I've lived in Paris for just over four years, and Amandine's home is the first actual house I've stepped foot in. When I arrived on her doorstep with camera and tripod in hand, and stared up at the multiple story building, I naturally rang her because I didn't have the code to get in. All buildings in Paris come with a code because there are usually apartments inside. I've become accustomed to this kind of living and asking which floor someone lives on. So I was surprised when she told me, "don't worry I'm coming down". Which was an unusual response as most buildings have interphones so all someone has to do is buzz you in. I was of course expecting an apartment, but Amandine's home is a house!
Her home is a bit like a rabbit warren in the way that it seems to goes on and on. Even she hesitated to answer when I asked her how many levels there were, as she wasn't quite sure herself. So I climbed up the winding staircase that leads to the roof and counted five. (FIVE!) Not an unusual number if you say, live in a Victorian town house in London, but this is Paris. And those stairs, like a stairway to heaven, open onto the most incredible panoramic view of Paris that I've ever laid my eyes (if you don't compare it to the Arc de Triomphe) - where you can see (very clearly) the Sacre-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower!
It's fitting then, that Amandine is an Editor at My Little Paris - the Parisian lifestyle site that she co-founded with her sister Fany and illustrator Kanako Kuno in 2008, followed by their three associates Anne-Flore, Bruno and Céline. She landed in the world of journalism after her university team won a competition to create and produce the french magazine L'Express, during her business studies course in Strasbourg. Like many Parisians, she grew up outside the capital (in Clermont-Ferrand), but arrived fresh-faced at 23 to start her career and make the city her home, once she'd completed her degree.
How long have you lived in your home and how did you find it?
Nearly 3 years! I didn't really search for it. I'd seen some photos of the house and was intrigued by it's dazzling view - I didn't understand where you had to be to see such a wonderful sunset over the Sacre-Coeur. I scaled hundreds of stairs and discovered the beautiful Butte Bergeyre, one of the few places in Paris that I didn't already know and I stumbled upon this house. Barely three steps in, it hit me like a thunderbolt and I couldn't get the place out of my mind. The area is fabulous and the neighbours are friends. Since I moved here, I knew that I could live in Paris all my life.
What were the biggest decorating challenges?
It was already a real beauty so I didn't have to change much - I just had to bring my personality into it. So I planted my piano in the middle of the living room, repainted all the rooms in blue and white, and Kanako, the illustrator of My Little Paris painted me a fresco on one of the walls. After that, I felt at home.
How would you describe your interior style?
It's a bit like a holiday home. The fresco illustrated by Kanako has surfboards, a palm tree and a sign that says 'beach', which leads to the terrace and the Parisian sky. From there, with the rooftops and sunsets, one has the impression that you can see the sea!
I don't like to buy objects because they are trendy, because I know my attachment will be ephemeral. Instead the rooms are filled with objects that have a history. I am very attached to memories, in fact the decoration is a bit like a patchwork of my life - it is only me who understands the meaning.
Favourite piece(s) of furniture or treasures?
The office sliding door, which is inspired by Japanese ryokans. I love traditional Japanese architecture. The paintings painted by my mother, they are in all the corners, on all the floors. As soon as I want one, she makes me a painting. And my Ritter piano, which my parents gifted me on my 30th birthday. I found it at a piano maker in the 14th. It takes up a lot of space, but for me it is the heart of my home.
Which interiors or style has inspired you?
I love Balinese style, world maps and light wooden furniture.
What do you like most about the area you live in, in Paris?
The Buttes Chaumont park. I go and run there every weekend. It's a place I know by heart and it's a place where I always cross something or someone unexpected: a group who are observing birds with binoculars and dressed in exploring outfits like they're in the jungle. A placard, planted by gardeners, that says "stop stealing our cauliflower", the filming of a Sri Lankan film clip, an Indian wedding, a guy who runs backwards, another straight as a picket fence with a "poem on demand" sign or a group of seniors who practise fan dancing. One time I even saw someone with a parrot! It's funny, because I've just finished reading the book, Vernon Subutex and it's obvious that the author, Virginie Despentes spends a lot of her time there like me, because the whole story takes place in the park.
Your go-to sources for inspiration?
I love the pen of François Simon, his way of describing the atmosphere of places, characters, a dish, a vegetable - there's a lot of poetry in what he writes. On Instagram I like illustrators, notably Christopher Niemann, who designs covers for the New Yorker, by mixing everyday objects with illustrations. And the application My Little Mood, which is accompanied by emoticon text messages designed by Kanako.
Your favourite lifestyle blogs?
- My Little Travel, our new newsletter about journeys that change us.
- Les Bons Détails, a site for finding cute decorative things.
- It's not a lifestyle one, but rather a timeline called 5h30 by Perla and Jean-Louis Servan Schreiber - it's a newsletter sent at 5:30am (they are early birds), which highlights pertinent subjects.
- And finally a site we like a lot at My Little Paris is Deedee Paris.
The last good book you read?
I love graphic novels: I recently finished one about the life of Joséphine Baker, by Catel and Bocquet. It's a tome of 500 designed pages that I devoured in one night. What a woman, that Joséphine!
I was also deeply moved by S’enfuir by Guy Delisle, the story of a hostage in the Caucasus region.
What’s in your magazine pile?
M - the magazine of Le Monde, as there's always a great article inside. Télérama, the magazine that makes me feel proud to be French and I recently discovered Simple Things, a magazine on the art of slow living - it's soothing to read.
What’s on your nightstand?
Always 10 books, which I peck at before going to sleep: right now it's Gaston Bachelard's Water and Dreams, books about Montessori, cookery books - and then a flashlight so I don't wake up my bed neighbour.
What’s your morning routine?
A lemon juice, 8 minutes of sport, 5 minutes of meditation, a coffee, a bottle for my baby and then I sprint in the direction of the office!
Go-to alcoholic beverage?
A nice cold glass of chablis and I imagine I'm in Saint-Malo.
Tea or coffee?
Both, I don't know if I can choose.
Your handbag essentials?
I have my entire life in my bag, so three books that I imagine finishing when I'm waiting in a line somewhere, three notebooks, my keys, my wallet, business cards, article cuttings, to-do lists... I'm not a minimalist.
What do you do to relax?
I run a lot, not for very long, but often - it changes my day. On the weekend I am busy with my vegetable patch. That's the lifestyle I'm trying to reach, but in truth I like to go drinking with friends and talking about life.
And finally your Paris favourites?
Restaurant: this year, I discovered a cute place called Le Comptoir Japonais, it's a mini restaurant run by an amazing Japanese woman called Hiroko. In fact her restaurant is installed in her apartment and sometimes there are jazz sessions or classical music improvised by her friends. The marriage of a Japanese dinner, a chimney and music is magic.
My headquarters is the Petit Curieux, on rue des filles du Calvaire, it's the restaurant of a friend who never disappoints.
Drinks: to go for drinks on a Sunday evening, my happy place is La Cave de l’Insolite, on rue de la Folie Méricourt.
Shop: my favourite boutique is La Tête dans les olives, which sells oil made from olives that fall to the ground.
Merci beaucoup! to Amandine for showing me her beautiful home. And for tips (in English) on being more Parisian, sign up to My Little Paris' newsletter, Go French Yourself.