No artist captures the exquisite detail of Europe’s city of romance quite like writer and photographer Nichole Robertson. Which is why Art of the Weekend is simply mad-crazy, head-over-heels smitten with Nichole’s brand new book, Paris in Color, published in April by Chronicle Books and already a travel photography best seller. A fashion and lifestyle writer, Nichole moved to the Marais in 2009 and splits her time today between the US and Paris. We caught up with her to talk favourite addresses in a city that has clearly become an integral part of her creative soul.
Pavement terrace perfection?
The apartment we rent is a block from Rue Montorgueil – my favorite street. One of the cafes I visit most often is Café du Centre. I was initially drawn to the cafe because of the turquoise and red cafe chairs, but it quickly became my favorite spot because of the friendly service. It’s a great place to people-watch and it’s always packed.
Your secret green hideaway?
Last year, I had an insatiable craving for bubble tea, so I headed to Belleville – one of Paris’ Chinatown areas. With a sizable bubble tea in hand, I headed up the hill towards Parc de Belleville. The park isn’t as heavily trafficked as Paris’ other parks (at least it wasn’t that day), and there are a lot of lush, green paths to explore. There is also a great view of Paris from the top of the hill, and one that’s free from the ubiquitous crowds drawn to the view from Montmartre.
A red-hot night out?
My version of a red-hot night would be casual and unplanned. I’d start out with juicy burgers and a cold beer from Café Beaubourg, near the Centre Pompidou. From there, I’d wander west a bit until we found a bar or café with great music. We usually end up near the Etienne-Marcel metro stop or at one of our favorite spots on Rue Montorgueil, which are always open late and busy into the wee hours.
Where do you go to beat the blues?
I typically gravitate to the center of Paris and end up on Ile St- Louis. Whatever problems or worries I have are easy to put into perspective when standing next to Notre Dame or walking on the Pont des Arts with a panoramic view of the Seine. Worrying about a deadline seems silly when surrounded by buildings or bridges people built with their bare hands hundreds of years ago.
And to roll out the red carpet?
One of the things I love so much about Paris (and New York for that matter) is the access to casually elegant experiences. I don’t care for stuffy atmospheres, but coffee and something sweet somewhere nice are the perfect compromise. Macarons at Ladurée is a must if you’ve never done it.
And finally, define your Parisian inspiration for sky-blue thinking?
For a long time, my view of Paris was colored by what I projected onto it (20s literary magic, for example). As I got to know Paris more intimately, I realized that it’s the slower pace and attention to detail that inspires me. In New York, I walk as fast as I can to get to my destination. I find very little I want to look at, and it’s more an exercise in blocking out than taking in. In Paris, the pace is completely different, and people take the time to stroll, window shop, chat and observe. It feels more human.