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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

A Foodies Guide to Paris

Paris
Paris is such a beautiful, elegant city that got me fallen head over heals in love and lusting to see much more of the world. The Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Couer, Notre Dame and all the other iconic touristy spots are all in well amazing, but what is just as important to do if not more is exploring the food.

Food is so important when you visit different cities as you want to taste all the goodness and try the local cuisines everyone recommends. I probably spend just as much time researching places to eat as I do for places to visit and I 99% of the time look up quirky little spots to explore.

Here, I have put together a guide on all the foods I was able to try during my time in Paris or spots I would recommend that isn't on a typical Parisians food guide. 

P's I was very mundane with my food choices and practically lived on pastries, just cause why not?

72 Hours in Paris | Guide blog post
French pastries
Pastries
French Baguette
Hotel Val Girard
Visit A French Bakery
No matter where in Paris we were, we always stumbled across hundreds of French-style bakeries just off the corner of pretty much most streets. You just can't avoid them and the smell of freshly baked savouries will instantly draw you in. I noticed lots of Parisians buying a stick of baguette and just eating it by the stick which was crazy! I pretty much lived off pastries for breakfast at our hotel and I made sure to try a baguette (apparently the pointier the end the better) to see what the fuss was about. Definitely recommend visiting one or two bakeries during your stay and trying all the delicious, sweet treats.
Pizza
Sausage
Restaurants

Tribeca (Italian, French)
On our first night we didn't fancy being adventurous so we went to a restaurant just off Rue Cler. After a long day of travelling, I just fancied a good old pizza, which I can confirm was probably the best pizza I have ever tasted. The service here was lovely and the prices were what you'd expect to pay here in the UK. My boyfriend had a pasta dish which was smothered in a creamy sauce served with chicken, Parmesan and rocket, which he also said tasted amazing. Every restaurant you go to in Paris you are guaranteed a basket of bread to go with your main, so all the carrrrbs.

La Poincare (French, European, Vegetarian Friendly)
Not too far from the Trocadero metro line we ate at a local French bistro called La Poincare. I wouldn't really rate the service as great, but the food was delicious! I had the spicy sausage, mash potato and a mustard sauce, which tasted amazing, especially the sausage it tasted a lot different to what we get here and I noticed that a couple of times throughout our stay. My boyfriend ordered a burger which he said was probably the nicest he's ever had, so the food here is definitely one to try!
Snails
Snails
I've always said if I was to visit France that I'd try snails, you can try them at pretty much any French restaurant, the same with frogs legs. Bistro De La Tour is where we went for the snails which is just around the corner from The Eiffel Tower on the corner of the river. The service was really great here, the waiter helped us with the snails and overall gave a lovely service. The snails had a strange texture to them, almost like a mushroom or mussels, they were smothered in a garlic oil which gave the snails a a bit of flavour. Not something I'd eat again, but I liked them, my boyfriend however didn't so I was left to eat 5!
Choco factory
choco factory shake
Amorino gelato
Sweet Treats 
Like I said at the start before I travel anywhere I always look up quirky places to eat and Paris luckily have a few to mention.

Choco Factory
Just around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens is the Choco Factory, which is a unique little cafe that literally is like a chocolate factory full of dreams. Not only can you create your own chocolate here, but you can eat all the waffles and crepes until you explode. We went for one of the freakshakes which were incredible and definitely a place to go to snap the Instagram shots. So much choice here, I would definitely come back here.

Amorino Ice Cream
There are a couple of Amorino ice cream shops in Paris and are worth checking out during your stay. We went to the one in Montmartre when the weather was lovely and sunny, perfect for an ice cream stop. Quite possibly the best ice cream I've ever had, we each chose three flavours and had them shaped into lovely roses. I went for raspberry, hazelnut chocolate and vanilla, and honestly it tasted amazing!

Those were most of the stops we took during our time in Paris, there are loads of choices of food to eat. We also made a few stops to local supermarkets where we bought some sweet biscuits to eat on our travels and some Milka Chocolate (which seems to be very common here). If we were to go back we'd definitely try a wine and cheese board and the famous macaroons.

