One of my favourite shops in Paris has a great reason to celebrate: It is their 10 year anniversary! I discovered Marie Puce when I first moved to Paris and had a tiny baby and now I go with my big girls; the lovely style is still the same. We call it intemporel in French. I guess the best description is timeless?
The designs are simple and cute and the fabric is often Liberty or beautiful cotton. The clothes are all designed in house and made locally in Europe. Simply put: it is the best about French children’s fashion all rolled into one. Luckily enough there is also a webshop for people who do not live it Paris!
Last weekend Esther and co were in town, which was a serious amount of fun! It was so great catching up, though at the end of the weekend we did start wondering what we should do, as it was literally pouring with rain the whole time. That being said, finding things to do in Paris is not very hard…. We all wrapped up and headed over to the Pompidou Centre, specifically the Children’s Gallery, which is hosting a brilliant, interactive exhibition: Ta-Da!
The artist Navid Nuur wants kids to learn again about how to play and create with everyday objects and see the beauty in them. It is really well done — I think everyone’s favourite was the 3 columns filled with play dough or the machine that made medals out of a 5 cent piece.
The Centre Pompidou is, by the way, one of my favourite places to take visitors. It has such a great view over Paris, the permanent exhibition is amazing, as are more of the temporary ones, and, not to forget, the gift and book shop are full of beautiful bits and pieces. (I do love a good museum shop!)
The photo is of little Ava arriving into the Centre, complete with rain coat and umbrella.
Esther is the sort of person who can walk down the road in any given country and see pieces that other people considered trash and realise that it is actually a lovely vintage piece. (She still talks about the Eames armchairs she found on the streets of Manhattan).
Me, not so much. I walk past every skip and it does not even occur to me to have a peek in, to look for treasures. That is actually quite sad for me, as I love, love vintage. Especially since I have had kids, I hark back to the good old days, when toys did not have batteries and furniture made out of cane and molded plastic was all the rage.
Luckily, like Esther, there are some people who seem to have that salvage gene. Check out the great French vintage children’s shop, Happy Vintage. They seems to have managed to source a huge amount of lovely toys, objects, posters and lots more just for people like me! The website is actually only in French but super easy to navigate and translate with Google!
I have so many children’s drawings flying around my house, I think I could fill up a gallery. But there are some that are actually really good (obviously I am subjective), which I really want to keep. Some are hanging on our kitchen cupboards, but I also like the idea I stumbled upon on the super cool cushion shop Yellow Velvet. They take your kids drawing and make it into a sweet embroidered pillow. I think a cushion like that would be so nice to have in a children’s room.
They also make cushion’s out of Instagram photos, which I also love the idea of!
Soeur is a French brand that is aimed at young girls who are not quite adult yet. But their collection is so lovely and relaxed, I actually buy Soeur for myself (I always reckon I can give it to my girls later and call it vintage). I think the designers are onto something, they are making woman feel super young because they get to buy children’s clothes!
This summer the collection has a real bohemian feel — little embroideries and scarves and prints. So cute!
I really love the French style of dressing children. It is simple, easy-going and cute. Merveilles, a lovely clothing label, is one of my favourites! Their new summer collection is so lovely, a little bit bohemian, a bit romantic and so easy to wear. Check out the cotton dresses, little scarves and the really great outlet section!
We have been travelling around a fair bit lately. Europe is so easy, especially if you live on the continent. We don’t even fly that much! We can jump on a train 15 minutes away from our flat and be in London in 2 hours, Amsterdam in 3 hours and Italy in 5 hours. It is so easy! But part of traveling is actually learning about where we are going and where all the different places are. And to do that, you do need a map.
I love this one by English Muffin, I love the fresh colour and how easy it is to spot all the different countries. I also like the way it makes Europe look like the only thing in the world, floating in a blue ocean, even though it is only this tiny little part of the world!
I read this article today and thought it was really interesting. Courtney, Esther and I all had/have Bugaboos and I actually never thought about how much design, engineering and development goes into designing a push chair! So funny thinking that someone spent years coming up with a concept that I take for granted…
I also thought it was interesting that the Bugaboo was originally designed for men, which is such a clever approach to the buggy market. I will never forget buying our first buggy before Coco was born. We went to this baby section in a big department store in London. In all the sections the women were in charge: picking up breast pumps, outfits and furniture. All sections, apart from the buggy section. There, the dads suddenly came into their own and were testing wheels and suspensions and velocity of all of these buggies, as if they were cars. Hilarious!
