bees and eating honey, Royal Jelly & pollen every day sounds bliss. I would have to work hard, because from what I know, it's quite a lot of work to be a good beekeeper.
Of course I would also LOVE to design some pretty honey packaging for my honey! It's one of my dream assignments as a graphic designer.
Ever since watching "The secrets of the beehive" on France5, I have been spotting more & more beehives. And to my surprise many of the beehive boxes are multi colored! Another reason for me to love this profession!
On another beehive note: remember I went to The Hive last year? The Hive is a European blog conference and a truly buzzing place where bloggers meet, share and learn. Yesterday I bought my ticket for The Hive 2013 on May 25th and 26th in Berlin. Will I see you there?
A few days in Burgundy
It feels great to be back after the holidays! I hope 2013 has been good to you so far? We spent a few days in Burgundy to relax and recharge our batteries. I'm ready for a busy & exciting new year!
The Burgundy region feels very familiar to me. I celebrated my first birthday here (don't remember it of course...) and came back very very often. To me it's like the Frenchest part of France: the cute green hills, the typical rural villages, le Canal de Bourgogne, the spoken language ( without any strong dialect ), the abbeys, castles and Roman churches... and of course the lovely wines & cheeses!
I even found my dream van, for sale at only 800 euros! Look at these pretty Citroën HY's:
We were being watched:
(it's actually a street art project by Le Cyklop at Semur-en-Auxois)
And watched down a window of the pretty Fontenay Abbey:
And saw this oil painting... also known as the reflection in the Fontenay fountain:
Have you ever been to Burgundy? How did you like it?
2012 was a great year for traveling. We started the year in Bretagne and traveled by night train to Perpignan that same month. I was in London in march and went to Berlin in may where I met so many cool people at The Hive.
We also spent a few days in Provence. <3
I prepared for our trip to Spain & Portugal by looking back at previous travels to Sweden, Iceland (one two tree), Egypt, Norway, Corsica, Greece and Denmark.
In Portugal I made my first little video:
Of course I went to Holland several times, including a visit to Hello Etsy at PHE in Eindhoven. In november I spent a weekend in Antwerp and discovered the Verbeke Foundation.
On all of these travels I spotted tons of interesting letter signs & typography that I featured in the Typography of Travel series.
Closer to home I started "Styloise", to discover more about my home region, the Oise in France, through the eyes of its people. I met some very interesting people by doing this and am looking forward to meeting more fellow Isariens in 2013!
In springtime I styled an image for Llamas Valley and our home was the decor for a photoshoot. The result went live in october when our home was featured in IKEA family live magazine. A wonderful reward after years of hard work, which I "revisited" in my Vintage Sapique series.
I really enjoyed preparing more things in the kitchen and styling the (simple) desserts I made.
On a more personal note: my husband and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary and soon we will be 3 living at Studio Sapique, as Rose is coming to live with us for 6 months during her internship in Paris!
(click on the images to go to the related blogposts)
Like many, we went for a family walk on xmas day. Not far away from where I grew up, lays a lake with a small island, called the Iron Man ( after the machine that dug it at the end of the 19th century ). I have fond memories of this place: swimming in the middle of the summer, ice skating on the frozen lake. And let's not forget the Italian ice cream cart...
Despite the drizzle, it was nice to make new memories here!
A ridiculous bike trip
Last week I did something quite ridiculous: I joined au5v on their annual bicycle trip around the neighborhood to see the local xmas illuminations. That doesn't sound very ridiculous in itself but we wore Santa hats, our bikes were decorated, and 2 xmas trees were in the bakfiets and bicycle carrier. And we also played loud xmas music.
It was raining & cold and the streets were empty. But we spotted a few kitschy & over-the-top decorated houses! Completely different styles than the illuminations at the Place Vendôme where I was the night before...
Of course dog Léla joined us on this trip too. With her owner Aurore she will be traveling through South America next year to give support to handicapped kids. Read more about their plans here.
After 2 hours in the cold & rain, it was time for some hot chocolate ( or whisky for some ). It was nice meeting some new fellow Isariens and visit a few neighborhoods where I had never been before.
Oh and did you see au5v's new logo in the first picture? Made by yours truly :o)
The Typography of Travel 11
One Bunting Away is joining me again with some amazing signage from Miami! I love how the W and Y are joined in the New Yorker hotel signage! Merci again Giova!
Royal Cheese boutique - Paris, France
New Yorker hotel - Miami, Florida, US
The Tiffany hotel - South Beach Miami, Florida, US
Modified Spaces @ Verbeke Foundation - Kemzeke, Belgium
Banana Republic - South Beach Miami, Florida, US
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9 and part 10!
The Typography of Travel 10
For this 10th edition of my Typography of Travel column, One Bunting Away is joining me with some amazing signage from Miami! I love the bright pastels and retro typefaces. Merci Giova!
The Carlyle Hotel - South Beach Miami, Florida, US
IKKS store - Antwerp, Belgium
Beaucoup bistro - Paris, France
Crescent Resort, South Beach Miami, Florida, US
Hotel Astor, South Beach Miami, Florida, US
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8 and part 9!
The Typography of Travel 9
Beautiful METAL / BRASS / GOLD / COPPER / ALUMINIUM typography spotted on some of my travels:
Casa Americana - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Kasia Gasparski (goldsmit) - Copenhagen, Denmark
Bazar shop - A Coruña, Spain
Barbara jewellery shop - Bilbao, Spain
Tilbury - Burgos Spain
Gallaecia Petrea, Cidade da Cultura - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
@ Gran Hotel Domine - Bilbao Spain
Parking lot @ hotel Gran Teatro - Burgos, Spain
Casa Barros - A Coruña, Spain
Guggenheim Museum - Bilbao, Spain
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7 and part 8!
The gems of Antwerp
One month before Christmas means time for one of our family traditions: a weekend trip to Antwerp - Belgium for a full day of shopping (& eating), sunday brunch and a hint of culture.
During our shopping spree we visited some of my favorites, like Espoo ( Nordic interior design ), RA13 ( fashion design music books ), YOUR concept store, Elsa ( shoes ), Donum ( interior design ), but also a few new spots.
't Stad leest (Steenhouwersvest 16) was a new discovery: a unique bookshop with a beautiful selection of fiction & non-fiction, paper goods and children's books. A must visit if you're a book lover like me.
Tom Dixon's new showroom in the Kammenstraat is so pretty. Ace Lighting presents a very cool collection of lights by the world famous designer.
Don't judge a bookstore by its cover... Bacardi is celebrating 150 years of bringing people together by throwing 150 parties.
Check back soon as I'll show you around one of the weirdest museums just outside Antwerp...
Almost 2 months ago the first issue of Oh Marie! was launched. Oh Marie! is a new bilingual ( Dutch/English ) online magazine filled with beautiful photography, DIY’s, styling and vintage, all wrapped with a whimsical bow. Attendees of the launch received a piñata with a vintage gift + a little challenge: take a picture of the gift in your interior and pass it on to the next blogger. All items are part of the Fellowship of the Traveling Vintage Items.
For obvious reasons I was kind of hoping to receive the Eiffel tower, but somehow ended up with these 5 lace bobbins. As a non-crafter, I expected them to be bigger, more like a honey dipper or maracas. But of course they are tiny: they are used to create lace!
The lace bobbins traveled from Monique, to Nina, to Dee Amanda and as you read this, they are already on their way back to Holland. Astrid asked me if she could have them next: she is a little bit obsessed with lace bobbins because they remind her of ... well I don't really know, but I hope she will tell us soon!
And stay tuned as the next issue of Oh Marie! is due november 24th!
The Typography of Travel 8
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
El Patio bar - A Coru A Coru @ Gran Hotel Domine - Bilbao Spain
Beluga white bar - Burgos, Spain
Tilbury - Burgos Spain
Hair salon - Angoulême, France
Gestoria Arnedillo - Bilbao, Spain
Cultural Center - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Parking lot @ hotel Gran Teatro - Burgos, Spain
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6 and part 7!
