Photographed in Chantilly, France
There’s nothing like a couple of days away from the city and breathing in crisp, fresh countryside air to recharge the batteries. Don’t you think? After six weeks spent travelling, numerous international flights, Paris Fashion Week and a hectic work schedule, I have been left feeling frazzled, to say the least. But I think everyone does a month in after the summer holidays? So last week we hired a car and drove the 40 minute journey to Chantilly – a small town just outside of the French capital, famous for its beautiful Château (it was originally constructed in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1870s after it was destroyed in the French Revolution) and horse-racing! It’s a place I’d been to briefly before for a picnic with friends during the summer, but hadn’t had the time to properly explore its grounds, which are immense. If you’ve been you’ll know what I’m talking about – and if you haven’t I thoroughly recommend you do! It’s one of France’s most beautiful Châteaux and holds the finest collection of art in France after the Louvre. Yes you read that right!
Wanting to truly relax and make the most of our time, we stayed at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, a traditional, yet luxurious hotel decorated in a cosy country style, which is literally right next door to the Château (just a 20 minute walk to its entrance) in the Domain de Chantilly.
In my quest for better living I aim for quality over quantity and I want luxury. Who doesn’t? And it’s the same for when I travel. A beautiful suitcase goes a long way to making you feel like you’re ready for a luxurious weekend away. Gone are my days of backpacks (I spent various months backpacking around South America before university – wonderful at the time, but fills me with fear at the thought now) and numerous totes holding various clothes and necessities when my bag just wasn’t big enough to fit everything inside. Yes, it used to happen often. This beautiful burgundy leather suitcase (also my favourite colour for the autumn season), by quintessentially London based British brand, William & Son is as luxurious as luxurious as they get. Besides making me hark back to my British roots (incidentally William & Son was appointed by her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of quality in their craftsmanship) it has soft, yet durable leather made in their London-based factory and is just as good-looking inside as it is out, with a cream canvas interior. As soon as I opened the case and started to pack, I could almost smell the fresh air and hear the birds chirping. Ok not quite, but you get the picture.
Using one small suitcase means packing light (which is admittedly getting trickier these days, even having honed my skills with recent frequent travelling – a girl likes to have options), so I chose a capsule wardrobe of knits, jeans, boots and a jacket. But even when being practical, I don’t like to scrimp on luxury. My number one item is a good quality knit: a knit that you can style and pair with various outfits, and dress up or dress down. I wore two grey (so I didn’t spend time choosing clothes) cashmere polo necks (here & here) under a cashmere jacket, all produced in William & Son’s cashmere factory in Scotland and even though there was a chill in the air, I didn’t feel cold once. As someone who is constantly saying ‘I’m cold’, this is very unusual for me – testament that the knits did indeed keep me warm – I didn’t even need a scarf! So I thought I’d share a few of my top tips to help you with your packing choices for your next weekend away in the countryside:
1. Bring the right suitcase
Choose a chic roll-able option that is easy to manoeuvre and will fit all of your essentials and capsule wardrobe inside. And one that looks good, so you won’t look out of place when checking into a beautiful five star hotel. For extra style, choose leather – yes it will come with a heftier price tag, but it will last decades. Ever seen some of those vintage leather luggage cases? Exactly.
2. Select a chic day bag
Bring one that’s small enough to hold over your arm when taking photos, but large enough to carry your essentials in, and that’s chic enough to use in the evening too. (Oh and one that matches your shoe-laces & lipstick – ok not essential, but fun and photogenic nonetheless!) This red one was perfect, and the colour popped in my photos.
3. Layer up
Team cosy knits with a chic jacket to keep warm, but wear layers that can easily be peeled off when you go inside.
4. Wear a warm, but smarter jacket
You don’t want to look like a complete scruff when strolling through the grounds of a château or a quaint village for that matter, so go for something a little smarter. And in keeping with your capsule wardrobe you’ll want one that takes you from day to evening to save you bringing two.
5. Pick polo-necked knits
You won’t need a scarf and therefore have less to pack!
6. Choose Cashmere
Yes it’s pricier, but it’s better quality, lasts longer and keeps you warm without making you sweat.