Diary From Provence… Need To Know

August 7, 2014

Diary From Provence, Market Day, VickiArcher

It is impossible to escape the colour in Provence, especially during the summer season.

Wednesday morning’s market in St Remy de Provence swells to double or even triple the size and by 11am, there is scarcely room to move.

Each week I am in St Remy de Provence bright and early to buy from my favourite vendors.

Flowers from one, fruit and vegetables for another… to die for tapenades, olives and nuts near the local town hall.

Then there are all the fun bits and pieces… the vintage, the hats… the bracelets.

More is definitely merrier when it comes to those bracelets, the hats and the baskets.

The baskets get better and better.

I usually have a friend with me who is visiting so we make the tour and find the best baskets.

One for them, one for me.

Like the bracelets, there is no such thing as too many… Right? xv

Need To Know

* be early, the crowds can be overwhelming

* the best baskets are on the church steps and in front of the truck that cuts keys ( yes, that’s a market service)

*the best linen is in the car park opposite the church right near the pedestrian crossing

* the best bracelets are in place favier right at the back next to the musee des alpilles

( walk through the arch and straight ahead to take a peak at le petit bijou)

*the best hats are in place favier… on the far right hand and near the fishmonger on the ring road

*the best soaps are in front of the town hall… try the fleur d’oranger… heavenly

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Round And Round… Bracelets Galore

August 6, 2014

Friendship bracelets, We Love Sugar, French essence, Vicki Archer

This summer… actually every summer… I get the urge for bracelets.

Not precious, not serious… just lots of fine pretties that embellish the wrists.

I like the way they look… more bohemian and relaxed than my everyday city life allows.

Somehow they speak summer to me… and they have a flair about them.

I wear them with the kaftan and with the vintage.

I mix them all together… and wind them around both wrists.

I add the old to the new.

They are a sweet addition to the wardrobe, they add colour to a sunny day.

Better still, we can wear as many as we want… xv

Stack Them Up

alex and ani expandable wire bangles

 the raj  //  the circle  // the angela  //  the lilu pearl  //  the lilu colourblock

monica vinader bali rose  //  dezso woven cotton and silver  //  dezso shell  //  eddie borgo rose gold bell

image fabsugar.com

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Too Many Books… No Such Thing

August 5, 2014

Zurich, B2 Boutique Hotel, Vicki Archer

Are there ever too many books? I don’t think so.

As much as I enjoy the practicality and freedom of the Kindle and the iPad, nothing beats the beauty of the book.

It truly is a case of the more the merrier.

Do we buy as many books as we once did?

My intentions are there but the convenience of digital reading means the download often wins… and it shouldn’t.

It’s also a question of time.

So much of our time is shared between online devices that turning the pages of a book gets relegated to summer holidays or the tail end of a very long day.

Do you know what I mean?

Our family are all committed readers… and I have always believed that there is never loneliness or boredom with a good book around.

Characters and plots become part of our lives and it’s sad when their tale is told. Like farewelling a best friend.

Movies and TV series rarely make me feel that way.

Last weekend on our drive to Provence, we detoured via Zurich… and stayed in a hotel that boasted 33,000 books.

The dining room, with such volume, was lined floor to ceiling with all types of books.

Worn and loved… not precious or perfect with matching bindings.

Words in all languages filled and overflowed the space… it was quite breathtaking.

The thought of all that creativity, intellect and passion in one space was quite something.

I realised then and there that we can never, ever read enough… and there is definitely no such thing as too many books.

B2 Boutique Hotel

Brandschenkestrasse 152

8002 Zürich, Switzerland
+41 44 567 67 67

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Diary From Provence… Chateau De La Motte Fenelon

August 4, 2014

ChChateau, France, Vicki Archer, Diary from Provence

Most years we drive from London to Provence for the summer.

A long journey, but there is a certain luxury to your own car and escaping the joys of airports and plane travel.

We usually stay somewhere different overnight… a chance to explore new areas of France and to break the journey.

This year we stopped in Cambrai at Chateau de la Motte Fenelon in northern France.

Cambrai is a popular stopping off point for those history buffs interested in exploring the French battlefields… the Western Front and memorials from World War I.

Cambrai is not the most scenic of French destinations that I have been too… yet the hotel that we stayed in was a true surprise.

Chateau de la Motte Fenelon is one of those beautiful buildings that has survived yet been encroached upon by modern life and progress.