Inside A Cidade da Cultura
After taking you for a drink at A Cantina & showing you the exterior of A Cidade da Cultura, today I'll take you inside the Galician museum. The current exhibition Gallaecia Petrea is about the presence of stone in the history of Galicia, from prehistory to today.
What struck me even more than the exhibition itself, was the organic interior of the building: it's huge! The way of presenting the works of art was splendid too: lots of wooden pallets were used. A beautiful & clever solution as it also smells really nice!
My favorite piece of art:
It's difficult to capture the dimension of the museum on photo ( I tried video! ). For art curators this must be heaven, it's so big, you can show huge master pieces & extensive collections here...
Brrr, this is when we looked down from the 3rd floor. Look at those tiny chairs on the right:
In one word, this site is impressive. Impressive in size, in detail, in finishing touches, in materials used... I warmly recommend you to visit A Cidade da Cultura if you're in the neighborhood ( near Santiago de Compostela, Spain ). In the years to come, the construction of the Cidade will continue in a slow pace because of the crisis. But I know I'll definitely be back once it's finished. And you?
Let's go to Stockholm!
A little unexpected I decided to plan a trip to Stockholm in a few months. I visited the Venice of the North last year during our Scandinavia roadtrip and dived back into my photos & notes to start a list of places I want to visit again. Days will be short & cold in February, so I hope there will be enough time & light. Here are some of my Stockholm favorites:
Konst-ig was probably my very favorite store in Stockholm. Besides selling a wonderful selection of art books, Konst-ig is also a great resource for bookproduction & distribution consultation. Their one-of-a-kind and out-of-print books are so amazing that you probably won't leave this store empty-handed.
It's almost a pity that we don't have a lot of rain where we live. Because I would absolutely consider a stylish Stutterheim raincoat. Their updated version of the traditional Swedish raincoat is so pretty! Plus the melancholic voice of their Fb page makes me chuckle every. single. time.
Last year we stayed in a lovely designy apartment in Bagarmossen ( located southeast of central Stockholm ) but the area I liked best was Söder. It's filled with lots of stylish Swedes with great haircuts: there's a hairdresser on every corner! So this is where I should get a new haircut: Swedish hairdressers seem to have more experience with cool short cuts for women than here in France, where a mayority of the women fancy long locks...
Other cool shops we visited last year: Acne, 6/5/4, Grandpa, Appartement, Scandinavian Design. We also stopped by the Moderna Museet.
On my wishlist are: • Lotta Agaton's shop • any Granit shop (loooooove them!) • a visit to the Stockholm archipelago.
Some great Stockholm resources: 25 Reasons to go to Stockholm by Condé Nast & Emmas Designblogg's Stockholm guide.
Have you ever been to Stockholm? Any places I should see or visit?
The Typography of Travel 7
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Magazine kiosk - Burgos, Spain
Municipal Library - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Nerua restaurant (restaurant of the Guggenheim museum) - Bilbao, Spain
Street Art - A Coruña, Spain
Biscuit shop - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Gallaecia Petrea, Cidade da Cultura - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Galicia Calidade bus - Vigos, Spain
Bar signage - A Coruña, Spain
LED installation by Jenny Holzer - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6!
Outside A Cidade da Cultura
It took me a while to sort out all the photos & videos I shot at A Cidade da Cultura, the City of Culture of Galicia. I already showed you some images of A Cantina and today I'll show you the exterior. Here we go!
Located on a small hill overlooking Santiago de Compostela, the Cidade is a huge cultural center for the province of Galicia. It was designed like a chopped off mountain top and is smooth & forrowed, much as a seashell, the age-old symbol of Santiago.
Peter Eisenman's "architectural extravagance" houses a library, archives, a museum, an art center, central services and of course a performing arts theater ( Björk performed here in june! ).
The use of local granite from Galicia was imposed to the architect. It contains so many different colors:
Many refer to the site as a ghosttown. And it's true that there were very little people when we visited. I liked that because it makes it easier to appreciate the buildings and interiors. It's also a little sad, because it means so much lost potential. But at the same time A Cidade is not nearly finished and still a huge excavation site, which makes me optimistic about future projects.
I also made a little wobbly video ( click here if the video doesn't show )
Check back soon as I'll take you inside the museum!
LEGO Lady Liberty
Waking up to thoughts of the US this morning. After Sandy I was almost worried about another disaster this week... but I'm glad it's not the case!
LEGO Lady Liberty has been keeping me company on my desk for the past few weeks. She's pretty cool right? Have you ever seen her "live"?
Hello Etsy @ Dutch Design Week
This saturday I attended Hello Etsy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The worldwide marketplace of handmade goods organized this gathering around the theme of "Small Business In A Big World". I'm not a true crafter ( and don't have an Etsy shop ), but as a graphic designer I can very well relate to being a small business in a big world.
The venue was great: I had never visited Piet Hein Eek's studio / factory / store / gallery / restaurant / office before but was happily surprised. It's nice to know there is such a space at only 20 minutes from where I grew up!
Even though my pictures show lamp shades & empty spaces, the day was chockfull with great speakers and mingling amongst the enthusiastic audience.
It was lovely meeting Anastacia, Christine, Hanna, Philomeen, Diane, Kim, Miriam, Em, Giova, Thea, Yann, Marie, Anne, Anne, Rhiannon and so many more creative folks! Totally agree with Floris Dekker "Getting to meet each other is the most powerful thing".
While I'm off to explore all the blogs & Etsy shops by all the new people I've met, I can warmly recommend you to watch some of the talks online. You can find them here.
To win the latest copy of UPPERCASE magazine, head over to Philomeen or Giova for a giveaway!
The Typography of Travel 6
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Grocery Store - Muros, Spain
Pharmacy - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Bazar shop - A Coruña, Spain
Supermarket - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Mac Burguer - Muros, Spain
Barbara jewellery shop - Bilbao, Spain
San Francisco beach - San Francisco, Spain
Hotel parking - Burgos, Spain (huge typography, tiny parking: we scratched our car here)
Moreta bar - A Coruña, Spain
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5!
Do you like fish?
During our holiday the ocean was never far. I had this very romantic idea of eating fresh fish from the bbq every night, but that experience turned out not so great. I completely overlooked that you have to clean a fish before cooking. Drama: the meat was tough and we, as true campers (not...), even watched a video on YouTube to learn how to do it. The result: no fish for dinner & a happy neighbor.
And you? Do you like fish?
Isn't this the coolest outdoor neon sign you've ever seen? Well maybe not the coolest, but knowing that it's for a random household appliances store ( in Portugal ), adds a little coolness huh?
And what about the electricidade sign with thunderbolts above the entry?
Wish you an electric weekend!
The Typography of Travel 5
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Casa Americana - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Screen Printing Workshop - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Pastry Shop - Bayonne, France
F Lounge & Bar - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Community flag - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Discoteca - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Gil Eannes Museum - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Café Mucaba - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4!
Yummy food from Spain
When I saw this pretty "carolina" pastry in Bilbao, I knew I wanted to taste it. The lady from the pastelería wrapped it up for me & put toothsticks in it to prevent the pastry from any "damage": very cute. The looks are better than the taste: too much meringue / marshmallow on top of a rice pastry.
On the local market we bought the BEST BREAD EVER: dark with huge raisins & walnuts, crunchy and with a thick crust. One tiny slice is enough to get you through the day, but ohhhhh so delicious!
The fresh figs from the garden tasted like sunshine. Hmmm!
And now I'm hungry! What's your favorite Spanish food?
Sometimes you've had an intense week ( in a good way ) and there's nothing left to do than sharing some pictures of fishnets & ropes. Happy weekend!
One Bunting Away
Since like forever I love receiving snail mail. I've kept all the (love!)-letters & postcards I've ever received in big tins. What I like most is people's handwriting, it reveals so much!
I love sending snail mail too. If you follow me on Facebook you already know that I bought some colorful stamps in Portugal a few weeks ago: to send some holiday-love to my family & friends.
Yesterday I received a lovely postcard from Giova. She writes a crafty blog with her sister Gianni, who lives in NYC, One Bunting Away from Giova's hometown Amsterdam. We met in Berlin and spent quite some time sightseeing, street art spotting & talking and have been in touch ever since. Giova also has an elephant memory: she remembered I love Quentin Blake's work and sent me a limited edition Roald Dahl stamp: Charlie showing the golden ticket. Yihaah!
