a petite guide to visiting france.

a petite guide to visiting france. / sfgirlbybay

apologies for the tardiness of this post, but with so many photos to edit and links to gather it’s taken me some time to pull it all together, but at last, here we go — to france! so often, paris is the it place everyone wants to go — and ouí, it is a dream. but on my recent travels abroad, i visited a few other french cities and found them to be trés jolie. we traveled by train which is my favorite kinda way to get about — it’s quick and comfortable, affordable and very efficient. the trip from lyon to paris was just a few hours and we sat in very comfy seats complete with dining tables. we went from lyon to avignon to Marseille and back to lyon and then on to paris, all within a week.

a guide to marseille. / sfgirlbybay

so let’s start with marseille. we only had an overnight stay in marseille, but this port city in very walkable (except for an exorbitant amount of wind the day we strolled around) and the harbor area is very pretty. i’ve told you about our beautiful pension edelweiss — a must stay — and we walked everywhere from there. we did take a taxi after literally being blown away along the marina to a very special lunch at trés fancy le petit nice for a seven or eight-course meal that was quite divine. if you can, treat yourself — you’ll feel as though you’re in a french film or a movie star, or something trés chic. we had eaten breakfast at our pension, and had a light dinner later so we didn’t feel like we were blowing our budget or anything, but it is expensive and there’s a reason for it, and part of it is the view you see just below.

a guide to france. / sfgirlbybay

the sights of marseille. / sfgirlbybay

soaps for sale in marseille. / sfgirlbybay


bistrot l’horloge — a charming bar & cafe near the marina. we had a delicious dinner (steak & pom frites!) and felt very much like we were dining in the local’s go-to spot.

epicerie l’ideal — this gourmet grocery was so beautiful and so full of gastronomic eye candy. we just stumbled upon it and i’m so glad we did. lemons the size of footballs.

la savonnerie marseillaise — everyone needs to bring back soap from marseille, and this is the spot. there must have been dozens and dozens of fragrances and i’ve been loving the very lathering soap i brought home.

le petit nice — this is the fancy restaurant i mentioned. reservations are a must, i believe and it is pricey, but it’s so worth the bit of extravagance.

marianne cat — this concept store had the cutest designer clothes and i put together a few ensembles i would have loved to buy. beautiful perfumes and candles, too.

pension edelweiss — previously blogged, our amazing wes-anderson inspired home away from home.

masion empereur — i told you about their ‘secret apartment’ to stay, but this was one of the highlights of our trip. what a fun and wonderful store. part hardware/part homewares/toy shop/cook’s dream — this store has everything you’d ever want all under one roof and merchandised beautifully. love, love, love masion empereur.

colorful textiles in marseille. / sfgirlbybaycity guide to france. / sfgirlbybay

next up, lyon — it’s a beautiful city with not just one but two rivers running through it and at one point the Rhône and the Saône converge. the shopping is wonderful and the cafes equally so. a few of my favorites places to shop and stay. be sure and visit the beautiful Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière overlooking the city with incredible views — i was enthralled with the exquisite stained glass and domed ceiling. nearby is The Tour métallique de Fourvière (a miniature eiffel tower!) which is lit up at night and a gorgeous site to see. lyon is large, but very walkable and that’s the best way to see it. as in all european cities — bring your comfiest shoes and leave your vanity back at the hotel.

lyon building with black double doors and pink interior. / sfgirlbybay the sights of lyon, france. / sfgirlbybay

when in lyon:

auguste et cocotte – a stunning homewares boutique featuring some of the prettiest (and largest) basket lamps i’ve ever seen. they also carry lovely linens and tablewares, bespoke jewelry and fragrances. trust me, you’ll want it all.

bistro les boulistes – we went here our first evening in lyon for one of those 5-hour dinners with just as many courses. it was delicious all of it, especially a poached sea bass that melted in my mouth. a great neighborhood vibe without feeling one bit pretentious.

caravane – another beautiful homewares shop with walls and vaulted ceilings of raw stone. so cozy and inviting i wanted one of everything but settled for a small handmade pouch that fit easily in my luggage.

chocolat Sève – this patissier treated us like royalty when we stopped in for a visit. we left with pounds of the most gorgeous handmade chocolates and macaron in every flavor.  the cakes were works of gastronomic art. do stop in!

Fourvière Hotel – we stayed in this incredible former convent ideally located on the top of the Roman amphitheatres, a stone’s throw from the Basilica, the Fourvière Hotel has reinvented the former convent of the Visitation built by Bossan in 1854 into a modernist dream. each door to the guestrooms is wallpapered with the colorful characters who shaped france.

