Tag Archives: Don’t Be A Tourist

Inside the Lost “Harvard” of Paris

Inside the Lost “Harvard” of Paris

Gustave Eiffel, the Michelin brothers, the Peugeot family– they were all educated by one of the oldest, most prestigious universities in France– which no longer exists. In its heyday, this ‘Harvard of Paris’ was housed in an extraordinary 17th century Parisian mansion, one that if you’ve been to Paris, you’re most likely very well-acquainted with. You see, I happened upon an album of photographs in the archives of the French National Library, which allows us a glimpse through the windows of perhaps the grandest école in French history. I’d never heard of this École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, but as I began looking closer at the architecture, I realised I’d been here before!Read the rest

The Disappearing Membership Cafés of Provence

The Disappearing Membership Cafés of Provence

The village of Gordes in Provence is one of the most beautiful & charming in a part of France that’s teeming with small towns that are … well, beautiful and charming. Perched high on the slopes of the Monts de Vaucluse, Gordes is a treasure trove of narrow, winding cobbled streets, crammed with old homes that cling to the mountainside, and lead up to an old medieval castle. But in one corner of this magical village overlooking the Calavon Valley is a tiny bar that’s one of the last of its kind in France– the Cercle Republicain! The what now?… Read the rest

Amsterdam is Turning its Bridge Houses into Tiny Hotels

Amsterdam is Turning its Bridge Houses into Tiny Hotels

© Mirjam Bleeker, courtesy of SWEETS hotel

Well that’s it for me. I’ll never stay in a normal hotel in Amsterdam again now that 28 of the city’s bridge houses have been transformed into charming little hotel rooms. For over a century, these canalside gate houses accommodated the storied bridge keepers whose task it was to conduct the city’s water traffic and allow boats to pass.Read the rest

The Diva Who Grew Her Own Exotic Kingdom

The Diva Who Grew Her Own Exotic Kingdom

Madame Ganna Walska

“Don’t touch. And don’t eat what you touch unless you want to die” are the first words you’ll hear upon entering Lotusland, the exotic, 37-acre kingdom of plants tucked away in the quiet town of Montecito, California. Its roots run three owners and 135 years deep, but it’s the touch of its final, failed opera singer patroness, Madame Ganna Walska, that makes the legacy behind its pink walls so magical…

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Lunch at the Forgotten Rothschild Party Palace

Lunch at the Forgotten Rothschild Party Palace

© MessyNessyChic

I stood looking up at the gates, hands on my hips, wondering what forgotten chateau I’d stumbled upon this time. We’d taken a detour to avoid the traffic back into Paris and suddenly pulled over into the ditch by the side of the road at my absolute insistence. What I didn’t know then, peeping through the iron bars, was that I was standing at the back entrance of the largest and most luxurious 19th-century château in France.Read the rest

Overnight at Harry Potter University

Overnight at Harry Potter University

© Jodie Taylor

If you ever find yourself in Oxford, England in search of a bed for the night, you might consider booking a room at the student dorm accommodation of Christ Church College, University of Oxford for a real-life Harry Potter experience. The university not only provides accommodation over the summer months, but your stay comes with an all access pass to wander the campus, halls and gardens out of hours. Largely empty in summer, several parts of the campus feature in the Harry Potter films, including the famous dining hall, and the college even served as an inspiration to Alice in Wonderland.Read the rest

You Can Blow a Kiss to the Real St. Valentine

You Can Blow a Kiss to the Real St. Valentine

The relics of Saint Valentine.

 That’s right, there really was a flesh-and-blood Italian behind the kitsch holiday we’ve got today, and he went by the name of Saint Valentine. Unfortunately for Valentine, however, the day-turned-holiday marked his tragic end, as the martyr was clubbed to death in Rome on February 14th, 269 AD.… Read the rest

New York’s Oldest Dim Sum Restaurant and the Secrets of Chinatown

New York’s Oldest Dim Sum Restaurant and the Secrets of Chinatown

©wikicommons

Secreted away in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown is a small, peculiar street. Whilst most of the city is laid out in a uniform grid system, this tiny, one block long street is unusual in that it has a sharp, angled bend in the middle of it. On a map, it is marked down as Doyers Street, but in old New York parlance, it had a much more chilling name – Bloody Angle.Read the rest

My Perfect Little Paris Attic

My Perfect Little Paris Attic

A nineteenth-century poet once described the Place Dauphine as the ‘vagina of Paris’, because of its erotic triangular V shape. Rumour has it King Henri IV modelled the place after the private parts of his favourite courtesan. Ah, French romance. Vaginas aside, it is one of my favourite squares in Paris, tucked away on an island in the middle of the Seine, unique for its sandy gravel square à la Provencale, where locals playing Read the rest