Place des Vosges… Le Pavillon de la Reine

July 14, 2014

Le Pavilion de la Reine , Place des Voges, Paris, French Essence,  Vicki Archer

 le pavillon de la reine


The ‘where to stay’ in Paris is the hardest question of all to answer.

There is no one solution to this delicious dilemma.

Apart from the obvious requirements of numbers, timing and budget… there are other considerations.

I am hesitant to suggest hotels, not only because we all have very different expectations but also because they can change so quickly.


Location is my number one priority… and my reasons for being in Paris are not always the same.

I enjoy the left and right banks equally and can’t truthfully admit to a preference.

I experiment with new hotels and also frequent a few of the familiar.


Paris, like London, is an expensive place to spend time. Hotels are not always good value and more does not always mean more.

I have stayed in horribly expensive places that were ordinary and cheaper hotels that were fabulous.

Paris accommodations are sometimes trial and error.


Living in Europe I have come to accept that many hotels are space challenged.

Old buildings that have been converted don’t necessarily offer the most modern of facilities.

Rooms are small, bathrooms tiny… and never make the presumption that there will be air-conditioning.

This does not apply to the major name brand establishments, but these comforts do come with a hefty room price.

I believe if you are prepared for a different experience to that of home, then the disappointments will be less.

That’s why we travel isn’t it?


Le Pavilion de la Reine , Place des Voges, Paris, French Essence,  Vicki Archer

le pavillon de la reine


The Places des Vosges in the Marais, the 4th arrondissement of Paris is a fabulous location.

One of the best… It’s very busy and popular yet the Places des Vosges has a serenity of it’s own.


Places des Vosges is an excellent launching point whether for the right bank or the left bank.

It’s not far to cross the river and it’s a straight walk up the rue du Rivloi if the Louvre and the Jardins des Tuileries beckon.


I stayed at Le Pavillon de la Reine and enjoyed it very much.

Not too big, not to small… helpful service… a good concierge is a bonus for restaurant bookings, taxis and advice.

The decor is beautiful…  strong, bold and chic in the way that Parisians have mastered.

The rooms are very comfortable and the wifi speedy… can’t live without that anymore.

Le Pavillon de la Reine is all about the location, not so much the restaurant and bar.

They serve breakfast and offer room service… there is also an honour bar… but it’s more club-like as opposed to foyer/lobby like.

That works for me because I want to be out and about most of the time, yet feel cosy when the tiredness kicks in.


The best part is the location… Places des Vosges… is a hop, skip and a jump outside.

Carette is the best for breakfast… and lunch… and their macarons.

We all love Ladurée and Pierre Hermé… but these are pretty special too.

Dammann is my very favourite place to buy tea.

If you prefer Mariage Frères and their luxurious tea room, then that’s only minutes away.

A short walk over to the 3rd and you are shopping inside Merci or perhaps ordering a wood fired pizza at Grazie.


Places des Vosges… A great location… Have you stayed there? xv


Places des Vosges

Le Pavillon de la Reine

28 Places des Vosges

75003 Paris

+33 (0) 1 40 29 19 19



25 Places des Vosges

75003 Paris

+33 (0) 1 48 87 94 07



15 Places des Vosges

75003 Paris

+33 (0) 1 44 54 04 88 


Mariages Frères

30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg,

75004 Paris

+33 (0) 1 42 72 28 11



111 boulevard Beaumarchais

75003 Paris 

+ 33 (0) 1 42 77 00 33



91 Boulevard Beaumarchais
75003 Paris
+33 (0) 1 42 78 11 96


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When It Is “So Chaud”

July 13, 2014

So Chaud, Mac, French Essence, Vicki Archer

Last weekend  one of my daughter’s had friends to stay… an all girl weekend.

So often, the best fun of all.


With no time to spare to get ready for dinner one night, I quickly added a dash of “So Chaud” lipstick from Mac.

Best thing I ever did… the compliments made my evening.


I forget how great a good strong orange can be as an alternative to the bright reds and pinks.

Brightens the face, feels super summery and makes you feel party ready.


Have you tried “So Chaud” from Mac? It’s my very favourite orange and seems to suit all skin types.

