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a stroll in regents park

Gosh, the weather. It just had to be documented. It’s the middle of April but it seems like high summer, so here are photos from a little stroll in Regents Park.

Being cherry blossom season, I wanted to find some pink and white ones. I knew that there is  the Avenue of cherry trees on either side of Chester Road. This year you won’t find any there as the trees are being replaced with new ones for next year.

You can sponsor a cherry blossom tree. Here’s the updated Regents Park Cherry Tree Fund.

Happy that I found some…

a stroll in regents park - colourliving

a stroll in regents park - colourliving

a stroll in regents park - colourliving

a stroll in regents park - colourliving

a stroll in regents park - colourliving

a stroll in regents park - colourliving

Soon the season will be over and we’ll have to wait for another year. Have a good weekend. See you back here on Monday x

2 Comments

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms

Today I’m excited to feature the newly added bedrooms at the Hospital club. My regular readers will know that I’ve been a proud member of this private membership club for almost 10 years. I’ve blogged about the club, its history and our lovely CEO before. You can also read about the Oak room addition back in 2013.

In January this year the club changed yet again and added 15 luxurious bedrooms to its already exciting offerings. Designed by Russell Sage Studio I knew I would instantly love it, having seen their previous work in the club and some of their other projects.

Cosy, luscious, sophisticated, kitted out with leathers, velvets, warm woods and stained glass the rooms range from Small to Medium and Large to Suites. There’s been a lot of press coverage so you can find many images. I wanted to concentrate on some of the details and find out more about the thinking behind it so asked Michael Berg, Creative Director of the club, some questions.

How do you start a project like this. Where does the inspiration come from? The decision to put bedrooms in the club was a result of feedback from members. Three out of every four new members asked about accommodation. Also when we talked to existing members about developments they would like to see in the club, bedrooms were always mentioned. We were also lucky that due to the length of time to get the planning permission, it enabled us to talk, research, define and debate what we personally liked about hotels and what we didn’t like. We were able to fully define the service and the design route for the rooms.

So, now you had some ideas on paper. What came next? We were able to present to Russell Sage a very detailed view of what the bedrooms should be like , ideas, the features and also how we intended to service them. This enabled  him and his team to go away and create a full presentation for us.

Russell Sage Studio has worked on many areas within the club. What makes you choose his studio over and over again? I originally introduced Russell to the previous CEO when we were refurbishing the 2nd Floor. Russell had always been a fan of the club and was always saying to me how much he wanted to work on the club. He consistently delivers, he understands our DNA and, most importantly, gets the right balance between design and comfort. I also think that over a period of time you get to know and understand each other, and as a testament to this, we only changed a handful of ideas from the original pitch.

You had a special carpet designed by Russell Sage Studio. Can you expand? We knew early on that it was important to give the rooms an identity, and in our building that can at times prove challenging as there are very few distinct or stand out original features. The idea with the carpet is that when you see it in a photo alongside the headboards you will immediately say “Hospital Club”. It’s a bold design that carries through from the corridors to the rooms.

How detailed was the brief to the interior designers. How do you make sure you stay within budget? It was a very detailed brief, in terms of what we wanted and did not want, what we hoped to achieve et cetera. We employed a separate company to project manage all aspects of the build, including interiors and I am delighted to say it did come in under budget.

You involved artists from the club in your decor of the rooms. Good collaborations? When we decided to put art in the rooms we wanted a program that had resonance and a connection to the club. It made total sense to ask artists who had previously been exhibited in the club, it reinforces the provenance and commitment to contemporary art that we have created. All the artists were amazing, offering their work unconditionally. It has been a wonderful and delightful collaboration.

The detail of attention is impeccable. Tell us about your special cocktail mixes and the little book of creativity. The cocktail mixes were the inspiration of our head barman and the bottles came from a goodie bag I received. The Little Book of Creativity was our answer to the Gideon’s Bible normally found in hotels.

