I do. It is my favourite place in Europe, maybe even my most favourite place in the whole wide world. I love the language, I love the food, I love the wine……it’s just all so very romantic.
Some years ago I discovered the most beautiful chateau I had ever laid eyes on whilst browsing on-line, Chateau Les Merles in the Dordogne area. I had always concluded that it would be cost prohibitive and although I sent off for the details never really considered that slightly out of season might be considerably cheaper.
Fast forward to March this year and we finally caved and booked the holiday destination of my dreams for the second week of June. (Notice how I said my and not “our”?, that husband of mine is a generous so and so.)
And then the fear set in, you know the kind when your expectations are raised so high you are almost guaranteed to be destined for a huge fall? THAT. Not to mention the fact that it had been so long since I had been on a proper “actually going to have time off and not get involved in RMW whilst I’m away” break that I am embarrassed to say I kind of got a bit stuck in terms of what to pack.
The weather was predicted as changeable, some sunny days some not so much, bit of rain, a couple of scorchers, days when you might actually need some kind of knitwear. Jeez, how do you outfit plan for that without taking your entire wardrobe?!
I didn’t fair so well if I’m honest, quite a few items remained un-packed and others got worn so frequently I wish I had taken similar pieces so as not to feel I was wearing basically two looks in rotation (I was.)
And I don’t know about you but I often go away with the intention of putting together alternative hair and make-up styles only to discover that actually, I would rather spend any available time with my head in a book and my toes in the sand rather than trying to shade my socket line or elaborately plait my barnet.
I shouldn’t have worried on the location front, Chateau Les Merles was (is) the most breathtaking place I have ever seen in real life. When we arrived in the main courtyard I was so overwhelmed I promptly dropped my handbag on the floor and went all a bit teary and delirious.
I hope the other guests realised this was a reaction to awesomeness, not disappointment/one too many glasses of Pinot Grigio on the plane.
On the fashion front I have only the following advice from my recent experience:
Blue skinny jeans. Take some, they look quite glam with high heels and a simple vest top. Never underestimate how chilly it can get at night either, my pale pins do not look all that attractive with goose bumps. I wear Baxter for a more casual look and Leigh for the super skinny and super softness, both at Topshop.
A fancy little jacket/cardi, as per above, keeps out the chill and dresses up your look in seconds. I bought a lovely little lace number from The Kooples before I went away – it’s my husbands favourite.
Cute Loose T-shirts. Ace if it’s humid as they are (obviously) not clingy. I like designer Zoe Karssen as her slogans make me laugh, plus they are a great length for tying in a knot at the back at the base of your spine whilst still not exposing your midriff. Unless you want to of course.
Brightly Coloured Bangles. I’ve worn mine to death this summer already, I like clashing colours such as mint green, orange, bright pink and red all worn together at the same time. I also like plastic ones, preferably cheap. I bought mine at New Look.
Now then, make-up and skincare, I feel much more adept in this area (officially a fully fledged cosmetics junkie/product whore etc). Firstly and foremost folks PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM THE SUN. Not only am I fair-skinned I was also diagnosed with a rather serious “wake up and stop using sun beds” melanoma on my right calf at the grand old age of 25. That’ll teach me.
As a result I don’t really sunbathe. That’s not to say I don’t spend anytime in the sun – of course I do, everyone needs vitamin D. What I do make sure is that I use plenty of protection, seek shade often and wear a big hat (I don’t want premature wrinkles either thanks.)
I am of course well aware that everyone looks healthier with some colour, especially whilst donning a bikini. I slather on Dove’s summer glow nourishing lotion for a few days before departure and that seems to do the trick (I’ve tried nearly all of the daily tanners and this one, at least for my skin, has been the best.)
I also would recommend a really brightly coloured bikini, perhaps this is a really obvious suggestion to some – I hadn’t tried it before though. I bought an almost neon peach ensemble from H&M for about a tenner and it definitely enhanced the little colour I did have. This was also my husbands favourite, which is typical considering all my other swimwear is way fancier.
Oh and purple shampoo, I use this anyway – I like my hair to be ash rather than golden. Whilst in the sun I use it every time I shower (it says on the bottle it’s a weekly treatment but I don’t mind a few lilac highlights.)
All of my other essentials are listed below, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts/recommendations in the comments box if you have a minute lovelies.
1. Bare Minerals Concealer at John Lewis – Let me start by saying I don’t actually rate Bare Minerals usually in terms of their various powders actually on my skin as foundation. Sorry BM lovers, I’ve just never really faired that well from a durability perspective, a few hours in and my mug looks like a very shiny dinner plate. This little gem however is epic as an eyelid primer/general redness remover AND it has spf 20.
