29/01/2017

♥ Exploring Paris: Up the Hill of Montmartre ♥


Let's climb up and up the hill...
Montmartre is a place known by all the Paris lovers out there. Who has never seen the iconic Sacré Coeur Basilica and its white domes? The building overlooks the City of Lights, and can be seen from pretty much everywhere around, if you look hard enough. 
Today I will be taking you around Montmartre, along the cobbled streets and the narrow alleys of this very unique and peculiar part of Paris. We'll start at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Sacré Coeur, of course!


To reach the stairs of the Sacré Coeur, stop at the métro stop Anvers on line 2, and just follow the crowds of people climbing up the busy street perpendicular to the stop. On the way, avoid falling in the numerous tourist traps; keep your pennies to do an offering at the Basilica. Once you arrive at the top of that long street, probably breathless (or is it just me?), look up: the Sacré Coeur will be greeting you in its beautiful, fairytale-like glory. Oh, and don't be surprised: the place will be buzzing with people, selfie sticks and street sellers. The place is only ever empty in postcards or at five in the morning. 
Before you climb all these stairs, why not going for a spin in the Carousel? I can't resist a pretty, old-fashioned ride. Do I need to mention that my friends Julie, Céline and myself were the only adults in the Carousel that were not parents accompanying their children? Whatever. We were the children. 

After the ride, it's finally time to climb these stairs! As much as a photo there would look awesome, chances are you won't be able to get a decent shot as dozens of other people are trying to get their photos taken at the exact same spot. So forget that selfie mode for a bit and look at the view!


Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the inside of the Sacré Coeur, but you should definitely go in and have a look around. Churches have that aura about them that I find entrancing, and if you're willing to make extra effort to climb to the tower, you'll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Paris.
Although the view from the outside of the Basilica isn't too bad either.

Once you've had a proper look at the Sacred Heart and wish to move away from the noisy, busy crowds, go around the left of the building. A few streets later, you'll arrive at the top of a big staircase. Look at the view, and you'll realise how high up above Paris you are standing! 

After that just turn in the street where the Maison Rose is - I am sure you've seen a thousand photos of it already - and just have a look around. Montmartre is all grey stones and green façades. With a little bit of colour thrown in!


Montmartre is also the haven of the many artists that find inspiration in Paris. You'll quickly notice that as you get lost in the meander of small streets full or Art galleries and restaurants. Look up at the façades and shop signs: it'll feel like you've stepped back in time. Art appears in the shops, on the walls (as this funny sculpture of Marcel Aymé shows well enough!), and in the streets are artists will ask you to draw your portrait, or sell their artworks in their little corner of Place du Tertre. 


The Place du Tertre is wonderful. My friends and I walked around, having a look at the paintings hanging on the easels, and glancing curiously at the artists at work. You can buy beautiful art and support the artists in a much more relaxed and friendly way than by just buying in art galleries. Some artists do portraits, others paint dreamy landscapes of Paris, and there was this one artist who did the cutest paintings of cats. Surprisingly (or not), they were my favourite!

This art nook was our last stop in Montmartre, and as the afternoon advanced we went back down the hill, spotting a few street art pieces on the way.

In life I have loved and I have been loved now I am tired I am taking some rest.

Montmartre really is a place in Paris that's like no other. It is inspiring, peaceful and buzzing at the same time, old and modern. This is the perfect place to visit on a sunny afternoon with friends. 

Did you know about Montmartre? What is a place in Paris that you'd like to see?
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22/01/2017

♥ Cable Knit ♥


These photos were taken on Christmas day, but I never got the chance to create a post with them - 2017 happens to be a busy year already! For this outfit I decided to combine a dress and a cropped jumper, a combination I enjoy wearing in the winter. If you get too warm you can still remove one layer and you're good to go!
This cream jumper is from Topshop and it's the perfect basic cable knit jumper - look at those buttons on the shoulder! Plus you can style it with basically anything. It would look nice with shorts and woolen tights too. The dress is all lace, you can see it worn differently in this post from 2015 (!). As for the boots, they are my favourite! They're from the French brand André - if you ever go to France, check out André shops, they often have pretty, timeless designs and the quality is fairly good for a high street brand. 

