• Style and Stories

    August 24th, 2020


    This time last year, Grace Sisters was in development and this first story was written then when life was different, travel was easy and we were heading off on a buying trip to Paris.

    September is the new January…

    After a long summer September was the perfect time for us to re-focus on our business. September is so much more suited to fresh starts than the usual new-resolution month of January. The weather is still pretty nice, the nights are still light-ish making working into them much more pleasant and everything just seems much more positive and bright unlike January when you just feel like crawling under a duvet, watching TV, eating comfort food and waking up when April rolls around. September also happens to be the month that many of the retail and design shows take place, launching new trends and a multitude of new products; an excellent reason for us to step on the gas and get this thing off the ground.

    And so to Paris, to Maison et Objet, one of the biggest retail trade shows in Europe. An eye-boggling, head-swivelling amount of furniture, homewares, accessories and gifts under one roof.

    Whilst on the subject of Paris, here’s some of the things we did when not at the show…




    Traveled by Eurostar, haven’t done this for years and had forgotten how easy and convenient it is.  No longer than flying really, so much more relaxing and you get deposited right in Paris where we then actually walked to our hotel. When is that ever possible?

    Hotel Paradis https://hotelparadisparis.com mid-range in price, perfectly nice rooms, decent breakfast, décor bordering on the trendy. Good location in Pigalle between the 9th/10th arrondissements with several great restaurants and bars very near by, including Vivant, right next door; and as mentioned, a handy 10 mins walk from Gare du Nord.

    The Paris Boris bike equivalent www.velib-metropole.fr was a revelation, I’m not brave enough to do it in London, I don’t think there’s any less traffic in Paris and the drivers are probably worse, but somehow it felt perfectly fine and safe. We pedaled all over the place, both day and slightly more riskier at night as the bikes don’t have lights. The only downside was that lots of the stations were full when we wanted to drop off the bikes meaning we had to pedal on, and on…

    French Book - Style & Stories


    Goop is our bible and Gwyneth recommended Buvette www.ilovebuvette.com (it was uphill from our hotel, so arrived by bike very hot and sweaty). Proper, very small, French bistro with great food and atmosphere to match. Most of the other people there were not French, could they be avid Goop fans too? So maybe it’s not that much of a proper French bistro, anyway we really liked it. Postcript: Have just googled Buvette and it turns out it’s an American operation! Shock horror, so it’s not a proper French bistro after all but it is as near as dammit and if it’s good enough for GP then….

    We also went, again by bike, to recently opened, new import from the UK, The Hoxton. We liked the buzziness of restaurant but didn’t love the food, craving a steak frites I chose theirs, but the steak was marinated in ginger and citrus – WTF? However having said all that had the budget allowed we would have loved to have stayed there www.thehoxton.com/paris

    Sadly we didn’t have time to visit our all time favourite gallery, the Pompidou Centre, @centrepomidou,  to view the work of the optical art founder, Victor Vasarely. But as part of the business trip bit, we did go to the antiques market at Les Puces Saint-Ouen but came away empty handed – maybe because we were on bikes!  The warehouse style Paul Bert Serpette section had a much better selection than the alleys on the other side of the road, lots of lovely mid century pieces but at mainly eye watering prices. En route there we stopped for breakfast very near to Montmartre, we’d meant to go to Rose‘s Bakery but overshot it on the bikes and ended up sitting outside on a pretty corner at Kb Coffee Roasters www.kbcafeshop.com which was an excellent mistake, serving delicious brunch and hence very popular.

    If you only have a short window for shopping like we did (sacré bleu) then definitely head to Merci www.merci-merci.com  on Boulevard Beaumarchais.  A temple of complete loveliness to adorn your home, body and skin, it has plenty of off-radar brands, co-labs and fairly unique pieces, in-store art installations or exhibitions are common plus there’s a café.  Pick up a handy Merci tote bag and fill it up. Even more reason to go is that whilst carrying every item you could ever want and more, Merci donates heavily to an endowment fund to pay for educational projects and development in Madagascar. Win, win.

    Finally, not sure what I was thinking, but I thought for a bit of relaxation after so much cycling and walking (clocked up 15km inside the exhibition space!)  it would be an idea to hit a hammam. We picked the one at the Paris Mosque, a female only affair, which also has a very popular and pretty mosaic tiled cafe.  The hammam was definitely not up to Istanbul standard (perhaps more on that another day) but it was the perfect antidote after miles of cycling, to spend a couple of hours being scrubbed, heated, cooled and then massaged.

    First Grace Sisters business trip in the (Merci tote) bag.  Et voila, that was Paris.


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