Postcards from France

travel stories from France by Gai Reid

Category: shopping (page 1 of 4)


When is the best time to visit Paris?

I am asked this question often and my automatic reply is “As soon as possible, preferably tomorrow morning!”  And I’m only half joking. Paris is perfect at any time of the year but you will have different experiences and memories depending on when you go.


Paris in Winter

Paris in Winter

Paris in the Winter.

Many years ago when I was planning my first visit, the only time I could go was December/January. I was concerned that the winter would not be the best time to visit Paris, that somehow the cold weather would lessen the beauty of the buildings or cause me extreme discomfort to be out enjoying the city and people. But a dear friend who had been to Paris in winter, convinced me that it would be enchanting. “When the trees have no leaves”, he said “you get to see more of the architecture.”  I began to visualise the pre-Christmas decorations that would be everywhere and the fairy lights adding a touch of magic. I did the trip and loved it.

autumn in ParisNotre Dame Paris in autumne

My Favourite Season for Paris.

Since then I’ve been to Paris in the heat of summer but never in springtime. My hands down favourite time to be in this luscious city – is during the autumn.  If this is your first visit to Paris, I think it’s PERFECT. Arriving in September, you will miss the heat and the crowds that dominate summer. The sun will still be shining and evenings are extremely pleasant for dinner outdoors. By October the parks will be gathering a carpet of russet leaves as the trees begin to shut down for the colder months. I love to be witness to the arrival of autumn in the Tuileries. Mornings are becoming crisp and the day is perfect for long walks along those streets made for strolling.  My final answer?  ANY time is the best time to visit Paris.

Louvre from Tuileries, ParisTuileries autumn leaves

I am already planning my next visit to France. It will be early March, to complete my experience of “Paris by Seasons”. And this will be a romantic time in my favourite city, showing my partner Neil (a Paris virgin!) why I love this place more than any other I have seen. We will stay for the entire springtime, wandering France from village to villa.  More on that journey soon.

Luxembourg Gardens in autumn







The Healing Powers of Travel

Is travel the magic elixir for healing?

Could you recover from devastating loss in a foreign land?

How could a trip to Paris heal an emotional wound?

postcard flower barrowpostcard-Gare-de-Lyon

 At any one time, the estimated number of passengers flying in an aircraft is 600,000 – some of those are on their way to experiencing the awesome healing powers of being in a foreign country.

Most of us have experienced the restorative properties of a holiday. A couple of weeks in Fiji or a few days in Bali can reinvigorate a sluggish body and attitude. Health is frequently improved because of travel. Removing the stress in our life is often impossible, so the life must be removed from the stress on order to recover.

A physical journey can also clear the path for an emotional journey to emerge. Leaving your daily familiarity and giving yourself new and stimulating experiences can be the portal to understanding, acceptance and recovery from loss.

This is exactly how I healed my grief after the tragic death of my mother and soon after, the passing of my grandmother. Returning to France, a place where I had previously experienced a short two days of absolute bliss, gave me the gateway to begin the recovery process.

As I explored new and familiar parts of France, I dug into their history for colour, context and meaning that ultimately led to understanding, forgiveness and peace.

“Postcards from France” is my story of how the sensual powers of this essentially feminine country, healed a profound loss of love, identity and place. From Paris to Provence, Brittany and the Loire Valley, my stories of French experiences move through the ages taking you from the sublime to the repugnant, the humorous to the poignant. My hope is that by sharing my story, others will find the peace and tranquillty that can be found in an unfamiliar, fascinating and nourishing new location.

If you have experienced this incredible healing power of travel, please leave me a comment to share YOUR story.




I’ve got mail!

This morning was a day to remember – 10 copies of “Postcards from France” arrived from Amazon.

my workspace

my workspace

my first copy of my first book!

my first copy of my first book!

My first published book and I can finally hold it and turn the pages.

I’m so happy with the layout, the font, spacing etc. The cover artwork is perfect (that’s my old graphic artist skills back into play!)  and everything lines up.




The best way to see Paris – especially in the centre of “old” Paris, is to WALK.

It is not an enormous city so you won’t be walking huge distances to see some of the most evocative and romantic snippets of this superbly stunning city.

rue des Archives

rue des Archives

The Marais – 4th arrondissement – is an excellent place to explore. It is a pleasant mix of new and old architecture, museums and retail, hotels and cafes, traditional and kooky.

rue des Archives

Start with petit dejeuner at Le Pain Quotidien on the rue des Archives. It’s a short stroll from BHV department store on rue de Rivoli. The breads are excellent, tarts delicious and they serve healthy biologique options.




Lewistone Jeweller

Lewistone Jeweller






A little farther along on the left hand side is Bijoutier Lewistone where you can find classic and affordable Art Deco jewellery that would look perfect on the set of The Great Gatsby.

door flowers 1

A few more steps and you can stop at Double Pensée Florist to smell the roses, or the lilies, or even the “Hortensia” which we call hydrangeas.

Weds 7 Sept 2011 080Weds 7 Sept 2011 077


When you come to the Comptoir des Archive vintage Brasserie, cross the rue Rambuteau and peer through the window of Les Mille Feuilles. It is stacked with tasteful domestic décor that will fit perfectly in any of the apartments in this lively, yet classical quartier.


rue Trésor

From here you can continue down the rue des Francs Bourgeois past the National Archives, then take a right into rue Vielle du Temple.

rue Trésor

rue Trésor

Amble down this fascinating older area keeping a look out for the tiny rue Trésor on your left. It’s a cool, green oasis where the trees and plants seem to take over the dead end street. Take a break and a second coffee at one of the cafes.


rue du Bourg Tibourg

From here you are just a block away from another short but fascinating street, rue du Bourg Tibourg.

hotel bourg tibourg room 3


Sat 10 Sept 2011 189

The Hôtel Bourg Tibourg manages to combine classy and hip plus superb service. A few buildings down on the left, Le Studio des Parfums will concoct the perfect perfume for you, but it will cost you as much as a night in the hotel.

When you are almost at the end of this little street, give yourself a sweet treat and a soothing cup of tea at Mariage Frères – Maison de Thé à Paris. They’ve been serving up their own brews since 1854.

Mariage Frères

Mariage Frères

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