Having moved her life from Paris to Sydney several years ago, Clémentine Campardou now well appreciates the yearning much of the rest of the world has for the City of Light; while she has become very much a Sydneysider (if she’s not in her atelier Blule you’ll probably find her surfing the waves of Bondi Beach), she admits to regular bouts of longing for her original hometown.
Paris also continues to exert creative influence over the artist, whose cool and whimsical watercolours have graced glossy magazine pages, fashion catalogues and countless walls.
Oh, and books, too; Clémentine illustrated the covers of both Paris Dreaming and Paris for Dreamers (above). Here, she waxes lyrical herself, about her favourite Parisian foodie fixes, art experiences, and more …
What do you most miss about Paris?
The list is long because I spent thirty-two years of my life in Paris and I loved every moment. What I miss the most is my family.
I also miss being able to flâner, or stroll, in the streets, discovering new nooks and crannies. I used to especially love wandering around the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th arrondissements.
I also miss living in a historic city with rich and grandiose architecture. I used to love to picture myself there back in time, and all the Parisians before me.
I used to also love seeing the latest art exhibition with my husband and kids, or going back to a beautiful museum like the Louvre, the Fondation Dapper and L’Orangerie. The creative inspiration I’d find at these places was always mind-blowing.
And I have to add that I also miss the food … the réligieuses au café, the non-pasteurised cheese, the baguettes that are both crunchy and soft, wine from the Loire, and apéro of saucisson, cheese and red wine with friends.
What’s your favourite Parisian memory?
When I was very little my grand-mère uses to take me to beautiful Parisian parks like Parc Monceau (above). And I’d play on those vintage green balançoires (swings). Or with those little sailboats on the pond in the Tuileries. Or see a Guignol play (puppet show) at the Jardin du Champs-Élysées.
Later, when I was studying product design for four years at CREAPOLE on Rue de Rivoli, my friends and I use to sneak out of English class to enjoy a good laugh around a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, depending of the hour of the day. If I knew I was going to live in Australia one day I would have worked on my English a bit more … although the irony is that a glass of wine always improve my understanding of the English language!
I later had a job on Rue Charlot as a product designer, and working in that neighbourhood was an absolute dream. I loved walking around all of the cobbled streets and having lunch up at the Marché des Enfants Rouges (above; 39, Rue de Bretagne 75003) or at Café Charlot (38, Rue de Bretagne 75003), a quintessential Parisian brasserie. It’s such a vibrant, creative area that I felt like I was in the very heart of Paris.
What’s your preferred time of the year to return?
Definitely spring. I love to see the bright tulips popping out of the ground, and the plane and chestnut trees bursting into green. After a usually rough and long grey winter, Parisians feel happy for a minute or two, and they actual smile and feel positive (it’s a tiny window in the year: after they go back to their grumpy old selves, complaining about the weather or the president!). I love the energy of the café terraces at this time, filled with Parisians out to enjoy every tiny bit of sun, coffee and beer, and animated conversations with friends.
What’s the first thing you do when you go back?
We are a family of gourmands, so as soon as we ‘déposer nos valises’ we go straight to a fromagerie and choose the best, smelliest cheese we can find, then head to a boulangerie for baguettes and dessert. I love to do my grocery shopping with my kids, and make them discover the taste of French childhood with some Lu Petit-Beurre and chocolate BN biscuits, coquillettes pasta, and Flanby, a caramel custard.
What’s your most loved museum?
The Rodin Museum, or Hôtel Biron, in the 7th arrondissement (above). I’ve always been impressed by the art of Rodin — there is such strength and sensitivity coming out of the statues. They are so very human in the scale and size, expressions, attitudes, and positions, but massive and impressive in the proportions of the feet, hands and heads. The hand work is what I love the most in Rodin’s art, so expressive, large and at the same time delicately beautiful. The Rodin Museum is authentic and beautiful inside and out. It was built in the eighteenth century, and has also been home to artists Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau. The garden, dotted with statues, is sublime. I usually walk to the end and lie down on the circular bench to enjoy the serenity of the place.
Do you have any other top places for artistic inspiration?
There’s always a great selection of exhibitions at the Fondation Cartier. To get lost in the Musée du Louvre is a must — it’s an orgy of art. I also love Le Musée Art Ludique; it’s great for the kids, too, as there’s usually a ‘behind the scenes’ of an anime movie.
The last time I was in Paris, I went to the Louis Vuitton Foundation for the Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin collection and it was breathtaking — both the exhibition and the actual building, which looks like a big architectural Berlingo.
Where are the best places for art supplies?
I usually go to Le Géant des Beaux Arts (166, Rue de a Roquette 75011); they have everything I need and more, and I always end up with some new supplies to test and play with.
Also the Ladurée or Pierre Hermé illustrated macaron boxes are perfect for holding my pencils and art supplies.
What are your other top shopping addresses?
- I love Boutique Les Fleurs in the 11th, where you can find delicate accessories and lovely homewares on a botanical theme.
- Le Bon Marché food court and Le Printemps Haussmann are my favourite places to feel the Parisian mood and trends and to taste new treats.
- L’Artisan Parfumeur boutique in the Marais (32, Rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004) is where I go to buy my signature perfume.
- Then I pop next door to Mariage Frères tea salon. I love the smell when you enter in the shop. All the walls are filled up with beautiful metallic gigantic tin boxes. Ask the vendors to open some for you; the scent of the tea leaves taskes you to all sorts of exotic destinations.
- Marlette for their homemade organic bread and cake baking mixes, for delicious madeleines and buckwheat crêpes.
What’s the best thing to do if you’re on a budget?
- Getting lost in the streets of Paris doesn’t cost anything and you get to travel in time.
- Some museums are free the first Sunday of the month, such as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou and Musée Picasso.
- A Parisian breakfast, with a croissant or baguette and coffee, in a brasserie doesn’t cost much. For lunch, buy a sandwich baguette in a boulangerie— Parisian boulangeries often offer a very good deal menu for lunch with a sandwich and dessert for a handful of Euros. Then eat by the Seine or in the Tuileries Gardens.
- Buy a few choux à la crème (cream puffs) from Odette in the 5th arrondissement (77, Rue Galande 75005) and stroll around the Latin Quarter.
And if you splurge, you …
Buy some beautiful lingerie from Chantal Thomas (211, Rue Saint-Honoré 75001), followed by a hot chocolate and tarte à la framboise at Angelina (226, Rue de Rivoli 75001).
Do you have any final foodie recommendations?
I also love to go in the spring or summer to Le Chalet des Îles. The restaurant is a Parisian escape out in the Bois de Boulogne, on an island in the middle of a lake — you access the restaurant by boat, which is very unusual in Paris. After lunch it’s fun to rent a rowboat with your kids or your partner, and glide along with the ducks.