The decor is lovely… a classic French beauty.

Downstairs the reception rooms were enfilade style…  The doors entering each room were aligned with the doors of the connecting rooms along a single axis, allowing a vista through the entire suite of rooms.

I do love that idea, that you can see through from one end to the other.

Upstairs, the bedrooms were large and extremely comfortable… old fashioned but charming.

Pretty commodes and Louis style desks… tall windows with billowing curtains and original shutters.

Chateau de la Motte Fenelon was a little like Fawlty Towers… sadly without Basil.

It was slightly chaotic, a little help yourself-ish but so friendly. I felt as if we were guests in a country home, not hotel residents.

If you happen to be in northern France and want to immerse yourself in a world gone by, Chateau de la Motte Fenelon is the destination.

Chateau de la Motte Fenelon

Résidence la Forêt

59403 Cambrai


+33 3 27 83 61 38

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Swim Style… Just Like Grace Kelly

August 3, 2014

Grace Kelly, Vintage Swimwear, Google Images, French Essence, Vicki Archer

Grace Kelly, Vintage Swimwear, Google Images, French Essence, Vicki Archer

1. seafolly boyleg one piece  //  2. topshop magnolia bandeau bikini  //  3. rosamosario kate factor leopard print high rise bikini

4. norma kamali bandeau bikini top and ruched bikini brief  //  5. topshop aloha swimsuit

6. eres molene bikini top and gredin high rise bikini briefs

Last week I went swimwear shopping with a girlfriend… she normally wears a more classic suit or triangle shaped bikini

 After a little persuasion I suggested she try the vintage style like the one worn by Grace Kelly in the photograph.

She tells me she’s not going back.

Try them… you may love them like we do… xv

p.s and then there were these… norma kamali bill mio ruched halter neck swimsuit  //  heidi klein ravello ruched bandeau swimsuit


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Kate Moss, St Tropez And That Instant Tan

August 1, 2014


St Tropez Self Tan, Kate Moss, French Essence, Vicki Archer

Do you self tan?

Like the individual lashes… I’m a little afraid of it.

Thoughts of streaky palms, stained pillowcases and bedsheets combined with that very peculiar smell.

Why am I even mentioning it?

Because I have just tried the instant glow, one night only, from St.Tropez.

Kate Moss raves about it… sadly I don’t quite look like her, even with the glow… but it’s good.

I haven’t had time this summer to laze about and go golden brown naturally so an instant and short lived fix is perfect.

Self tanning is not my forte so I needed some advice from an expert… xv

Instant Glow

1) buff away dead skin using an exfoliator to allow for a smooth and streak free application

2) lightly moisturise the areas to be tanned, and allow to dry for a few minutes

3) apply the tan (about the size of a small coin for each area) to a self tanning mitt and begin on the lower body, working upwards

4) smooth the tan onto the legs using the mitt, if any areas need additional buffing, hands can be used as the tan will wash off with soap and water

apply to the legs before the feet… lightly brush over the top of the feet with the mitt, the less product on the mitt for the feet, the better

5) the underside of the arms will only need a light brush over with the mitt as they are naturally paler than the top side of the arms

6) don’t forget the upper back, and neck

*using the mitt over a long handled loofah will help to reach the difficult areas

7) Apply the tan before applying make-up, allowing the tan to dry for at least 5 minutes before beginning make-up application.

8) Once the tan has dried, a little illuminator can be applied to the collar bones, shoulders and shin bones to highlight and shimmer.

the product is water and transfer resistant, so will not rub off onto clothes or run and go streaky in the rain and the best part of all… it doesn’t have that scent

st.tropez instant glow one night only  //  st.tropez application mitt  //  aquasentials long handled loofah  //  nars illuminator

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French Women … An Ageless Look

July 31, 2014

juliette binoche, french actress, french essence, vicki archer

french actress juliette binoche

French women, whatever their age, apply a few rules to their fashion routine that ensures an ageless look.

Rules of their own making… not compulsory, but from my observations there are certain key elements of their appearance that remain constant.

They apply whether 80 or 18 years of age.

French women on the whole, dress classically and age appropriate when it comes to their garments.

They wear mostly monochrome with a splash of accessory.

Four keys elements are generally up to date… and drive their appearance.

French women, especially in Paris will not only have well groomed hair but also their hair will be cut in the latest style… this has nothing to do with age.

Older women wear their hair very long, younger women wear it very short and vice-versa.

