Monthly Archives: November 2009

Chérie City has moved to a bigger apartment!!!

Chérie City has packed up and moved to a co.uk, but fear not, it will be bigger and better than ever.

For the latest arts, style, food and travel news, please visit and keep following at: www.cheriecity.co.uk

Bisous from Chérie

xx

www.cheriecity.co.uk

 

Dr Hauschka anti-blemish system trial

I’ve been searching for the perfect solution to my skin breakouts and blemishes and since there are so many skin systems out there with weird chemicals and acids, I decided to go down the natural route with Dr Hauschka’s Daily Face Care Kit for Oily Skin.

My skin complaints date from when I moved to London almost two years ago from Newcastle and many of my friends have blamed the hard water and excess pollution and stress for changes in their own skin.

I popped in to Zest Pharmacy in Soho, a proper neighbourhood chemist, which stocks an excellent range of natural, specialist and French skincare brands.  I had a long chat with one of the owners, a French lady who knew pretty much everything about skincare and had luminous skin to prove it.

She showed me starter kits by La Roche-Posay, Murad, Vichy and Caudalie, but recommended Dr Hauschka for its homeopathic approach to solving skin problems.

I’ve been using the Hydra Medic skincare system by Repechage for about nine months, which I roadtested for ELLEuk.com, but after initial good results, it seems to have dried my skin out.  The Repechage Beta Hydroxy Serum is a great overnight treatment, as it smoothed out all the tiny bumps on my forehead, but the Mattifying Moisturiser is a horrible bright white that made my skin feel tight and uncomfortable.

At just £15 for six travel size products, I thought I’d give it a try and see if I have more luck without the drying chemicals I’ve been relying on for so many years.

The Daily Face Care Kit for oily skin consists of a Cream Cleanser, Clarifying Toner and Normalising Day Oil to be used instead of a moisturiser, as well as three weekly treatments – a Facial Steam Bath, Cleansing Clay Mask and a Revitalising Mask.

On the first day of the trial, I took some time out to do the whole seven step system with all of the products.  I expected the Cleansing Cream to be smooth and rich, but it had an oatmeal consistency that gently exfoliated my skin without drying it. The Clarifying Toner felt refreshing and calmed my skin with extracts of calendula, witch hazel and daisy.

Having used oil-free products for so long and having an almost pathological fear of getting an oily T-Zone, I was sceptical about using the Normalising Day Oil.  I could just imagine my make-up slipping off and suffering a greasy face all day, but I was amazed at how quickly the oil was absorbed.  It’s important to get the right amount and I found that two drops was enough to cover my face.

Dr Hauschka’s skin regime is completely different to any other I’ve tried, as he doesn’t believe in using exfoliators or night creams, as they upsets the natural rhythm of your skin, thus clogging pores and making your skin increasingly dependent on products.

It’s all about normalising skin and making it learn again how to repair itself biologically. I’m still unsure about putting so much trust in my own body to rid itself of the blemishes, as it’s been a bit of a bitch so far, but picking and choosing various harsh and expensive products is probably what’s given it the hump in the first place.

Once a week, you should give your skin an intensive treatment of steam, deep pore cleansing and radiance revealing.  The Facial Steam Bath has a subtle, herbal scent and helps open pores and detoxify skin. Add a few table spoons to a sink full of boiling water, cover your head with a towel and breath in the aromatic steam for five to seven minutes.  Afterwards, my skin, chest and head all felt opened and I instantly had more energy.

Immediately after steaming, you’re supposed to add a thin layer of the mustard-coloured Cleansing Clay Mask and keep your face moist for up to ten minutes (I forgot and my face felt tight and rigid, like it was covered in cement).  After washing it off, I applied the Revitalising Mask, which felt luxurious but not too rich and had a relaxing aroma.

Dr Hauschka’s regime can be a bit of a faff, as they expect you to have an endless supply of clean muslin cloths – cotton wool just won’t cut it, as it absorbs the skin’s natural oils – and enough time in the morning to steam said cloths in between cleansing steps.  However, it is good advice and it just requires a bit more effort and perseverance.

So on day two, I don’t have that tight, under-nourished feeling on my face and haven’t experienced any more painful breakouts, apart from a few spots when the steam and masks brought out the impurities.  I’m impressed so far, but will post updates after a week and when I finish the starter kit.