I dab it on with a concealer brush right up to my brows and in the very inner corners too. I use the shade “Well-Rested” which is fortuitous as that’s exactly how it makes you look.
2.Hawiian Tropic Sun Screen Spray at Boots – I have tried so many sun creams. Expensive luxe ones, especially-for-sensitive-skinned-souls ones, ones that have sexy shimmering particles in them that make you look all lithe and stuff……and not a single one has been that great. I usually have some kind of adverse reaction or find they are just too thick/slimy/leave permanent oily marks on your bikini.
Hawaiian Tropic will leave you scented much like a cross between a synthetic pineapple and a bounty bar. This is not all bad, I personally quite like the fragrance. And the consistency is reasonably light, but at the same time really quite moisturising. It doesn’t bring me out in strange bumps and thus far my swimwear has remained grease streak free.
It is also cheap.
3. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector at Space NK – I actually don’t really wear foundation, and never on holiday. For evenings I just like a bit of illumination and finely-milled powder on my T-zone. This skin perfecter is lovely, I dab it on the bridge of my nose, my cheekbones and across the top of my forehead (where you would naturally catch the sun.). I use the shade Moonstone which has a slightly golden tint and works well on my banana-hued skin.
It also has Spf 25 which is handy if you fancy a bit of day-time glamourama.
4. Lancome Long Lasting Softening Concealer at John Lewis – An oldie but a goody. This stuff is waterproof, has spf 12 and doesn’t emphasise fine lines. I dab it on with my finger but you could use a brush should you fancy it, very pigmented so a little goes a long way – a tube lasts AGES.
5. Me Me Me Dew Pot at Superdrug – Oooh this stuff is ace. And about a fiver for a seemingly bottomless pot. I daub it across my eyelid in a rather haphazard fashion and it never fails to look polished. Not entirely budge proof admittedly but set it with a wee bit of powder shadow (MAC rice paper is my daily go-to) and it won’t move an inch.
I have the shade “Hollow Haze”, a pretty champagne gold.
6. Vaseline Spray and Go Body Moisturiser at Boots – I discovered this only recently and I LOVE it. I don’t know about you but after a long shower where I have removed sand/sun lotion/a days worth of sweat the last thing I want to do is load yet more product on. But I have to – because my epidermis is annoyingly dry.
I am partial to a bit of Coconut body butter a la the Body Shop but this spray is so quick and easy and sinks in before you can say the word espadrille.
There are a couple of different varieties available, I have the yellow bottle with extract of oat. I know oats are supposed to be very soothing and all, I just like this particular version as it smells clean and fresh. Which is most pleasant. Especially if you have spent most of the day with an aroma of fake fruit/the taste of paradise/general club tropicana.
7.MAC lipstick in Flamingo at Selfridges – Ok so I feel a bit mean recommending this (frankly awesome) colour as it’s limited edition and sold out after like 24 hours or something. You can get it off ebay though (provided you are willing to pay a premium) and it will brighten up your face better than sunshine. Kind of a nude mixed with coral mixed with a bit of neon. Random but undoubtedly immense.
8. Becca Beach Tint at Space NK – This cheek and lip stain lasts a long time even in humid conditions. It looks uber natural and when you might be looking a bit tourist-peeky by the pool a dab on the apples of aforementioned cheeks will make you look all awake and healthy. Promise.
I have the shade Lychee which is a bright blue pink, again suits my yellow undertones perfectly but there are plenty of other rosy and peachy varieties to choose from too.
9. Bare Minerals Natural Suncreen Spf 30 at John Lewis – Ok so now I look like a prize idiot. After my previous “I don’t really rate Bare Mineral……” outburst this, along with the concealer is freakin’ genius. You basically brush the imperceptible powder over your entire face then do a bit of buffing action…and that’s it. Doesn’t make you look all flat and matt, kind of gives you a nice glowy effect whilst eradicating any obvious resemblance you may have to a chip pan.
And there we have it you gorgeous lot you, everything I can possibly share from my French adventures.
As I’m a nosey mare (and frankly, any excuse to buy new things) as I mentioned above, I would really appreciate it if you could share your holiday essentials with me in the comments section below.
Feel free to ask any questions/tell me what I should be packing for my September America road trip (this means a smaller than usual suitcase right…am I allowed to take my hair dryer?!!)
Big Ooh La La Love