Hair is about the individual.

Hair is important, it frames and flatters the face.

French women wear the latest in sunglasses.

I rarely see a French women wearing glasses that look outdated… the same goes for reading glasses.

It may explain why there are so many optometry shops in France.

Looking chic in glasses is an easy one to get right… and a pair of good sunglasses or reading glasses will make all the difference to the appearance.

Shoes… flat soled or high heeled.

French women… wear fashionable footwear.

I love seeing an elderly woman sporting her New Balance with her tailored suit… or her jeans.

Age appropriate doesn’t enter their lingo… shoes are a fashion statement and age just does not come into it.

The Handbag… whether designer or not, a handbag will be chosen for the elegance of design, the beauty of the material and it’s chic value.

Invariably a shoulder bag or a tote… the handbag will be modern.

Classic but not old fashioned.

Practical, but that won’t drive the overall decision.

Four key elements that are non dependant on our age… yet can make us feel up to the moment.

French women… they understand a lot about fashion… xv

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Wearing The Boyfriend Jeans

July 30, 2014

Jane Birkin, Google Images, Denim, Boyfriend Jeans, French Essence, Vicki Archer jane birkin back in the day

To wear or not to wear is the question?

Boyfriend jeans that is.

My answer is yes… although my daughters disagree… they only like the skinny jean.

That’s too bad, because I love my boyfriends and will wear them regardless.

I don’t always take notice of them.

The secret to a good boyfriend jean is the cut… they look best if they are a slim fit.

That’s a contradiction… but they exist.

At my age I am not too much into the rips and holes… faded and distressed, yes… cut and torn… no.

I have nothing against them, I am just a believer in adapting fashion to suit my age and stage.

How To Wear The Boyfriend

I have tried on so many pairs and rejected most of them.

Too baggy and too unflattering… they need to be loose, but not too loose.

Give the impression of ease without swamping the frame.

I wear my boyfriend jeans with a very simple teeshirt and longer line blazer… flats or the new balance trainers… even the slip on sneakers work well with this look.

I wear the blue boyfriend jeans with a white tee and white blazer… the white boyfriend jeans with a black tee and black tuxedo .

If day is turning into evening, I will add a pair of heels… a suede pump with a little ankle action for interest.

The tee shirt means there is no extra bulk around the body and the longer line of the jacket slims down the hips.

I like that… xv

Which Boyfriends?

**j brand slim boyfriend jeans in white   on sale  //  ** citizens of humanity skyler in faded or deep denim   on sale  //  current elliot boyfriend jeans  //  j brand 1265 ace boyfriend jeans  //  ** rag & bone slim boyfriend on sale

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The Best Kept Beauty Secrets #4

July 28, 2014

The Best Kept Beauty Secrets #4 , French essence, Posture, Vicki Archer

One of the best kept beauty secrets is posture.

Easier said than done… in my case any way.

The mind is always willing but sometimes the body does let me down.

Stance and posture do they reflect a positive state of mind?

I think perhaps they do.

Bad posture is body language that none of us mean to imply.

Life  interferes and a slouch of the shoulders, a relaxing of the stomach muscles is oftentimes a signal that we are tired, overwhelmed or not at our happiest.

And it could be that we just forgot… to sit upright, drop our shoulders and think about our core.

There is so much that our brain has to concentrate on at any given time, it’s not surprising that certain elements slide.

Self correcting my posture on a bad day makes me immediately feel stronger and in control.

Good posture is youthful, beneficial for the health and simply put… makes us feel better about ourselves.

I have the best intentions when it comes to my posture, because I know that it’s the simplest way to look and feel younger.

I have seen this time and time again… walking along a crowded street admiring someone in the distance, only to be surprised when they turn… their gait is suggestive of a much younger body.

Wanting and having good posture is admirable… but it takes a serious commitment.

It’s one I want to make… but I have been neglectful.

Lifestyle, working and all the excuses under the sun mean that time for ourselves is limited.

Don’t you feel as women we tend to neglect ourselves in our focus on our friends and families?

This is praiseworthy and I wouldn’t want us to be vapid, self obsessed creatures… but beauty is about finding the balance… and that is sometimes a struggle.

After the summer I am going to make amends… yoga and Pilates must become a part of my routine, an easy habit.

No more excuses.

Tell me your secret to finding the balance… Have you found it? Is posture on the top of your beauty regime… or is it a good intention that slips and slides?