We live in an information age and want to feel at home, wherever we are. Is the Hospital Club with bedrooms now a true ‘home from home’ space? I certainly hope so, I think it completes the offering, we are now truly 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a week.

Is there a particular part of this process you enjoyed the most? I think the most enjoyable part was the sourcing and selection of items in the rooms, from blankets to kettles, clocks, hot water bottles, toiletries but also getting the art together!

Thank you Michael!

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Stepping out of the lift on the third floor where the bedrooms are located.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Fabulous carpet design by Russell Sage Studio found throughout the third floor.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Part of the corridor on the third floor. On the other side, Solomon & Wu have added witty, medically-themed resin murals lining the bedroom corridors.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Exquisite overarching headboards in warm wood. Another signature feature of all the bedrooms. This here is part of a Suite.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
All rooms have Roberts radios.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Beautiful hand-stitched detail on blankets.

Artefacts, books, ornaments, 70’s retro cabinets and quirky display units make the Suites feel more like a private residence than a hotel room.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving

Another great touch. In each room, the respective artist chose their three favourite books for guests to enjoy.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving

Always with the fingers on the pulse, there are also some Terrariums found in the Suites.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Beautiful Terrarium by Alyson Mowat of Botanique.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Some hanging Terrariums by Alyson and a writing desk.

 

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
You can purchase this Little Book of Creativity, as well as other items featured in the rooms in the Hopsital club shop. All proceeds from the Little Book of Creativity will go to the h.Club Foundation

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Sunny mirror.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Magnificient Rockstar Whisky Bar in one of the Suites by Buster + Punch.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Incredible workmanship and detail of the Rockstar Bar.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving
Customised cocktail mixes.

All rooms are kitted out with Roberts radios, old style telephones, iPod docks, TV screens and lots of charm and details. In the Suites you’ll find extras like a terrace,  an Espresso machine and an erotic mini bar by Holloway Smith Noir. All bedrooms have the midas touch and even the couple of windlowless rooms make you feel cocooned.

One of the most genius features are the stained glass designs. All different, they add a glorious touch and luminous light.

the hospital club adds 15 bedrooms - colourliving

Truth be told, photographs don’t do the bedrooms justice. Like with any multi-layered, textured, tactile and sensual space, you have to actually be in one and experience it for yourself. The best part is that by staying in one of the rooms you automatically get the Hospital club experience as if you were a member. Great service, food, cinema screenings, excellent value for money. I could go on and on and on, but then I’m bias. Rumour has it that there’s a mobile barman who arrives outside your room at 7pm with a trolley fully stocked with lethal cocktails.

A great team work and as I said at the beginning of my post I’m a proud member of this private membership club for almost 10 years and not about to go anywhere else. For those of you who would like to stay in one of the bedrooms, give me a nudge and I’ll see if I can pass on my membership discount to you.

I’m taking a little hiatus. See you back here on Thursday 16th April.

4 Comments

upcoming trip to berlin

It’s a long Easter weekend and I cannot wait! I equally cannot wait for my upcoming trip to Berlin next week. Hurray.

upcoming trip to berlin - colourliving

Did you know I have a love affair with Berlin? It reminds me of a mini London. It’s cosmopolitan, exciting, provocative and stimulating. It’s creative scene is known for it’s exploration and risk-taking. I love the entrepreneurial spirit and coffee culture. I’ve been going for many years and every time I see it with fresh eyes.

upcoming trip to berlin - colourliving

I love nothing better than getting lost, exploring new places and finding the unusual. How do I do this? I ask locals, look up recommendations, hire a Vespa, take my notebook, my sketching pens, a camera and off I go exploring.

upcoming trip to berlin - colourliving

The beauty of this trip is that I’ve managed to combine it with a little business, The Hive conference, some meetings for Mapology Guides and lots of time to spend with friends and make new acquaintances. How excited am I? Of course, you dear readers will also benefit from my excursion as I’ll be bringing back lots of photographs of my week away.