There are people in this world who know how to throw a birthday party for their children with panache (Esther being the prime example). Then there are people like me, who draw a blank when it comes to entertaining 10 kids in my house for a few hours! (I am really good at entertaining adults, by the way: I can mix up a mean cocktail and know how to put together a great playlist to get the party going. I don’t understand why I am so intimidated by kids parties!)
Anyway, help is at hand as my absolute favourite birthday supply shop My Little Day finally came out with their very own book about birthday parties. You can find inspiration for party themes, recipes and a whole list of games divided up by ages, which is super practical.
The little hitch is that the book only exists in French, but even if you only understand a little bit, it is totally worth it. I actually think it is really interested to see what games children play in France (I did not know half of them)!
P.S. My Little Day also does amazing party kits.
Coco and her friend overlooking the sea and the coast of Marocco on Paloma beach
I have just been away on an amazing break with the kids, and I would love to tell you about it. (To put it into context, we Europeans have been having one of the worst winters I can remember and all we wanted to to was to shed the jumpers and socks and shoes and put on the flip flops and skirts.)
Tarifa is a beautiful little town on the most southern tip of Spain — it is so close to Africa you can see the Maroccan coast most days, a mere 20 km away. The town itself is lovely — it is an old walled city. But it is the surrounding beaches around Tarifa that make this place amazing — the beaches are empty, clean and beautiful, the food is incredible and cheap and everyone loves kids. It is super relaxed and the whole area has a bit of a hippy, surfer vibe to it, just what you need to let go and have a good time. I could have stayed on and on, and a week felt like 2 days, so here is just a little list of the few places I discovered (if anyone has any other tips, please do share!):
We actually rented a house, as I went with a friend and her two children which was lovely and had everything we needed. But we did also discover some hotels, which looked really nice.
The Hurricane Hotel is a great little boutique hotel with a chilled out vibe. It has an amazing pool, a great restaurant and is right on the beach. Basically the perfect combination. It is about a 6 km drive out of Tarifa town.
Hotel Dos Mares is close to the Hurricane Hotel and maybe even a bit more child-friendly. For example, the pool has a nice, shallow paddling area. You can rent little bugalows that line up along the beach.
Camping Torres de la Pena is a nice budget option and if you don’t fancy camping, they also rent out some bungalows. The beach bar is super relaxed and literally on the beach, so kids can play while parents drink a good café con leche.
The kids hanging out at the Hurricane Hotel pool.
Tarifa is a seriously sport location, all day long you can see wind- and kit- surfers sitting on top of their VW buses watching the wind for the perfect moment to take off. The place we were recommended was the Club Mistral,which gives lessons to older kids. They also rent out boards for windsurfing, kitesurfing and plain old normal surfing. You can pick up cheap body boards for kids pretty much anywhere and they are a serious amount of fun as there are little, non scary waves most of the time.
Hurrican Hipica: Horses are everywhere and there is nothing more peaceful than going for a ride on the beach. We loved the Hurricane Hipica, run by a group of super efficient girls, one of the best maintained stables I have ever seen. Violette, who has just turned 5, had her first riding lesson there and it was possibly the most exciting thing ever.
Firmm Dolphin and Whale Watching: One of our big, major highlights was a boat trip out into the straights of Gibraltar to see dolphins. We thought it was going to be a tourist trap, but it was the opposite. We were surrounded by dolphins doing summersaults all around us. It put the biggest smiles on all of our faces. It is also not unusual to see whales. The Firmm boat trips are great as they are part of a research organisation, which uses the trip to collect data and makes sure that the trips are respectful to the animals.
Since coming back and doing a bit of research for this post, I have found out that there is a lot of rock climbing to be done in and around Tarifa. There are even little rocks which could be a lot of fun to explore with older kids. I didn’t really find a website, just different blogs talking about it!
It is also very easy to jump on a boat and go on a day trip to Marocco which is a mere 20 boat ride away. It is something we sadly ran out of time to do…
Not the best photos of the kids on horses on the beach. Note the surfers in the water behind them.