Not too citrusy and not to deep in colour… Just right.


There is nothing like a new lipstick to make you feel re-energised beauty wise.


 Have a wonderful weekend and see you next week… Shall we talk about Paris then? xv


 ps… the nordstrom anniversary sale is up and running if you are lucky enough to be a cardholder… otherwise we have to wait a few more days.

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The Word According To Socrates

July 10, 2014

Socrates, Wisdom, French Essence, Vicki Archer


Wise and profound words from Socrates.

I was reminded of this on a more superficial level… but still an important one.


Our discussions at French Essence on beauty and life always inspire me towards one thought or another.

Conversation is so important to not only confirm what we know but also to open our minds to new possibilities.


We are all changing, whether we are heading towards 20, 50 or 80 years of age.

It’s a learning curve and a steep one… nothing sure and nothing guaranteed.

A path full of surprises and not always the ones we would like.


Often when I look in the mirror or catch a glimpse of myself, for a moment I am startled, shocked even.

It is as if I don’t recognise the woman staring back at me.

Who is she? There is something familiar and comfortable… yet in ways she is a stranger.

It lasts for only a moment and then we are united once more.


Inside nothing has changed… I am the same person but physically I can feel a visitor in my own body.

In the words of Socrates, rather than fight the old , I want to build the new.

This is something to be savoured, to find liberating and to cause reflection.

I don’t want to waste precious time wishing for what has been or can’t be, I want to focus on the future and the happiness and joy that will come from that.

Right now is our prime… in the moment and of the moment.


I feel healthier, more energised, more fulfilled and happier than my earlier years.

Yes, decidedly softer around the edges, with greying hair and an abundance of lines… but in the grand scheme of things what does it matter.

The appearance might be different but there are compensations.


I have the self confidence and experience of age to dress as I please, to experiment and to love fashion even more if that were possible.

I can grow my hair as long as I want… I can cut it short… I can do as I want. Age is no longer a deterrent to fashion and beauty.

I am inspired constantly to create a bigger and brighter French Essence world... I adore what I do and I can’t do it fast enough.


I am finding my own way, forging a path without the restrictions of youth.

Nothing is impossible and “too old” is not in the vocabulary.

Don’t tell me that’s not luxury.


Are you with me? xv


The Best Kept Beauty Secrets

#1  //  #2  // #3

ps. the nordstrom anniversary sale starts today for cardholders… so many genuine reductions across the board.

everything that you could ever imagine… and reduced… love that… :)


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Facial Oil… Linda Rodin

July 9, 2014

Linda Rodin, OlioLusso, French Essence, Vicki Archer


“What I longed for was something far simpler—products for the here-and-now, that caress the skin noticeably and without any delay.”

  linda rodin from olio lusso


Something I have been wanting to try for ages… but not entirely sure about… is facial oil.

The idea of oiling up my face didn’t resonate with me.

Then I thought about it.


I add a few drops of olive oil to my bath water… I add essential oils to my body lotion… I treat my hair.

What’s the difference?


If anywhere needs nourishment, it is my face.

I have been using facial oil.. and I like it… No, I actually love it.

The skill is in the application.

Less is more and the timing is critical.


I was very extravagant and bought the Rodin oil created by Linda Rodin.

Sometimes we need a treat… no excuses… it all helps with our self confidence.

11 essential oils including neroli, rosehip, jojoba and jasmine.

Beauty is an investment and I think it’s important to do our homework.

I found rave reviews for her facial oil… and I very much like her philosophy towards beauty.


In my experience beauty products need to be mixed up a little, changed and experimented with.

The same day-after-day routines become taken for granted…  and we don’t want that… xv


The How

A few drops… the emphasis on few… morning and night on clean skin.

Avoid the eye area, too close and the eyes can puff.

If your skin is prone to be a little oily… don’t be afraid.

Follow with your normal routine.

If it feels too much for the day… use at night and luxuriate in the essential oils.