So these buntings ( from Bayonne ) are for you Giova!
A Cantina @ Santiago
The only place on my wishlist of places to visit in Galicia was A Cidade da Cultura de Galicia in Santiago de Compostela: the regional cultural center. I was told it is a big modern building on the top of a hill. And that is exactly it. I think I've never seen any cultural site of this dimension: it is HUGE!
Before our trip, I read about the small bar & restaurant on Petite Passport which looked interesting. After a quick visit to the old city center of Santiago ( which we didn't like at all ) we sat down at A Cantina for drinks. Look at those beer taps, they're beautiful!
The view from the terrace was impressive & we couldn't wait to finish our drinks and walk around the site. Next time I'll take you further into the Cidade da Cultura, because there is much more to see!
I can't believe it has already been 2 weeks since we're back home from Galicia. We went back from the roar of the ocean to the soft whisper of the Oise river, which isn't so bad either.
On a sunny afternoon a few weeks ago, we were relaxing under the fig tree in the garden of our little house. I was reading my favorite magazine ( The Good Life ) when we heard this funny sound. At first we thought there was someone asleep snoring very loudly.
An hour later my husband did a little investigation: "It's a cicada". Hmmm, not completely convinced we listened some more & found two little green buttons in the grass. Mole chasers! Have you ever heard any? No? Then listen carefully:
I hope you're not getting bored by all the yellow I'm sharing this week? These pictures are from my typography hunt in Spain & Portugal. On a trip along the coast I spotted this beautiful "discoteca" sign, but didn't take a picture right away.
It was only until we drove back, that I saw the building attached to the sign had these amazing colors. Yellow/orange-ish. And look at that mint green & green K-sign in the alley. Such a weird combo! Would you ever consider painting your house yellow? Or any other bold color?
One of the best things about coming home after living 3 weeks out of a suitcase, is fresh laundry. Oh I love that smell! Although we already smelled it quite a few times in Spain & Portugal as people tend to dry their laundry outside.
It smells great and looks very pretty too. Photos were not enough, so I also made a little video:
A pool by the sea
Let's start off this week with some pure holiday bliss. Or well, attending a beach club near a beach is not my idea of the perfect holiday. But anyway, I was intrigued by this "pool by the sea", called the Club del Mar de San Amaro, which is a 77-year old beach club in A Coruña, Spain. My view from above totally reminds me of Gray Malin's À la piscine, à la plage series, don't you agree?
Inspired by this colorful installation of buoys in the garden of our little house in Galicia, we went beachcombing on the nearby beach. We found quite a lot of buoys which we turned into a little Chinese b(u)oy.
Part of our stash:
Look how cute he looks with his necklace:
Chasing the beach for buoys was great fun: it felt a bit like strolling through a flea market. Plus it tidied up the beach a tiny bit. Do you like chasing boys... ehm buoys?
Faro de Lariño
Our little house in Galicia Spain (booked through AirBnB <3 ) was situated near the Faro de Lariño. Somehow it surprised me that the light didn't rotate, but pointed in one direction. Lighthouses on this part of the Spanish coast play an important role. Because so many shipwrecks occured here, it's called Costa da Morte, coast of death...
Anyway, I really liked "our" Faro, and the locals are very proud of it too: the village restaurant has a scale model on display which is very cute. Do you have a favorite lighthouse? Or did you ever sleep in a lighthouse hotel?
Back home from Galicia!
After 3 weeks, 3 countries, 4833kms, 5 different beds & beautiful cities like A Coruña, Biarritz, Vigo and Bilbao: I'm back home! It has been quite a shocking change of weather: after a true Indian Summer with lots of sun ( & sunburns ) in Spain & Portugal, autumn really started here in France. But to come home to all the sunny yellow here at Studio Sapique makes it easier to hang on to that holiday feeling just a little bit longer.
I took A LOT of pictures, so in the next few weeks I'll take you along to Galicia… and beyond!
The Typography of Travel 4
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Graff (jewelry store) - Copenhagen, Denmark
Freia (chocolate brand) clock - Oslo, Norway
Timber Joinery Artisal - Creil, France
Danish Design Center - Copenhagen, Denmark
Linge Ferry - Ålesund, Norway
Les Bains des Docks - Le Havre, France
Another Nué - Copenhagen, Denmark
Crazy Daisy (nightclub) - Svendborg, Denmark
Kasia Gasparski (goldsmit) - Copenhagen, Denmark
To see more travel typography: part 1 and part 2 and part 3!
The Typography of Travel 3
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Gelateria le Rocca Serra - Bonifacio, Corsica, France
Orchidee Blomster (flower shop) - Oslo, Norway
United Bakeries - Oslo, Norway
Up in Lyon - Lyon, France
Stetson Hats - Oslo, Norway
Troc 2nd hand store - Lyon, France
Eksjö Train Station - Eksjö, Sweden
French cheese shop - Oslo, Norway
Cap Corse - Corsica, France
To see more travel typography, click here for part 1 and part 2!
Back to... Norway
After Denmark & Sweden, we arrived in Norway! My stepson Nick prepared us: this would be one of the most beautiful countries ever. And he was right: it was amazing.
Quite unprepared we drove from Sweden to Geiranger where we rented a small cottage. The direct road to Geiranger had only opened the week before & on both sides of the road were these huge walls of packed snow. Impressive!
We knew that our cottage would have a view on the Geiranger Fjord, but we didn't expect it would look so stunning! Unfortunately huge cruise ships somewhat spoiled the view. Every morning they would dock in the Fjord, drop off all their passengers with smaller boats. And all day, tourist buses would drive up and down the mountain to bring them to the panorama lookout.
To admire the fjords up close, we took a ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt. Which was hell. We thought it would be nice to visit the village & take the next ferry back to Geiranger. We strolled around the tiny village, with 1 museum with a giant polar bear & a gas station when it started raining. Pouring rain. After 2 boring hours in Hellesylt we went back to the ferry harbour. But it was off season. The next ferry wouldn't arrive for another 2 hours...
The next day we went for a ride along the Trollstigen mountain road. Driving through the mountains is not my cup of tea ( I get car sick ), but this was breath taking! The clean air in Norway really helps, it feels so healthy. The water is pure & the views from Gudbrandjuvet café are stunning, and so is the building ( see first image above ). I would love to sleep in the Landscape Hotel!
In Sweden we didn't see a single moose... but 5 minutes after passing the border with Norway we saw our first. After the moose in Into the Wild I was a little scared, but they're very shy.
On our way to Oslo for the last chapter of our road trip, we crossed Jotunheimen National Park. What a pity we couldn't spend more time here. It felt like we had landed in a National Geographic documentary. A herd of reindeer passed just in front of us. Wow...
The contrast with a city like Oslo couldn't be bigger. For my highlights of Oslo head over to Bloesem.
We stayed in the Comfort Hotel Express, which has a cool brekky hangout & very kind staff, but their sister hotel Comfort Hotel Grand Central looks even better.
Hungry in Oslo? You'll find the best burger of the city ( & a delicious blåbær smoothie! ) at Illegal Burger. Yummy! We will definitely go back to Norway. There's so much more to discover...
Have you ever been in Norway? What did you like best?
Weekend tip: Atelier ABC-Vélo
In this week's Styloise I already told you about ABC Atelier-Vélo. Besides repairing your bike under the supervision of volunteers, you can also join them every first Sunday of the month for a bike trip through the Oise. On previous outings, they have been to Fleurines and Chantilly for example. They usually leave at 9:00AM from the Place Carnot in Creil. Next trip will be on September 2nd. So why not join them?
And if you decide to go biking next weekend, you might consider wearing this invisible bicycle helmet called Hövding! Basically Hövding is a collar for bicyclists, worn around the neck. The collar contains a folded up airbag that you'll only see if you happen to have an accident. How cool & impressive is that?