Beaches, beaches, beaches, what more can one want? We stayed close to Bolonia Beach and it is very easy to understand why the Romans decided to build a town on this beach. It is so beautiful. The beach is incredibly clean and has a massive sand dune at one end that is a huge amount of fun to climb and run down.
We also visited Zahara Beach on a recommendation of an Instagram friend and did not regret it, we spend a whole morning body boarding on little waves and then had some tapas in the town itself.
Another beach between Tarifa and Bolonia is called Paloma Beach and one of the most amazing things to see is the wind picking up and the kite from the kite surfs flying up in the air - Actually really beautiful, though I suspect I would be ripped of my surf board and fly off into the air with the kite, it looks like such a hard thing to hold on to.
Little orange tree on a square in Tarifa town.
Anyway, a lovely holiday and so close and yet a world away from the rest of Europe.
Before I had children, I genuinely thought that when I had children I would be producing miniature clones of myself. Even after I had them, the thought lingered on. After all, I had two girls, they looked similar to me, why would they not be similar in character?
Fast forward 7 years and I cannot help laughing about how wrong I was. Not only are my two girls nothing like me, they are also nothing like each other. One of them can pick up a stick and give it a complex life story that is longer than a Harry Potter novel. The other one will see the same stick and see nothing but a stick, and have a great time poking random things with it. Experimenting, she calls this.
One girl is easy going and off with the fairies, the other one is headstrong like a bull. As my grandmother once said, at least I was not boring and did not mass produce. Not quite sure where I am going with this, but I am quite interested to hear if you were as naive as I was and thought you were going to produce mini versions of yourselves.
P.S. Quick disclaimer: I am incredibly glad that my children are nothing like me, that would be sooo boring!
P.P.S. The above photo was taken last week when we were in the south of Spain. On the left, headstrong Violette, on the right dreamy Coco.
My daughter Coco’s first word was ‘Why???’. And seven years on, it still might be her favourite word!
Now, the problem is, the questions are slightly more complex at seven than they were at, say, two. The universal answer of: “because I said so” does not really cut the mustard anymore, especially when being asked things like: “But why did people think it was a good idea to cut each other’s heads off during the French Revolution? Why did they think that this was a solution to make the country a better place?”.
The book Big Questions For Little People is perfect for all of these types of questions. It even asks questions your child might not have thought to ask yet!
The book is curated in aid of the NSPCC (The UK National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) and people like Tracey Emin answers question about art, Heston Blumental about food and Jarvis Cocker on music. If those people don’t know what they are talking about, no one does!
- Emilie x
I called this post a Week Away Travel Guide as opposed to a Weekend Away Guide, as Nosara, Costa Rica is not the kind of place most of us can pop over for the weekend. But I can pretty much say with confidence that if I could pop over there quickly for a weekend, I would probably be there all the time! It looks so amazing and sounds like such a great place to take children on a wonderful adventure.
Now imagine after growing up in California, then living in Australia, you decided to call Costa Rica your home! How incredible does that sound? Shelly, the author of this post, did just that: She now lives in Nosara, Costa Rica and it sounds like the perfect place to travel to!
In her 40-something years of life, Shelly has been a world traveler, waitress, writer, magazine editor, non-profit founder, entrepreneur and artist. By sheer luck and twists of fate, these paths have led to and helped define her latest, greatest and most challenging role as wife and homemaker; mother and teacher to Pixel, Robert and Beckett; and hostess extraordinaire. Shelly is the author of The Book of Questions for New Parents and the blog Kitchen Ranch. Here is her guide to Nosara, Costa Rica:
Nosara, located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, has recently enjoyed some very favorable press. National Geographic named Nosara as one of the top surf towns on the planet, a BBC Travel Segment included Nosara as the best beach in Costa Rica, and the New York Times raved about the world class waves in their travel section.
It is not surprising to me that this small and dusty jungle town is getting attention; Nosara is perfect. I know that is a bold statement, but after living here I feel confident in making it. The beaches, the ocean and the jungle backdrop are awe-inspiring. (more…)
We are on holiday! Yes! But I need to work the first week, which is not so fun. So my girls have been going to mini holiday ateliers which you can find all over Paris — little art classes and theatre classes that teach kids essential survival skills like making shadow puppets. Not a skill useful to have during an apocalypse but, none the less, a great skill to have if you want to design your own characters and put together your own little plays.
