When You’re Hankerin’ For A Little French Holiday

“These shoes were made for walkin’…”

A little French holiday simply brings out the best in everyone. The frissons of Saint Tropez, catching a thief in Cannes, strolling in the vineyards of Burgundy and you are off in another world. Can’t you just sense a change in your temperament when you are sitting down with a chilled kir and an open Michelin map in front of you.

There is a sense of anticipation and excitement. A little French holiday is just the ticket to bring back your smile. My father claims that I’ve been on holiday ever since I left the States to work in Paris. That’s fathers for you all over.

Out our local, Cafe Brazza, everyone is talking holiday over their morning espresso and warm croissant. Shoulders are shrugged and hands are waved with passion and gusto. This year, there is a strong focus on nostalgia. Think Les Vacances De Monsieur Hulot by Jacques Tati and you get the gist.

As cinema buffs know, Tati’s film will put in you just the right mood for a little French holiday. Analyzing current trends, the people we know are booking simple holiday’s where pleasure is easy and honest. Picture black and white photographs from the Sixties and you will catch my drift. When I think of a little French holiday, I see an endless ream of Polaroid photos like a garland of clamshells hanging over a beach cabin. Speaking of a little French holiday, the natives are quite simply a different race when summertime blazes in the Hexagone in full glory.

Recently, the weather in Paris has stirred my memories of Brittany. It must be all that rain mixed with sunshine. Eating gallettes de sarrasin washed down with country cider at the Breizh Cafe in the Marais just the other day must have triggered my flashbacks as the rain came down in sheets in the street.

All joking aside, the evenings are now long and the sun doesn’t set until after 22h30. Quite a delicious feeling, I must admit. It’s like having two days squeezed into one. The queues at Bertillon for ice cream and sorbet are long. People are in shorts and sandals. The café terraces are packed, and no one is in a hurry.

Far from the city, the Parisians are tan, relaxed, and content. Everyone is talking about where is the “hot” place to be. The general consensus is that Calvi, Nice, l’ile de Rê, and Hossegor are the in places this summer.

To people outside France only Nice will strike a bell. As in all things, style demands focus. To sport the right look, use the local holidaymakers as your style guide for inspiration. In Paris, people choose their attire with deliberation. Issues of cost do arise, but it is more about being style savvy. The French Touch, which seems so easy to do, is quite difficult to get right.

sailing copy 2_french-holiday_redddherring
“Dancing to the back beat of your own drummer…”

I won’t say that it appears in their genetic coding, but I will say that there must be something in the water. Perhaps the trendy, Montcalm from the Pyrenees has trace elements we should be more aware of. Women seem sexier and men seem to have that certain unfussy dash which shows true élan. On holiday, the national mood swings and everyone wants what I used to refer to back in the States as that Cape Cod wind swept and sea bitten cool. Although dress codes vary across the country, there is one thing that you will notice. Style is timeless and effortless. There is a simplicity that anyone with a sense of aesthetics can achieve with just a pinch of effort.

If you go to any of the 4 locations I have cited, bring nothing with you. Everything can be bought on location: the right clothes, the perfect bathing suit, suntan oil and even a toothbrush.

Trendy Calvi
Of all the holiday hot spots, Calvi wins hands down as the trendiest place to be seen yet another year. You can spot the in crowd by their sunglasses. By far the shades of choice are Ray Ban aviators. Shirts are loose and of white cotton or linen mix. Dior beach towels dominate La Balagne, Chloe bags with a long strap swing across the chest and Sonia Rykiel dominate the “big” names.

Some of the women look like escapees from the chic stores such as Colette on the rue St Honore. Last summer, there was a woman with long blond hair, wearing a long evening dress calling out, “Marcello, Marcello” in one of the piazzas.

Recently, the French press has been running feature after feature on how chic Corsica is as a holiday destination. It is true that the coast on the side of Calvi is ravishing. However, most of the best coves are only accessible by boat, read the word “yacht”. The island has diverse eco zones and offers any adventurer every thing they need to subscribe to the Gypset.

Nice Is Back In Vogue
This Riviera destination has always had allure. Once an Italian city, you can feel straight away that it has more in common with la dolce vita. Not far outside of town is the charming port, Villefranche-sur-Mer. Last year, the town celebrated yet another anniversary of the Rolling Stones mythic recording, “Exile On Main Street”. In this town, it is only rock ‘n roll…

As you float through the narrow streets, turn up the volume on your iPod when listening to “Plundering My Soul”. To get the R&B vibe, rent an red Alfa Romeo coup for touring the countryside.