Weekend tip: La Sucrerie
For the past 10 years I've been living in the Oise: a French department situated 35km north of Paris. Of course Studio Sapique is a remnant of (recent) industrial heritage, but not far away from here, is the old industrial Sugar Factory of Francières. It's an impressive site with red bricks, which was recently renovated & opened to the public.
Surrounded by sugar beet fields, now mostly converted to cereal crops, La Sucrerie was active from 1829 to 1969 and is one of the oldest sugar factories of the Picardy region. The sugar industry has always played a prominent role in the economy of the region & that's why a local Association decided to save this place and turn it into an interactive Center of the Sugar & Agro Resources Industry.
Quirky detail: La Sucrerie is located near the rue du Bout du Monde ( the street at the end of the world ), which is exactly what it feels like: desolate but intriguing. Unfortunately La Sucrerie was closed when we visited, but I'll definitely check back in a few months. I'm curious to see what it looks like from the inside & to learn how a raw sugar beet becomes sugar.
La Sucrerie de Francières /// Route Nationale 17 /// 60190 Francières
Open on request. Contact the Picardy Region: +33 (0) 8 00 02 60 80
Back to... Greece
Today's destination is Greece: you'd expect a deep blue sea & bright white houses, but in my memory Greece was completely different.
In 1998, a few weeks before turning 18 I took my first plane ever (!) from Amsterdam to Athens, Greece. Together with a highschool friend we stayed in an affordable hotel with a view to the Acropolis. Two young Dutch girls with minishorts wandering through this masculin dominated city… almost a surprise nothing serious happened.
It was a weird holiday:
► we ended up in a nightclub where the only women there were payed to be there & some men followed us back to our hotel ( we ran faster! )
► we had the best frappés ever
► the barman of the rooftop hotel bar was particularly annoying/flirty
► I fell a lot, in the middle of the street, because of the bad condition of the sidewalks
► we were offered a glass of water with our ice cream
► a few weeks before leaving for Athens I met my future husband & I missed him so much!
► I didn't really like retsina wine
► I completely forgot about the Greek alphabet I learned in college & didn't recognize a single word...
Even though seeing the Acropolis & other ancient monuments around the city was impressive, my favorite part of the trip was our boattrip from Piraeus to Aegina. On Aegina we found a little bit of the typical Greek Mediterranean life which was lovely.
Ever since I read the beautiful children's books by Moni Nilsson-Brännström about the adventures of a Greek/Swedish boy called Tsatsiki ( perfect for 8-10 year olds! ), I would love to go back & visit a beautiful island like Mykonos, eat at Alemagou, and discover more of the remains of Ancient Greece...
And you? Have you ever been to Greece? How did you like it?
À la plage, à la piscine
Graphic, stylized, fun, sunny & colorful: these photos by Gray Malin have it all. He took these photos from a doorless helicopter hovering over beaches in France, the US, Brazil, the Caribbean & Australia. The series is called "À la page, à la piscine" and is perfect for the ones ( including me ) who spend their summer far from a beach.
But for our own beach break in september, I'd rather prefer this:
Copyright by Gray Malin: "The destination your walls have been waiting for".
Weekend tip: Pierrefonds
One of the most impressive castles in the Oise, must be the 14th century Castle of Pierrefonds. It's in excellent condition, was beautifully restorated in the 19th century & has beautiful graphic wall decorations!
After a visit to the castle, or in case you're in need for a more laid-back activity, there's nothing more refreshing than a pedalo ride on the Pierrefonds lake. And that's exactly what we did! For added coolness, you can choose to ride the swan, like us ;o)
From the lake you have a beautiful view on the castle and the sourroundings of Pierrefonds.
Hihi my sister & I really liked our swan:
The Typography of Travel 2
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
Merci - Paris, France
Clas Ohlson - Oslo, Norway
Armurier Tourly (weapon shop) - Beauvais, France
Rougier & Plé (arts & crafts store) - Paris, France
Smile with your heart city campaign - Akureyri, Iceland
La Poste - Pierrefonds, France
Train shop - Paris, France
Muu milk - Vestmanneayar, Iceland
Etat Libre d'Orange - Paris France
To see more travel typography, click here for part 1!
Back to... Denmark
This summer has been a busy month with lots of visitors here at Studio Sapique, or should I say Hotel Sapique? Friends & family & new friends, all relaxed and in a perfect holiday-mood. In a month from now it will be our turn for some traveling and I can't wait! Especially after writing about our past adventures in Corsica, Egypt, Sweden, Iceland... Today we'll go back to Denmark. Join in & enjoy!
In may 2011 we went on a road trip to Scandinavia. Our first stop was on the island of Fyn, where we visited friends at the Remida Center Odense, a creative center where children are encouraged to develop their creativity using excess material. A very inspiring place. We also stopped at Brandts, the Art Center which houses the Kunsthallen, Denmarks Mediamuseum, and the Photography Museum. And had a coffee at Cafe Biografen at Brandts, which also houses a cult cinema.
The Egeskov castle is filled with "collections" of intesting stuff: cars, bikes, toys, dolls, dresses, aircrafts, furniture and more. My favorites were the vintage copper pudding mold collection and the display of vintage toys in transparent bubbles.
One of the highlights of our visit to Denmark, was Legoland. My husband wishlisted to visit the parc almost 35 years ago when he read about it in a Lego catalogue. Legoland is ultra cute & a little retro with miniature Lego houses, giant Lego palm trees, boats & trains, Duplo houses and an underwater world with a Lego submarine & Crabzilla. If you like Lego, you'll love Legoland :o)
Copenhagen is a great city for shopping. It's home of some of the best shops I've seen in Scandinavia. Vintage ( genbrug ) shopping is big too, there are a lot of second hand shops & fleamarkets everywhere. We were lucky to find a Fog & Mørup lamp for 50DKK (10USD) on a flea market in Nørrebro, near the apartment we rented through AirBnB.
One of my favorite shops in Copenhagen were:
► Liebe ( Kompagnistræde 23 ) with supercute handmade tableware, vases, door knobs, stationary and so much more.
► Stilleben ( Læderstræde 14 ) with beautiful tableware, cups, plates, vases, mugs, glassware...
► Lego store ( Vimmelskaftet 37 ) where you can see what's in a Lego box through augmented reality!
► &pagne ( Hyskenstræde 7 ) women's fashion ( V Ave Shoe Repair, Camilla Skovgaard, Vibe Johansson and more )
► Søstrene Grene cute & inexpensive shops for tiny decoration goodies, candles, storage boxes, notebooks and more.
► Another Nué ( Krystalgade 3, near Henrik Vibskov and Wood Wood ) for their great selection of women's wear with brands like Yvonne Koné, Nué Notes, and Wackerhaus.
Like in all the Nordic countries, the coffeehouse culture is really well developed. You can meet up with friends or family to spend some time together while tasting deliciousssssss Danish pastries and cookies. It's called fika in Swedish. Most coffeehouses are very child friendly too. One of the best we visited was in Vesterbro, at the end of the Vesterbrogade.
Read more about our trip to Denmark on the lovely Bloesem blog!
Weekend tip: Grimp a l'arb
In stead of buying her a gift, we invited my sister to do an activity for her birthday. My sister is a true dare devil ( not! ) so climbing trees in the forest was just the thing for her. In the middle of the forest of Pierrefonds lies this tree climbing adventure parc called Grimp a l'Arb. Their website is oldskool with Comic Sans & a pointer mascot, so be prepared, but the parc is pretty cool.
Through different courses criss cross through the treetops you "get in touch with your inner monkey". Well, something like that ;o) Obstacles are suspended between trees and while being attached to a safety cable you hop from 1 tree to another. The trails have zip lines, suspended bridges, scramble nets, swinging logs, a cool surf board, and much more...
We first walked through the parc to take a look. The children's courses looked easy, so we were all pumped to start the adventure. But when my sister saw the higher trails for adults, she totally chickened out... She's not such a monkey after all!
Anyway, the warm & sunny weather had ice cream & café terrace written all over it, so we opted for a different activity. But if you're looking for a cool adventure, I could totally recommend Grimp a l'Arb. Everyone we saw climbing through the treetops had so much fun!