The  Facial Oil

divine extravagance

rodin facial oil @ net-a-porter  //  rodin facial oil @barneys


happy medium 

clarins blue orchid face treatment oil  //  kiehls  midnight recovery concentrate  //  aurelia cell repair night oil


don’t refrain

** l’oreal age perfect facial oil


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The Best Kept Beauty Secrets… #3

July 8, 2014

Provence, French Essence,Pierre de Ronsard, Vicki Archer


What makes a woman truly beautiful is self confidence.


Think about it. Aren’t many of the woman that you truly admire and consider beauties, self confident?

That’s what we see… their positive nature, their open outlook on the world… their assertiveness and their belief in themselves.

Those attributes are triggers for beauty.

Physical beauty means very little when there is no internal back up.


Self confidence is by far the most seductive of beauty weapons but the hardest to capture.

Self confidence takes dedication, practice and emotional energy. It requires bravery at times and a continual faith in ourselves.

Even the most confident of women falter and have times of self doubt.

We all know that some years are better than others.


Self confidence not only makes us appear more beautiful to the outside world but also happier and more content within.

Contentment is the first step to self confidence.

Accepting who we are or working towards who we wish to become will help us to become more self assured.


How do we learn to be self confident? To trust our selves and follow our own path?

For some I assume it comes naturally, but not for all.

I believe self confidence is built on reserves… reserves of our making… Small steps taken daily that grow over time.

Setting goals and facing challenges… however small, once tackled can only make us more courageous.

Finding solutions and not settling for issues that make us self-conscious or unhappy… Taking control of life is empowering… even the little things.

Generosity to others, being kind… not only makes the recipient feel better but it’s a boost for our own self confidence.

Self confidence requires time and reflection… not over indulgence, there is a difference.


When a woman is self confident she knows where she is going and what she wants from her future. She has integrity, independence and poise. Her inner compass is well set and her morale high.

She is truly beautiful.


I want to be that woman… Don’t you? xv


The Best Kept Beauty Secrets

#1 // #2

looking for a more practical approach… the french essence beauty edit


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French Essence News

July 7, 2014

Provence, French Essence, Lavender , Vicki Archer


Hello and happy Monday… another week ahead… and who knows where that will lead.

That’s what I love about life… we never can predict what will happen.

I am not usually a planned person… my ideas beat to their own drum and they take me where they will.


Lately I have been planning a little more… here on French Essence.

I want to make my site the best possible experience for you… easy, informative and enjoyable.

French Essence is as much for you as it is for me.


I wanted to introduce you to some new areas on the website.

Thinking of Paris,   Travelling To Provence and The French Essence Beauty Edit.

Whether you are travelling or dreaming about France…

If you are going somewhere special or feel like a beauty update… I hope that there is something of interest in these resources.

One click away… Three tabs on the right hand side of the website.

All my previous posts updated and current, plus some new thoughts are organised together, with reference sites and extra helpful hints.


There is so much more to come.


I am working on an exciting newsletter… tailor made to provide more exclusive content with less emails.

Choices… I want to give you many choices… how many emails, when you receive them… I want to make it easy for you to both opt in and opt out.

We all want that… Right?


Of course, I want you with me at all the times.

I love our chats, best of all… but life is busy and I understand.


Let me know any thoughts you might have… I’d love your feedback… Always… xv


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Sunscreen Secret

July 6, 2014


Summer BEauty, Secrets, Sunscreen, French Essence


I have a confession.

I don’t much like sunscreen.

I know I am not meant to say that.

I don’t like the feel, the smell or the idea.


Whenever I can I seek out the shade, wear a hat or stay inside.

After half a life lived in Australia, I understand the perils of those warming rays… and I am one of those types that burn, who takes on the appearance of a lobster and promptly blisters and peels.

Not so much a glow as a fire… that’s me and sun… not a match made in heaven.


The truth is I enjoy the sun, lap it up really… especially after a cold and damp European winter.

Nothing feels as re-energising as sunlight and heat on the back… even squinting into the light makes a welcome change from the months of darkness.

As much as I don’t like to wear sunscreen… I always do and in particular on my face and neck… and hands.


I have been meaning to tell you about my fantastic find last summer… an SPF 50 primer from Chantecaille. This sunscreen is incredible.

sounding like a copy writer… I know… but it’s true… :)

Most importantly it works, no burn.

