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Thursday, July 26, 2018

It's time of Summer holidays and, before leaving for exotic destinations, a Summer dinner party is the perfect way to bring friends and family together with delicious food and fun. So, how not to imagine unforgettable get-together that will remain in both our album collections and Instagram accounts, with wonderful tablescapes looking like something out of our entertaining dreams.
Don't worry! We don't need to spend hours prepping and attempting to re-create table-settings found on Pinterest or on magazines, but impossible for us mere mortals to pull off, in order to throw an Instaworthy Summer gathering.
Personally, I'm all about the "art" of easy entertaining, so here are some tips I generally stick to:
1) First of all, don't sweat the details! Entertaining should ultimately be easy and enjoyable for you and your guests.
2) Choose a nice location for your dinner party, either on a terrace with sea/lake view or in a flowered garden.
3) No decoration is as pretty as fresh flowers, and what a nice gesture to send guests home with small gift-bouquets! It'll make the day so much more special and remind them of the fun time spent together. As for the choice of flowers, I find that small hydrangeas are perfect, since they are so reminiscent of outdoor meals, are available in different shades to be matched with your tablecloth, are easy to get and arrange and suit to both rustic and coastal inspiration. Also lavender, with its typical colour is suitable for dinners arranged at our seaside/lakeside homes, with a table set in the shades of blue and white, while ranunculi match with more lively coloured table-settings. However any flowers form the garden will do, even wonderful English roses combined with asperula are a perfect combination of chic and old-fashioned charm. Moreover, since our gatherings take place in the evening, don't forget to complement the floral arrangement with hurricane lamps, coloured crystal tea-lights or romantic fairy lights to add to the atmosphere. 

4) Opt for ready-made cocktails or sparkling wine in lieu of elaborate freshly prepared cocktails. Playing the bartender is probably not how you anticipate spending your soirée. I generally choose easy-to-enjoy ready-made cocktails that are refreshing and seductively fruity such as Ice-Tropez, a drink based on a lovely rosé wine, natural nectarine blossom aroma and soda water that I usually buy in huge quantity during my holiday on the French Riviera, so that a minimal effort is required on my part. Plus, it's a universal truth that everyone loves bubbly. If they don't, you should probably go ahead and uninvite them. Just kidding!! 😊 I generally accompany the cocktails with "tapenade" or "caviar d'aubergines" spread on ready-made grilled toasts.
5) Spend less time in the kitchen: if you want to hang out with your guests, don't spend the evening in the kitchen. The easiest way to do this is to find a dish you can prepare ahead and then bake in time, such as all kinds of "quiches", which are generally agreeable to everybody.
Personally, I love taking simple Summer staples from French "Bistrot" cuisine classics and elevating them with just a few extra ingredients. Don't let the term elevate scare you, though. This literally just means to take something that's already easy to make, like "Salade de Chèvre chaud" as an entrée, and upgrading them with both crispy breading and sprigs of thyme on top or create a more creative version in bundles of puff pastry, with an accompanyment of "Mesclun" salad, seasoned with vinaigrette.
6) As a main course I often opt for baked Mediterranean fish with herbs and vegetables, and accompanied by ratatouille and rice, two "garnitures" that can be easily cooked in advance. 
7) As a dessert, some classics such as red berries with topping of meringue ice-cream and "coulis", decoration of mint leaves, and accompaniment of tuiles biscuits, or individual mini cheese-cakes with blackberry coulis. 😋

So, dear readers, enjoy your Summer evening entertaining with family and friends, and if you have some uesful tips to share, please write them in your comments below!

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Like the precious possessions once worn on bracelets, dainty charms are now back in fashion, but in an unexpected place - dangling on a pretty pair of hoop earrings. Personally, I love hoops, since I find them particularly becoming on me. Though they've truly always been in style, they have stood out as the "it" earrings of the past few seasons. Now, they've got an update to the tune of small stars, hearts and even seashell charms. Consider a shiny pavé version to dress up any summertime outfit, or naturally, pair a nautical style with your next bathing suit or old beachwear. On my recent vacation in France, I bought two pairs of pretty hoops with small coloured beads and Southern-France themed charms, on a stall selling hand-made "bijoux" at St-Tropez's market. I'm really fond of their particular summery-boho inspiration and they will always remind me of my holidays on the French Riviera. Back home, I found also some refined models by some Italian brands, that I'm going to show you in my pictures. Anyway, I'm sure that, with so many options to choose from, it will be easy to pick the piece that feels most special to you too. In that way, they're a bit like the charm bracelets of the past but, this time, with a grown-up twist.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