The Nicois attitude is very 1970s in the best sense of the term. No one on this side of the Riviera has hang-ups when it comes to bathing and lazing about in the sun. The Fitzgerald’s got good and lost down here and so can you. On the beaches and coves, women flaunt the gifts which nature has endowed them with without any complex. Men for the most part where a tiny slip in black.

The Promenade des Anglais still holds the magic for which the Riviera is justly famous. The lights at night along the magical palm studded crescent will delight the most jaded palates. Bling-Bling is common, but it just adds to the party flavor. The major religion here is sunbathing with fervour. Everyone seems so healthy. Of course the Mediterranean cuisine with its emphasis on fresh, local, and organic play big. Indulge in the real Salade Nicoise and you will see what truly makes this salad a French classic. Eaten on location has nothing to do with variations consumed elsewhere whether in France or worse overseas.

What I have always loved about Nice in summer is the town truly sparkles. Old Nice is where the action is and wears its Italian sense of style with nonchalance. If you feel at home with the gingerbread people, artists, and designers, you will absolutely love the fireworks display on Assumption.

Seeing the light show reminds me of that famous scene in Hitchcock’s, It Takes A Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. The whole area reeks of high heels, Rolex submariners, and Rivas. The opulence can be enjoyed as a perfect antidote to the any economic crisis psychology fostered by the grey skies and high seriousness in Northern latitudes. Come down and party. After all, everyone here is an exile from some street.

BCBG Paradise at L’ile de Rê
The BCBG tribe have colonised l’ile de Rê. It is as if everyone from Neuilly and Versailles decided to hold a Downeast clam bake just outside of Seal Harbor. At the beach, Portes-en-Rê, it will feel like old home week. Bad taste and bling have been outlawed.

Style trends are preppy. Find yourself a vintage Madras sports jacket to go with your Bermuda shorts. Leave your socks at home. Let your feet rejoice. Ralph Lauren would feel right at home here. The beaches are sand and the smell of Atlantic salt clings to the hair and skin. The island is very civilised and delightful for cocktails and late evening shindigs with family & friends. Bring a bag jazz records featuring Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Eric Dolphy. It will give you the ideal soundtrack to plan excursions. If you need to shake your booty, skip this place and head straight to Ibiza.

Cool Hossegor
Further down the coast as you hit the Landes country is Hossegor. It is home to the French kahuna and you can surf your heart out. The surfing style is everything. Quicksilver board shorts and wet suits predominate. Because of the surf attitude, American trends and brands run big here. Even vintage Levis jeans are common currency among the surf set.

The younger crowd of pretty young things to quote Evelyn Waugh, is particularly keen on bright colours reminiscent of the late 1960s and flamboyant prints. There is quite a Venice Beach scene here. After a heady day on the surf, there are enough clubs for you to dance the night away until dawn.

Getting Here
All major airlines land at Paris-CDG and provide excellent connections to internal flights or train links.

Article Title: When You’re Hankerin’ For A Little French Holiday
Photographs: ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at
RedHerring is the digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

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Dateline Greece: Why Homer Is Always Relevant

“Because you’re waiting for the water taxi…”

Sailing Greece, I discovered that reading Homer is always relevant. Shrouded in mystery, he is so contemporary. Imagine breaking crust with this gent. I found wine dark seas pursuing dolphins and the children of Odysseus such as the Colossus of Maroussi. George Seferis was heartbroken every time he thought about Hellas. Once the blinding blue is etched on your mind, you will too.

Sailing Greece is more to me than my love of boats. Perhaps, the Retsina went to my head more than 20 years ago. Playing backgammon and idle chatter with fishermen can do this to a chap. The people are charming and natural story tellers. I’d love to state that I met him in Piraeus. Perhaps we all have. From the first moment sailing Greece, I encountered a light that pierces the soul and gives birth to love.

“Look dolphins…”

As a creature of rational habits, Greece stimulates my blood. There is nothing to comprehend except the appreciation of bouzouki.

On my maiden journey, I was swept away with Syrtaki and Zebekkiko. I cavorted through the tavernas of Athens until I was shanghaied to the shores of Sifnos. There I encountered authenticity, worthy of verse. At first, I thought it was the heat and ouzo. The ancient rivers run deep. Circumstance brought them out. Before I knew it, I was off with Pan to God knows where. Clearly, sailing Greece is not for the foolhardy.