I haven't had much time for blogging recently, January started off with a week of university interviews - and of course I've got to share the news! After getting offers from the universities of Reading, Brighton and Bath, I have made my choice: in September, I'll start a PGCE (teaching certificate) at Bath Spa university! I'm really excited to take that big step, and of course to know than later in the year I'll be moving to Bath - one of my favourite cities in England, and one of the prettiest too. 
One very good news to start the year! I hope your 2017 started just as well.

What's your favourite item of  clothing to keep warm in the winter?
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18/01/2017

♥ Review: L'Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask ♥


The L'Oréal Pure Clay range has been out for a while now, and I had heard mixed reviews before trying it out myself. The range is composed of three masks with different effects, and although it is advised to use them all three simultaneously, I've decided to try out the Detox Mask, after reading Ela's review.
Here is what the mask claims to do:

"The creamy texture detoxifies the skin's surface by cleansing deep into the pores, leaving the skin looking clarified and beautified without drying it out.

I had only ever used green clay before, so this was a totally new experience. The clay is really easy to apply, and more importantly, easy to rinse off. I'm always weary of clay because when you clean your face, it ends up everywhere in the sink and on your face towel, but I found that it didn't happen with this mask. I use it about two times a week, and I do see a difference in how my skin looks before and after applying the mask. It does make your skin super clean, clear and even a bit brighter. I feel like it helps with breakouts too, because since I've been using it I haven't had any massive pimples at all, although it tends to happen usually around the time of my period. 
Overall I am really happy with this mask, I enjoy using it and I can see improvements on my skin. However, it still has perfume and alcohol, so it might not be as good for those of you with sensitive skins - I have oily skin so I am more immune to the effects of some skincare products.


I would definitely recommend trying out the Detox Mask if you're looking for an affordable, good clay mask to use there and then to give a little boost to your skin!


Have you tried any of the L'Oréal Pure Clay masks? And what is the best clay mask you've ever tried?
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04/01/2017

♥ My 2016 ♥


These past few days I've been thinking, like everybody else, that 2016 was kind of shit. We've reached a worldwide consensus on this affirmation. So many awful things happened: conflicts, deaths, bombings, political changes, divisions, all that didn't leave much space for positivity. However in this post, I would like to focus on the positive. The good things that happened to me in 2016. Because yes, it wasn't my best year (2015, I miss you) but when you want to, you can find highlights anywhere. It doesn't have to be anything big, sometimes it's the little things that make a difference. So it's time for me to reflect on 2016 and all the great things that came with it for me...

PARIS, JE T'AIME



This year, my love for Paris has grown into something different from what it was before. One might think that being there every day would make me feel less excited about it, but my routine commute to university hasn't made me love the city less. I never took it for granted and always rejoiced at the thought of how lucky I am to be able to experience it over and over again. Some of my favourite things to do in Paris this year were going for a walk around the river on warm days, having lunch and chatting for hours around Notre Dame with my friend Angelina, spending entire afternoons alone in the Louvre to admire centuries of Art and History, discover the old Galerie Vivienne and sit under the trees of the Jardins du Palais Royal. Now that I live in England, I miss Paris more than I've ever missed it before, and it's always a pleasure to come back.

THE YEAR OF TRAVEL


This year was definitely the year of travel for me. I discovered some amazing places, went back to some I love, and had an amazing time during each trip. The best trips were my two stays in Sicily, with my friends Julie and Céline. I love them to bits, and sharing these moments with them, walking until our feet hurt, laughing over silly things, eating ice cream and pasta, getting cocktails and wandering around the old, shattered streets of Palermo day and night... all that was probably the best time I've had this year. There's nothing like a trip to a foreign land with friends to create memories you'll never forget. 
During the summer I discovered some British seaside towns as I worked as a summer camp leader, taking French kids to England and we had a fabulous time too. It was my first time experiencing England in the summer and it felt like discovering something new.