Back to... Egypt
Writing about our visits to Egypt is like a trip down memory lane. In 1999 we went to Egypt twice: first on a roundtrip through the country & a second time to attend the Millenium concert by Jean Michel Jarre. We were so young, it was our 1st time together outside Europe and we were completely blown away by its beauty, the Egyptian people, the history, the monuments, the colors, the smells, the food, the shisha and the strong Turkish coffee.
The contrast between the 2 visits could not have been bigger. Where on our first trip we visited all of the touristic highlights of Egypt ( with tickets that gave permission to take a photo of 1 single object! ), the second time we had a more local experience. We met up with an Egyptian friend and drove around with our driver Mekhti.
We asked him to show us how Egyptians liked to spend their weekends. He took us up north of Cairo to the Nile Delta where we sailed off on a small boat on the Nile and watched the houses of famous Egyptian actors & musicians. He also took us to into the city of the dead, to the roofs of a Mamluk mausoleum from were we had an amazing view over Cairo.
Our driver Mekhti loved listening to the movie soundtrack of Hammam in Amsterdam, about a poor Egyptian moving to Holland to become rich. On the tunes of Hammam ( listen at 5:19 ) we drove to the Pyramids of Gizeh where the Millennium concert took place. The car was inspected by impressive security guards with dogs & car bomb mirrors. And in the middle of the desert near the Pyramids we had to get through a security portal. Security restrictions were strict after the Luxor massacre.
The performance by Jean Michel Jarre, together with Egyptian musicians, was an impressive start of the new millennium. It was grandiose: colorful fireworks, hundreds of torchbearers, a laser show & video projections on the Great Pyramid. Many others in the Philips VIP-tent from where we watched the concert didn't agree: they looked & acted so bored. They totally missed out on something amazing...
People were particularly welcoming during the Ramadan, inviting us to break the fast with them.
My favorite places in Egypt were:
► Aswan ( the Nubians living there were so kind! )
► The island of Philae in Lake Nasser ( so peaceful and it's amazing when you know the entire temple was moved there in 40000 pieces to save it from submerging in water )
► The Luxor museum ( with the beautiful statue of Akhnaten, a pharao with avant-garde ideas & an aesthetic I felt familiar with )
► The Tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens ( looked like it was painted last week! )
► The rice fields outside Cairo ( the brightest green ever! )
► and Cairo itself ( even though it's the loudest city I've ever been to ).
All photos were taken in the pre-digital era ( 1999 ): I used my Minolta 1978 XG 1. The photo of me on the boat & the Egyptian lady were made by my husband with an analog Canon EOS 5.
Have you ever been to Egypt? And what did you like best?
Back to... Sweden
Last year I already wrote about our trip to Sweden on Bloesem but today we're going back! Our visit to Sweden was part of our roadtrip to Scandinavia in may 2011. We had great weather: lots of blue skies & sunshine.
We left for Scandinavia ( Denmark, Sweden, Norway ) without too much preparation. We had an idea of the itinerary and booked some AirBnB's, Stugknuten & a ferry along the way. But we didn't plan what to see & do. Oh wait, yes we did: on our list were Legoland and visiting friends in Denmark.
Sweden turned out to be super cute & more normal than I expected. The landscapes are beautiful without being dramatic, the houses are ultra cute and stylewise there's more than "just" Ikea.
In Småland, in the South, we rented a dollhouse from a farmer. So much in the middle of nowhere that we were unable to find it. The farmer hardly spoke any English, which is quite rare in Sweden I think, but his son helped us out on the phone. In the neighbourhood we visited Eksjö and a few different lakes.
On our way to Stockholm, we stopped in Gränna, where the famous Swedish candy is made. It's a touristic little village, but I HAD to see how the candy was made. The unfinished peppermint candy has a beautiful pearlish color. Lonely Planet suggested the only thing missing in Gränna are the Oompa Loompas. So true! Of course we stocked up on polkagris canes as a souvenir for family & friends.
After a few great days in Stockholm ( which needs its own blogpost ) we spent our last few days in Sweden near Vansbro, roughly between Gävle & Hamar ( in Norway ). It's in the middle of Dalarna county where the famous horses come from.
If there is one activity that you should try in Sweden, it's railbiking. Yes, it's all in a word: biking on an old railway. We were the first of the season to bike on the railway, so it was a little adventurous with some trees and plants growing over the railway. But it was the coolest thing ever. I grew up in Holland and have been riding bikes all my life. Even in France, where it's not always very safe to do so. But I like it so much!
Anyway, I loved the fresh air, seeing noone, no trafic, going straight through a forest, over a bridge ( yes I shrieked! ), past a few lakes. Then we turned around the bike, put it back on the rails again and rode back to where we came from. So cool!
More next week as I'll take you along to… Egypt!
Marimekko Helsinki map
Finland is placed very high on my places-I-want-to-visit wishlist. And not in the last place because of Marimekko. I remember my mother wearing a Marimekko shirt & skirt in the 80s. They were made with the softest jersey and had a timeless fit.
When in London I picked up a free copy of the Marimekko Helsinki map at the Marimekko store near Bond Street. I finally hang it on the wall last week because I really like it. It's a beautiful graphic drawing of Helsinki with a few pops of color:
The map takes you on a journey through the hometown of Marimekko: Helsinki. You can find the digital version of the map right here.
I paired the map with my Marimekko Räsymatto plate, Coca Cola & Comme des Garcons & Bomba energy drink bottles, a Chanel jewelry box and postcards by Julien Langendorff, Adrian Briscoe for Instilllife and Nathalie Gilles.
Back to... Corsica
Let's go back to sunny Corsica!
With a short stopover in Lyon we headed to Corsica in may 2010. Lyon is cool: it's urban & charming and not as big as Paris. We had a delicious salad with local ingredients & the best artisan lemonade ever at Ninkasi, a super cool place where you can enjoy live music or dance to the tunes of ultra hip DJs. We also saw l'Arnacoeur, a French romantic feel good comedy in 1 of the Part Dieu cinemas, strolled around Vieux Lyon, the old city center, and took a random bus to one of the outskirts and back to the city center. Just some easy sightseeing.
Where Lyon is cool, Corsica is bliss. Lots of sunshine, beautiful views, peaceful beaches, stunning landscapes, delicious food, amazing smells.
► The cactus plants near the Pointe de la Chiappa grow like crazy. The cactus freak in me chopped off a few leafs wearing gloves, which became totally unusable because of all the spines sticking through.
► Water won't get any more turquoise than near the Lavezzi islands.
► Water cannot get any purer than in the Gorges de la Restonica.
► Our favorite beach was Cala Rossa: sophisticated & empty ( in may! ). Palombaggio was nice as well.
► Wild pigs are fun and make the weirdest sounds. And then they end up in the excellent dry sausages and hams. Corsican brocciu ( pronounce broutch: goat cheese ) and canistrelli: dry biscuits with lots of different flavors, are yummy too!
► When you feed the local wild cats some leftovers, they'll grow twice as big and keep coming back for more ( duh! ).
► Corsica smells goooooood, maquis grows everywhere: it's a variety of wild herbs & grasses: hmmmm!
► The mountains of Bavella are so craggy, but also the perfect backdrop for some serious hiking ( Grande Randonnée 20 ).
► The leather sandals & bags & summerdresses at Karma Koma ( in Porto Vecchio ) are super cute!
► Most village signs are bilingual ( French & Corsu ) but in Cap Corse the French versions are erased with black paint. Although the nationalist sentiment is quite clear, people are friendly & proud of their terroir.
► Burning car tires & blocking main roads is just another way of showing that Corsica should never be a holiday home.
► The idea of processionary caterpilars makes me itchy. Seeing them makes me scratch for days... brrrr
► The Corsican horticulturists are the best I've ever seen: they have all my favorites: olive trees, cactus plants, succulents, palm trees...
► If you're a sailor and die near Bonifacio, the cemetary on the top of the village is the most fabulous place to be buried.
Ohhh I dream of going back... soon! And you? Have you ever been to Corsica?
Back to... Iceland part 3
Previously: part 1 and part 2.