I am reminded of that haunting quotation in the Revelations of St. John The Divine (1.Rev 1.8):

“… I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

Saint John always did have a way with words. I’d like to think he was inspired by the pleasure of sharing a table with friends eating grilled octopus marinated in wild oregano.

Tavernas are a showcase for theatre. It’s the place your inner being demands to be refreshed. You see, sailing Greece is an odyssey to the core of your own being. It’s where the soul arouses the senses of charmed moments, laughter, and contemplation. Who knows, you might even learn to dance! Conversations are whispered and on other occasions animated. You’ll simply love tavernas for the camaraderie not to mention the food.

Sailing Greece, head for Crete and tales of the labyrinth. The freshness of the bread is perfect to rub olive oil or to nibble a crumbly piece of feta. Take port and rejoice. When it comes to the table, seasonality still carries weight. What could be better than a dozen mezes spread across a checkerboard cloth.

Take the two sisters who run the Dome Hotel in Chania. They make the most amazing rose petal jam you will ever taste. Eaten with Greek yogurt and you will start re-evaluating your career options. This is a good town to begin. When possible, leave your car and walk in the hills. Let the landscape act as your guide. Let your feet start you off on your first journey. Who knows Gnosis may not be far behind.

In the winter, stews hark back to antiquity. The meats, vegetables, and herbs simmer for hours giving slow food its original content. Stuffed peppers can be found in many cultures, but few are flavored with sultanas, nutmeg and mint.

“Because no man or woman is an island…”

Curiously, each dish has a story culled from someone’s grandmother. I love the fact that Greek cuisine is based on the humblest of ingredients such as chic peas, wild greens, garden vegetables, yogurt, and fish.

What I also find uncanny is that consumption is based on products sourced locally. Perhaps this is why dishes with similar descriptions are often quite different from one part of Greece to another. Take the spicy shrimp served on the island of Symi. The shrimps are tiny, briny, and laced with spices reminiscent of Asia.

Even the ubiquitous country salad, can vary tremendously. When it comes to Greek wines, imbibe. Most think of Retsina and turn up their noses. Although I love this simple country wine properly chilled on a hot summer’s day, the country produces some outstanding vintages grown across Macedonia and the Peloponnese. The Mecouri family do a red wine to die for. I once made a blind taste test with a close friend in the wine trade from Bordeaux. He was blown away when I told him the wine was Greek.

With thousands of islands to visit, you are spoiled for choice. Eschew the places mass tourism destroyed. The mysteries of Eleusis await anyone with an open heart. Mingle with the people and feel their pulse. And don’t forget to keep a copy of Fagel’s Homer in your pocket.

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Article Title: Dateline Greece: Why Homer Is Always Relevant
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane


Dateline Paris: Branché Paname Captures Lascar Cool

“Because everyone wants to be a Buffalo Soldier…”

Today’s Branché Paname is recognized by its beguiling street style, its tribes, and its petits oignons. Some cats drink themselves blind on great wine. Others cultivate themselves with contemporary art, hanging out by the Canal Saint Martin falling in love. While you’re at it, why not get a tattoo to die for. Remember, each tribe has its own dress codes. Check out the Faubourg Saint Denis and Sentier to catch the vibe. As in all things French, follow the locals and dress the part with panache. Perfect to blend in, make new friends, and have the time of your life.

“Because you’re looking for Strawberry Fields…”

To honor our glorious town, RedHerring has been running series of Branché Paname articles featuring lascar cool and fly girls out for a bit of fun. The ground to stalk in search of cool? Everywhere from the Marais to the Canal Saint Martin. Download Al Green for that perfect soul music. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Alex Haircuts
21 rue Rodier 75009 Paris
Alex and his brother cut the meanest haircuts in this town. Period. I haven’t seen barbers this meticulous in a donkey’s age. Plan on 45 minutes to have your haircut. They are also splendid at beards. If you’ve seen a lot of nifty cuts of late around Branché-Paname, then their locks and beards were trimmed or pruned here. This hole-in-the-wall is definitely the real deal. It is a fav with hipsters.

Make a note: There are no reservations for ordinary people. Come Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday and you’ll stand a chance of seeing their mastery on your own head. They open at nine, but I’d get here at 8. Don’t be shocked if you see a cue when you arrive.

