At the risk of sounding green, I have always envied “smilers”. You know, the people you see walking along the street smiling to themselves for no apparent reason; those, always happy people. Countless times I’ve had to administer a mental slap on the wrist as I look at them with nonsensical cynicism and wonder, “What are they so happy about?”

When I am in Paris, I am one of those people.

I walk the city hour upon hour, day after day, with a dotty smile that bursts from ear to ear. And it’s not even a smile of exuberance. It’s a smile of complete equanimity. There’s no question when it comes to the fact that I am a calmer, more inspired, version of myself in Paris. Particularly when I am there on my own.

I have visited the city over a handful of times now. I’ve eaten escargot under the Eiffel Tower, walked up and down the Champs Elysse people-watching and circled the Arc de Triopmphe in admiration. But perhaps the most treasured time was when – in desperate need of some “Heidi” time – I rented a small apartment in the 6th arrondissement (Saint-Germain-des-Prés), with the plain intention to live like a Parisian…

I cooked.

Wandering the food markets aimlessly, I sourced the most delicious fresh produce, all of which was tastefully laid out and packaged. I’m not known for my culinary prowess, but I went back to the small kitchen in my apartment armed with baguettes, flavorsome cheeses and the ingredients that would aid my attempts at Boeuf Bourguignon and Choucroute Garnie. While the dishes may have been in vain, the experience was quintessentially French.

I sketched.

My aptness for drawing is somewhat scant, but I invested in a sketchbook and trotted off to the Jardin du Luxembourg to draw trees and drink wine. One special summers day, I was joined by an old French man who was also flying solo in the park; he spoke in his beguiling accent of his life as a painter travelling around the world. It was a special “French” moment I will never forget.

I listened to music.

Rushing one morning across Pont Marie, I came across the most charming French band singing old American songs. I am a sucker for a bit of Brown Eyed Girl, and had a fleeting moment where I continued to rush across the bridge with a sense of longing to stop and listen, all before suddenly realizing – I’m on holiday in Paris – I had all the time in the world. It’s frightening to think that our lives become so attune to maintaining a schedule and surrendering to our daily toil that taking time to enjoy a treasured moment often becomes trivial. So, I took a seat on the edge of that bridge and sat for the next two hours listening to their songs in sheer delight.

This is what Paris does. It provokes you to take the time to just be. It beckons to cultivate a side of you that has been ignored, a side that is yearning for expression and art.

Leaving always conjures a hint melancholy, wondering when I will next be lured back to the city I love so very much.



/ Merci

Merci is my idea of a shopper’s heaven. Housed in the heart of the historic Haut-Marais district in a restored 19th century fabric factory, its three loft-like floors are filled with the best in household goods, design, and fashion. It collectively melds vintage furniture with contemporary design, emerging designers with established collections and affordable pieces with costly limited editions. From home wares and furniture to fashion, flowers and haberdashery – this place has become a staple each time I visit Paris. And the icing on the cake for me: the literary café, where you can enjoy some French pastry and a coffee while you browse their notable book collection.


/ Where

111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 3e

/ Phone

+ 33 (0)1 42 77 00 33

/ Online



/ Le Bar du Marche

When I visit Paris, I always stay in the same area, the 6th arrondissement in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This area makes me warm and fuzzy every time. In my experience, with every great area, comes a great cafe – and for me, Bar du Marche is it. Located on the corner of the ever-bustling Rue de Seine and Ru de Buci, this spot boasts people watching like no other. In a city overflowing with tourists, here the locals easily outnumber the tourists, so you really sense a Parisian vibe. Watch the beautifully styled French women smoking their cigarettes, old ladies shopping for fresh bread at bakery or a pile of men stopping to drop off the daily fish delivery to the adjacent market – it’s almost like a play. Whether you visit for breakfast (fantastic omelettes!), lunch, or dinner, you will always be enveloped in the modest buzz of this intimate corner.


 / Where

75 Rue de Seine, 6e Paris

/ Phone

+33 1 43 26 55 15


/ Shakespeare & Company

As a self-professed bibliophile (person with a profound love of books), I found it impossible not to include my favourite bookstore… which is also arguably the most famous independent bookstore in the world! The first time I visited Shakespeare and Company I spent five indulgent hours engulfing myself in old books galore! Located on Paris’s Left Bank and facing the Seine, this bookstore was first opened in 1951 by George Whitman. The name is a tribute to a former “Shakespeare and Company” bookstore which was opened in 1919, and was a gathering place for aspiring writers like Ernest Hemingway and Ford Madox Ford. Today, it serves both as a regular bookstore, a second-hand bookstore and as a reading library, specializing in English-language literature. Needless to say, each time I leave with a new collection of personally stamped old books under my arm – as I walk home I wonder what clothes, toiletries and shoes I will need to throw away this time in order to get my books through excess baggage…


/ Where

37, rue de la bucherie, Paris

/ Phone

+33 1 43 25 40 93

/ Online



  • Andi says:

    As a long time lover of Paris (we have been having a passionate affair for 20+ years) I always love reading other people’s experiences there. It is like peeking in on an amant as they embrace another – when it comes to Paris, I am a voyeur!

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