Zest Pharmacy, 18 Broadwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 8HS

Swarovski Crystallized’s SS10 collections

There’s only one thing I love more than beautiful jewellery, and that’s being able to get creative and make up my own creations.  So, I went to the Swarovski Crystallized press day to check out which new pieces I’d be lusting after when the sun comes out again.

The Azzaro collection, designed by Vanessa Sewell, is full of bold, simple and sparkly pieces in silver and gold.  One of the main pieces is a vintage-style black and silver shell locket necklace with a chain tassel.  It reminds me of something from Titanic and it would look amazing with a silk, drop-waist evening dress.

My personal favourites from the Azzaro collection are a blingtastic crystal encrusted wave cuff and slim bangles with rows of tiny crystals.

I was blown away by the new collection by French jewellery designer Philippe Ferrandis and would put every single piece on my wish list (mysterious benefactor, take note please).

I’m not sure what most of the stones are, to be honest, so I’ll let you judge the pictures for yourself….

I love the contrast between the iridescent white flower and the spiky crystals on the ring and earrings.  They look quite Japanese and futuristic – perfect for the winter snow queen look.

The pearl and emerald necklace and earrings have a vintage, Jazz Age feel and are priced between around £250 and £500.

The new ready-to-wear collection is inspired by the fresh, clear light of a Scandinavian summer.  Pieces incorporate oval spheres and interchangeable pendants in subtle, neutral colours.  The silk cord necklaces reflect the beach element and they will go perfectly with next season’s nudes.

The mainline collection featured some pretty affordable pearls for under £20 and everyone was fawning over the stretchy crystal bracelets that you can stack up, costing just £10!

We were also treated to a sneak peak at the exclusive Daisy Lowe collection that she designed with the Creative Director.  The pieces are typical Daisy with black, green and silver stars and moons – flirty but a little bit dark and mystical.

All collections are available from January at the Swarovski Crystallized store.

Swarovski Crystallized 25 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU.

Fam Love Gays…and sailorgirls!

I’ve already grown tired of dressing appropriately for the cold weather, although I’ve still been trotting round in a tweed blazer rather than a full-on winter coat, so taking a peak at Fam Irvoll’s SS10 collection has lifted my fashion spirits (which took a dent after seeing Heidi Montag wearing those sequinned Miu Miu socks early this morning).

Fam is a Norwegian designer who shows at Oslo Fashion Week and has just been taken on by Blow PR, so we’ll be seeing much more of her nutty knitwear over here.

After studying at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode, Fam came to Central St Martins for her BA (Hon) in Fashion Knitwear, graduating in 2008.

Fam’s colourful past collections have featured shrunked dolly dresses, sweaters with 3D ladybirds and ice lollies, ruffled prom dresses and a quirky mouse bustier top – all in eye-popping colours.  My personal diagnosis of Fam’s style would be part Sonia Rykiel crossed with Grayson Perry and My Little Pony – not a bad combo, I might add!

Celeb fans already include Mika and Lady Gaga, who apparently called up Fam and ordered a 3D cherry sweater and a cake headpiece.

But quickly on to Fam’s SS10 collection, I Love Gays, which is dominantly nautical with Hawaiian and 50s rockabilly influences.  It’s very sailor girl meets Dorothy with a bit of Dolly Parton thrown in for good measure.

For summer, Fam has traded in her magenta and purples for more primary colours like banana yellow, pillarbox red and cobalt blue.

The collection features embellished denim, flirty sailor dresses, tutti frutti prints, cherry print skirts, playtime tomboy shorts and a striped jumpsuit with a proud-looking 3D flamingo standing guard.

I absolutely adore the sparkling sailboat headpieces and there are plenty of other accessories to keep your wardrobe entertained, like blue and red bow bobby socks, ruby slippers and berry and floral headbands in the style of Brazilian samba queen Carmen Miranda.  It would really make my day if there was a Fred Butler or Tatty Devine collaboration on the cards – I reckon they could make some mad pieces together.

Fam runs her own club night, Neverland, in Oslo with her equally creative friends and like the name suggests, she gets inspiration from fairytales and east London/Oslo club kids. You can follow Fam’s crazy adventures and adorable outfits on her blog.

Prices start from £40 and you can find stockists by contacting Fam on her website.

From the catwalk to Hackney…

Inspired by Burberry’s new ‘social networking site’, Art of the Trench, I met up with my Italian friend Cristina for breakfast and a long-overdue trip to the Burberry Factory Outlet at Hackney Central (ah, the luxury of Bond Street shopping just five minutes away).