As large as a cracker box, the ambiance is first cabin. Old style American barber in the heart of SoPi. Music is rockabilly and blues. These guys are also connoisseurs on olive oil, bourbon, and women. Anything to due with their kind of music, don’t hesitate to ask. They even know every great club where you won’t go broke.

Today’s discussion was on the Gibus Cafe at 127, rue Saint Maur 75011. If you want good ole Southern blues with balls, check this out. They are known for acts that will shake the house down.

15 rue Saint Antoine 75002 Paris
Marie Carcassonne and Frederic Peneau have set up the hottest kebab stand this side of the Bosphorus. Everything is organic and top notch. The meat is provided by Hugo Desnoyer. The mixes and toppings include fresh mint, parsley and coriander. The fries do not come from Picard. They are homemade and crunch between your teeth. The pita is reminiscent of Indian bread from Delhi, hot and home baked on the premises.

The place is packed out at lunchtime. There are some places to sit, but most clients take their lunches back to the office or sit in the garden at Palais Royal. Some might quibble over the price and the portions. However, not only is this kebab delicious, it is actually good for you. Try telling that to your local kebab dealer back in the eighteenth. Branché Paname never tasted better.

branche paname
“Because you’re looking for Middle Earth…”

Royal Cheese
22 rue Tiquetonne 75002 Paris
Hipsters love this boutique and rightly so. They specialize in workwear classics. Each season has a capsule collection and features Red Wing boots, Sebago boatshoes, Lacoste Live, and the best denim in town. The new flagship is on the rue Veille du Temple in the Haut Marais. Dungaree specialties include Levis, Lees, Nudie, and Edwin. Want to join the crowd off the wall? Their Vans will provide you with the perfect footwear. Branché Paname, so you look like a lumberjack.

Join The Conversation. Share your favorite places in town.

Article Title: Dateline Paris: Branché Paname Captures Lascar Cool
Photograph: (1)thesharpgentleman (2)urbanite (3)curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

Because You Love Being Breathless In Paris

“When smoke gets in your eyes…”

I’m in love for the first time. Don’t you know it’s gonna last. It’s the love that lasts forever. It’s the love that has no past.”
– John Lennon

Reason dictates that you won’t be the the first one to fall in love with Paris. Everyone has done it from Ernest Hemingway to Audrey Hepburn. Because this town is so tactile and sensual, it is easy to love even in the rain.

So what should you do when you finally get here? I advise throwing caution to the winds, galavant round town, ride a bicycle, sip champagne cocktails, or shop till you drop. This is a city with no limits on where love is concerned.

The most up-to-date guides are Time Out (English) or Branche Paris (French). Both list nightclubs, trendy restaurants, museums, shops and the like. There are even hipster venues certainly worth a detour. However, coming to Paris is so much more. It’s really about strolling the streets at length, and mixing with the locals. Personally, I’d start off by finding a jazz bar filled with gypsies, sip Manhattans, and count my blessings. You are not in Boise, Idaho.

“Because falling in love is never a rational act…”

For example, if you love open-air markets, there couldnt be a better time to come and peruse. There are local flea markets during the warmer months in just about every neighborhood. One of my fav’s is on Bd Rochechouard. As an empty your attic do, it features everything from vintage Hermes scarves, the odd Charles Eames chairs, and even 1960s jazz vinyl.

For foodies, don’t miss the Marche Bio on Bd Batignolles. It starts when the early morning sun is uncurling its fingers of dappled rosy light. Watch the locals eat hot potato pancakes and sipping cups of Moroccan mint tea. On second thought, don’t watch, join right in.

Another vendor is doing a brisk business in Fedora hats at reasonable prices. Buy one for yourself and your partner. Then go drink thick creamy jolts of hot chocolate. It is the perfect accompaniment to a flaky croissant. What breakfast would be like without this noble morning danish, I couldn’t imagine.

Even Toad from Toad Hall has his favorite bakery, LeParrer on rue de Chateau in Neuilly fly over a couple dozen at least once a week to his estate in England on Sundays. Toad is always breathless on comestibles, but he is Toad.

If you prefer to sit down, why not check out Café d’Or in the Fashionista heartland on rue St. Honore. The espresso is like rocket fuel and the strawberry jam is sweetness incarnate. While you are at it, why not pretend to be Scott Schuman, the fashion photographer. After all, the cafe is kitty corner to Colette. There’s plenty of eye candy around. Who doesn’t love this! This street really is the ideal catwalk.

