27/09/2017

BEAUTY | Autumn Nails with Sinful Colours


Time to switch to autumnal shades.

Sinful Colors is not a brand I see often on blogs, but I was gifted these two nail polishes as an early birthday present and I was really excited about it: aren't these the perfect colours for the upcoming season?
Purple shades are really versatile, and look as pretty on the nails as they do on the lips. I've tried out both shades and will be wearing them a lot in the next few months, so I thought I'd share them with you!


Sinful Colors seems a bit difficult to get your hands on in the UK, but if you have the chance, it really is a brand worth checking out. These two polishes are from the Semi-Matte Kylie range. I have to say, these do not turn out semi-matte on the nails at all. They're almost as shiny as any other nail polish, so I didn't find any matte element to it. However, the tiny gold specks are beautiful and very subtle.

Regarding the quality of the nail polishes, they stay on the nails for a good few days without chipping - and this is without a top coat. I'd advise you to go for three coats for an opaque result, because the texture is quite fluid. 
Next time you spot Sinful Color nail polishes in a shop, don't hesitate to try them out - they're really good quality and I'm glad I discovered the brand!

What is your favourite nail polish shade to wear in the autumn?
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13/09/2017

PARIS | The Hidden Gardens of Bagatelle


The one park in Paris nobody knows about.

Paris is a small city. It means that you can find little gems at every corner, which makes every wander a discovery, every walk a chance to spot new shops, restaurants, landmarks. And even though I've been around there for quite a bit now, this summer I got to discover somewhere I'd never been before: the Parc de Bagatelle. 

Hidden at the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, an area of woods at the west of Paris, Bagatelle is a little world of wonder, where you'll find a castle, a rose garden, waterfalls and peacocks. Doesn't it sound like a Disney film already?


My favourite area of the park was the Orangerie - without the oranges unfortunately - with its little house attached to it, which you can see on the first photo of this post. My other favourite was the rose garden. Hundreds of varieties scattered around, the wind spreading a soft flower scent as you walk between the bushes and topiaries.


To explore the Parc de Bagatelle, I'd advise you to take a photo of the map at the entrance, so that you're sure not to miss any of the little curiosities hidden here and there. Like this beautiful, pastel-coloured pagoda, complete with majestic peacock pausing right in front.


However, there's nothing wrong about getting lost in the little pathways, as you'll always find pretty flowers and plants to look at. We made our way to the Château de Bagatelle, curious to see what that castle was all about. Of course, we almost got lost on the way. And I got distracted every time we saw a peacock, because how can you not want to stop and stare at them?  


As we followed this path surrounded by strange statues and lush vegetation, we found ourselves in front of the castle. It is small, but still a pleasant sight to see - and it's pastel pink. Somehow I feel like it was made just for me. (Bold statement, I know.)


Yes, I unintentionally dressed just like the castle that day.
The Château de Bagatelle, which is in fact more like a country house, was built in 1777 on request of the comte d'Artois, who then became King Charles X of France in the mid-eighteenth century. Its style is Neo-palladian, inspired from the Renaissance architect Palladio who built wonderful houses and palaces in Italy. You can also see buildings of this style in England - Chiswick House right outside London, for example.
I wish we could have seen the interiors, but I think - don't quote me on this - it is only possible to get in with a guided tour. Which must make the experience even more special!

After observing the castle from all its angles, we went back on our walk, looking for the waterfalls.


Of course it is only an artificial waterfall, but it translates so well the eccentricity of the people who commissioned these extravagant gardens. I don't know about you, but if I had a garden, I would absolutely love for it to have a waterfall and little ducks swimming around. 
After a last stroll between the peacocks and after admiring the gigantic sequoia tree of the park, we left Bagatelle. We spent almost a whole day there, and I'd highly recommend the restaurant - there's only one and it's a bit more on the expensive side, but the food is really good.

Now that I am back in England, I'm hoping to discover plenty of beautiful gardens and places to make you discover - this is my favourite type of posts to make!

Where do you like to go for a little outdoors adventure?
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01/09/2017

TRAVEL | A City Break in Lisbon


A couple weeks ago, an unexpected trip happened, that took my to Lisbon for the first time. You may not know this, but I am from Portuguese descent. My mother was born of Portuguese parents, and my dad emigrated from Portugal when he was eighteen. I have thus spent many summers, when I was younger, in our little village high in the mountains, but I never really got the chance to see the capital.
Now that I've finally seen it, let me share with you some of the highlights of that short stay, starting with a walk to the heights of Lisbon...

Castelo São Jorge: the best views in town

Lisbon is a city built on hills and heights. There are numerous miradouros around, high points that give you multiple vistas on the typical orange roofs and colourful buildings. The best view, however, I found at Castelo São Jorge, the medieval castle that stands high above Lisbon. The climb up there involves a lot of stairs, and rather unusual streets.


Meeting the locals, too.
Go to the castle in the morning, ideally getting there before 10am. You'll avoid the queues that gather around noon, and have all the time in the world to explore. Once you arrive at the castle, you'll arrive to a big open space, greeted by a view over the whole city.