Having heard rumours on the net about Burberry disciples hunting out jackets for a mere £80, we had high expectations and fully intended to emerge dressed like the slightly smug, Sartorialist-snapped hipsters on the site.

The outlet is like a shining fashion beacon, almost temple-like, in the middle of a particularly non-descript part of Hackney. On arrival, we were asked to put all of our world belongings (apart from our purses, conveniently) in the lockers at the entrance. Usually I’d be horrified at the thought of being separated from my keys, phone and other handbag essentials, but it actually lent to more efficient browsing and I knew my possessions would be safe under the watchful eye of the burly security guards and stern Italian lady on the door.

Our hearts leapt when greeted by a large, checked, although slightly hideous bag at the front of the store, which was just £149.  We were ready to scoop up some of the more tasteful pieces, however, the so-called bargain was more of a mirage than a taste of things to come. The bags that you’d actually want to have on your arm, from the runway collections, were priced between £300 and £700, although this was a mighty discount from the original £1000+.

Discounts range from a shy 20% up to a massive 70%.  Cristina found a gorgeous silk and net cocktail dress in either brown or red that was reduced from £1230 to £120!

Burberry tend to go for one style of shoe for the catwalk shows, and low and behold, I spotted the black patent leather heels with ruched straps from the Autumn/Winter 08 show and the olive green lace-ups from the Spring/Summer 09 collection, all gracing the tootsies of models like Agy, Daisy, Irina and Sasha.

My tops picks of the trip included a delicate, iridescent silver mac for £150, some studded/warrior leather gloves for £89 and some incredible black lace-up, calf-lenth boots for just £200. Cristina hunted out a gorgeous silk and net cocktail dress in chocolate brown or berry red that was reduced from £1230 to £120!

There are some more affordable items like perfume gift sets from £29, checked wool scarves from £69 and a selection of purses and jewellery, including the square warrior cuff from last summer.  The great thing about the Burberry outlet is that there are timeless, investment pieces that you buy for a snip of the price and can keep forever.  The prices aren’t exactly cheap, but if you’re in the market for one excellent quality bag or trench, then you can upgrade from high end high street to luxury for just a little bit extra.

The outlet doesn’t offer refunds or exchanges, so make sure you’ve tried on your purchase, that there are no visible production faults and most of all, that you really love it.  It can be quite easy to kid yourself into liking the best of the pile in the name of a bargain! Come armed with Christmas money and scour the clearance rails with a fine tooth comb for the real discounts.

Burberry Factory Outlet, 29-53 Chatham Place, Hackney, London, E9 6LP

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.

How to get there:  Overground: Hackney Central   Tube: Bethnal Green + 106/254 bus to Hackney Town Hall or 20 minutes walk.

Getting inventive at MasterChef Live

Lured by the promise of tasting top notch, gourmet food and spotting celeb chefs, I attended the MasterChef Live press breakfast at Olympia, followed by a gander around the exhibition.

Unlike the TV programme, MasterChef Live is aimed at chefs and foodies of all abilities and there are a number of workshops, demonstrations and top tips sessions from the UK’s leading chefs, offering insider tricks and new techniques.

A big highlight of the weekend is the Invention Test, critiqued by John Torode and Gregg Wallace and hosted by Andi Peter.  30 pre-booked competitors will be given just 30 minutes to prepare a dish from a set of unseen ingredients and impress the judges.

Invention test

The first session seemed to get off to a flying start, with the budding chefs toiling away over the stoves at their work stations, although things got a bit precarious when someone’s pan caught fire!

I also saw the rather handsome James Martin (of Ready Steady Cook fame) doing a cookery demonstration and  Theo Randall giving advice on how to make the perfect pasta at the Hot Tips Pod.

At the centre of the exhibition hall is the beautifully designed Restaurant Experience, where you can pick and choose from special lunch menu, created by a variety of London’s top restaurants.  You can sample Hereford Beef and Bashed Neeps at Urban Caprice, a pork belly bridge roll from Roast to Go and vanilla and ginger cheesecake from Boxwood cafe.

dining room

There were exhibitors from all over the UK, from big players like Rachel’s Organic promoting their delicious new toffee and milk chocolate yogurts and The Co-operative to smaller specialised producers like Loopy Lisa’s Fudge and the decadent Bougie Macaron and Tea.