After our adventures in Reykjavík, Vestmannaeyjar, Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón, we are now in Akureyri, a small town in the North East of Iceland. Upon arrival by bus we immediately decide to find a rental car. It would be so much easier to explore this area by car. We find a great deal at Thrifty and check in at our apartment in downtown Akureyri. It's spacious and the air is fresh and it feels healthy to be here.
We do some grocery shopping and I do my very best purchase of 2009: a 66°North Vik jacket. It's soft & warm and the perfect layer to keep me warm. Over night it snowed and in the morning we make plans for the day. First stop: Gullfoss, a huge waterfall where we are (again) the only visitors. We watch the water, take some pictures and the splashing water gets us wet.
Next stop: Húsavík, the hometown of whale watching. The weather is too windy and there's no whale watching that day, but we don't mind and head for Lake Mývatn. Mývatn is a lake situated in an area of active volcanism, not far away from Krafla volcano. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptional rich fauna of ducks and midges (only in the summer, lucky us!), but most of all it's good for stunning views: the color of the lake, the sunshine, the surrounding volcanoes… wow!
We then drive to Hverir, a solfatare field near the lake, which means: lots of fog, mudpots, steam, colors and rotten egg odor (due to the hydrogen sulfide). We feel so lucky to be here all by ourselves with this beautiful sunlight & mystic athmosphere. Truly amazing. I can hardly stop taking pictures, this place is just surreal.
The next day we head for Dimmuborgir, a lava field with unusually shaped lava pillars and chamber-like constructions. Once there used to be a lake and the boiling water and rising vapour formed lava pillars when the lava flowed across it. It's quite a touristy place and the Yule Lads (santa's helpers which come down the hill in the 13 days before Christmas), didn't really help. It may be a cool Icelandic folklore tradition, I wasn't charmed.
We continue our trip to Dettifoss, Icelands biggest waterfall. After all the waterfalls we've already seen, this one is just HUGE and so is the river valley. On our ride back to Akureyri along the Northest peak of Iceland (we saw the Norwegian Sea!) it starts snowing and soon we're stuck in a true ice storm. The weather changes so fast in Iceland!
No Blue Lagoon for us, but the Myvatn Nature Bath. Smaller, less touristy but a great experience nevertheless. We needed it to warm up after a cold day. Which we started driving on a gravel road (prohibited for small rental cars like ours: we are true dare devils!) to Aldeyjarafoss, Svartifoss's big brother waterfall with huge vertical basalt formations and a very steep river valley. The ropes along the road to the scenic points, are not in good shape. It's a little scary, escpecially with all the wind. We warm ourselves up at a local farm café where they serve traditional soup with lava bread and delicious homemade chocolate cake.
Then off to Krafla where we stand on an active volcano for the first time! It was very impressing, but so very cold. We wear at least 5 layers of clothing (including my new 66°North vest) but we are still freezing. Even when we soak in the Myvatn Nature Bath we are cold. The wind lowered the temperature of the water by more than 10 degrees. And the outside temperature is around 0°C. Brrrrr
We get dressed and head "home" to Akureyri. Again we are surprised by a snow storm. While we drive slowly and look at the sky clearing up, we see the Aurora Borealis! It's a fantastic end of the day. I had never seen it before, but now I totally understand why people believe in elfs and other mystic creatures. The movements are unlike anything I've ever seen.
Before flying back to Reykjavík and Paris, we visit the city center of Akureyri (kaffihus again) and the Art Museum, with a beautiful collection of Icelandic photography. One of my favorites was this one where schoolboys get light therapy in the 1960s (see below). The long Icelandic winters must be quite something…
Overall: Iceland was more than amazing. We are definitely coming back and already planning on buying a Defender 110… Plus we might sign up for one of these cool invitations by locals.
Weekend tip: Le Bourget
You've climbed the Eiffel tower, visited le Palais de Tokyo, shopped at Merci, ate dozens of LaDurée (or Pierre Hermé) macarons and you just love Paris. But you like to do something else for a change?
One of my favorite museums is "La Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace" at Le Bourget, just outside Paris. It is one of the oldest aviation museums in the world (1919) and has prototypes of many French aircrafts including the super fast Concorde. I'm not extremely interested in all the aircrafts, but the beautiful old fashioned interior of the museum truly appeals to me. The floors are made of glossy linoleum and have beautiful & colorful graphic patterns.
It's a great place to go with kids of all ages because you can go from "just watching some airplanes" to learning in detail how mankind started trying & succeeding to fly. I like visiting the museum to enjoy its look & feel: industrial, colorful and very unique.
Oh and it's rarely very busy. And if it is, you won't notice, because this place is HUGE.
Have you ever been here?
Back to... Iceland part 2
Let's pick up where I left (cIick for part 1) : stuck on Vestmannaeyjar waiting for the morning ferry to leave, or not… We were lucky, the weather was good enough to sail back to the main land, although the waves were just as high as the first time (ugh!). The bus driver hurried us back to Reykjavík from where we took another bus to Skaftafell National Park, in the South East.
We passed by the beautiful Vík, the now famous Eyjafjallajökull (which erupted only 6 months later), many waterfalls, the beautiful coastline, black sandy wastelands, rivers and spotted lots of sheep and a few Icelandic horses.
We stayed at the only hotel in the area which was just across the street of a gas station a.k.a. busstop. There was nothing else there. We had no car, only 1 bus passed by every day. So we were lucky to be able to rent 2 bikes the next day and did some hiking & biking in the National Park. We were all alone and sat on the foot of the Svartifoss waterfall with its impressive basalt blocks and enjoyed the view & the sun. Stunning!
The next day we strapped on our crampons (metal spikes for your shoes) and went for a glacier hike with a trained guide. The cliffs were steep (brrr…) and the guide told passionate about the movement of the ice. We reached a small lake where we saw the rare phenomenon of very old ice breaking off and splashing very slowly into the lake. Breathtaking!
Our guide also told us we should absolutely go see the Glacier Lagoon called Jökulsárlón, as we were so "close" by (65km). A local farmer who was visiting friends in the lobby of the hotel, agreed upon that. After some talking he kindly offered to drive us there as he was planning on visiting some family nearby. The next morning the farmer (the biggest landowner in the South) picked us up... in his big black Hummer.
An hour later we arrived at the phenomenal Glacier Lagoon. Oh how stupid would it have been to miss this! While the farmer waited for us under the bridge (wasn't he going to visit his family?), we enjoyed the scenic views. We also enjoyed the amazing color & taste & sound of the ice, a tour with a hybrid boat and the tourguide who was super proud that this place once was the backdrop of movies like James Bond and Tomb Raider.
After a stroll on the black sandy beach which matched so well with the cool blueish white ice, we headed back in "our" Hummer.
After a good night sleep & icy dreams, we drove back to Reykjavík by bus, while munching on some delicious Opal sweets, to catch yet another bus to Akureyri, a small town in the North East of Iceland. The drive along the ring road on the west and northern part of Iceland was scenic and so very different from the landscapes in the south!
Traveling through Iceland by bus means stops at gas stations all over the country. They serve good strong coffee, pylsur (hot dogs) and you can stock up on Opal sweets, to which I became addicted during our trip. Opals come in different flavors, but they're mostly mint and liquorice-like sweets. Icelandic people are quite nostalgic about their Opals. Especially the blue Opal which no longer exists because it contained chloroform.
Check back soon for my favorite part of our trip to Iceland: the North East!
In the mean time, have a look at this beautiful blogpost by Emilie from Griottes on her trip to Iceland! So soo pretty!
The Typography of Travel
Beautiful typography spotted on some of my travels:
City bikes - Odense, Denmark
The Circus Hostel - Berlin, Germany
Plissage, Place de la Principale - Avignon, France
Moc Hairdressers - Stockholm Sweden
Naked Architecture - Utrecht, The Netherlands
Kronans drugstore - Växjö, Sweden
Saville Row window stickers - London, UK
Moderna Museet - Stockholm, Sweden
William Richard Green at Selfridges - London, UK
Back to... Iceland part 1
So far, 2012 has been filled with quite a bunch of short trips. For fun (London!), sad (a cremation), exciting (The Hive) and happy (a wedding!) reasons. But only a few more months before we go on a longer trip. As "everybody" is going on holidays soon, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of our travels. To inspire and get in the mood for new adventures! Off we go to Iceland!
