Chic and feminine, witty and refined in her demeanour, May has an almost French essence! We could easily mistake her for a Parisian yet she‘s a British mother of three, married to a Greek Cypriot, currently living in Singapore.
Here she shares her love of France with us and describes the way she brings “joie de vivre à la française” to her family and home.
How did your love story with France begin?
It began aged thirteen when I travelled to Paris with my Mother. She took me to all her favourite places, where I still go each time I visit. It was my first encounter with French culture, true fashion luxury and the magic a city can have over you. I’ll never forget stepping into the mythical Chanel boutique on Rue Cambon. There was so much to take in, the beauty, the chicness and fashion like I hadn’t ever seen before. I can recall so much of this trip and treasure those memories.
As a young teenager, I was slowly but surely taking a keen interest in culture, fashion, travelling, and what better place to start than Paris, I believe my Mum was rather inspired to take me at this age.
I try to go back to Paris as often as I can. The City of Light holds a very special place in my heart. I’ve visited more times than I can remember. I even worked in Paris for a while. A visit to the French capital is always such a treat any time of the year.
How would you describe French lifestyle?
It sounds cliché but the words that come to mind are “La vie en Rose” — literally translated as “life in pink“ but meaning, life in happy hues. There is a lighthearted yet assured charm to France.
The women always look chic without ever overdoing it and are so confident in their style. They have a unique, carefree yet refined manner of dressing. You can always pick a Parisienne out from the crowd!
There’s a busy pace to Paris, yet a joie de vivre like no other and they celebrate the finer things in life with such panache — whether through children’s clothing, flowers or exquisite cuisine.
Which brand best represents France for you?
For me it would have to be Hermès, with a big H for happiness! I was first introduced to the brand by my Mum who gifted me a beautiful lilac Hermès leather agenda, which I still use to this day! Then with one of my first work bonuses, I bought myself a Bolide in Brighton Blue. I’d been admiring its shape, leather and colour for a while, it seemed the best accessory to me. Before I got married to my husband, he bought me my first Hermès scarf and so the collecting began. As most people who know or follow me come to understand, I love to collect exquisite beautifully made pieces.
Recently, I launched a scarf challenge on my Instagram account telling the history and story behind each scarf from my collection. More than mere luxury items, Hermès represents the timeless elegance of France, its traditional craftsmanship, its sophistication and rich heritage.
For the moment, my daughter is a bit too young to appreciate this, but I hope to share my passion with her eventually and to pass her down my treasures.
How do you add a French touch to your daily life?
If distance separates us, French style is within arm’s reach! I sprinkle French “joie de vivre” over our life in the tropics in several ways:
Firstly, in the way I dress myself and my children. I always appreciate and prefer to buy beautifully made clothes. If clothes are made well, they last longer. I’ve been able to pass down my boys' clothes and have passed on many of my daughter's, often they look brand new, as I take good care of them.
I love to use my Hermès bags and don’t save anything for best, instead enjoy and wear what makes me happy. I love nothing more than dressing my little girl in pretty French smocked dresses, though as she’s gets older she has her own taste, but I had such fun when she was a baby!
Secondly, in our home decor: I have several beautiful pieces of French furniture given to me by my parents, I like to collect French art and fashion books too. A couple of years ago, I bought some Toile de Jouy fabric from one of the linen shops in St Tropez and I had the fabric made into two tablecloths and napkins which we use all the time. I also love having fresh flowers around the house and reproducing Parisian style "art de la table".
Lastly, I always have a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for celebrations or just as a treat to myself! During the confinement I tried a new cocktail called “French 75” ( recipe below ) and made my own Kahoot quiz on France. Remove the alcohol and it’s actually a great fun and easy game to play with your children! And they learn a lot too! Did you know the Statue of Liberty was made in Paris?
Day to day I’m inspired by French cooking and we especially love the French tradition, "Galette des Rois", a puff pastry cake filled with frangipane and traditionally shared at Epiphany. A tiny charm is hidden inside, called la fève. The one who finds it in their slice of cake is named king for the day!
I have so much to share that it would not fit in one article alone! Stay tuned and come with me on a Paris tour in the days to come! And in the meantime be sure to check my Instagram.
‘French 75’ Recipe and method 🥂
To make this delightful Parisian cocktail :
Chill a champagne glass
You’ll need :
- 2oz of champagne or Crémant or sparkling wine
- 1oz gin
- 1/2oz lemon juice
- 1 lemon twist
- 2 dashes of sugar syrup