What food have you tried in Paris??
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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Top 5 | French Pharmacy Skincare

Top 5 | French Pharmacy Skincare
Last month I took a spontaneous, last minute trip to Paris and during my time there, I noticed on almost every single main street there were French Pharmacies. It got to the point where my boyfriend and I would count how many we saw on our travels. I wish there was a French Pharmacy at the end of my street, it would be great for those 'oh. I've ran out of Bioderma water' moments. Instead, I have to get a 20 minute bus journey to my nearest drugstore...clearly I need to move to Paris.

Anyways, as I went into these pharmacies I noticed so many familiar brands such as Bioderma, La Roche Posay, Caudalie, Eucerin etc, that I already use and love on a daily basis. So I decided to put a little post together on what French brands and skincare products I love and to check out if you visit France. P's they're a whole lot cheaper too!

Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil
I have briefly mentioned my love for this oil already here, I should have known it was a French brand just by the name. This cleansing oil has made me want to try more beauty products from this brand, as I always see products getting four or five star rating. This cleansing oil is such a quick and easy way to remove all your makeup (even the hard stuff like mascara), without leaving your skin feeling dehydrated. I just love how moisturizing it feels on my skin and although it is around £18 per 100ml and I consume it fairly quickly, it's worth it.

Vichy Masque Argile Purifiant Pores
Vichy is a skincare brand I've always enjoyed using, but always forget about when I search for new products to try. I do love their Purete Thermal Cleansing Oil which is also really good for makeup removing and cleansing the skin. However one of my favourite products that I reach for when I fancy a treat, is their Purifiant Pores Face Mask. A paraben free clay mask containing Aloe Vera, Kaolin and Bentonite which absorb impurities and sebum. I love this face mask it's my go-to for whenever my skin is in need of a luxury treat. It dries out any pesky spots I have and just brightens up my complexion.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo
This French brand has really helped my teenage skin over the years and especially the iconic Effaclar Duo, which I have bought so many times it just had to be mentioned again. Containing ingredients such as Niacinmide, Salicylic Acid and Glycerin, which all help reduce the appearance of spots and blackheads, controls shine and helps protect the skin from discolouration. This product has helped me a lot with nasty breakouts that it's my go-to emergency product that never lets me down, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone with spot prone skin.

Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray
The perfect travel friendly water spray to take on your sunny holidays to help keep your skin feeling soothing soft and cool. Perfect to use on skin irritation, facial redness, sunburn, rashes as well as a good follow up after makeup removal, shaving, exercise and hair removal. I always have a bottle of this in my bag for on the go as it is perfect for everything and it is essential for the summer, if like me you get irritated skin from the heat. A very refreshing and calming, travel friendly product. 

Nuxe Shimmering Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse
What a mouthful to type, let's just call it Nuxe shimmer oil for the face, hair and body for short. This is such an amazing oil that I reach for in the summer to get that instant natural, healthy glow. Bit sceptical to use on my face, but I heard it makes a great illuminator for the eyes and cheekbones. I like to apply this if I have a tan or if I am going out somewhere nice and have my legs on show. Containing Macadamia oil, Argan Oil, Almond Oil etc, this little beauty leaves your skin feel silky soft and smelling of vanilla and orange. It is a bit pricey for what it is, but it is probably the best body oil I have ever used that is perfect for a healthy summer glow.


What is your favourite French Pharmacy product??
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Thursday, 22 March 2018

72 Hours in Paris | Guide

Paris
Since coming back from Iceland I had a serious case of the 'travel bug' and needed to get it out my system with a little city break. We were torn between Paris and Amsterdam, but ultimately Paris won with our beautiful hotel view of The Eiffel Tower.

We stayed in Paris for four days and three nights, giving us plenty of time to explore the beautiful (be using this word a lot!) city of romance. During our time we managed to tick off so many iconic sites of Paris and still had time to go on spontaneous late night strolls and eat lots of scrumptious sweet pastries.

Here are a few photos of things we got up to during our stay!
The catacombs
The Catacombs of Paris
Twenty metres below the heart of the city lies the remains of over 6 million Parisians. Transferred there in the late 18th-19th centuries as graveyards were being closed because of the risk they posed to public health. If you are really into your history I'd definitely recommend travelling down 130 steps to explore this eerie, poignant place.

