I am a regular contributor to Condé Nast Traveller, the Daily Telegraph and Elle Decoration. As well as several guidebooks to Paris, I have also written guides to Provence, the Côte d'Azur, Lille, Biarritz and the Pays Basque, Bordeaux, Reims and French food for, among others, Time Out, Berlitz, Insight Guides, Dorling Kindersley and Thomas Cook.
I came to Paris over 15 years ago for all the wrong reasons (love!) and have lived here ever since. I still adore exploring the city and today write about art, design, food, travel and French culture in general.
Where I always grab a coffee: Le Rostand café on place Edmond-Rostand: it's my unofficial second office, right opposite the Luxembourg Gardens.
My favourite stroll: Although I think I know the city pretty well, there are always places to discover or rediscover. The district I always come back to, however, is St-Germain for its mix of history, small streets, cafés, shopping, people watching, the local and the cosmopolitan... in short, Paris.
Fiction for inspiration: Georges Perec's Life: A User’s Manual: a mind-boggling, jigsaw puzzle of life in a Parisian apartment building. For an insight into French character, the Asterix comic strips are pretty accurate, too!
Where to be seen this summer: Café terraces all around town. If your style is St-Germain, then it's between hip Bar du Marché and newcomer Germain on rue de Buci, if you are more Canal St-Martin, then the waterside Point Ephémère. Gourmets are going to be sniffing out the restaurant at Le Crillon, which has just appointed a new, young chef.
The most breathtaking view: The view of the city that gradually unfolds as you rise up the escalators at the Centre Pompidou.
The best spot for some peace and quiet: The Jardin des Plantes for its combination of botanical garden, scientific institution and local park (perhaps not so quiet). The 19th-century greenhouses are reopening this summer, and it's surely the only place in Paris where you see ostriches when you drive past.
Shopaholics beware!: Artfully distressed concept store Merci, for its totally desirable mix of up-to-the minute and second-hand fashion, housewares, oddities and cult design items.
City on screen: Parisians adore cinema and there's something cinematic about the whole city. I love Jean-Pierre Melville's film noir Le Samourai, for its vision of Paris low life, nightclubs and the metro, with Alain Delon as the cool, lean, beautiful hitman, and, for something completely different, brilliant animation film Ratatouille, for its witty, sentimental, tongue-in-cheek evocation of Paris and its restaurant culture.
Don’t leave without...Visiting a Paris food market – one of them, all of them, preferably on Sunday morning, the best time for catching up on gossip as well as gourmandises.
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In a city of so many amazing monuments, it's almost a surprise to discover that a real, everyday Paris actually exists. Because for all the instantly recognisable icons like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame – you'll also find that Paris is an exciting, brash, secretive and sometimes contradictory, vibrant, lived-in city. It's a place you don't just come to visit but to experience.Read more...