After the copious amount of artisan pastries and coffee at the press breakfast, eating more food wasn’t the first thing on my mind, so I took a few laps around the venue to try and forge a new appetite to taste the food samples on offer (well, that’s why you come, isn’t it)?

My top discovery of the day was Jacc’s Gourmet Coffee flavoured coffee beans.  I bought a small bag of their Irish Cream and Hazelnut roasted beans, which they ground for me, and I’ve been addicted to it since. The beans are flavoured with essential oils, so you get a deep, natural flavour, rather than the aroma disappearing as soon as it hits water.

coffee

In the Producers Village, you can find top cuts of organic meat from Brown Cow Organics, artisan cheeses at Keens Cheddar, authentic American cupcakes from Beverly Hills Bakery and freshly iced oysters from Mersea Oysters and Ale.

oysters

I was also intrigued by the Aladdin’s cave of different varieties of garlic at The Garlic Farm – my choice is usually limited to single or a pack of three!

But Keith Floyd disciples shouldn’t despair, as there’s plenty of booze to sample from producers including Frangelico, Funkin cocktails, Thunder Toffee Vodka, The Bubbly Champagne Company and Chateau Civrac.

garlic

MasterChef LIVE is on this weekend at London’s Olympia (13th – 15th November).  Tickets are priced from £18 and there are a number of packages available.

Get down to the Invention Test, sponsored by Plenty at MasterChef LIVE.  Just like the programme, contestants will need to hone their skills and hold their nerve to create something tantalising with some tough ingredients – and this time in just 30 minutes. Previous TV MasterChef winners will be there as well as formidable duo John Torode and Gregg Wallace – and Brenda & Audrey, the housewives from the Plenty adverts, will even be there to cheer you on! Go to www.plenty.co.uk or www.masterchef.com for more details.

Kisses from Paris…

How would you describe a city like Paris? Do you automatically think of a Robert Doisneau image of two lover kissing in front of the Hotel de Ville or is the Eiffel Tower lit up at night inscribed in your memory?  Paris is undoubtedly magical, but the beyond the confines of the tourist trails is one of the most multi-cultural, artistic and unconventional capitals in Europe.

The Paris Ile-de-France Comite Regionale du Tourisme has just launched a short viral film to promote the young and vibrant side of the city that many visitors end up missing.

The three and a half minute film entitled Kisses From Paris is directed by French actor/director Yvan Attal (who is also Charlotte Gainsbourg’s partner) and is sound tracked by Rufus Wainwright’s atmospheric Leaving For Paris.   The Paris tourist board loved his sketch in New York, I Love You so much that they commissioned Yvan to express his own creative vision of the “New Paris Ile-de-France”.

The film features two young lovers, played by Zoé Schellenberg and Pierre Perrier snogging their way through Paris, stopping only to marvel at the amazing sights around them.  In between declaring how much they adore each other, the couple study the art at the Beaubourg and the Palais de Tokyo, stroll along the Canal Saint-Martin, go to a gig at the Chateau de Vincenne and hunt for vintage treasures at the Saint Ouen flea market.

The film is intense, stylish and dreamy but in a more realistic than whimsical way. It reminds me of Before Sunrise and its sequel Before Sunset (shot in Paris), where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy meet on a train and get to know each other in a day before going their separate ways, then meeting up in Paris nine years on.

Kisses From Paris does nothing to dispel the myth of Paris as a city for lovers and not all of us have a Louis Garrel look-a-like to kiss all over town, but it offers a new, alternative Paris to fall in love with.

To find out more about ‘le nouveau Paris’ and to win a trip to Paris, visit the website.

Jarvis makes an exhibition of himself…again!

Jarvis Cocker took over Shoreditch’s Village Underground for three days of workshops, jamming, cake eating and informal performances.  Taking lead from his ‘happening’  at Galerie Chappe in Paris earlier this year, Jarvis invited everyone to bring their own instruments and take part in yoga, burlesque and Jivamukti yoga sessions, all taught by instructors, with Jarvis and his recruits providing the soundtrack.  Or you could just come to watch and munch on home-made chocolate cake and curly wurlys from Jarvis’ personally overseen Tuck Shop and chillax on big inflatables.