Tips/Advice:
1.) Book in advance to avoid the long two hour waiting line
2.) Bring a set of headphones to listen to the audio without any disruptions
3.) Wear comfy shoes as you will be walking a lot of steps!
The Louvre
The Louvre Museum
The worlds largest art museum and historic monument, essentially where the famous Mona Lisa painting is located. Not that we went into the museum, but when in Paris you MUST go visit the Louvre and take lots of touristy photos! We only stopped here for 15 minutes to get a photo, but if we had the chance to go back, I'd go during the evening when it's beautifully lit up.
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
A fine example of French architecture, this Gothic cathedral is definitely a site not to miss! Stained glass windows, quirky sculptures and the beautiful sound of the chime that is reminiscent to The Notre Dame Disney film.

Tips/Advice:
1.) Come here early to avoid all the tourists   
MonmartreSacre-Couer
Sacre-Couer
Montmartre
Probably my favourite location in Paris and an area you could definitely spend all day at. After walking up lots of cobble streets and hills, there you will come across the iconic Sacre-Couer Roman Catholic church. This is an amazing site to see if you want to see the view of Paris up a height. It was lovely and sunny when we came here so we sat on the steps and took it all in.

The streets in Montmartre are absolutely beautiful I sometime felt as though I was in Italy never mind France. Home to lot's of interesting architecture, stunning views and the Moulin Rouge. I would definitely recommend spending a good few hours here.

Tips/Advice:
1.) Climb the steps to the Sacre-Couer and take a photo of the beautiful city view!
2.) To the left of the Sacre-Couer is a building, if you tilt your phone you can create an optical illusion to make the building tilt. Pretty cool huh?
3.) Visit Amorino Gelato for the best ice cream shaped as a rose.
The Invalides
Arc De Triomphe
Eiffel Tower
Sites At Night
How can you not go visit the Eiffel Tower in the evening and watch it magically sparkle?! I loved all of Paris, but for me the nighttime was the best as you could really take in the iconic landmarks. Every night in Paris we would go out for food and wander the streets of Paris until our feet were ready to drop off. I found myself constantly looking up at the Eiffel Tower and watching it glow, it really is one of the most stunning views I've ever seen.

Tips/Advice:
1.) At night every hour on the dot for 5 minutes the Eiffel Tower sparkles, have your video record at the ready!
2.) It is supposedly illegal to post online The Eiffel Tower sparkling and you may get done for copyright as it is classed as art. I wasn't sure if this was true, but so many articles online say so, therefore it isn't worth the fine.
Montparnasse Tower
Montparnasse Tower
Before we went away I spent ages looking up places with great views of the city (including the Eiffel Tower) and the building that stood out was Montparnasse, which you just cannot miss, it is ginormous - 59 floors to be precise. The Pretemps building is also meant to be amazing (+free), but we went for this one and paid 17 euros just so we could see all angles and spend some time up there without getting cold. It was quite scary to think about how high we actually were, but the views we got were incredible! 

Tips/Advice:
1.) Go during the morning as the prices go up in the afternoon
2.) Maybe book online to avoid the que as we waited a little while to get up
3.) I would also suggest going in the evening I can imagine the view to look unreal!
Val Girard
Other tips/advice:
1.) Watch for pickpockets, especially on the metro, don't keep any valuables in your back pockets.
2.) Be cautious of street hagglers, people will approach you asking you to buy items (roses, drawings, souvenirs, bracelets) and they don't always take no for an answer
3.) If you are taking the metro look online for metro passes as they are pricey and we were ripped off once or twice.

We stayed at the Val Girard hotel and the view was incredible outside of our balcony. I loved Paris and would love to go back and maybe see Disneyland and spend more time in different areas. This city break has made us want to see more of the world, maybe Budapest/Hungary next? Little fact for you I am a quarter Hungarian so it would be interesting to see where my granddad was from.


Have you been to Paris??
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Friday, 9 March 2018

A Skincare Reshuffle

A skincare reshuffle
After devouring countless amounts of sweet pastries in Paris and Quality Streets over the Christmas, it's fair to say my skin has broken out on/off these last few months. It's no secret that I like to spend my monthly pay checks on new skincare, but since I had a major room declutter ~post here~ I decided to strip back to basics and stop spending my wages on new products, until my skincare cabinet is near-on empty and ready to rent some newbie's.