Home Autour du Monde Bensimon – home to those adorable french sneakers we all love, bensimon also carries some equally cute clothing, as well as some wonderful homewares. their lyon store is charming and their staff was so sweet.

hotel saint vincent – i loved this petite boutique hotel tucked up a narrow street just beyond lyon’s mural painting “Mur des Canuts”. they had to upgrade the doors to their guestrooms with fire safe doors, so they then used the beautiful old tall wooden doors as closet doors. so charming and a lovely place to stay.

Hyggelig — a little bit of Scandinavia in france, this two-story shop carried many handmade products with French, British and Scandinavian flair.

le bistrot du potager — i loved this quaint bar/cafe right around the corner from hotel saint vincent. a very local vibe and healthy portions. stop in for a glass of vino and their delicious charcuterie plate.

monoprix — think target but with that french je ne sais quoi, and the same bargain prices. several floors of everything from make-up and accessories to groceries and wine all in one big department store.

pop and shoes – a charming concept store with really friendly staff. think beautiful clothing, cashmere scarfs, fancy french shoes and gnomes — yes, they have gnomes. it’s a great spot.

lyon shop guide. / sfgirlbybay

okay, on to the city of lights — paris! i was only here for a day and a single night so i didn’t get around as much as i’d have liked to, but still we walked and walked (21,000 steps in one day, mind you!) and saw as much as we could fit in. a walk through the streets to the marais and its beautiful square, Place des Vosges and charming shops like merci and bon ton. then on to the grounds of the louvre and gorgeous jardin de tuileries (named for the tile factories which previously stood on the site) and its charming carousel. wandering paris is the best way to get around, and see so much more than perhaps underground on the metro — especially if you’ve got just one day. but here’s what we saw.

the sights of paris. / sfgirlbybay

when in paris:

mercí — you’ve heard it before, but this is a must-stop when in paris. fuel up with a latte and a light lunch at their library cafe and then peruse the three floors at your leisure. from fantastic homewares to clothing and accessories and so much more in-between, mercí is the best.

bon ton — just down the street from mercí is this darling children’s shop. it may be for kids but i always get inspired here, plus there’s a photobooth!

le sirocco — this is an amazing Moroccan restaurant with a warm and cozy vibe. it’s a very authentic setting, where you can taste the many flavors of Moroccan cuisine with very generous portions.

la trésorerie — much like the general stores and bazaars of the past, drugstores and hardware stores in which one could find everything necessary under one roof to equip a household, la trésorerie brings together objects and products that are beautiful as well as useful.

peonies — this charming little coffee shop seems a little bit british — almost. but then there are all those wonderful french pastries awaiting you with your latte. not to mention all the beautiful blooms, because it’s a floral shop too. green floors with pink tables — what more could you want?

hotel Henriette — we didn’t stay here because it was booked, but after dinner right down the street at le sirocco, we popped in for a look-see. the very kind concierge gave us a tour of the rooms and they are so adorable. i’d stay here next time for sure!

hotel panache — this is a trés chic spot to stay, complete with those famous headboards all over instagram. i loved the design, and the cafe next door was charming, too. but i’m going to give their staff a tip: work on your personality and cleanliness. enough said.

bakery in paris. / sfgirlbybay guide to paris. / sfgirlbybayfrench fruit stand. / sfgirlbybayparis flower market. / sfgirlbybayparis hotel accomodation. / sfgirlbybay

getting warmer.

modern rattan chair and wire basket with plant. / sfgirbybay

rattan is the perfect warm weather furniture solution. it reminds us of balmy beach days or our last trip to some tropical island. it’s light and airy with just the right amount of 1950 and 60’s vintage vibes — mid-century modern with softer curves, rather than hard edges. ever since i scored my rattan daybed i’ve become a rabid rattan fan and love the hi-lo texture it adds to the mixed up eclectic look i’ve got going on. a few pieces here and there go a long way to adding personality — a few rattan dining chairs around a modern table, or simply add a jute rug, some baskets, a pendant lamp, or maybe a few mirrors.

rattan side table. / sfgirlbybayrattan table and basket. / sfgirlbybayplant with white curtain. / sfgirlbybayrattan home decor and furnishings. / sfgirlbybay natural palm home decor. / sfgirlbybayrattan mirrors and bed frame. / sfgirlbybay rattan dining dhairs around modern white table. / sfgirlbybaywoven pendant lamp and woven home decor. / sfgirlbybaywoven home decor and furnishings. / sfgirlbybay matching rattan chairs. / sfgirlbybaywoven pendant lamp in modern dining area. / sfgirlbybayrattan chairs in modern space. / sfgirlbybay woven pendant lamp over dining table with rattan chairs. / sfgirlbybay