 Long before St-Tropez transformed into the top place to visit on a South of France yacht charter, its charm seduced several famous creatives, writers and painters which were drawn to its luminous daylight and craggy coastline. 
As you probably know, ever since Brigitte Bardot transformed the peaceful fishing village of St-Tropez into an effervescent jet-set favourite, back in 1956, when "God created Woman" was filmed, it has been a popular destination among the world's most glamorous travellers. 
Nowadays, St-Tropez still hasn't fallen out of favour of A-list visitors, especially with the latest selection of new offerings with a new bred of beach clubs, a fast-evolving gourmet food scene and extravagant night spots.
Much of St-Tropez appeal lies in its combination of quaint old-world charm and modern glamour, and shoppers like me can easily experience this mix, with the Provençal market held on Tuesday and Saturday mornings in Place des Lices and stocked with local produce, olive products, lavender scented soap, or good quality homeware,  as well as the hottest high-end labels' shops selling their latest collections fresh from catwalks. Luxury fashion "boutiques" abound like nowhere else along the narrow streets and alleyways of the old village, especially if you stick to the triangle between Place des Lices, Rue Gambetta, and Rue Allard, where like anywhere else on earth, shoppers can step out of luxury brands' "boutiques" and into a grocery or bakery just across the street.
And I never miss to visit the tiny fishing market hidden behind la Porte de la Poissonnerie, resplendent in mosaics and marble, or to take time out to explore La Ponche quarters, where fishermen and artists once inhabited pastel houses along narrow cobbled streets. There, I'm  invariably somewhat surprised to find how the closest proximity to the sea is easily felt , and let myself be rocked by the sound of the sea and the smell of iodine. 
At the top of the village, a green and wooden hill leads to the 16th century Citadel, built both to defend the coast and keep watch over the Tropéziens who, in the view of the French, were a troublesome lot. From outside, the views across the village and out to the sea are splendid, while the interior now houses a museum dedicated to St-Tropez's maritime history.
A day at the beach in St-Tropez revolves around beach-clubbing. The three-mile-long Baie de Pampelonne with a string of attractive well-known clubs and new openings is where the crème de la crème is based all Summer long. Each club has lounge areas with luxurious sun beds and restaurants, as well as its own private jetty to ensure all eyes are on those arriving by super yacht tender, and the varied selection of them, ensures there is one to suit every mood.
Club 55 is probably the classiest and most discreet, as well as the most popular among celebrities.  One of the youngest beach clubs, Nikki Beach is a Miami-style go-to hangout for the coolest tourits in town. The most exotic ones: Tahiti Beach, distinguished by its orange-sun loungers blending well with the golden sand of the beach, and Moorea Beach with its  grey, white and turquoise parasols.
My favourite beach clubs are certainly quieter and wilder spots such as La Cabane Bambou a slice of eco-chic paradise, with a bamboo-lined access path leading to a relaxing heaven of peace far away from the crowd, or l'Escalet, a remote pretty little beach half-sand half-pebble with translucent waters.
An exciting world-class culinary movement is currently taking place in St-Tropez area restaurants, providing yet another reason to return to this Mediterranean hotspot where diners who like me, love Mediterranean-French ingredients and flavours, can find fresher-than-fresh fish and seafood cooked "à la plancha", with an unusual contemporary twist as well as exceptional service.
St Tropez has also some of the best-celebrated nightspots in Europe, with iconic venues always reinventing themselves: the most famous are certainly the prestigious Les Caves du Roy, inside the Hotel Byblos, which has lost none of its panache for fifty years and never fails to draw A-listers, thanks to a paparazzi-free, private environment, where champagne is drunk by the bottle, in an oriental/Med atmosphere.
In the harbour area, VIP Room starts the night as a very trendy dance club, featuring international DJs amidst mirrors, glass and colour-changing lights.
Papagayo has recently reinvented itself as Gayo, a restaurant and club concept with an exotic menu, still a magnet for famous faces, who stay on after dinner to the early hours.
Le Quai is the hottest bar scene in town, attracting all party-goers from the yachts moored in the harbour. L'Opéra with its very chic white and gold décor offers exceptional evenings with outstanding dancers and artists who perform on the central podium table as on improvised stages. 
Of course, if you're not prone to experience a jet-setter lifestyle, you can let yourself be seduced by the sound of cicadas, the sea air, the smell of umbrella pines, the wonderful golden-creamy sunsets, the silvery twilights. and you'll find that in these unforgettable, clear-sky immobility of the Riviera nights time stops!