One application lasts forever and I usually only apply it in the morning, unless it’s a beach holiday or pool party.

I test drove it everyday last summer… where the sun is hot and fierce… nothing, not a tinge of pink.

I gave it to two of my besties in London… they raved.


I’m thinking I need to try more products from this range…  if they are half as good as this sunscreen… then I am in… xv


Sunscreen Secret

chantecaille at nordstrom  //  chantecaille at space.nk.apothecary  // chantecaille at bloomingdales


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Lavender… The Taste and Scent of Provence

July 3, 2014

Provence, Lavender, French Essence, Vicki Archer


Lavender another taste and scent of Provence.

I ask myself, can I take another shot of lavender?

Can I continue to wax lyrical about this purple prince?


Provence, Lavender, French Essence, Vicki Archer


I have and I am going to… I can’t help it.

Along with the scent and taste of the fig, it is the distinguishing feature of our garden in summer.


This year, the lavender is rich and vibrant… much more so than last year… it’s abundance and it’s intensity colours everywhere I look.

We have planted many small groupings in the last few years… here and there, to break up the green of the box hedges and shapes.

The large bed that we planted many years ago, continues to flourish.


As one who loves neutrals more than anything, I surprise myself.

Provence is like that… it changes you when you least expect it.


Provence, Lavender, French Essence, Vicki Archer


Lavender as a scent is one I prefer mixed with others.

When I burn the Diptyque fig candle I will also burn a lavender one from L’Occitane.

 I burn several fig candles to one lavender candle.


Have you tried this? Fusing the scents is a wonderful way to create your own fragrance ambience.

Lavender, another delicious scent from Provence… xv


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Fig… The Taste And Scent Of Provence

July 1, 2014

Postcard, Provence, French Essence, Vicki Archer


Fig is one of the distinguishing scents and tastes of life in summer Provence.

Our garden is permeated with this fresh lovely fragrance.

There are some tastes and smells that never grow old or un-loved.

Fig is one of them.


I wait patiently for the fig tree to fruit at our farm… refusing to buy them or eat them out of season.

Silly I know. The world waits for nothing these days and fruit and vegetables are no different.


I love their succulence and generosity, their sweetness and texture.

I will eat them for breakfast with a scoop of yogurt and for lunch with a drizzle of thickened balsamic and a large helping of rocket salad.

Before dinner I like to serve them as an aperitif with a dollop of creamy goats cheese and a drizzle of lavender honey.

I sometimes romanticise that figs are other worldly, they are far too perfect in so many ways… but then, nature does know best.


Inside our farmhouse I am burning Diptyque’s figuier candle… it is the closest candle I have found to the real thing.

The scent is absolutely beautiful for this time of year.


I fill my bath with the Philosykos Gel.

I am reminded of the freshness of the fig leaf, the aroma of the fruit and the milkiness of the sap as the fig falls away from the stem.

Am I going overboard with fig? Always…


Do you have any fabulous fig recipes to share?

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Kaftan… The Big Cover Up

June 29, 2014

Summer, Kaftans, French Essence  via the cut, keystone/getty images


A kaftan is the big coverup and the best.

I see that all the fashion sites and blogs are starting to think new season/fall… I can’t keep up and I am well and truly in slow summer mode.

So no winter-what-to-wear-talk here.


Kaftans are the best invention… the three “c”s… cool, comfortable and chic.

Worn long over a swimming costume or as a glamorous statement for evening. In the day, perfect for hanging out.

There is a freedom with kaftans, that matches the esprit of summer… they just seem right.

No worrying about too tight, too short or too anything else… Kaftans breathe and so can I.


Bolder prints and colours that I would never normally wear work brilliantly… with a pair of classic espadrilles or even havianas.

Imagine at night with these fine strappy fontanela booties… Wonderful.