• photo credits in order of appearance: oleander & palm; atelier doré; carole poirot prop stylist; sea sage; colora; natural raffia pendant lamp from la casa decoto; mason st. peter’s topanga home; @tasknewyork; Venice Rattan Chair from serena & lily; 1950’s Jean Royère Enameled Metal and Rattan Armchairs; laure joilet photography for remodelista; rattan sunburst mirrors from elsie green; oleander & palm; el pais de sarah; sandy lamu; Clara Porset Rattan lounge chairs; Atelier du petit parc; california, a picture book, 1978; fara rattan pendant lamp from grant & green; Franco Albini Canapé via elle denmark; ROUND RATTAN COFFEE TABLE from elsie green; Fauteuils Rattan vintage armchairs; sea grass lamp shade from zoco home ; desire to inspire; casa cook rhodes hotel by Anna Malmberg.

miami in madrid.

miami in madrid. / sfgirlbybay

the thing i like best about this madrid-based co-working and event space (besides that oh-so-florida pastel color palette!) is really how they’ve done so much with so little. i mean, relatively the decor was cleverly created around paint, well-placed plants and some crushing-it curtains. mind you the bones of the space are a good place to begin — those windows are otherworldly or at the very least a throwback to miami’s original deco days and oh lookee hereterrazzo floors — right on trend. this is the home of new carolina, a stunning new event and co-working space designed by three creatives, Nerea López and María De Miguel are Antárctica — photographers and directors of publishing and advertising, while Sara Uriarte is Cordero Atelier — and interior designer, wedding and event planner. should you be in Spain and in need of space for photo sessions, exhibitions, fashion and decor pop-ups, etc., New Carolina is a multidisciplinary space full of natural light and ready and waiting for whatever event you can dream up.

miami in madrid. / sfgirlbybay

new carolina photographed by dario design. / sfgirlbybay

dario design photography of new carolina co-working space. / sfgirlbybay

new carolina co-working space. / sfgirlbybay

new carolina creative coworking space. / sfgirlbybay

madrid creative coworking space. / sfgirlbybay

photography via dario design and new carolina. / sfgirlbybay

• photography via dario design and new carolina.

make way for spring mantels.

black and white mantel decor in modern living room. / sfgirlbybay

spring is here and summer’s right around the corner, but it’s not as if you can just hide your fireplace mantel away until you need it again. it most likely still holds a pretty prominent place in your home and sometimes front and center. so its still got to look good while it’s sort of hibernating for the season’s warmer months. i recently shared this pretty mantel filled with flowers which is always a nice option. or line up the candles — it’s always lovely to have a romantic glow going on here, even if your fireplace isn’t lit. and mantels are the optimal spot for displaying your beloved vintage trinkets and pieces of treasured artwork — keep it simple, or layer it up like crazy with all those mementos close to your heart.

curated mantel decor. / sfgirlbybayblack and white mantel artwork in modern living room. / sfgirlbybayart and decor on mantel with exposed brick. / sfgirlbybayspring mantle decor. / sfgirlbybaysimple plants and vases on white mantel above fireplace. / sfgirlbybayspring floral and art mantle decor. / sfgirlbybayart and decor on marble mantle. / sfgirlbybayvintage fireplace with oversized white mirror and decor. / sfgirlbybayspring decor on mantle with rustic wood backsplash. / sfgirlbybayblack and white mantle decor with pop of yellow. / sfgirlbybayvintage portrait painting on white brick two-tier mantle. / sfgirlbybay

• photo credits in order of appearance: style me pretty; design*sponge; rue magazine; domino; atelier doré; a beautiful mess; bread and olives; my domaine; marie claire maison; the socialite family; cote maison; mother mag.

restored by the fords.

designer Leanne Ford's L.A. home via domino. / sfgirlbybay

this is fabulous home of Los Angeles–based interior designer Leanne Ford featured recently on domino and photographed beautifully by one of my favorites, nicole franzen. her 1945 farmhouse is a white-washed dream and filled to the brim with an enviable stash of vintage collectibles. after seeing this space, i was not only inspired to hit the flea market this weekend seeking my own treasures, but was also happy to hear she has a new HGTV series Restored by the Fords, where leanne and her carpenter brother steve restore some of Pittsburgh’s out of the ordinary and unconventional homes into the coolest houses on the block. sounds right up my alley!

domino home tour of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

at home with designer Leanne Ford in L.A. / sfgirlbybay

l.a. farmhouse restored by designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

modern white kitchen decor in home of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

domino home tour of L.A. designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

rustic modern farmhouse of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

eclectic shelf decor in home of L.A. designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

white-washed home of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

white attic space in home of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

vintage ivory dresses in white walk-in closet of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

minimalist modern bedroom of designer Leanne Ford. / sfgirlbybay

white attic space in designer Leanne Ford's L.A. farmhouse. / sfgirlbybay

small white bathroom in designer Leanne Ford's home. / sfgirlbybay


vintage clawfoot tub with brass fixtures. / sfgirlbybay

bathroom in designer Leanne Ford's L.A. home. / sfgirlbybay

• photography by nicole franzen for domino.