The Best Kept Beauty Secrets

#1   //  #2  //  #3

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


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The Long And The Short Of It… Bermuda Bound

July 27, 2014

John and Jackie Kennedy, Life Magazine Sometimes I surprise myself.

I am wearing shorts… long ones admittedly, but still they are shorts.

This season the runway was full of longer length bermuda style shorts.

The other day when I could stand the heat no more, I tried a pair on.

Strangely enough… I liked them… loose and easy and worn colour blocked.

I did the all black thing… and then I went back and tried the all white/cream look.

It’s done… I now own 2 pairs of shorts.

They need to be worn super baggy and with a non fitting style top.

Wearing the same colour top and bottom works for me because it’s more slimming.

I even wore them with a blazer for evening and pointy toe flats.

A cute look… and the longer length means there are no age restrictions.

Loving that… xv

Bermuda Bound

toteme crepe shorts  //  lafayette stretch cotton shorts  //  chaus jackie o bermuda shorts  //  asos long length black shorts  //  asos long line white slouch shorts

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How To Lose Weight? Walk In Paris

July 25, 2014

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence, Walking In Paris

How to lose weight? That age old question. I have a solution for you… but it involves Paris.

It is almost impossible to resist the wining and dining when in Paris… and it does play havoc with the diet.

I try and stay on a reduced carbohydrate and sugar regime… (it’s still going on) and it’s not the easiest when in France.

The patisseries, the champagne… the bread… you get the picture.

 6 days of the week I am strong and on the 7th I live a little.

It is the only way to sustain a diet for a lengthy period of time and reach the goals I have set myself.

Except in Paris… In Paris… I walk.

The beauty of Paris makes it easy to walk for hours and hours.

Walking in Paris is no chore and if you walk long and take care of what you eat… the weight falls off or at least maintains.

Below are a few of my favourite paths… with wonderful points of interest along the way… xv

Walk Through Montmartre

Sacré Cœur Basilica

Moulin Rouge

Place du Tertre

Dalí Museum

The Montmartre Vineyards

Montmartre Cemetery

Le Lapin Agile

Famous Windmills

Bateaux Lavoir

Discover The Latin Quarter

Notre Dame

St. Chapelle

Place St. Michel


Luxembourg Gardens

Les Bouquinistes

Stroll Romantic Paris

The Eiffel Tower

Notre Dame

Napoléon’s Tomb

Louvre Museum

Tuileries Gardens

Musée D’Orsay

Champs- Elysées

Sunday In The Marais

Musee Picasso ( re-opening September 2014)

Place des Vosges

Rue des Rosiers

Centre Pompidou

Hôtel de Ville

Musée Carnavalet

Île Saint Louis

Pont Neuf


Sainte -Chapelle

Marché aux Fleurs

Notre Dame Cathedral


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How To Apply Individual Eyelashes

July 24, 2014

day to night cinemagraph, jamie beck and kevin burg, french essence

cinemagraph via ann street studio

I wanted to know how to apply individual eyelashes.

For those special occasions when more is more.

Truthfully, I’m frightened of the process…  too complicated… but I have seen that they make all the difference.

Applying individual false lashes gives a more natural look than strip lashes.

The individual lashes mean you can add as few or as many as needed  and it almost impossible to tell that they aren’t natural.

I was assured that if I followed these simple instructions… I could apply them myself and … I would never look back.

The result… enough to say… I will be wearing them often… xv

The How

apply a natural eye makeup.

 curl the lashes using the shu uemura eye lash curler

 apply a slick of mascara and allow the lashes to dry

 place a pea sized amount of ‘duo’ adhesive to the back of the hand

** this is the secret… all the professionals use this glue and it is the gentlest

  with tweezers pick up the first cluster of lashes and delicately dip the base of them into the adhesive

allow the ‘duo’ to dry slightly for about 30 seconds on the lashes before applying.

this allows the adhesive to become tacky before application

using tweezers, gently place the cluster of lashes as close as possible onto the eyelid, working from the middle of the lash line outwards

to help the lashes stick, use a Q tip or cotton bud to press the lashes into place

if the adhesive is still visible this isn’t a problem as once it dries it becomes transparent

 Once all the lashes have been applied and the adhesive has fully dried (this should only take about 2 minutes),  add a little extra mascara.

Additional eyeliner can also be added if needed to blend the lashes into the natural eye lashes.

duo adhesive  //  mac individual lashes  //  shu uemura curler

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