He couldn’t have picked a better venue than Village Underground, with its disused railway carriages and excellent acoustics. It is housed under a viaduct, like a mini version of The Arches in Glasgow, and it felt a lot more welcoming and comfy than the overly-lit, white box setting of an art gallery.

jarvis group

I dropped by during the ‘Bring your own Instrument’ session and Jarvis was perched on a stool playing guitar with members of his band and audience members. They seemed to be mostly improvising, creating dreamy sound scapes, although it sounded very together, like they’d been playing together for years.

Throughout the residency, Charley from the nearby Pure Evil gallery worked on a large graffiti piece dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which provided the backdrop on the stage.  He was still adding the finishing touches during the final concert!

jarvis graffiti

I hadn’t made plans to go to the concert, as I thought it must have been sold out, but there were still tickets left to buy at the venue (£30 seemed like a lot, but then again, the rest of the festivities had been for free).

Support came from American anti-folk nutter Thomas Truax, who had a whole menagerie of pimped up, hand-made instruments, which look like futurist noise machines.  Truax started out as a solo performer in 90s New York alongside the likes of Beck and Lach and worked as an animator on MTV’s Celebrity Death Match before decamping to London.

Thomas plays everything himself and records each instrument live, layering up the different sounds, then singing and playing blues guitar over the top. He played experimental songs from his latest album Songs from the films of David Lynch, including a cover of I Put A Spell On You from Lost Highway.  The folk at the front were pretty into it, but there were some sceptical mutterings from the oldies at the back, who were probably hoping Jarvis would enlist one of his famous mates to open for him.

jarvis mixing desk

Finally, Jarvis appeared and played songs from his two solo albums Jarvis and Further Complications.  He appeared as skinny and bookish as ever, but when Jarvis starts singing, he is utterly seductive with that inimitably sexy voice and and quiet Northern charm.

There was plenty of bum wiggling and thrusting going on and at one point, he led the audience into a quick aerobics session, as keeping fit seemed to have got pushed off the daytime schedule.

His new songs are more rock based and have a cool cosmic sound that goes into prog-rock indulgence in the slightly comical Pilchard, complete with interactive dance routine.  Further Complications has some hilarious lyrics but there’s an underlying melancholy and feeling of disappointment that could be attributed to the break-down of his marriage to Camille Bidault-Waddington earlier this year.

Jarvis’ main preoccupation of the night was making sure that everyone had enjoyed the workshops and most important the Tuck Shop.  He was concerned that the Roast Beef Monster might not be to everyone’s taste and proceeded to hurl packets of Love Hearts into the crowd.

Watch Jarvis singing Leftovers and having smoochy moment with a lucky girl at the front…

For upcoming tour dates and a free download, visit Jarvis’ website.

All photos by Steven Marshall.

Stylish sleeping on the Left Bank

The Left Bank is synonymous with literary cafes, the Existential philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, bourgeois art galleries and gauche chic designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Sonia Rykiel.  Nowadays, the philosophers may have decamped from the Café de Flore, but there are still plenty of students from the Sorbonne university and academic bookshops to keep up its ‘intellectual’ atmosphere.

On one of our many Paris visits last year, Steven and I stayed at the Hotel Design Sorbonne, which is just a few steps away from the Boulevard Saint Germain, the Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, the Seine and of course, the Sorbonne.

The hotel is tucked away on a peaceful side street and is accessed by a quaint courtyard. The reception/lounge area is a mix of a typical French salon interior and bold, contemporary colours, flock wallpaper and striped velvet seating.  There are a number of coffee table books, magazines and Paris attraction maps, as well as an iMac for web browsing. 

 hotel sorbonne lobby

The corridor looks like something surreal from a Jeunet and Caro film, with custers of quirky photographs and lines of poetry emblazoned on the carpet. 

hotel sorbonne

Our room had a dark, romantic atmosphere due to colour scheme of chartreuse, silver and black – even curtains and doors were black!  The bed was extremely comfy, with fluffy pillows, crisp cotton linen and a throw in complementing colours.

The bathroom had beautiful dusky brown and gold flock tiles but was pretty tiny, although I’ve heard that they have rooms with larger ones if you’re staying for longer and need more space.

Like most forward-thinking hotel, they have installed an Apple iMac in each room, so you can access the web and watch TV and DVDs without hassle.  It seems that hotels now want to give guests a more homely experience, rather than leaving us detached from the world, charging guests 10 Euros a day for using wifi. It also eases them off unnecessary concierge duties!

 hotel sorbonne

We ate breakfast outside and tried out the bakeries around the rue de Buci for a croissant and café crème, although the breakfast room at the hotel looked delicious.  