There’s only one sad thought. My dearest friend Holly, who lived in Berlin, has recently moved back to Canada to start a coffee roastery with her husband. I’m totally excited for them but gutted not to be spending time together in this cool city. Boo!

Have a great Easter everyone. See you back here on Monday.

13 Comments

alexander mcqueen at the v&a

Last week I went to the Alexander McQueen fashion exhibition at the V & A. One of the most anticipated exhibitions in recent years it did not disappoint. I will go as far as to say that it was probably amongst the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Duck feather dress | The Horn of Plenty, A/W 2009-10 | Alexander McQueen | Model: Magdalena Frackowiak represented by dna model management New York, Image: firstVIEW

Why is that, you may ask? Well, I see quite a few exhibitions every year and am fortunate to live in London where you get to see the cream of the crop. But what makes a great exhibition? It can be one or all of the following:

1. You love the artist, designer, theme, subject matter
2. The curation is exceptional
3. Both work hand in hand

In this case it’s definitely number 3. As I walked through the exhibition I kept thinking that Alexander McQueen would have absolutely loved it. The only major retrospective in Europe of this talented and visionary fashion designer, it celebrates McQueen’s career in the most spectacular way. A few years in the making, no costs have been spared. The attention to detail is exquisite and the production team deserves a medal. Lights, videos, rotating mannequins, holograms and the music will blow your mind and you’ll leave elated and inspired.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Portrait of Alexander McQueen | 1997 | Photographed by Marc Hom | © Marc Hom / Trunk Archive

It felt like a wonderful theatrical piece of storytelling, starting with McQueen’s Central Saint Martin’s postgraduate collection of 1992 to his final designs for A/W 2010, completed after his death. The rooms became grander and more spectacular as you go along.

I loved this Romantic Gothic room, where all walls were lined with framed mirrors.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Installation view of ‘Romantic Gothic’ gallery |  2015 | Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A | Victoria and Albert Museum, London

My absolute favourite part was the Cabinet of Curiosities, a double-height room with a plethora of box frames showcasing individual showpieces. I could have stayed there for hours, absorbing myself into McQueen’s world. Totally inspired, I was however also aware of the thin line between genius and madness.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Installation view of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery | 2015 | Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A | Victoria and Albert Museum, London

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Butterfly headdress of hand-painted turkey feathers | La Dame Bleue,S/S 2008 | Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen | Model: Alana Zimmer, © Anthea Simms

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Installation view of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery | 2015 | Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A | Victoria and Albert Museum, London

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
My sketchbook spread drawn while in the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery (outline only) and coloured in afterwards.

Savage Beauty is definitely worth travelling for. If you live in London or in the UK then get yourself a ticket pronto. If you live in Europe, like fashion, museums and London, then make sure not to miss this extravaganza. Check for times and tickets. It’s very popular but look at maybe visiting early in the morning.

I cannot wait to go again.

“The collection at the V&A never fail to intrigue and inspire me. The nation is privileged to have access to such a resource….. it’s the sort of place I’d like to be shut in overnight.”
Alexander McQueen

Alexander Mc Queen: Savage Beauty
Victoria and Albert Museum
14 March – 2 August 2015
www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

11 Comments

urban jungle bloggers – diy terrarium

Another Urban Jungle Bloggers month. Where does the time go?

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series, devised by Igor and Judith. The idea is to get some green into our homes, especially for us urban folks! Every month they invite bloggers to share ideas for creating an urban jungle through styling challenges, DIYs, green tips and tricks. Every month there is a different theme on the topic. You can follow and get more Urban Jungle Bloggers inspiration on Pinterest and on Facebook.

March’s theme is: ‘Easter styling’…..

….and like the true rebel I am I have completely ignored that. Well, sort of. Instead I’ve created a terrarium and little haven for some of my animal kingdom. Why not, right?

So, a few month ago I asked Angela of the spectacular Botany shop if I can come and make a Terrarium. The day arrived and I was very excited. Always struggling with finding glass containers I wanted to make use of the large jar I bought at Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park a couple of years ago.