Once you've admired the view, you can learn about the history of the castle. The medieval fortress was built on top of the hill to have a good overview of the whole city and the river. In the museum, you'll find artifacts dating back to the Roman times, and around the fortress itself you'll have plenty of space to explore its courts, statues, and towers. And again, walk around the high defensive walls to see the city from above, in every single perspective you could imagine.


The Castelo São Jorge is a must-see if you've got a few days in Lisbon. You see if from below when you wander around town, and the views from above are truly worth climbing up all these stairs.

Go to Belem and try the original Pastel de Nata

Belem is a famous area or district of Lisbon, where you'll find beautiful landmarks and one of the most praised Portuguese treats: the pasteis de nata. They are little custard tarts, traditionally eaten with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on it. The pasteis were created in Belem, and that's where you'll find the house that makes the best pasteis de nata, according to pretty much everybody.


To go there and get some of the precious little pastries, you'll have to be patient. Queues there are a bit mad, and you'll feel bad for the people who work there as if they were in a factory, but eventually you'll get your hands on the pasteis. I'd suggest buying a little box of four.


Yes, we went to Starbucks to eat our pastries. Some habits are just too difficult to give up on.
Always try to eat the pasteis straight away, while they're still warm and soft. The custard inside was really good, not too sweet contrary to what I feared. The perfect mid-afternoon treat when you've been walking around under the sun and need a sugar kick. 


In Belem, walk near the river to admire the boats in the harbour, and you'll get to approach two emblematic monuments of Lisbon. 


This is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, literally the Monument of the Discoveries. Created in the 1940s but set up in Belem in 1960, it is tall, impressive white monument that celebrates the brightest spirits of Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries. At the time, Portugal a country of avid explorers, with navigators who discovered territories as far as America and India. There are statues on both sides, and they look as if they were going to come to life, lift their swords and march on.


Not too far from there, another monument stands tall on the river bank: the Torre de Belem. A medieval tower built in the 16th century to mark the entry to the harbour, and to protect the town from the river. It is a UNESCO classified site, and an eerie location to take photographs of. The light changes depending on the time of day, and gives you a different perspective on the tower.


You can visit the tower, but again be prepared for crowds, especially in the summer. If they're one thing I learned about Lisbon, it is that it's really popular destination at the moment. And that's for a reason, after all!
There's more to see in Belem, but that is coming right up in the next part of this post...

Lisbon, between old and new

During my trip, I found that there are two sides to Lisbon. The first one you see is the traditional side, with the crumbly buildings, the walls covered in old azulejos, the tiny restaurants from which you can smell grilled fish and sea produce, the churches and paved roads. Visit the Alfama district, behind the Castelo São Jorge, to find the narrowest streets, lively and loud, where locals and travellers alike meet and eat in the smallest restaurants, where, if you're lucky, you'll find fado singers in the evening. 
Lisbon is also full of beautiful buildings that show its glorious past. Among them, make sure to visit the Jeronimos Monastery, with its bright cloisters and intricate decors...


If like me you enjoy the typical porcelain tiles that, all over Portugal, cover the buildings, head to the National Museum of Azulejos. It is housed in a former convent, where you can still see a beautiful church, covered from the floor to the ceiling in gold and tiles. 
You learn about the history of the azulejo, with some examples of different styles and designs, from as early as medieval times to contemporary interpretations of the art.


This museum is a real feast for the eyes, and when we went there it was almost empty. The perfect place to escape the crowds, and that you wouldn't find anywhere else in the world.
Speaking of, the National Museum of Coaches in Belem, is also one of a kind. Makes you want to ditch the Ferrari for something more... theatrical.


(Sadly, I don't own a Ferrari. I don't even know how to drive, so I guess it's not a big loss on my part.)
In the museum, you'll find carriages from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century. Royal carriages used by Portuguese princesses, coaches given as presents from other countries, fire engines, children's cabriolets... Some of these look like they're straight out of a BBC period drama. I had never seen such an extensive collection of carriages, it is quite unique so don't miss it if you're in Lisbon.


But Lisbon is not a city stuck in its past. It is resolutely modern, where young people (and older folks too) get together for drinks and to dance the night away, where the walls covered in tiles sit right next to walls covered in street art.


The place that impressed me the most in Lisbon was the Parque das Naçoes. It is an area built for the Expo 98, an exhibition that took place in 1998 and revolved around the ocean and its key role in the future of humanity. Since then, the place has expanded and is now a district where you'll find skyscrapers, a big shopping centre, an oceanarium, gardens, and so on.


Parque das Naçoes is a wide area, so I'd suggest to take a whole afternoon to explore it. You could always go shopping afterwards, and have dinner in one of the restaurants facing the cable car and the river. By the way, if you're fine with heights, I highly recommend the cable car. It gives you the nicest view of the whole area, and takes you from one part of the Parque to the other.


I feel like no matter what you're looking for, you'll find it in Lisbon. The city has developed and grown, and with it the possibilities of entertainment and leisure - you won't get bored there!
If there was one piece of advice I would give, it is to avoid visiting in the summer. Seems obvious, but I never thought Lisbon was such a popular destination and that it would be so crowded. But that's for a reason - it's an awesome city for a little holiday break!

Have you ever been to Lisbon? Would you consider visiting?
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