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I'm on vacation..........Field Notes from France

Photo - Eiffel Towers - Gwen Dunant

I'm on the TGV outbound from Paris - rocketing through the French countryside - green fields dotted with ghostly white Charolais cattle -  and reflecting on the days I've just spent in Paris. 

Exciting changes and new discoveries. Les Halles is getting a revamp - the gorgeous by day but creepy at night multi-level walkways and trellising are gone, soon to be replaced with open-plan, flat gardens and shopping.

You might have guessed that I've been searching and sniffing - the IUNX shop which was in a kiosk outside the Hotel Costes has finally moved into the hotel building proper. And there's many new frags for me to try: Kiss Me Tender from Patricia de Nicolai, 34 St. Germaine by Diptyque and the Travel Series  from L'Artisan. I've got lots to share............

Only in Paris can you have lunch in an old cafe in Belleville, just steps away from where Piaf was born, and then have dinner at Spring down in the 1st arrondissement, where American-born chef  Daniel Rose is currently making some of the best food in Paris.

What makes Paris such a great city is not just its beauty and charm, but the fact that it treasures the old at the same time as it embraces the new - it's always familiar, but always exciting at the same time.