Armed with vessel I appeared at the shop.

Start with stones. In this case big stones as my vessel is 38cm high.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

Then I was able to choose any succulent I wanted. Here I have to thank Angela s in true Tina style I overdid it. She expertly advised me to plant less so they have space to grow. Much obliged!

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

Ok, once the dry soil has been laid down you are ready to plant your succulents. I chose 5 different ones that would compliment in colour, size and proportion.

I always knew that I wanted to create a bit more than just a normal terrarium so I rushed to After Noah and got myself this gorgeous giraffe.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

When back at home I decided to insert some of my mini animal kingdom so meet baby giraffe.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

Can you spot the difference in this next photo? Of course you can. Hello Mr Frog.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

And one more, my mini crocodile. Not having yet found the right crystal I opted for a shiny YELLOW (hello Easter) stone I had at home.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

Yes, in one of my past lives I made jewellery and bead work as a hobby. I thought this bead necklace I fished out from a drawer was quite the perfect finish to my terrarium. What do you think?

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

And here you have it. Now where to put it? That’s the challenge. I have really enjoyed making my own Terrarium and want to thank Angela for her generosity and time. If you haven’t yet been to Botany shop, then run. Alternatively Angela has a six weeks pop-up shop in the delightful Toast in Notting Hill.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

Because I’m not a complete rebel, say hi to my mini Easter chicks.

urban jungle bloggers - diy terrarium - colourliving

I could make Terrariums forever but really dislike photographing them. Looking forward to all the other Urban Jungle Bloggers posts.

UJB-sidebar-green

 

 

18 Comments

the wildflower café

A couple of weeks ago while home finding, I stopped at the delightful The Wildflower Café in West London. This café/florist by day and bistro by night is beyond charming. Passionate about design, good food & drink and flowers & plants, it hit every spot for me.

Already seduced by the offerings of plants and flowers outside, you are further tempted with a sumptious display of cakes and brownies in the window. It’s really impossible not to want to enter, take a look and be engulfed in the womb of this rather special place.

While there I met Leila, founder of The Wildflower Café. As in true Colourliving style my curiosity got the better of me so I asked Leila some questions.

As a child, what did you dream of becoming when you grew up?
Glamorous international jewel thief or farmer.

 

the wildflower café - colourliving
The window display of cakes and flowers and plants.

the wildflower café - colourliving
Close-up of the cake offerings inside.

Did you fulfil that dream? How did your career pan out?
Not yet on either, though I still have high hopes for farming and eventually having a branch of the Wildflower attached to a farm.

This café is a new venture for you. How did it come about?
It was many years in the making and the driving force behind it was my family’s encouragement. The biggest challenge was finding a suitable space which in itself took a year and from then we moved very quickly.

the wildflower café - colourliving
The inside space is simple, stylish, yet eclectic and unique.

the wildflower café - colourliving
There are lovely touches and the bowler hat pendant lights work really well in that space.

the wildflower café - colourliving
I’m loving the simplicity and colour combination here and that mirror works a treat.

Is there a philosophy behind the Wild Flower Café?
Not really, I just tend to really trust my instincts and that has stood me in good stead so far. I see the venture as an extension of myself.

There are some wonderful design pieces and great styling in your space. Care to elaborate?
It was a collaboration with my sister. We call it “playful skandinavian” and it’s very much looks like an extension of my home.

The flowers, herbs and plants you have for sale are extraordinary. Was it a conscious decision to combine a café with a florist?
Yes, that was always the plan, the initial concept.

The food is very yummy and the cakes look scrumptious. Are you a foodie yourself?
I’m a trained chef and former food critic so I’m about as foodie as one can be.

Your strap line is: Café by Day and Bistro by night. Do you use the space for other purposes?
We do events, parties, flower arranging classes, wine tastings & book groups in the space from time to time but for the most part we stick with the strap line.

Thank you Leila.