All you need is cardboard paper (preferably black), scissors, some tape, some skewers and some imagination. Cut out the characters and props and tape on a skewer (you might want to cut off the sharp tip). Hang up a white sheet and shine a lamp at it. You then make the shadow puppets appear between the lamp and the sheet.
Voila, a shadow show can commence. Also if you need some inspiration, do have a look at the French silhouette aninmation film, Prince and Princess.
P.S To all those Paris dwellers out there: the atelier my daughters went to was at Attrape Nuages a brilliant little theatre school in the 11e arrondissement!
Way back when, we lived in the USA. I was around 8 years old and I still remember it as clear as day, it made such a huge impression on me. I mean, the ice cream shop carried 33 different flavours of ice-cream and we got to eat our lunch at school wrapped up in a brown paper bag!
But I do think my most favourite memory is the trip we took around the US in a big old Chevy and went camping everywhere from Dakota to Colorado. It was so much fun (the first night we put up our tents, the family in the next tent heard us jabbering away in French and invited us over to eat our first ever smores!).
Anyway, my brother and I spent a lot of time in the back of the car on that journey and there were exactly two things that kept us from skinning each other alive: Uno and Mastermind. Do you remember this game? It’s a great strategy game in which you need to guess your opponents code, so it is a bit like breaking the enigma code, but for 7 year olds. It is addictive and perfect for 2 siblings, especially those with a competitive streak in them!
I am always on the lookout for new craft books, for the simple reason that we like crafting so much but often do need a little boost in inspiration. This great new book is by the same lady as Let’s Make Some Art. It is such a great way of introducing children to creating new art and using other things (namely fingers) to create shapes. I also love the little video that goes with the book and also the little online games.
This craft idea is so simple I almost did not write about it, but I quite liked the result, so I wanted to share it anyway. Last weekend was Violette’s birthday and she had gotten it into her head that it was going to have a bunny rabbit theme and that we were going to have carrot cake cupcakes (we used Courtney’s amazing carrot cake recipe). I, on the other hand had gotten it into my head that it would be cool to have some rabbit cupcake toppers (I just need to point out that rabbit cupcake toppers are pretty much the only impossible thing to find in Paris!)
So Coco and I made some, and we had a great afternoon of painting, cutting and glueing. First Coco painted a picture of a rabbit. We then scanned it in, scaled it down and multiplied it. We printed it out and cut the little rabbits out in circles. Then we glued 2 together and sandwiched a tooth pick between the 2 pieces of paper.
Voila, the party can begin!
I love this new idea that Little Fashion Gallery has come up with: Fashion Packs. If you buy several of the same items from their lovely Little Fashion Gallery label at the same time, you get a bulk buy discount. A bit like buying from Costco, but infinitely chicer!
If you are in any way a follower of Instagram or read Babyccino Kids on a regular basis, you might have noticed that we all have been suffering from a very, very cold winter which has continued long into April. Well, this weekend was the first sunny weekend in 2013 and I think EVERYONE in the whole of Europe went outside and smiled.
We were challenged by some friends to a game of Molkky in our local park. Have you heard of it? It is the best – it’s a bit of a Skandinavian skittles, perfect for parks and gardens as you throw a piece of wood at the skittles, as opposed to rolling it. (As an aside, it is also really good for learning how to count in your head, as you need to get 50 points exactly).
I can just imagine a gang of Vikings playing this somewhere along a fjord…
This post is actually written for some of my favourite ladies, Courtney and Esther, who have a favourite shop here in Paris. They literally go there every time they come. In fact, I sometimes suspect that they might be visiting me just as an excuse to visit Merci, the fantastic concept shop which happens to be very close to my flat.
And now they might never come visit again, as Merci has (finally) started an international online shop, full of amazing linens, the Merci clothes line, wall paper, these cool picnic napkins and many other bits and pieces.
Merci was started by the same people who founded Bonpoint many moons ago. It actually functions as a very stylish charity shop: all the proceeds of the shop are invested in educational projects in Madagascar (but certainly does not look like any charity shop I have ever seen before). Hopefully the online Merci is not the end to a wonderful friendship