In september 2009 we flew to Iceland with 2 backpacks. No suitcases or car rental as we were in for some adventure and wanted to travel by bus. We rented a nice designy apartment in the heart of Reykjavík to relax and start planning the next few weeks of our stay. The only thing on our wishlist: Vestmannaeyjar island, mostly because we loved the name and because there were puffins. Upon arrival at the Reykjavík harbor we discovered that the Puffins had left Iceland, as stated on a note at the Puffin Express ticket office. But we didn't really mind.
Reykjavík feels like a small town, but has some cool & super creative shops. One of my favorites was Elm Design, an Icelandic fashion brand by and for women. A tad pricy, but truly amazing designs. On Laugavegur, the main street of downtown Reykjavík, you'll find second hand shops, yummy bakeries, bookshops and lots of kaffihúses (coffeehouses), where it's nice to relax and watch people. In september the important tourist season (mid june - end of august) is absolutely over in Iceland. Just perfect for us!
As of september some inland roads are impassable because there's already too much snow and a few shops & restaurants are closed. But days are of an average length and the weather is not too harsh. By the way, the weather in Iceland is not as cold as you might think. Average winter daytime temperature in Reykjavík is about 0°C. Although with ice storms, rain and sunshine only 5 minutes apart: layering your clothing is key!
And then we made a mistake. We bought tickets for a guided bus tour called The Golden Circle. On this tour (which everyone visiting Iceland seems to "do"), you'll visit the highlights of a small area on the south east of Reykjavík. And really, these places are truly stunning. The national park Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss, the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur (with geysers Geysir & Strokkur), Skálholt church, and the Nesjavellir geothermal power plant. But we weren't prepared for the many tourists and the need to hurry up to catch the bus and go to the next stop. The tour guide soon hated us because we were far behind on the "group". But anyway, we survived and couldn't wait to see more!
We left our lovely Apartment K, with private hot tub (which was bliss!) and headed to the harbour of Þorlákshöfn by bus. The former Dutch (!) Oost Vlieland ferry was ready to bring 1 Italian backpacker, a few freight trucks and us to Vestmannaeyar. We were told to be prepared for some rough weather: it was late september after all.. While the truck drivers ordered some pylsur (Icelandic hot dogs), the Italian tourist opened his first can of cheap beer. That wasn't such a good idea. The sea got very rough and the ferry started to move in many directions… The Italian tourist became green, while I did my best to not get seasick. My husband felt okay and laughed at me while I was screaming on deck upon every move of the boat.
After more than 3 hours on the ferry it felt great to have our feet back on the ground. We asked around in the harbour and found a simple but huge room for rent with a nice view on the harbour. We were the only tourists on the island (besides the Italian backpacker) and had dinner at a small local restaurant where we ate traditional food (fish & potatoes with lots of sauce), probably best suited for habour workers, because it was very rich.
The next few days we hiked around the island through the pouring rain and saw what's called The Pompeï of the North because of several volcanic eruptions. The last one dates back to 1973. While there was only 1 victim and lots of buried houses & ash, the lava threatened the fishing harbor but stopped right in time, due to the hard work of firemen dousing the lava with cold sea water, and by chance created an extra shelter for the harbor.
Vestmannaeyjar is also home to the puffin, it's where large colonies of puffins nesting inside the burrows around the cliffs. But not in september. However we saw our first puffin at the grocery store! We were talking to a local who told us his autistic son was taking care of an injured baby puffin. He called his wife to bring his son & the puffin chick to the grocery store for us to see. I'm not sure what was more endearing: the baby puffin or the family proudly showing their fluffy "patient".
When heading back to the harbor to check out the next day's ferry schedule, we found out the evening ferry wouldn't leave Vestmannaeyar because the weather was too bad. We were told to check back in the morning to see if the ferry would leave or not… So we were stuck on the island...
More next time!
P.S. Visiting Vestmannaeyjar became so much easier with a ferry sailing off from the Icelandic coast at only 30 minutes from the island!
Oh and if you happen to be in Iceland in august, check out the famous Þjóðhátíð festival on Vestmannaeyjar. Locals told us it's spectacular!
The French Water Lilies
One of the surprises on our short break in Provence was the discovery of this small lake with beautiful waterlillies.
We started our walk at the lake of Mormoiron at the base of the Mont Ventoux. Through the surrounding forests & beautiful AOC Ventoux vineyards we reached the top of a hill from where we had this amazing view on a lake full of pale pink waterlillies! We descended down to the lake and spotted a green lizzard, who was disturbed by our presence. He had this incredible neon green color. Wow!
Down at the lakeside we did this ridiculous Indian Water Lilies dance, inspired by the Efteling themepark attraction called The Indian Water Lilies from 1966. And I snapped a few pictures as you can see. Have you ever seen so many waterlilies?
One of my favorite Dutch fashion brands is Humanoid. They have been around for over 30 years and their identity just feels familiar without screaming for attention. The fabrics they use are gorgeous, soft and easy to wear. It's a pity I cannot wear any wool (sooo itchy!), because in the winter they have the most amazing alpaca wraps.
I recently visited their beautiful flagship store (in a former church!) in Arnhem, The Netherlands. What I liked best was that alongside their main brand, they also carry a nice selection of brands like Hope, N.D.C., Jerôme Dreyfuss, Officine Creative, Isabel Marant, Face Stockholm, Silent by Damir Doma, Acne and many other beauties.
And the best thing is that their sales started today! Have a look and let me know what you threw into your shopping basket!
As of yesterday you can book your tickets for the Avignon theatre festival. In only a few weeks the Festival d'Avignon will start and during 1 month the rhythm of this city in Southern France will be defined by street theatre performances, tons of visitors (over 150.000!) and great theatre productions. But not last week. Of course the Palais des Papes and the Pont d'Avignon attract tourists all year round, but off the beaten path it was still nice & calm.
The tiles of this Beauty salon on the Boulevard Raspail, reminded me of the Camper boutique in Covent Garden, London.
I also stumbled upon quite a few interesting small boutiques & shops, like Kulte (their hipster owners were enjoying the sun on the pavement) and Le Carré de Blé, a nice biological bakery & pastry shop & "snacking haut de gamme". With beautiful bikes in front of the shop too.
Through Les Bon Plans d'Avignon I found Milkshop, where Thibaut and Maxime serve homemade milkshakes & delicous pastries & quiches with local ingredients. It's on my list for next time!
A provocative stencil on the pavement of Avignon and a beautiful poster drawing by Bastard Fly. So much more interesting than this year's dull festival poster...
If you're in Provence this summer, don't miss out on the Avignon festival. Buy yourself a ticket to 1 of the OFF performances and let some upcoming theatre talents surprise you. Enjoy!
A few days in Provence
Just what we needed after a rainy and busy springtime: a few days off to disconnect and indulge in sunshine in the beautiful Provence.
After a short & inexpensive flight with the most annoying security check ever, we landed in the middle of the Provence. And it immediately smelled amazing! It is the one thing I like best about Southern France: its very particular smell.
Most of my summer holidays as a teenager were spent here, so the perfumes of pinetrees, sunshine, cypresses, herbs, lavender, mistral, burning asphalt and even the touristy provencal soap shops bring back sweet memories.
The second best thing in the South is the accent in spoken language. Hearing someone talk with a Southern accent always makes the sun shine in my heart.
And of course life is slower in the Provence. A provencal proverb says "Fai pas bon travaia quand la cigalo canto" (it isn't good working when the cicades sing). In the Provence the cicades sing a lot. Even though it wasn't hot enough this week for the cigales to sing all day, people here tend to take more time to just live. So cliché but so true, don't you think?
With the beautiful desaturated Berlin photography of Sandra Juto in my head, I traveled to Berlin. The city turned out to be so much brighter than I thought it would be. So many colors everywhere! The amazing weather and creative conference absolutely helped a lot there too.