Although very much a foodie, regular readers will know that I’m passionate about good nutrition. Eating out is not always easy for me and favouring a paleo meal can make this even harder. Not here. I absolutely LOVED the seasonal superfood salad. Freshly made on the premises it offered a most interesting cornucopia of flavours.

the wildflower café - colourliving
Seasonal superfood salad. Quinoa, seasonal vegetables (asparagus) topped with grilled chicken.

I really appreciated the mix of design products with some more eclectic and vintage pieces thrown in. This shelfie was particularly charming.

the wildflower café - colourliving
Love the little girl vase with that posie.

the wildflower café - colourliving
There are some interesting vases and pitchers.

the wildflower café - colourliving
I fell in love with this turquoise vase and parrot tulips. An adorable combination in colour and texture.

the wildflower café - colourliving
You’ll find many plants and some succulents.

the wildflower café - colourliving
Most plants are sold in lovely containers which make it easy to buy as presents.

All in all, I can see why The Wildflower Café was the winner of Time Out’s Love London award for best café in Notting Hill in 2014. Obsessed with coffee, cake and fresh food I was sold at ‘hello’ and look forward to my return.

8 Comments

shoreditch – a visual diary

I’m always amazed how quickly everything changes in Shoreditch. While out and about there last week I kept seeing things I wanted to snap a picture of. So, I thought, why not do a visual diary of an afternoon out in Shoreditch?

The wonderful Ace Hotel. Cool, chilled with a great co-working space. But look at their green Urban Jungle? How cool is that for an entrance.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving
Ace Hotel main entrance.

Some great interiors touches. Beautiful lamp next to a hanging planter. Fab!

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

Yep, gorgeous Dachshund on the wall.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

I’m a little in love with this green cabinet.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

Hattie’s gorgeous flowershop that leads onto Ace Hotel’s Brasserie.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

These daffodils definitely smell like spring, right?

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

The fabulous Mast Brothers are now on Redchurch Street. Got to love the packaging.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

Stumbled upon Recletic in their pop-up shop on Redchurch Street, now sadly closed. They transform furniture with a pixelated twist on tradition, by fusing art, pattern, history and technology.  Spray painted by hand, their pieces are unique and really well priced. Love!

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving
Fab night side table drawer by Reclectic.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving
Totally cool pattern on a beautiful side table – Reclectic.

You see some of the most inspiring wall art and graffiti in this part of town.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

And for a bit eclectic fun, I loved this treatment of wired off spaces. Very inspiring indeed.

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

shoreditch - a visual diary - colourliving

See you Monday. Bon weekend x

4 Comments

daily sketching part three

What do they say? It takes 30 days to form a new habit. Well, I’m two and a half months into my daily sketching. For those new to my blog, you can catch up on my sketching journey. How it all began, daily sketching in 2015, daily sketching part two.

Like with all new things, I threw myself into the task. After about 6 weeks or so of long nights (going to bed at 3am or later) I realised this is not sustainable. I was walking around like a zombie during the day. So, how do I sustain my daily sketching without killing myself? Well, with baby steps, as with everything in life. I figured out that it’s impossible to do my sort of intricate sketching that takes anywhere between 3 and 7 hours on a daily basis.

I started thinking that it’s ok to show the process on some of my work. Like this I can do something on a daily basis and some of you might even enjoy seeing how a sketchbook spread comes about with its different layers.

As always, I’m very greatful to all of you who support my creative endeavours. It’s so relaxing and therapeutic for me and a good contrast to running my Home Finding and Mapology Guides.

This here below is a collage of some flowers I had already drawn. I simply photocopied them in black and white, glued them on and painted over them.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

A bit of abstract painting with oil pastels and mixed media.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

A piece with dense housing. I would love to do a bigger piece of this. I think it would be more impactful. What do you think?

