If you’re looking for inspiration in Paris, then Merci, on Boulevard Beaumarchais on the edge of the Marais, is always worth a visit…The brainchild of Marie-France Cohen & her husband (founders of children’s brand Bonpoint) Merci is a concept store, that since opening in 2009, has in a few short years, gained quite a reputation amongst interiors & lifestyle journalists and bloggers. And with good reason!Set in an old factory, set back from the main road (sorry Boulevard!) Merci has 15,000 sq ft of the very best in contemporary furniture, lighting & accessories, mixed with exquisite vintage & antique pieces…There is also a whole floor of exclusive designer clothing and accessories, with many pieces designed exclusively for Merci, by Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and Isabel Marant – to name a few. There is also a library/café where you can slow down and maybe browse or buy the books while you sip your green tea! It’s also worth mentioning that Merci donates all it’s profits to Women’s foundations in Madagascar. But the thing that stands Merci apart, is the innovative visual merchandising and displays that are implemented throughout the store… That and the little vintage Red Fiat 500 Cinquecento that stands in the courtyard ready to greet you as you enter….Merci, indeed.
As a reward to ourselves for all the work we put into launching our new website, we took a few days off last week, and headed off for a few days, in and around the Cotswolds. We stayed two nights at the wonderful Cowley Manor, a contemporary country house, boutique hotel & spa in….well, Cowley!Just outside Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, Cowley Manor has been a Hotel & Spa since 2002 and has been recognised as pioneering a new wave of country house hotels.On arrival, the first thing that struck us about Cowley Manor (apart from the obvious beauty of the building itself) is the view from inside the hotel, looking out onto the lakes and lawns. Breath-taking…The interior is cool & contemporary with an abundance of modern artwork and sculpture throughout the beautiful old building and its grounds.Old & New has always been at the core of everything we do, so we weren’t disappointed.The staff are friendly and the service is what you would expect of a hotel of this calibre – top notch! They even had a selection of multicoloured Hunter Wellies to borrow….. For us though, the jewel in Cowley’s crown, is the 55 acres of grounds. Its famous gardens include, parklands, woods & meadows, as well as a series of lakes and Victorian cascades…Rain or shine (and we had both) the grounds are truly beautiful. As we explored the gardens and land surrounding Cowley Manor, it was great fun discovering the many pieces of sculpture by post-graduate students from the Royal College of Art….…made all the more striking, seeing modern art & sculpture set in the traditional setting of an English landscaped garden.By the way, local history states that Lewis Carroll regularly visited Cowley village. During his stays, it is said, he drew inspiration for his best known book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, from Cowley Manor and it’s grounds. Croquet anyone?
At the beginning of May we managed to get away for a long weekend. So we headed to the beautiful Tuscan city of Florence, (Firenze).
There’s a lot of scented candles out there these days, varying in price from £5 to £50 (also varying in quality). As far as we’re concerned a good scented candle should, most importantly, have an exquisite scent, and a nice even burn – without leaving a ‘circle’ of wax around the outside, and a wick that’s slowly disappearing down a hole! Great packaging is also vitally important these days, for a candle to stand out from the crowd, especially in the gift market…..
….so with that in mind, when we were in Paris earlier in the year, we discovered Papillon Rouge Candles. Made entirely in France, Papillon Rouge are a family run business, with a passion for home fragrance. They use exclusively 100% vegetable wax (paraffin free) and their candles delicately scent your home with the most wonderful scents….
We have a small selection of their scents that include: Orange Blossom, Cedar wood, Black Iris, Fig Tree Leaf, Woody Rose & Seashore. They come in handmade glass vessels in Black, white or Red (the red glass is a one off scent called ‘Love Addicted’ and Virginie at PR tells us you can only smell it if you are in love!)
Papillon Rouge are at the higher end of the candle market so consequently you will pay a little more (£35 each) but they are truly exquisite. Trust us!!
For those familiar with ‘Cote Bastide’ luxury scents, toiletries and candles, no words are needed. For those unfamiliar, all you really need to know about Cote Bastide products is that they are handmade in South of France (Provence), they are all made with natural ingredients, they are sold by some of the finest retailers around the world…….but most importantly, they are divine. We’ve recently had our Christmas delivery, so go on, spoil somebody!