One thing that impressed me most about the hotel is that they have since kept in touch by email and regularly report on their fabulous meanderings around the city on their Paris newsblog.  I had serious food envy over their tasting session of mille-feuilles by legendary Paris pâtissier, Pierre Hermé and am planning to eat at La Bouche, a laid-back restaurant with innovative cuisine in Ménilmontant, which they visited and recommended.

hotel sorbonne breakfast

Hotel Design Sorbonne is part of the Hôtels de Paris Rive Gauche group, that runs three other boutique hotels on the Left Bank, with the hotly anticipated BJ luxury design hotel (formerly the Hotel Ferrandi) opening next Autumn.  If you want a ‘home away from home’ or a more private stay, they also have a designer studio in the Marais, a bijou apartment by the Canal Saint Martin for up to four people and a luxury apartment in the Mouffetard area.

Hotel Design Sorbonne is the perfect base for Paris newbies, as it is within walking distance of the chic designer shops on the Boulvard Saint Germain, the buzzy Latin Quarter, the markets on Rue Mouffetard and of course, the Seine.  The hotel is quiet at night due to its side street position, so if it’s all about getting up and out  in the morning, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

Photo Credit

Rates range from 100 – 350 Euros per night and a continental buffet breakfast is 12 Euros.

Hotel Design Sorbonne, 6,  rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris. £

Metro: Line 10 : Cardinal Lemoine, Cluny Sorbonne. RER B : Luxembourg.

Boutique hotels on a budget in Paris

Christmas time in London is always magical, with ice skating at Somerset House, German markets in Hyde Park and Covent Garden’s piazza all lit up, but after what feels like a lifetime since the last summer beach holiday, I’m just dying to get away for a few days.

Next month I’m going to Paris (my ‘third home’) for a few nights and now is the time when I obsessively search for the prettiest hotels in the area I want to stay in and then trawl the net for the best deals.  For most people may sound like a pain worse than death, not a secret indulgence, so if you’re planning a winter city break, I’ve done some of the leg work so you can pick the best affordable boutique hotels – I’ve stayed in all of them and would definitely visit again.

A while ago, I went to Paris with my mum and as we planned a night at the Opéra Bastille and particularly love the Marais, we booked to stay three nights the affordable design hotel Le Quartier Bastille Le Faubourg, an affordable design hotel in the 12e arondissement.

le quartier reception

The hotel is sleek and contemporary with retro features like curved leather seats, fringing and glass orbs in the reception/lounge.  When you arrive, you’re hit with the kind of seductive, wood and musk aroma that you’d expect from Hôtel Costes.

Neutral tones with bold statement colours are the order for the bedrooms and they have cool design touches like perspex chairs, a flatscreen TV and a very touchable fibre optic light feature.  The beds are so comfortable that you just can’t wait to curl up in the crisp, cotton linen and catch some zzzs after a long day walking in the city.  They also place delicious Granny Smith apples on your pillows each morning to help you get your five a day amid the steak and fromage overload.

le quartier hotel

The best feature of the hotel is its beautiful outside terrace with wooden decking and red tables, beautiful plants and flowers and gardening can watering features. Paris is full of secret courtyards and Paris fashionistas flock to them for brunch or drink with a bit of secluded people-watching.

le quartier hotel

We didn’t have breakfast at the hotel (although it looked delicious), but we found an adorable bakery on the Rue du Faubourg St-Antoine where you could sit and have a café crème and pastries.

Le Quartier are a small hotel group that used to own a property near République and now also run Le Quartier Bercy-Square on the nearby Boulevard de Reuilly.  The staff were friendly and talkative and there are plenty of coffee table books and magazines like Madame Figaro to keep you amused.

Rates seem to start at 110 Euros a night for a double classic room in November and December, but check around the web for the best deals (we paid 95 Euros when we stayed).

Le Quartier Bastille Le Faubourg is best suited to second-timers in Paris who are familiar with getting around on the metro.  The location doesn’t have the grandeur of the Louvre area or the Left Bank, but you get a boutique hotel with individual design touches without the sky-high prices of more central hotels.  It’s one of the best places to sleep in style and still have enough Euros left for late-night aperitifs.

Le Quartier Bastille Le Faubourg, 9 Rue De Reuilly, 75012 Paris