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

A simple sketch, albeit time consuming. Was thinking about mosaic tiles. Use coloured pencils.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

This next sketch was inspired by the wallpaper in my hotel room on my short trip to the South of France.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

Here I was driving down the coastal road towards Villefranche sur Mer, when I just had to stop the car to sketch the outlines. Once I had more time, I filled in with watercolours.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

This was the first version I released on Instagram.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

This is the finished version I released on Instagram.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

And here is the double spread so you can see it in its entirety.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

Staying with the inspiration from the South of France. This time it’s boats and yachts.

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

Over the weekend I decided to explore some more cityscapes. This time a little closer to home, London!

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

daily sketching part three - colourliving

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these. That’s it for now until the next installment of sketchbooks explorations. See ya.

8 Comments

slow food market at rosewood london

I’m so excited. There’s a new farmers market in town and it’s a step up from the rest.

Why? Because it’s not a usual farmers market, it’s the first regular Slow Food Market in London. Housed in the beautiful courtyard of the stupendous Rosewood London Hotel, it’s visually stunning as well as a culinary delight!

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
I nearly pinched this!

What is Slow Food?

So why am I so excited about this? Well, as a regular farmers market shopper, I’ve probably been to most of the ones in London. That means I know most of the producers and vendors. This market had many vendors I didn’t know and I was delighted to come across The Bio Scheme, amongst others, who sell bio-dynamic produce.

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
The Bio Scheme

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
The Bio Scheme

What fascinated me the most was the fantastic unified decor, which recreates the traditional marketplace shopping experience and celebrates good, clean and fair produce from local growers and artisans. The stalls are all made out of beautiful wood and decked with what looked like a fine hessian.

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
O’Shea’s Butchers

Producers and vendors are keen to impart their knowledge and the market was buzzing while I was there.

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
The Tomato Stall

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
Hook & Son

I couldn’t get over the wonderful decoration throughout. McQueens flowers have planted herbs into wicker baskets and plants in vintage crates. Throughout you will also find lemon and orange trees. I really wished they were all for sale.

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
McQueens florist

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
McQueens florist

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
McQueens florist

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
McQueens florist

I came away with lots of yummy food and treated myself to a rather gorgeous terrarium. It’s simple, elegant and the Amethyst crystal is rather divine, don’t you think?

Slow Food Market at Rosewood London
My new Terrarium! LOVE.

Vendor listings:

Slow Meat / Charcuterie – Gastronomica, O’Shea’s Butchers; Slow Fish – Hansen & Lydersen, Market Gourmet; Slow Dairy - Wildes Cheese, Hook & Son, Bath Soft Cheese Company; Slow Bread - Oliver’s Bakery, Nyborg’s; Slow Honey - Wild Hives, Inmidtown; Slow Fruit & Vegetables - Wild Country Organics, Chegworth Valley, The Bio-Scheme, The Tomato Stall, Rosewood London; Slow Beer / Wine / Spirits – Hiver The Honey Beer, Anspach & Hobday, Plato Brewing Supplies, Gosnells London Mead; HALF HITCH Gin; Petersham CellarSlow Drink - Woodford & Warner; Slow Tea – Lalani & Co; Slow Coffee - Dark Arts Coffee, Moonroast Coffee, CRU Kafe; Slow Chocolate – Dark Sugars, Seaforth Chocolate Co; Slow Fashion & Accessories – The Whale Company; Po-Zu Footwear; Slow HomewareK.Birdy, Slow ArtKana Ceramics; Slow Beauty / Candles - Live Native, Being Sophie, Farmers’ Welsh Lavender, Honest; Slow Books - Being Sophie; Slow Flowers - Field of London, Slow Oil Arganic

The weekly market, open every Sunday from 10.30 a.m. – 3 p.m. is endorsed by Slow Food UK and is the only dedicated Slow Food Market in London. The market features over 30 different Slow Food merchants carefully selected for their exceptional quality.

8 Comments

72 hours in the south of france

As my regular readers know, I’m a big fan and regular visitor of the South of France. Now, the South of France incorporates a large area but I want to talk about a particular stretch of the The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera. I will cover the stretch between Cannes and Menton.

