A DAY OUT IN HAMPSTEAD, NORTH WEST LONDON'S LITTLE "VILLAGE"
With our contributor and life-long North Londoner Jazmin Burgess
A little known fact about London is that it is actually a large amalgamation of lots of individual villages, each of which has its own distinct quirks and characteristics. One of the best of the best is Hampstead, in North West London, a leafy hilly enclave known for its impeccable victorian architecture, green spaces, liberal politics and many literary, academic and artistic residents. It is also one of the best places in London to spend a day. Green and quiet enough to feel miles away from the bustle of the city, but only 15 minutes away from central London on the Underground.
With a day of walking Hampstead’s many hills ahead, a good breakfast is essential. Stop by at Gail’s on Hampstead High Street for coffee and one of their amazing cinnamon rolls or the equally great Ginger &White on the cobbled alley of Perrin’s Lane for flat whites and a traditional British breakfast of boiled eggs and “soldiers.”
The Great Outdoors
No trip to London would be complete without a meandering walk over Hampstead Heath, an expansive 320 acre open space and one of the best green areas of the city. Be sure to climb to the top of Parliament Hill, for a magnificent panoramic view of London’s skyline, which even as a lifelong Londoner still blows me away every time. Hampstead’s amazing Victorian architecture, tree lined streets and cobbled alleys make for great strolling. Take in the streets surrounding the Heath and Hampstead High Street for an eye popping (and free) historical tour.
If your visit to London happens to fall on one of London’s infamous rainy and grey days, Hampstead also has plenty of indoor arts and culture fun to keep you entertained. An absolute must visit is 2 Willow Road- a gem of modernist design and the home and workplace of renowed Brutalist architect Erno Goldfinger. Another of Hampstead’s famous residents was Sigmund Freud, and his house (complete with famous leather couch) is well worth a visit.
If contemporary art is more your thing, Camden Arts Centre is one of the best galleries in London to catch new and emerging art. If cinema is more your thing, the Everyman is a must visit. Steps away from Hampstead tube, this arthouse cinema was established in 1933 in an old Victorian assembly room building and shows a mix of mainstream and under the radar films with comfy seating, brilliant cocktails and table service.
No afternoon in the UK is complete with a mid afternoon tea break. For a great cup of Darjeeling and amazing cakes (try the dark chocolate and orange), stop by at Melrose and Morgan to refuel for the rest of the day and pick up some of their amazing teas and biscuits to take home.
Whilst Hampstead’s high street is home to a number of upscale brands, the real shopping treasures can be found off the beaten track. Hampstead Food Market, a relatively new artesian market on Saturdays behind the Everyman is a great place to pick up delicious food to take home. Whilst you’re at it, munch on a donut from London’s infamous Crosstown Donuts who often have a stall here.
Also worth stopping at are the Oxfam second hand shops on Heath Street and Gayton Road. With Hampstead’s many illustrious literary and celebrity residents passing on items the shops, these are great places to pick up a bargain- be that first edition books or Chanel ballet flats.
After an exhaustive day adventuring in North West London, the only way to finish it off is with a drink (or six) in one of Hampstead’s numerous pubs. My absolute favourite is The Horshoe, the original home of the now world famous Camden Town Brewery. Treat yourself to a pint of the Gentleman’s Wit and some of the delicious food offerings on the rotating menu. Pro-tip, the Horshoe also does great bloody marys and brunch on the weekends. Other pubs worth checking out include, The Hollybush built in 1790 with incredibly preserved interior and the most authentic “old London” experience you can get. Finally, stop by The Stag for gin and tonics. You may even be lucky enough to catch one of the live bands they regularly have playing, letting you dance into night.
All photos by Jazmin Burgess.
UPDATE: As you know Saint Martin and Saint Bart were hit by hurricane Irma. The islands are working to get back to normal and rebuilding infrastructures. We hope you will consider traveling to these beautiful locales next year when everything is fixed and ready. Tourism is an essential resource for the people there and they will need our support to get back on their feet.
A WEEKEND IN SAINT MARTIN WITH JOSETTE & COUCOU
I had the pleasure to travel to the French Caribbean with a group from the wonderful NY-based Coucou French School.
The first stop upon our arrival was Maho Beach where we watched planes landing right in front of us, while munching on lunch at The Sunset Bar and Grill (1). The "Angry Fish Tacos" were a crowdpleaser.
We were then taken to our villa in Oyster Bay (5) where we took advantage of the pool, hot tub, and our private beach! The waves were pretty aggressive on this side of the island due to the wind from the Atlantic, the perfect spot for windsurfing.
In the evening, we crossed to the French side to have dinner at the restaurant Le Tastevin in Grand Case. The menu was fish and seafood focused, much to my delight.
Back at the house, some of us may or may not have engaged in skinny-dipping in the ocean under the stars... (We did, and it was fantastic.)
The next day, we visited the market in Marigot (4), the capital of the French side. It opened from 7am to 11am, needless to say some of us did not make it out of bed on time to participate.
In the afternoon, we visited The Loterie Farm for cocktails while watching monkeys and iguanas, and a bit of hiking for which I was not prepared. Realizing you're out of shape while on vacation is always a special treat, isn't it? Nevertheless, the stunning view was worth the sore muscles (7.)
We finished the day with some beach time on the Dutch side, at Mullet Bay (8.) The water was very calm and clear, everything you would expect from the Caribbean.