In Italy I wore mine all day, ever day… I felt just fine… xv


Kaftan… The Big Cover Up

divine extravagance

  melissa odabash  white crochet  //  diane von furstenberg beaded  //  emilio pucci sheer  //  melissa odabash zebra print  // ** miguelina  anything from this range is exquisite

**  etro silk chiffon


happy medium

gottex cote d’ivoire   //  gottex leopard print  // ** etro printed silk   // vix aquarella kaftan


**carmen marc valvo bohemian kaftan


don’t refrain

hard tail twisty black  //  sealux flaming jewels   //  pilyq lace   //  echo digital mosaic



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A Romantic Weekend In Italy

June 25, 2014

Puglia, Italy, Wedding, Romance, French Essence


Love can be expressed in so many ways and a romantic weekend in Italy… with a beautiful bride, the most handsome of grooms, a magical setting and the best of friends is perfection.

Puglia in southern Italy is a gem of a place… unspoilt and so full of charm.


Italy has it’s own heartbeat.

Italy runs slower and the pace is other worldly… life is about the essential pleasures.

Living, loving and eating… there is so much eating to be done in Italy…  not the weekend to remember the hens ;)


We went to Puglia to celebrate the marriage between my daughter’s best friend and her beau.

This girl has a beautiful soul… she is such a joyous creature and she also happens to be drop dead gorgeous.

The wedding from start to finish was nothing short of magical and I spent much of it misty eyed.


Every detail was heartfelt and meant something to this couple and their friends… Nothing was forgotten or overlooked.

The days felt relaxed and effortless, yet eighteen months of planning went into making this wedding the memory of a lifetime.

In their own words, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” 

I couldn’t agree more.


To see pictures of this most incredible celebration follow along on my Instagram  

~ ~ ~

This romantic weekend got me thinking about the differences between Italy and France.

As close as they are they are a world apart… and therein lies their beauty.

Italy has a casualness, a relaxed air that makes everything feel right… Italy is the best friend you always wanted, the one that makes you feel so loved, so welcome.

You bond immediately, there are no secrets… acceptance is immediate.

France is a formal friend… she takes time to know, to understand… she treats you at arm’s length… she stands back, is aloof… makes you work a little.

What France lacks in openness she offers back in elegance, in grace… in a quiet subdued allure.

Italy wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve.


The scents are so individual in Italy and France.

Italy is more citrus, more smokey, musky even… hints of lemon and orange permeate the senses… I was reminded of fragrant incense and ancient basilicas.

In France the fragrance is sweeter, more feminine… floral tones forever.


And the food… how can I compare you?

Italy your food is welcoming, generous, earthy and familial. Every morsel has a reminder of tradition, of loving preparation… of family around the table.

France your dining is more serious, finer in a way… less riotous, less boisterous… less colourful. Cooked with distinction and tradition… you make the complex look exquisitely simple.


Did I tell you I love you both?

One would not be the same without the other and it takes one to appreciate the other.

Don’t you think? xv



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The Five Step Summer Makeover

June 23, 2014

Summer, Beauty, Make-Up, French Essence


Summer is an on the go time. Holidays, heat and happy times.

I don’t want to wear too much make-up in the warmer months… it doesn’t feel right… Too heavy, too much.

I still need a little help… and I want it to be easy.


Five simple steps, with five products I know and love to get us summer ready.

Easy, effective and effortless.

Beauty has to be like that… Right?


The Five Step Summer Makeover

1. Instead of using foundation which is not always needed for the summer months, Giorgio Armani luminescence CC cream gives a light coverage and subtle glow with the added benefit of SPF 35

Apply all over the face to ensure protection from the sun and to even out skin tone.


2. For a slight bronze/sun kissed look… gently dab Nars Illuminator on the cheekbones up to the brow bone, along the middle of the nose and on the cupids bow for plumper looking lips.

For a little extra shimmer, add to the collar bones.


3. For the eyes, the Shiseido eye colour trio in Be213 Nude gives just the right colour for soft shading and definition around the eyes.

Sweep the lightest colour across the eye lids from the eye lashes to the socket.

Next apply the middle shade to the outer half of the eyelid from the centre just to the socket.

For definition, a small amount of the darkest colour goes within the socket line.


4. Apply Diorshow Mascara to the upper lashes.


5. Mac Sheen Supreme lipstick in ‘Supreme Style’.


Summer here we come… xv


giorgio armani cc cream  //  nars illuminator  //  shiseido colour trio  //  diorshow  //  mac sheen supreme


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