I've jumped in trains and planes in 2016 more than I've ever done in the past years. I love the feeling of excitement you get when you land in a new place, the amazement as you discover these new cities, see the locals, how they live, how they speak, the streets, the buildings, the atmosphere; everything is so overwhelming and yet so intoxicating. I keep my fingers crossed in hope that I will get to travel again in 2017. One particular stop is on my list: beautiful Rome!

LETTING GO AND WELCOMING CHANGE


The photo of this sunset in Sicily was taken on our second to last evening there with my friend Julie. We sat in front of the sea, watching people walk by, fisherman on the rocks trying to catch something, joggers running on the seafront, as the temperatures cooled down in that warm September day. All the while we were sitting there, I admired the sky, the changing colours as the light dimmed, I looked around me and felt truly happy and blessed. I also felt a kind of nostalgia, because I knew that it was the last time I went there, and that it was my last chance to enjoy this little spot of Palermo. That feeling of happiness, nostalgia and full consciousness of the present was so strong, and this is the feeling I've managed to understand and accept in 2016.
I used to be very upset with change in the past. It was hard for me to admit that time passed, people and circumstances changed, and that the friends you had in high school would go their own way just as I went mine, and our friendship would evolve in something different. Today, I know that things can never stay the same forever. I welcome change, new people and new experiences more than I've ever done in the past. I don't look back with sadness, but with joy and satisfaction to have lived these very happy moments. Some people come and go, some will stay by my side, and I am excited about all those I haven't met yet. I embrace the unexpected, when, some years ago, it was the last thing I wanted in my life. I am grateful for all the people I've met, the ones that make my days brighter. My colleague Dee who drives me to work every day, the children I work with, my friend Alberto who knows how to make me smile when I'm feeling down. No matter if we'll have to say goodbye one day and go different ways, I feel blessed to have them here right now and that's all I need.

BEING BOLD PAYS OFF


In September, I moved to Northampton on my own, to start a new job, in a new place. I have met new, amazing people, I face challenges and learn to manage the life I'm building up little by little. I take my own decisions without caring about what other people say, I don't define myself according to people's opinions and advice, but according to my own choices and wishes. If there's one thing I have understood, it is that you should never let people choose for you and you should never set yourself limits or be afraid to do things. Don't be stuck in a situation you feel trapped in. Move, try things out. There is nothing definite.
A few years ago I watched Zoella talking about 'just saying yes', embracing opportunities and going forward, and I totally understand what she meant now. This year I have said yes to new experiences and new possibilities, at work and to people. I have opened up and this has only brought positive outcomes. I met very different people, from different parts of the planet, with different lives from mine and some of them have become very good friends. In Sicily we decided to trust people we barely knew, if not at all, and it led us to the funniest evenings of our holidays. Earlier in the year I met up with a group of people I had known and worked with online for years, but never met in person. We had the loveliest afternoon together and it made everything more real, while this is an opportunity I would never have taken a few years ago. 
In November, I flew to Madrid to meet in person a guy that I had been talking to for a few months, just because I wanted to go, without second thoughts or doubts. Today he is my boyfriend, and if I had never had the curiosity to open up and meet new people, if I had let common sense rule my decisions, our paths would never have crossed. He has made 2016 end on a brighter and happier note than I had ever imagined. Will embodies all the good changes that have happened in me these past months: opening up to people, trusting them, accepting the unplanned without worrying. Who would have thought that a few messages exchanged online from our different parts of the world would have led to us meeting in Spain, and going from penfriends to partners? This is the sort of beautiful surprise that makes me want to say yes more. I've tried to be reasonable my whole life, and this past year I realised that overthinking and over planning did not mean that everything will go well. Sometimes things get sorted out by themselves, you just have to let them.


*

Looking back, 2016 wasn't the worst of years. It was challenging, distressing on many levels (I still think the world is going straight to the wall, but hey at least we're aware of it so we can be prepared) but on a personal level, it was a fruitful year, full of self-reflection, encounters and experiences. Now that 2017 is here, there is just one big thing I need that I lacked in 2016: motivation. And a remedy for procrastination. May 2017 be the year when I get stuff done. :P

What were the highlights of YOUR 2016? What are the good things you'll remember from it?
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