Saint Barts is so close by ferry (2) that we could not resist spending a day there. We hiked (again!) to beautiful Colombier Beach (3) and enjoyed the turquoise water and the fine white sand. The trail to get there was very scenic (6.) At lunch time, we made our way to Flamand Beach (9) to get to the restaurant La Langouste. More fresh fish, and one of my favorite French desserts, the Ile Flottante.
I highly recommend Saint Martin and Saint Bart, the islands are beautiful, and the people are wonderful and friendly. Plus, it's a bit of France only 4 hours away from NYC!
Photo credits: 1 by Jazmin Burgess; 2 by Jeremy Allen; 4 by Karin Warme; 6 by Matthew Herzfeld; 7 by Frances Caperchi; all others by Josette.
MY DAY IN LE MARAIS
Our contributor LIndsey takes us on a stroll in the famed Parisian neighborhood.
My favorite thing about traveling is wandering around a city by myself. Paris is a lovely place to do that and in particular Le Marais. After an amazing lunch at Le Petit Marche with some friends I began my post-lunch cardio, a walk and shop if you will.
I had on my list to check out the Merci store and on my way I stumbled upon Leon & Harper. After doing a lap and grabbing so many wonderful dresses and blouses I ended up chatting with one of the women working there. I currently live in Brooklyn and it turned out she had lived in Greenpoint for a brief stint. It was awesome chatting with her about her views on Paris compared to New York, which I was surprised to hear how small most Parisians feel Paris is for them. She let me know that this line is sold in some of the Greenpoint boutiques which is a blessing and a curse (for my bank account). I managed to control myself and only purchased a dress and blouse.
After a pit stop at the wonderful Merci store, I headed west and came to the Carette cafe and purchased some macarons to eat while I took a little break in the Place des Vosges. It was a cloudy day but the park was still full of people, even some people working out. I did not let an overachieving runner get me down as I munched away on a couple of macarons and took some photos.
A short walk away I found the most visually stimulating store I have ever been to: Fleux'. Super trendy home goods and gifts. I kept seeing the same style of street art in the neighborhood and it fit in perfectly with the storefront. They had some other separate stores next door and across an alley if you walked all the way through the shop. I really dislike tchotchkes and was overjoyed with how many “not junk” gifts I could find here for people back home. And I found a little wooden bird on a stand for myself. I normally don’t buy decor when traveling but this bird just spoke to me… Or rather chirped.
I was fairly close to Notre Dame now and I made my way to the bridge past a bubble performer that was surprisingly mesmerizing. I couldn’t figure out how he was getting money, but maybe it was just about the bubbles for him. Such simplicity. I’ve been to Notre Dame before. I like sitting in old cathedrals when I’m abroad, especially in Europe. We just don’t have anything that old and easily accessible in the States. It was nice to be in a place I’d been before even if it was full of tourists. I’ve recently become a sucker for those souvenir coin machines so I put in my euro, selected my design and turned the wheel. I sat in the pews with my shopping bags and coin and tried to imagine the last time Notre Dame was only a church and not a tourist destination. When did someone decide to charge people to walk up the stairs?
I walked out to head back to our rented flat in the 2nd. For me, Paris has the same rhythm as New York and it felt very natural walking back. It was around the same time people were getting off of work and the cafe patios were starting to fill up. Once home, I checked the pedometer in my phone and 8.5 miles that day which earned me some wine, duck and macarons. Walk and shop success.
Sea Days by The Illustrienne
Karen of The Illustrienne picks her beach favorites.
1. Oliver Peoples :: The gold and amber colors of this pair will really shine against a pink sand beach.
2. Eres :: Love the peekaboo of the gold bands on the dark olive Alliages Tungstene bandeau bikini, especially if they peep out from the caftan.
3. Etienne Aigner :: These sandals are luxuriously easy, chic and comfy.
4. Lisa Eisner :: This turquoise statement necklace can easily transition from day to night.
5. Two New York Caftan :: These sophisticated stripes and colors are perfectly airy for the sea days and nights.
6. Truss NYC :: Geometric and colorful, they’ll hold all my beach goodies.
The MERCI store
Our contributor Megan introduces us to one of her Paris favorites.
Merci is a must in Paris. Not just to sing at your vest clad waiters when they bring you that delicious glass of wine or plate of cheese. No, Merci is a Paris shopping must. The concept store was started in 2009 and serves as a lifestyle store and self described "launching pad" for young designers mixed in with established taste-makers alike. Located in the chic Marais district, it is a well curated mix of high end women's, men's, and home products. It also features several cafes and restaurants.
Each month Merci exhibits a new curated theme in its main room that extends into its clothing and home offering. Ranging from African waxed prints, to ceramics, to something so beautifully simple as "the shirt," each idea is exquisitely elevated, thoughtfully put together, and always on trend.
After lunch at La Cantine, a must do at Merci is a stop at the bracelet table. What started as a one off (in the form of a red string bracelet with a Merci charm) at the cash register, has expanded into its own corner with endless options of charm bracelets and necklaces. Probably the most affordable and attainable object in the store, it will make you want to come back and collect them all while relishing in this impossibly chic French boutique.
MUSES by JOSETTE
:: David Bowie by Leee Black Childers
:: Grace Jones on stage
:: Kate Moss by Enrique Badulescu for Harper's Bazaar
:: Andy Warhol & Bianca Jagger in 1969
:: Debby Harry by Mick Rock
:: Maggie Chung by Wong Kar Wai, In The Mood for Love
:: Linda Rodin for The Kooples
:: Christina Ricci by Mary Ellen Mark
:: Charlotte Gainsbourg by Horst Diekgerdes