My Bag

A Conversation With Pauline Chardin

© François Guillaume

Pauline Chardin spends her time travelling the world and sharing the pictures she takes and tips she picks up along the way on the travel website she founded, The Voyageur. Naturally we wanted to catch up with this woman of many talents - she is also photographer, fashion designer and art director – to learn more about the inspiration behind The Voyageur, and to get her insight on, amongst other things, French style and what it means to be chic.

Q: Hi Pauline, can you tell us where are you from and what do you do?

A: I’m French, I live in Paris where I work as a freelance style consultant. I’m also behind the travel and photography blog The Voyageur.

Q: What is the purpose of The Voyageur?

A:It’s about finding inspiration in travel and sharing it in a creative way. In my line of work, you need to have a fresh eye and constantly come up with new ideas. For me, travelling is the best answer to that. I wanted to create a space that can give you the keys to travel yourself, but, maybe more importantly, can instantly transport you somewhere and open your eyes to overlooked treasures.

Q: What do you look for when you are visiting a country?

A:There is generally one special thing that drives me to pick a destination, which in turn becomes the keystone of the whole trip, for instance it could be seeing modernist art and architecture in Brazil or experiencing rural Transylvania. As a starting point its useful to take the unique feature of a particular country instead of always looking for the same thing everywhere you go. That being said, I don’t like monolithic trips, no matter how fantastic they are, you're bound to lose interest after the 50th Indian temple you visit. This is why I put a lot of thought into creating diverse itineraries. If I had to sum it up, I’d say I’m at my happiest off-the-beaten track, with rich local culture and good food.

Q: With such a wealth of trips and experience under your belt, can you share your best travel tips with us?

A: After more than ten years of travelling I came up with a few principles which help making every experience nicer: - Check the weather: Harsh weather can turn a great trip into a nightmare (hello Rome in August) while balmy weather can make hostile places suddenly nice (think about the desert in November). Sometimes it can be better to postpone a trip than to do it at a bad time. Chances are you won’t be back there anytime soon, so you’d better make it right. - During high season: avoid touristy destinations or do them off-the-beaten track. So if you have to go to Rhodes in August, rent a home in a small inland village, far from the crowded beaches. - Low season is your friend: it’s cheaper and you get the famous spots almost to yourself. - Do your research in advance: it makes everything so much smoother once you’re there. - Be curious: even if all you can fathom from your couch is a beach holiday, you might gain more in the long run by making a slightly more adventurous choice. Travelling is also about making lasting memories that will only get better with time.

Q: What has been your best travel surprise in terms of countries you’ve visited in the past few years?

A: Without a shadow of doubt, I’d say Japan. It’s a trip I always knew I’d make but I was intimidated by it and postponed it for far too long. The country and its inhabitants are a constant lesson in poetry, refinement and dedication. I came back obsessed by it and booked another trip six months later. I’ve been counting the months before I can go back and have finally booked a trip to the Okinawa prefecture.

Q: Closer to home, as a French woman, how would you define French style?

A: The specificity of French style seemed a bit abstract to me until I had spent enough time in foreign countries. Now, I see more clearly what makes it so recognizable. It is low key yet feminine. I think there is also a faint, but ever present, romantic air to it that is rarely seen elsewhere. No matter how inspired I am by women far from home, I am always impressed by the beauty and chic of Parisian women when I come back.

Q: Do French women work out? How do they stay healthy?

A: In Paris, you now see a lot of joggers around and fitness studios popping up here and there. This was hardly the case ten years ago. So yes, working out has now become a real thing here, and even more so among the younger generations. That being said, most of my friends only work out in a very casual way, none of them wake up at 6am to do yoga, and they tend to cancel sport sessions and go to lunch instead! Wellness is the priority around here these days and it often comes with a relaxed, yet mindful way of seeing things. They might go to Kundalini yoga but grab a pastry from Bontemps on the way back!

Q: Is yoga popular in Paris?

A: I think it’s getting bigger and bigger, with different approaches to fit every style of woman. The practice surely speaks to the neo-bohemian women I know.

Q: Where do you work out in Paris?

A: I do yoga at Yotham Yoga on rue de Charonne, a super low-key studio in an old factory. I also do Pilates at L’Echappée which doubles as a spa and also under the radar sessions with a Pilates teacher called Christine Piechota who does small lessons with 3 or 4 people.

Q: What are your favourite foodie places in Paris?

A: Mokonuts, 5 rue Saint Bernard: A Lebanese and a Japanese in a tiny kitchen. Sophisticated yet approachable food. Try the olive and chocolate cookie.
Pizza Dei Cioppi, 44 rue Trousseau: I am picky when it comes to pizza, but this small spot is a true gem.
Rice & Fish, 16 rue Greneta: I have yet to eat better fusion-style makis.
Dersou, 21 rue St Nicolas: I love the free spirit of young Japanese chef Taki Dersou, who’s mixing influences in a beautiful space next to the Marché d’Aligre. Osteria Ferrara, 7 rue du Dahomey: The risotto here is a thing of beauty.
Also, ravioli to take away at Passerini, pain fumé from Boulangerie BO, oriental pastries from la Bague de Kenza. The list goes on, Paris is almost only about food these days!

Q: What would be an ideal day for a tourist in Paris (doing non-touristy things)

A: My favourite Parisian thing (that isn’t in Paris per se) is the Puces de Saint Ouen, so I’d say go there in the morning on a weekend or a Friday. Then, have lunch at Rice & Fish, coffee at Telescope, walk to Saint Germain so you can cross the Seine on foot. Visit the galleries around the Rue de Seine filled with design gems and precious posters. Brave the tourists to have an ice cream at Grom or stop by the Grande Epicerie to dazzle yourself with a whirlwind of gorgeous food. At this point you’re probably a bit tired, but if you still have a bit of energy, go a bit more south to visit the intimate Musée Bourdelle, it’s my favourite museum in Paris. On the way back, grab some pastries from your best local bakery (or from Pierre Hermé if you went to the Musée Bourdelle) and order some good food on Deliveroo because your feet hurt and that’s what us lazy Parisians do these days. You will dine out tomorrow, there’s still time.