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Image: Wikipedia

I thought it might be helpful to summarise my findings over years into a 72 hours trip to this beautiful spot in Europe with some tried and tested recommendations. You ready? Let’s go.

If you travel from London, it’s best to take Easyjet or British Airways early in the morning. I usually go from Heathrow Terminal 5 and book my car with Valet Parking (really economical for 3 days).

Arriving in Nice 90 minutes later I always, without fail, rent a car. Here’s a tip. If you arrive in Terminal 1 (International Airlines except Easyjet) you will have to take a courtesy bus to Terminal 2 where you will find ALL car rental companies. This always takes far to long in my books so I exclusively rent my car from Truche, a car rental company that has it’s outlet in the Park Inn hotel, 5 minutes walk from Terminal 1. You basically follow some red lines across the car park to the hotel. It’s easy, their prices are competitive and you’ll have great service (rather a welcoming surprise in France).

Once I’ve picked up my little car I find myself within 10 minutes on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. My whole body has started relaxing while I take in the beauty along the seaside, the weather, the palm-lined walkway and the architecture. One of the most iconic buildings is the Le Negresco hotel, a 1912 belle époque stunner with an iconic pink dome.

I choose, more often than not to have accommodation in Nice as it forms the base for my travelling around.

It’s impossible to list everywhere I’ve been and all the things I’ve done over the years. So for these purposes here, if you were to visit this part of the world for 72 hours, this is what I would recommend.

Explore Nice.
Every day, except on Monday, there is a colorful food and flower market at Cours Saleya, the famous promenade in de South-West part of Vieux Nice. There are incredible museums in Nice so get yourself a cultural guide and visit one of two.

Get hold of a Nice Riviera Pass. This gains you access to Nice museums or cultural sites which aren’t already free. I recommend Museé Matisse and Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall but here are plenty more to explore.

The New Town is worth a visit if you want to do some shopping. Here you will also find some contemporary cultural venues, like the MAMAC

Here are my tried and tested top picks:

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Villa Victoria

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Villa Victoria – view from my window

Accommodation:
Hotel Windsor
Family owned, art rooms, great wild garden, spa, very central. Reasonable prices.
Villa Victoria
I stayed here last week. Beautiful Beaux Arts building and recently renovated. Stupendous courtyard. Reasonable prices.
Hi Hotel
An urban and concept hotel in Nice designed by Matali Crasset. Much frequented by the gay scene. On the more expensive side. Great attention to detail. Love the roof terrace and swimming pool.
Hotel Wilson
A quaint little hotel with character I’ve often stayed in. It’s an acquired taste and not for everyone. If you’re on a budget this is great.
Hotel Negresco
True luxury and heritage

Where to eat:
Bistro L’Antoine
My absolutely favourite place to eat in Nice. Can’t say enough good things about it. Make sure you book!
Le Bistro du Port
For great fish.
La Merenda
Very limited choice of food but excellent Nicoise style of cooking. To experienced at least once when in Nice. You cannot phone, can’t book and they don’t take credit cards. Be prepared to queue or not get in at all. Part of the charm.
Le Viviers
Just reliable great fish and seafood.
So Green
Healthy ‘mix your own salad bar’ for lunch. Bit pricey but super fresh big bowled salads.

Some of my favourite shops:
La Droguerie
Knitting supplies, haberdashery – a must on my every visit! No photographs allowed.
Creutz
A delightful old-style shop of all your pen needs!
La Maison de Plantes
If you love herbs, tisanes and an old fashioned apothecary, this is the place to come!
Alziari
For great olives, olive oil and associated sundries. Established in 1868, the place has the only olive-press left in town.
Arrato
A great source of very low-cost, high-bling jewellery. You have to take a ticket. It’s an experience to be had.
Galeries Lafayette
Department store for everything.

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
View from bas corniche

I like to drive along the coastal road in both directions. Starting with Grasse, ( about 30 km from Nice) a must for any perfume or scent lover! You have to go at least once. The views of the coast from Grasse and the hills above are breathtaking. The most famous parfumerie in Grasse is Fragonard and well worth a visit! Try and have a tour of the Fragonard Perfumerie.