“Who isn’t breathless in the evening…”

For lovers of authentic workwear, why not check out at the deep end of the Marais. There tiny boutiques featuring Filson, Red Wing footwear, and denim to die for. Before you go better eat a hearty Breton meal at the Breizh Cafe on the rue de Vielle du Temple. Definitely the most savory galettes and crepes in town.

If you are looking for a soundtrack to download while you strut the streets, I would recommend anything by Sidney Bichet. This is the perfect jazz music where a chilled flute is just an outstretched hand away. Otherwise, look to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald to serenade your promenade . If that doesn’t put you in the mood for love, nothing will.

Everyone who comes to Paris should have a reason to celebrate. Forget the dross you have heard about the French at home. Stereotypes are so boring, don’t you think? Speak some French and the Parisians will welcome you like long lost family.

Love and partying do not need a calendar date. Romance is the heartbeat of the City of Light. Just ask Gene Kelly. Few cities in this world personify love as well as Paris. Imagine you are the couple in a recent Louis Vuitton video. You could even set the stage for your own midnight in Paris. One word of caution: falling in love is never a rational act. So why not throw all caution to the winds. Life is short.

Panoramic Views
A French poet once claimed the best view in Paris was from the top of the Eiffel Tower. My personal favorites include watching the horizon from any of the beautiful bridges spanning the Seine. Who can be too jaded not to want to see this? There are so many to choose from. Forget the one with all the love locks. It is so yesterday. Anyway, if they don’t cut off the bally things soon the whole bloody bridge will probably fall into the river.

Cafe Lingering
Find a nice café and just linger. While you’re at it, why not write your own journal. I am particularly taken with the Cafe Nemour at Palais Royal. Watch the show. There is even live classical music out front in the piazza. Their terrace is one of the sunniest to dawdle, slurp espresso, or sip cocktails. If you didn’t bring a moleskin notebook, you can acquire one at La Civette just across the street.

Stroll The Champs Elysees
Now, I know what you are thinking. What could be more cliched than the Champs? Well, quite frankly, nothing. However, it is still the most majestic boulevard in Europe, and the French would claim, the world. Hey, why be modest? It really is spectacular.

If you are afraid that you will spend all your money, just keep your hands stuffed in your pockets. That’s what Jean-Paul Belmondo did. Pretend you are in the film classic, Breathless by Jean-Luc Goddard. The city lies open in front of you, and if you spread out a map, you’ll see, it is shaped like an oyster.

Gimme Shelter
Take the metro to Porte de Bagnolet. Philippe Starck designed his hottest boutique hotel here, Mamma Shelter, and the ambiance is street-country. Many artists, sculptors, and musicians now call this neighborhood home. If you are not careful, you could go home with a beautiful girl on each arm.

Explore the Musee Guimet
Love this little gem, which houses the best collection of Asian art treasures in the city. Wander around a recreation of Angor Wat. The museum is light and airy. The Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese collections are rich and you can get lost for hours dreaming of your next adventure on the Silk Road to Cathy following in the footsteps of Marco Polo. It is the perfect cultural appetizer before having lunch in a Laotian restaurant in the thirteenth.

The Pyramid
The setting of the Tuileries gardens is a living tableau in Impressionism. I.M. Pei’s transparent pyramid gives new meaning to breaking the glass ceiling, and is the official entrance to the Louvre. There is always an exhibit to captivate your attention. Come early, the place is always packed. Another intimate café worth the detour is the Café Marly, which sits in the courtyard facing IM Pei’s stark architectural gem. The café is glam and an ideal place to have lunch. Inside, you have the impression of taking tea in an eighteenth century apartment.

A Candlelight Supper
For dinner, I suggest treating yourself by going to Tante Marguerite. The restaurant is a jewel in back of the Assemble Nationale on the rue de Bourgogne. This quiet corner of the seventh arrondissement is home to many culinary pleasures. The restaurant is modern, yet intimate. It is excellent value for money with its set menu. The chef and owner are from Burgundy so the wine list is fit for kings. Drink the Meursault at your own risk. What I am trying to imply is that one bottle will be insufficient as the golden nectar cascades down your throat following bites of a wonderful pan fried sea bass on a bed of baby spinach.

To cap the night off, you might as well through caution to the dogs, and spend a small hour with a nightcap at the Hotel Meurice and if I may dare add, a cigar.

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Article Title: Because You Love Being Breathless In Paris
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane