Portia London + Paris Holiday 2018

Hi there Posse! Being the most fortunate of people it’s holiday time again at Chez Portia. Leaving Jin at home and heading out with two of my good buddies, Anna-Maria and Scott, we have organised a London + Paris Holiday. How freaking exciting is that.

Portia London + Paris Holiday 2018

Scott and Anna-Maria’s first time in Paris, Anna-Maria’s first time in London. So a really big deal. Fortunately I lived in London and worked in Paris so I am fairly proficient in both cities.

There is the added excitement this year of the strikes. Rail and Air France strikes. Fortunately there is a Strike Map with dates and we should be able to navigate most things with Uber, feet, Taxis and buses. There are also those bikes you can rent.

paris Portia London + Paris Holiday 2018

The original idea was that we spend the three weeks we are away in Paris solely. A week of wandering, a week of museums and castles, a week of perfume and shopping. We are doing a pared down, less extravagant Paris Holiday in 2018, currently there just aren’t the funds for any of us to go too OTT. Fortunately we got an Air BnB apartment right between the 1st arrondissement and the Marais (Paris’ cool kids and gay town), 19 nights for three cost us about the same as a week at Jin and my favourite hotel. The really good thing is that we will have a kitchen so most breakfasts and dinners can be had together at a fraction of the cost.

Great Britain London England Parliament Big Ben


THEN we got the news that the Art & Olfaction Awards are on in London the first weekend we are in Paris so Anna-Maria and I are jumping on the Chunnel across the drink and spending three nights in my old stomping ground London! Woo Hoo! Another Air BnB, this time a tiny little 4th floor loft with ensuite around the corner from Westminster and Buckingham Palace. There will be quite a perfume and blogging crew in town and we are meeting up with Tara and Val the Cookie Queen from A Bottled Rose, Vanessa from Bonkers About Perfume, Thomas from Candy Perfume Boy, Pia and Nick from Olfiction and a slew of others.

Paris People & Places

We have a few seriously amazing things organised in Paris also. Another crew of perfumed peeps are coming across to Paris (some double ups) in the next week and we have booked a Private Lesson at the Osmotheque. SO excited about this. The morning at Versailles and afternoon at one of the world’s most famous perfumery schools. Next day we have been invited to do a Serge Lutens Bell Jar Exclusives Class upstairs in the yellow room at the Palais Royale, so cool.

Three of us have so much to see and do in only three weeks, it is going to be manic! Hopefully meeting up with some of my mates who are perfume royalty like Neela Vermeire, Pierre Guillaume, Nicolas Chabot, Denyse Beaulieu and the men from Oriza L Legrand. The perfumeries and fashion flagship stores in the 1st arrondissement we also hope to wander. I haven’t even started talking about CHEESE yet!! O M G!

cheese paris Portia London + Paris Holiday 2018

We are all so freaking excited about our London & Paris Holiday.
Have you been to Paris or London? What were your favourite things? Things we need to know and can’t miss.
Portia xx

  • Mariann says:

    Just spent 2 days in Paris. Sadly the strikes derailed my plans a bit, but I hope to have a couple of hours for sniffing on my way back thorough on this coming Saturday. Will there be a post on where you went (just so i can follow in your footsteps ?)?

  • Filomena says:

    I’ve never been to London but did spend two weeks in Paris many years ago. Enjoy yourself!

  • Ann says:

    How wonderful!!! I know you’ll have an amazing time in both cities!! Do let us know all about it when you get back home!!

  • Ingeborg says:

    Haven’t been to Paris for a long time, but must have been there at least 6 times. I would recommend the different Paul branches for lunch, if they still exist. Those were good and not terribly expensive. Also, Versailles used to have some good crêperies (rue the Vieux Versailles and another one near the market), the savoury galettes made with buckwheat flour are my favourites. The old part of Versailles is worth a little stroll while you are there, I would say. I spent a month in Versailles many years ago learning French, so I’m partial to Versailles and Yvelines! Not a place for those allergic to the BCBG kind of people, but Versailles is so friendly and calm compared to parts of Paris.

    In Paris don’t miss any major exhibitions in Grand Palais, those are usually so good! Other than that, the Orsay museum is among my favourites.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there Ingeborg,
      Noting the Paul’s/ I think I know them. Kind of cafes but a chain right?
      What is BCBG??
      Can’t wait to take my mates to the Musee d’Orsay! The whole walk from Louvre down the river towards it is pretty damn spectacular. I will also get them to the Grand Palais.
      Portia xx

      • Ingeborg says:

        Paul used to be a small chain of cafés, yes. BCBG, meaning bon chic, bon genre like the preppy crowd you used to find also in Neuilly. It may be a term from the 80s, but honestly I don’t think that group of people will totally vanish any time soon.

  • Tara C says:

    LOve Paris and London, haven’t been in ten years but will go again once the dogs have passed on. Have a wonderfyl time, looking forward to your reports!

    • Portia says:

      Thanks TaraC,
      Having pets can male travelling hard. Luckily our greyhounds trainer takes them back for very little money and they love him.
      Portia xx

  • cookie queen says:

    Under the table darling, and paint those nails. I can barely contain my excitement. ??

  • HeidiC says:

    Cheese and Osmotheque and SL — so jelly!

  • Earl Gray says:

    What a trip! I’m pretty sure you have the perfume side of your itinerary covered but for food, wine bars, bakeries etc in Paris I’d highly recommend David Lebowitz’s blog for the inside track : https://www.davidlebovitz.com/paris/

    He doesn’t seem to mention Au Pied de Cochon, and maybe it’s not up there with the bestest food but it is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week *proper* restaurant that is very glam and very french, if not almost a tiny bit campy but basically classy and a genuinely unique to Paris experience. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/17/au-pied-de-cochon-restaurant-review-paris

    You might struggle to have a bad meal in Paris though. Good god I love it there.

    In London, if you somehow have a spare few hours of an afternoon, do afternoon tea. Claridges was very good we went, giving us endless refills of tea and confections – it was basically an all-you-can-eat table service of the most delicious morsels in the poshest setting. Skip lunch and flex those pinkies. You may have to skip dinner too!

    I am so food-obsessed when I travel (and er, when I’m at home…) please excuse this outburst, hehe. Have a wonderful time. Can’t wait to read all about it 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hey Earl Grey,
      I have a Fortnum & Mason High Tea tradition going back to the 1990s but last time we were there it was shit. I may try Claridges, thanks.
      Food wise we tend to do little hole in the wall places in Paris. One for Onion Soup, another Korean place and a fave for escargot. I miss the tiny baguette with ham & cheese sellers of yesteryear for lunch, the smells that used to come from those tiny stores. MMMMMM
      Portia xx

      • Earl Gray says:

        Sounds dreamy. I still haven’t tried escargots, or steak tartare for that matter! Must start planning a trip back myself, but til then I will live vicariously through you.

        It was over five years ago I went to Claridges, but if they’ve upheld their standards, it is sooo worth going.

        • Portia says:

          Heya earl Grey,
          Jin likes Steak Tartare MUCH more than I do. It’s OK. I feel weird after eating it though, like there are worms in my belly.
          Excellent, will do. Thank you.
          Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    I love Paris. Pierre Herme sables. I love you. I love London (miss Galleries Lafayette). I love you.

  • Kate E. says:

    Your life is so glamorous! I can’t wait to read about your trip. Safe travels & have a wonderful time!!!

    • Portia says:

      HA! You know sometimes it feels super glam. About 15%. The rest of the time is living real.
      Thanks Kate!
      Portia xx

  • crikey says:

    oh yes! What a trip that’s going to be!

    We had a wonderful time in Paris last month, and stayed at a lovely airbnb just around the corner from the Picasso museum (so, same sort of Haut Marais area). If you have any taste for Russian Avant-Garde art, the new exhibition at the Pompidou is pretty fab. Snarl adored the Junya Ishigami exhibition at the Fondation Cartier. But mostly we just walked and walked and pottered (and sniffed). And the gelato at Mary’s on Rue du Temple? Up there with any we had in Florence. Actually, the coffee flavour was even better…

    Oh, and I got my vat of Mitzah. And lots of other lovely scented treats. Full on indulgence on the frag side for me. Wonderful experience sniffing my way across Paris–I think I went into pretty much every perfumery on a winding, tangent-taking all-day exploration between Jovoy and Marie Antoinette. Bliss!

    • crikey says:

      p.s. really wish I could sneak down to london to meet you and your crew.

    • Portia says:

      WOW Crikey!
      I am definitely taking a leaf out of your book.
      Italian and French coffee is very nice. our Australian stuff is quite different. Seems cleaner and lighter. It takes me a week to adjust every time.
      Portia xx

  • Kathleen says:

    Wheeee! I wish you the best holiday! Your plans sound fabulous and I envy! I’ve bedn to Paris as a child, and London in my 20’s; however those were pre-Perfume obsession days. One day I’ll make it happen and will take note of your adventures. I hope to read more about your trip on future posts. Safe travels!

  • Chris Hartnett says:

    Hubby and I are off to the UK and Paris in Nov/Dec. I’m a Londoner by birth but haven’t been back since the early 90s. Never been to Paris and can’t wait to hit the perfume boutiques and see the sights.

  • DinaC says:

    What a fabulous bucket-list experience! Kudos to you for doing such excellent planning ahead of time and coordinating so many interesting meet-ups, classes and jaunts! I love that kind of travel the most! I haven’t been to London or Paris since the 80s, alas, but would love to go again. Maybe after both kids are through college. 🙂 When the time comes, I’ll know who to consult with for good ideas. 😀

    • Hey DinaC,
      You’ll hardly recognise Paris. The buildings are the same but the people have changed beyond belief. They’re so welcoming now, also having a frag hobby means that the art and culture are broken up with sniffing.
      You’re going to love it.
      Portia xx

  • jenbat says:

    Woah, this is the trip of my dreams. Please report back with all the details!

  • Gina says:

    I have to get to Paris still. My birthday is July 14; so, I always thought that would be a cool time to be there but it’s most expensive. I love London and would love to live there. My faves were The Globe, Harrods and Punch & Judy’s.

    • Hey Gina,
      Is Punch & Judy’s the dolls? Do they have a specific place in London? I never knew that.
      This holiday we are doing it very budget, I think Paris can be quite affordable if you have a kitchen and buy the Public Transport and Museum passes. Let’s see how we go. I’ll report.
      Portia xx

      • rina says:

        As someone who LEFT THEIR CREDIT CARD AT HOME (by mistake) I can attest to Paris being affordable, though not quite as enjoyable. Get the museum pass for sure and a daily metro ticket, not the per-trip ticket. We made that mistake only once. Enjoy!!

        • Portia says:

          Hey Rina,
          O M G! That must have been quite a shock. Nowadays they can have a new card in your hands in under 24 hours, it’s pretty cool.
          I think you can also buy a weekly PT ticket too, including RER.
          Yeah, going to enjoy the shit outta it.
          Portia x

          • rina says:

            Oh trust me, I tried. The CC co. said they could only send it to my address on file, which would help me not. It did seriously stop me from going into places I would need it, except Guerlain but I was only buying tea for my mom…

  • Neva says:

    Oh Portia, this sounds like a dream of a vacation! I’m jealous about the Osmotheque visit. You’ll be able to sniff the discontinued beauties…sigh…
    It’s been a while since I’ve been to Paris or London, but I remember that I liked the Soho and Camden neighborhood in London and the Montmartre beneath Sacre Coeur in Paris so I spent much time strolling around in these parts. Have a beautiful time!

    • Hey Neva,
      Yes, thoroughly spoiled, I know. The Osmotheque is amazing. I did it back in 2014 and it was utterly incredible.
      Soho and Camden are excellent suburbs, spent loads of happy times in both. Thanks for the reminder to take Anna-Maria to Camden, she’ll love it.
      Jin loves Sacre Coeur, we bought a painting there that now hangs in our living room. Such happy memories.
      Portia xx

  • Oooh la la, cherie! You’ll have a marvelous time. We are in Paris for 3 more days and it’s been great. Our AirBnB is 1 block away from Place Des Vosges, and right near the amazing Bistrot Des Vosges, the best onion soup in town. The strikes have snarled traffic, and yesterday every street in a 10 block radius of the Ritz was cordoned off for the Prince of Saudi Arabia. Uber has been great, but it takes twice as long to get anywhere. Still and all…..Paris! Xoxo

    • Hey Robert,
      Place Des Vosges is only a couple of blocks from our place. Are the buses on strike too?
      I think we will miss you by only a couple of days, bummer.
      Your adventure looks like you guys have had a ball.
      Now you are a seriously Fragrant Wanderer
      Portia xx