Next stop is Antibes, one of my favourite places to visit on the Riviera. Antibes is a perfect, picture-postcard seaside resort with a great old town and a magnificent habour. Just walk anywhere there and you will be charmed. I do highly recommend the Picasso Museum. Why not also visit the adjacent Juan-les-Pins and the charming St. Paul de Vence.

A must is the famous Hotel du Cap Eden Roc which is only open 6 months of the year. The vista is stunning and if you like luxury, you’re in for a treat.

One of my favourite private beaches is Plage Keller in Cap D’Antibes.

Next stop is Cannes. Famous Cannes which hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival. I’m not the greatest fan of this city but it’s definitely a must if you visit the French Riviera. Cannes is great for shopping, night life, has fabulous restaurants and hotels.  I’ve stayed at the Carlton and the Martinez so can recommend those. The private beaches are great and if you like star spotting, this is the place for you.

Back in Nice and going into the opposite direction, towards the italian border, there are various ways to get to Monte Carlo and Menton. I tend to drive so have the choice between the bas (coastal road), moyenne (the middle road) and grand corniche (great coast road). I always prefer the bas corniche and stop off in various places.

First up is Villefrance sur mer, one of my favourite stops. Here I go and eat by the harbour. I often come here straight from the airport and just sit and unwind. It’s the best tonic.

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Villefranche sur mer – harbour

The old town is magnificent. Just have a stroll around.

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Villefranche sur mer – old town

Cap Ferrat is one of the three major capes of the French Riviera and in my opinion probably the most beautiful. Nearly always I will visit the Villa Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild. I cannot think of a more wonderful way to pass a couple of hours. I’ve blogged about it here (in the rain) and here (in glorious sunshine). A truly unique experience.

I love stopping at the harbour in Beaulieu sur Mer, another must for me. I particularly like it towards sunset but it’s great for taking a walk or having a delicious ice cream.

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Beaulieu sur Mer – harbour

Eze Village is definitely worth visiting. It can get a little touristy and there isn’t that much to see. The views, however, are worth making a trip there.

Next I stop is Cap d’Ail. You’ll find some amazing Belle Epoque architecture and very expensive villas. The main attraction is the almost 4 km long coastal path from to the splendid Plage de la Mala to Plage Marquet (just outside Monte Carlo). It takes a little over an hour.

72 hours in the south of france - colourliving
Beaulieu sur Mer – harbour

Monaco has to be seen if you’ve never been and are in the area anyway. If you’ve ever watched Grace Kelly or Cary Grant drive those windy mountain roads then you’ll want to visit Monaco. I only recently discovered the difference between Monaco and Monte Carlo. Monaco is the name of the principality, of the country. Monte Carlo is the name of one of its five districts.

Go and see the Grimaldi palace. The Oceanographic Museum is another great attraction and for lovers of plants and greens I recommend the Jardin Exotique.

The Casino, Café de Paris and Hotel de Paris are all worth a peek. It’s fun to people watch and look at all the ostentatious cars parked outside.

You are now heading towards the border of Italy and the last town is Menton. The town has a distinct subtropical microclimate that keeps it warm and sunny most of the year. Visit and walk around the old town. The Cocteau museum is also worth exploring. That’s pretty much it and my next stop would be the border to Italy.

As you can see its difficult to choose what to do and see in such a short time. If you’ve got a week or more then you can easily do it all.

There is so much more to see but it’s impossible for me to list everything without writing a definitive guide to this part of the world. As mentioned, I hire a car but you can do all of my suggestions by train or bus. The connections are good and it’s not very pricey. Most importantly, please only see my recommendations as suggestions. There are lots of reviews of everything so do your research and carve out your own little trip.

All I know is that you won’t be disappointed. The weather is mostly good. Try to avoid November to January. Foremost have lots of fun and enjoy this jewel part of the world.

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