Here in the UK, the weather has been awfully cold and snowy, which has had a huge impact on my skin needing an extra bit of TLC. I've been reshuffling my routine up a lot as well as upping my knowledge on skincare ingredients ~post here~ and, I think, *touch wood* I've managed to keep my skin at sort-of bay.

Here are a few products I have been using religiously lately that have made a bit of a difference to my skin.

Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil
From a lazy girl's perspective, I've always used a cheap micellar water to remove my makeup, which is great for quick getaways, but my skin always felt unsatisfied and occasionally dry. I do love the Liz Earle Cleanse&Polish, but I found it quite rich on my skin so I popped into Space NK and decided to try a brand I would never think of trying out. The Caudalie Cleansing Oil has been amazing on my skin and removes all traces of makeup within a couple of minutes, it even removes harsh makeup. This is my second bottle now, which speaks for itself as it really is just so nourishing for my skin, I feel as though it has brightened my complexion and doesn't dry my skin out at all.

Dermalogica Breakout Kit
Only recently have I rediscovered this and have been using it all the time. I love all the products in the kit, but the ones that have really made a difference to my skin are the Cleansing Wash and their SPF15 Matte Moisturizer. Dermalogica is a bit on the pricey side, but I think it's worth it, if it has the key ingredients that your skin craves. 

The Cleansing Wash contains salicylic acid, which is obviously great for spot prone skin. I use this cleanser once a day as a double cleanser after I have used the Caudalie Cleansing Oil as my makeup remover. I then pop on the moisturizer and my skin is all prepped and ready for the next day. They've both been amazing for keeping my oiliness at bay and drying up any pesky breakouts, I am definitely considering buying the full size bottles once I've ran out.

Sunday Riley UFO (Ultra Clarifying Facial Oil)
I have had my eye on this product on Cult Beauty for ages, but it's either never in stock or I just can't justify spending £60 on a facial oil. Until I found myself in Edinburgh in Harvey Nichols on my birthday splurging on  this, in desperate need of a skin update. Honestly, this is probably one of the best products I have ever splurged on and I will be heartbroken when I run out. It contains so much goodness for the skin, ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, chamomile, black cumin seed oil - just so much good stuff! I only use this once or twice a week as a fancy-ass treatment, but when I do use it the next day my skin feels brand new. This has helped so much with redness, breakouts, blackheads, hydration and adding radiance back into my skin. I mean it doesn't smell the nicest, but the results I've had from this are incredible.

The Ordinary Niacinamide
A cult favourite of mine that I just cannot ditch from my skincare stash. This little beauty has changed my skin the most in terms of clearing up my pesky spots and redness. Containing zinc to help balance the aspects of sebum and Niacinamide to help reduce the appearance of blemishes and congestion. Both ingredients have done exactly what they've said to my skin, I pop a little bit of this on every other night when I don't use the UFO and wake up the next morning with healthier looking skin. I would go as far to say this is a game changer that will remain in my skincare regime for a very long time, yep shocker!

Kiehls Avocado Eye Cream
Yep, I use eye cream and have done for a couple of years now, I heard if you start when you're young you're in a better position to avoid wrinkles as early, so I mean of course I am going to do this! I love this eye cream it is so moisturizing under my eyes and really absorbs into my skin. I pop this on every evening before bed and wake up as though I have slept for 12 hours and have drank litres of water. Bit pricey, but out of all the eye creams I have tried this one has been a favourite, followed by Origins.

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream
I have definitely mentioned this on my blog before, it is such a staple piece in my skincare routine and it tends to come everywhere with me. It is amazing for not just moisturizing your lips, but for hands, elbows anywhere that gets dry. I would be lost without this stuff and god knows what the state my lips would be without it.

What skincare products are you enjoying atm??
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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

5 Days in Iceland, Reykjavik

Reykjavik
Iceland has been on my bucket list for what seems like forever and I am so over the moon to say I've been and saw the Northern Lights and swam in the unwinding hot springs. Reykjavik is such a beautiful, scenic city, especially with the snow that it almost doesn't feel real. I can imagine Iceland is stunning all year round, but for me the snow made it feel that little bit more magical and special.

