Doctor Who Premiere in London – plus the Overseas Location Guide…
When Doctor Who burst back onto our screens this summer with Peter Capaldi as the latest incarnation of the TIme Lord, I was lucky enough to get an invite to the ‘premiere’ in London at the Odeon Leicester Square.
Me & the Tardis
My inner geek had a nerdgasm – as if catching a glimpse of the TARDIS, a dalek and a cyberman wasn’t enough, the series producer, Steven Moffat, was seated just a few rows behind me. More on him on a blog post coming soon… While I had mixed feelings about the story itself, it was great to be part of the whole event.
Doctor Who on the big screen
Doctor Who Q&A Panel
Anyway, in honour of the new series and the new Doc, I penned a special Doctor Who-related post for the Thomson travel blog – The Overseas Location Guide.
I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s my favourite city break hotel…
Hotel Crayon – 25 rue du Bouloi, Paris
No trip-ette to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre. Either that, or a mosey round Place du Tertre, the one-time village square where Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh and Picasso used to hang out. With all this talk of art, what better place to call home pour le weekend than the aptly-named Hotel Crayon? I stumbled upon this place by chance – an internet booking blunder, truth be told. But what a great little cock-up it turned out to be.
Reading up in reception
Hotel Crayon is a dinky little hotel, with just 27 chambres to its name. All the rooms are decked out in loud and proud hues. My room, for example, was painted slut red. And while the chambermaids were doing their thing, I managed to get a sneaky peek at some of the other rooms – the lime green number just opposite me looked pretty cool.
The slut red garret room
French ‘art’ AKA porn
Boutique and bijou
As well as a Warhol-esque palette, the rooms are all kitted out with vintage furniture that’s been given a 21st-century makeover. The focal point in my bijou bathroom was an antique, Versailles-like vanity unit that had been customised to support a butler’s sink.
A certain Julie Gauthron is the funky French designer behind the hotel’s look. She even made sure the corridors were given the pop-art treatment with wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place in well, Wallpaper* magazine, and room numbers woven into the pile of specially-commissioned carpets.
The great thing about the Hotel Crayon is, despite all its grand designs, it manages to sidestep that aloof, ‘art gallery’ feel that plagues so many boutique hotels. Instead, this city pile gives off the kind of warmth you usually only get at a guesthouse. Throw in the fact that it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Louvre, not to mention the Louvre-Rivoli metro, and you couldn’t ask for a better citybreak bolthole.
I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s the first of ‘My Gay Paree Travel Tips’…
May Day with ‘Muguet’ – Rue Montorgueil, Paris
Printemps à Paris
Paris in springtime – there’s nowhere like it. Need proof? Then take a stroll through the city when the boulevards and quaysides erupt into a riot of pinky-cream blossom. But it’s not just the trees that are in bloom at this time of year. Parisians usher in the first hints of sunshine with bouquets of white lilies.
Muguet des Bois AKA Lily of the Valley
May Day, French-style
As May Day swings round, make-shift stalls start popping up on every street corner selling posies of lily of the valley – or ‘muguet des bois’, to give it its French name. Normally, selling flowers (or anything else for that matter) requires a permit. However, what with May 1st being a national holiday, you can sidestep the usual red tape. As such, anyone can sell the dainty bell-like blooms without fear of getting a wrap on the knuckles from ‘les flics’.
Of course, the city’s florists cash in big time, setting up enormous snow-white arrangements beneath their shop-front awnings. But head to somewhere like the ever-buzzy rue Montorgueil and you’ll spot charity workers and entrepreneurial Parisians erecting trestle tables to sell lily stems to passersby.
Perfumed Paris metro
It’s a lovely tradition which everyone seems to embrace. From floppy-haired ‘flâneurs’ to snappily-dressed ‘hommes d’affaires’, you’ll see all walks of life clutching their sprigs to give to their mums, girlfriends, wives, mistresses – you name it. But the real plus point? It’s the one day of the year when the Paris metro smells more like the perfume counter at Galeries Lafayette and less like the local ‘pissoir’.