Today on Hg2‘s Meet the Blogger series, we’re catching up with Fiona H. of Paris Hues. Fiona was born in the mid-seventies in London and brought up in The City. In addition to her native languages of English, French and Italian, Fiona also learnt Spanish and German while living abroad. She’s called Madrid, Lisbon and Milan home, spent some time in Australia and worked for three years on a yacht in the Caribbean before settling down in Paris (gee, we don’t envy her at all!).
Don’t forget to check out our previous ‘Meet the Blogger’ posts here.
Tell us a bit about who you are and how you got started blogging.
Well, the basics…I am 37 and was born in London to a French mother and Italian Greek Scottish (yes that’s possible!) father. I went to a French school in Paris until I was 18, then decided to fly the nest. This took me to study in France, back to London, then Madrid and Milan to work in finance and then to completely change direction and buy a sailing boat upon which I worked for 3 years in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. After that, I had my son who is now 6 – I’ve brought him up by myself, which took a lot of stamina! I was lucky to spend some time in Australia working for a surf brand and of course took my son along with me. We came back four years ago and since then I have mostly spent my time working in communications, event organising in Paris and writing for different magazines and websites when I am at my beachouse in the South West of France (I try to split my time 50/50 in each). This is who I am: a bohemian soul born into an international family who were used to travelling and gave me the bug for it! I am curious by nature and maybe quite adventurous and even impulsive, too. I see life as movement and I go where my instincts take me (and my son) next.
I was drawn to the concept of the Paris Hues blog and launched back in March (of 2012). It was totally revamped this July and August. The blog enables me to share my experiences and the many, many places, experiences, tunes and tastes from my everyday life and past travels that I have loved and that others might love also.
Sharing – it’s all about sharing and also returning that by sharing what others do, too (as I try to do frequently on Paris Hues).
It’s so cool that you speak French, Italian and English. Do you find it easy to pick up new languages? Why did you decide to blog in English if you’re living in Paris?
I am lucky in the sense that I was born trilingual anyway, so that was no effort, thanks to the patience of my parents and the school that I went to. I have since added Spanish to my list, as I lived in Madrid for a few years, and German as a result of studying it for a long time. Finding it easy to pick up new languages would be an exaggeration; however, I have a musical ear and am convinced that this is connected to being able to master new languages too. There is a pattern with learning new tongues and, once you get that pattern, you can reproduce it whenever you want to learn a new one. I decided to write in English as this is the language that I consider to be my real mother tongue. It feels comfortable and flows. Plus, I really wanted to share how I live in France with the outside world and English is the most recognised language to communicate in worldwide.
You mention having a son. What is it like to travel with a child?
It was tough. Tough when he was young especially, on the long plane rides to and from Australia, for example. However, he got used to adapting quickly and also has an easygoing personality, so I never had any trouble with him adapting or even physically travelling. He just seems to get in the car/plane/train and gets on with his life. He is 6 now so it feels so much easier than before!
Who are your biggest influences on what you do?
Who are maybe what are my biggest influences? I am passionate about art and about people and their culture. As I said, being curious really leads me down some unique paths! I am influenced by talented writers who make their work accessible to all whilst still sounding literary (the authors JG Ballard and Dickens are my favourites). As for blog influences, I think I like a patchwork between some great magazines (Vogue, Elle, Grazia) and blogs like A Beautiful Mess who have stuck to their themes, made their worlds accessible and created a dream around some simple topics (the home, food, DIY, fashion).
How has living in different corners of the globe affected the way you travel?
Maybe I travel more easily than I used to. I don’t prepare as much as I must have 20 years ago. My suitcase is small and I know exactly what to throw in by now. It has also made me more aware of how careful I should be about valid passports and visas – for me, but also for my kid. I think I don’t get stressed about it. Delays, rough journeys, detours – they’re just part of the whole adventure. Getting to where I want to get is as much fun as getting there.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get the most out of a short stay somewhere?
I would say, beforehand: check what you want to do, what your passions are and then focus on researching where to go to see what you are passionate about. I mean, sure, you’re always going to see the Eiffel Tower or Nelson’s Column, but once you have the basics (and have taken a tour bus, those things are GREAT for seeing the sights!), I truly believe that there is no way of seeing everything you want in a few days. So why not concentrate on what you love? So use the blogs that are out there – there are so many. Check out where the locals and confirmed tourists go for food, shopping, art, music – whatever it is that you love. Tailor your trip and then just go investigate!
How has living the hectic life of the Square Mile influenced your lifestyle choices? Is there anything you miss about London and The City?
I left the The City because I was burnt out and just didn’t feel connected to the financial ambition. I decided to leave when the going was still very good (which made it so much harder, but left me with great memories). Working in finance made me realise I didn’t really need the money that much as once I had it. I didn’t feel it made me any happier or more stable. Sure, I miss London – it’s my hometown! I was born and raised in the Barbican and my father was a broker, so The City is my comfort zone and maybe someday I might even go back there, but on my terms, not on the financial market’s.
Where’s next on your “must go to” list?
I would like to go back to Australia. It felt like everything was possible there. I am also fascinated by the Nordic countries, which I have been to but still know so little about (Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark too). So they are next on my list.
You lived on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe for a while. What was your favourite thing about living there and what are the 3 top things a visitor should do there?
Guadeloupe was like living on a different planet. It is different from anything I had known. So exotic, lush, wild, so…. Caribbean!
Fiona’s top 3 things to do in Guadeloupe:
- La Pointe du Chateau – an amazing view point not far from Saint-François where waves clash with rocks and beautiful landscapes.
- The beaches of Le Moule. The windy side of Guadeloupe (northern face). Fine sand, translucent waters and waves but also a reef that you can snorkel around (and teach your children about why it’s so important to preserve it).
- A stay or dinner at the Toubana Hotel in Saint Anne, where the swimming pool flows over the cliff it is built on, the rooms are all individual huts and there are views of the bay – the ocean is breathtaking. And the food – I have great memories of the fish!
What’s your favourite hidden pleasure in Paris? A restaurant, a park, a café?
My hidden treasure is not hidden at all, but it is a treasure nevertheless! I love, love the Rose Café in the Marais area. The food is organic, made on the spot and often on the minute. The service is friendly and open and I feel really good when I walk out, like I have done my body a favour and my taste buds are buzzing with delight!
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