Myself and three of my good friends travelled up to Reykjavik for four nights in the middle of February, potentially when Iceland was at its thickest with snow, although it felt anyways. We stayed in a lovely, cosy Air BnB in the centre of Reykjavik, where everything was pretty much walking distance from us.

We were lucky enough to go on all of the Icelandic tours we had booked despite the snowy conditions, we did however not get to see any whales when out in the sea. But that is what Iceland is all about, it's a hit and miss, you can't always predict it.
Hallgrímskirkju
Hallgrimskirkju
All the streets in Reykjavik were so picturesque with the colourful houses against the clean white snow, especially on top of the Hallgrimskirkju Church at the top of this little city. I'd definitely recommend making a trip up on top of this church to get an amazing panoramic view of Iceland from all angles. Although it is absolutely freezing on top of this 74.5 metre high church, it is such an illusory view to take in.

Tips/advice:
1.) Maybe book in advance if you can to avoid the long ques
2.) Wrap up extra warm it can get chilly on the top
3.) Go visit the church at night time and take a photo of it lit up
the harbour
Reykjavik harbour
Harbour concert hall
Reykjavik Old Harbour
Now this is the perfect place to come if you want that view of the mountains in the distance. This area again was quite chilly, but you tend not to care when you are taking in the beauty of the snowy mountains. We took a little stroll along to the Harpa Concert Hall, which is a stunning building with amazing architecture. This building in the evening is even more magical when lit up.
The golden circle
Gulfoss waterfall
Geysir
The Geysir
The Golden Circle Tour
Probably my favourite tour of them all was The Golden Circle, a popular tourist route in the southern part of Iceland. The three primary stops on the route are the National park, the Gullfoss waterfall and the geothermal which contains geysers. This tour for me was the key to what Iceland is all about, which is why I enjoyed it so much. The geysers were incredible to see, especially when they erupted. I loved the Gullfoss waterfall despite the busy crowds of people trying to take photos. I would definitely recommend doing this tour if you want to see what Iceland has to offer away from the centre.

Tips/advice:
1.) Try and go as early as possible to avoid all the tourists
2.) Be patient when trying to view the sites, I had no patience when I was stuck in a crowd of people trying to escape.
3.) Try the lamb soup in the cafe next to the Gullfoss waterfall
The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights
Unfortunately my camera wasn't equipped to take decent photographs of the Northern Lights therefore I saved the ones that were taken on the evening we went off Super Jeeps page. I didn't have high hopes for the Northern Lights if I'm honest, our first night was cancelled due to bad weather which just set the mood for me. However, my mood sharp changed when I was in the back of an off the road jeep bumping around in the middle of nowhere looking out for stars in the clear sky. The Northern Lights weren't anything like I imagined, but it was such an incredible, out of this world moment being able to see the green light in the sky whilst drinking a hot chocolate. I would 100% recommend this, I mean you can't not see the lights if you are in Iceland!

Tips/advice:
1.) Wrap up warm, my feet were absolutely freezing standing outside in the middle of nowhere.
2.) Book with an off the road tour, you get more of a chance to see the lights if you go with a private company that take you to great areas to see them.
3.) Be mindful that there's always a chance you don't see them
The blue lagoon
The blue lagoon
The blue lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
Our last stop before heading back to the airport home was of course the Blue Lagoon hot springs. Another experience you just cannot skip out of your itinerary here in Iceland, what better way to end your trip than to soak up all the hot air and relax in the Blue Lagoon with a snowy view of the mountains. Me and my friends spent pretty much our entire time here taking photographs of the beautiful view. This was definitely the best way to end our stay in Iceland and something I'd love to be able to do again!

Tips/advice:
1.) Go early to avoid ques and crowds
2.) Go either on your way or from the airport as it's not that far away
3.) Invest in a waterproof phone case if you are wanting to take photos, I got mine off Amazon.


I absolutely loved my time in Iceland, Reykjavik, especially with the snow it made it feel more realistic and in some ways festive with all the fairy lights sprinkled outside peoples homes. I would love to go back and be able to see the whales and discover secret hot springs in the future, but for now I am happy to say I've seen The Northern Lights and swam in the Blue Lagoon.

Have you been to Iceland??
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