It appeared to me that somehow Berlin is to creatives, what LA is to actors. So many creative people everywhere, waiting for their 15 minutes of fame.
The city walls are covered with so much talent. Berlin street art is much more colorful than most things I see in Paris. And there is a lot MORE too.
The R.E.M. song Überlin was stuck in my head all weekend. The street art bunny appearing in the song's video was made by an artist called Roa. I stumbled upon his rats (see above) in the Prenzlauerberg district! Übercool!
Ich bin kein Berliner
Berlin is amazing. This city is so very big, streets are wide, it's airy (you can actually breathe here!), has a creative feel and is very green too. The façades of the (huge!) buildings are very flat and most streets have lots of trees. I walked for hours without seeing any tourists. I now understand why Sandra Juto likes 10-hour walks across the city, I really enjoyed it too!
Here a some of the photos I took, more to follow...
Above: you're looking at a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Façade of Espressobar Mörder, Torstrasse 199.
Standing on former East & West Berlin at the same time.
Design Panoptikum, The Museum of Extraordinary Objects. A supercool store & museum with the most curious and extraordinary objects. I was so intrigued by the mystery of the items that when the owner who was sitting in the dark, said "Hallo" I freaked out and ran outside. The museum is on my list for next time!
The Euro-Flohmarkt (flea market), Berliner Straße 80-82.
With François Hollande becoming France's new president today, the words France, Hollande and Berlin are trending. Also in my book, as I'll be in Berlin for my first time ever in a few days.
Growing up as a Dutch citizen and now in France, with Germany as one of the neighbouring countries, I had the chance of visiting Germany quite a few times. The last time I was in Germany is only a few weeks ago, and only for a few (fun!) hours. Above is what it looked like: so pretty!
Of course we also traveled through Germany on our roadtrip to Scandinavia last year. And in 2007 I was invited to visit the HQ of a German graphic studio and to talk about a possible collaboration. During my stay in a very rural part of Germany, I became embarrassingly aware that I overestimated my German language skills. Chatting to the taxi driver, I saw his quizzical look in the rear view mirror. Probably I spoke Dutch with a German accent, which sounds good to me, but is incomprehensible for a German…
However I read and understand almost anything in German, but speaking it, is something else… I'm off to Berlin to attend The Hive, a European Blog Conference. Besides being excited to meet lots of new people (I will definitely talk to them in English), I'm looking forward to discovering a tiny bit of (hipster!) Berlin. And of course to see what's left of the Berlin wall, as I can vividly recall the moment of the fall of the Berlin wall in november 1989. Rendez-vous la semaine prochaine!
Another great thing in London is that admission to most musea, except for mayor exhibitions, is free. I visited Tate Modern and the V&A. Unfortunately the Serpentine gallery in Hyde Park was closed while they were preparing the new On the Edgware Road exhibition.
I wasn't aware that The Obliteration room project was actually at the Tate, part of the huge Yayoi Kusama exhibition. It was smaller than the images I've seen, but ohhh the joy of colorful dots...
The huge Anthropologie store with women's clothing, accessories and home decor was another treat. They featured beautiful fake cactus plants by a local artist (who was proudly putting them in place herself). Some of the other highlights were the fabulous vertical wall covered in plants, kept alive with rainwater and UV lights and the huge dressing rooms which felt like my own spacious walk-in-closet.
And above all the store smells great. For a moment I forgot I was actually in the middle of one the most touristic areas in London.
Somehow London overall smelled quite bad. Maybe it's all the fish&chips they serve to tourists? I was lucky to have dinner at the Island restaurant, part of the Lancaster Hotel overlooking Hyde Park, where they serve simple but tasty meals. Even their fish&chips was really good! And the Banamel cheesecake was to die for...
Another Icelandic gem is Fashion & Product Designer Sruli Recht. His work has this typical super creative & melancholic Icelandic vibe. He is actually recruiting a Junior Design Assistant at the moment. If I would have had any 3D modelling skills I would definitely have applied for this job. Working in Reykjavik for a while sounds tempting.
And just like that...
Some of the things I liked best:
• A sneak peek into the property and studio of Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner. The studio floor reveals the colors and gestures of almost every painting he did from 1947 to 1952.
• Of course there is also plenty of bloglove for the Yellowtrace blog by Dana. One of my favorites too. She takes us off the beaten path to discover the unexpected.
• Stars stripes and acid brights: in your own style you will be the star. Photography by Marjon Hoogervorst and styling by AnoukB showcasing how to add some punch by adding (trendy) colors to your home.
• Real or Replica on the Hans J Wegner CH24 Wishbone Chair (1949).
• Cooks with such a great smile (and Egyptian roots) probably know how to prepare a super nice meal. On my next trip to NYC I will definitely try visit restaurant Colonie in Brooklyn Heights.
• Island luxe: the light at restaurant Alemagou on Mykonos, one of the many Greek islands, is just spectacular. It makes me want to teleport to it right now and enjoy the sea view, the cycladic architectural elements of the venue and of course the agaves & cacti.
And when you'll stumble upon a piece of street art by the Ukranian Stanislava Pinchuk on your final destination, how nice would that be?
Don't forget to pack some cookies by Cookie Boy for on the road.
JOELIX featured on Bloesem
First we visited Denmark, then we traveled through Sweden and ended our journey in Oslo, Norway. Hope you enjoyed this little voyage! Thank you Irene!
P.S. Did you know there is a new Bloesem blog coming soon? B:Studio will be launched early july.
I had a real coup-de-cœur for the Liebe shop. Susan Liebe really amazed me with the styling of her cute little shop. Everything was so colorful, happy, and playful. A must visit if you're looking for the perfect gift for a newborn baby. The Stilleben shop in the same area of Copenhagen sells really beautiful tableware. Another coup-de-cœur I had for Granit with it's many smart solutions for storage, porcelain, glass, bathroom and kitchen products, spices, textiles and office supplies. They have stores in Sweden and Norway. Love love love!
At &pagne in Copenhagen I stumbled upon the beautiful leather bags by Yvonne Koné. At &pagne they also carry the brand Wackerhaus. I really liked the luxurious tissues Trine used for her SS11 collection.
AirBnB turned out to work just as good as I hoped. We stayed in great apartments which gave the sensation to be part of the city. It is so nice to have some space to relax and to be able to prepare your own breakfast.
Hungry? For the best burgers you should go to Illegal Burger in Oslo. They serve the best blåbær smoothies too.
A Bigger Splash
I wonder how any fish in this fish tank feels on a sunday.
Give type a face
Tonight I'll watch Into the Wild. I already love the songs Eddie Vedder wrote for this movie, but I'm very curious to finally discover Christopher's great adventure to Alaska. A very different adventure about Alaska is I love Alaska. This documentary reveals the life of a middle aged woman from Housten, Texas, through her personal search engine queries. Interesting concept, but also very sad.
Browsing through a project book of The Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude made me really want to go to New York City again. To discover the people and other highlights of the city. To eat a hot pretzel, visit the MoMa plus some other musea and just wander around. In the mean time I have some old jews telling me jokes. Or I have a look at the different volumes of the S+M+L project by Marvie. Or I dream of doing some 3D printing.
In case you need it to get through this cold and snowy february month: here is some help.
I'm very VAR
La ferme Capelude is very special to me and it’s for sale! Hidden in a valley of the Maures Hills, the farm is situated at 12km from Collobrières and Grimaud, on a terrain of 220000 square meters and fully equiped with guestrooms, studios and a swimmingpool. It has the typical provencal beauty complemented with original details which makes it an absolute rare pearl. Contact me for any further information!
Anyway, to go with the new publicity campaign of the region: I'm very VAR!
Nuits de Feu in Chantilly
Sex and the City
If these Chinese hackers wouldn't have replaced parts of the old blogposts by this unreadable signs, I would have known what I wrote about in this blogpost. Did it have something to do with the beauty of NYC, the end of an era with the last episode of Sex and the City? Or something else? We'll never find out.
Did you see the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Torino? I just saw a small part, but I really enjoyed the acrobats forming this huge peace dove at the end. The movements of the acrobats were so bizarre but really beautiful! Excellent!
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