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My life-growing up in Southern Africa, studying in Vancouver, Canada and then pursuing a fashion and design career in Paris--where I worked at Ralph Lauren and studied at Parson's School of Art and Design along with my experience as Ambassadress representing an Embassy in Washington, D.C have contributed to the evolution of my personal style. I have taken inspiration from the many extraordinary places I have visited -- from the magnificence of the Chateau of Versailles, a zen styled house built on stilts at the prestigious Pankaur Laut Resort in Malaysia, the traditional plantation houses of the Southern United Sates, the charming blue and white fishing village of Comporta, Portugal or the Spanish Colonial Missions in the Amazon Region of Bolivia. I have discovered colors, countries, cultures and peoples from tribal villages in Mozambique to chateaus and villas in Europe that have been fascinating and inspirational to my taste.

Living in France

The Art of Living is a collection intended to introduce the reader to the distinct and unique living experiences in various countries around the world--I have compiled a selection to highlight the art, design, and culture that combine to illustrate the rich, tradition and design of each location.

The Art of Living in France-

An experience that not only refines one's sense of taste and style as it is a culture that values all facets of intellectual and cultural excellence. It is no wonder that some of the great artistic and literary geniuses originated, or spent time living in France for a period of their lives.

One can discover the refined heights of style that has come to be known as "French" when visiting Louis XIV magnificent Palace of Versailles, or the Louvre Museum, which evolved from it's original purpose as a fortress in the 12th century, and then turned into a museum in 1793 housing some of the great artistic masterpieces. Francois Mitterand selected the celebrated Chinese architect,I.M Pei to update this classical structure adapting to the changing and modernizing world. The addition of the glass pyramid was partly a hommage to the "geometry" of the famous french architect Andre Le Notre who was responsible for the French formal garden style or "jardin a la francaise" and Louis XIV private gardener responsible for building the park of the Palais de Versailles.

In contrast, a visit to Monet's house outside of Paris in Giverny illustrates the simplistic charm that has come to be known as "french country".

Having had the opportunity of experiencing Paris as a Parisian, I would like to recomend some of my favorite hotels, restaurants, and shops reminiscent of Parisian style and taste.

The Hotel Ritz opened it's doors in the Place Vendome in 1898. A magnificent building which was frequented by Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, and Coco Chanel who loved it's elegant charm, and lived there for 30 years. Hemingway made the bar his favorite in Paris, and it was subsequently named after him.

Close by on the rue St. Honore is the Hotel Costes one of Paris's chic meeting places, with its popular bar and courtyard restaurant. It was decorated by Jacques Garcia with opulent velvet furnishings, and dim candlelight setting.

One of the more traditional hotels and formerly housing the British Embassy is the Hotel D'Angleterre in the heart of Saint Germaine. The Treaty of Paris which ended the American War of Independence was drawn up here, and the rooms are individually decorated in charming elegant style.

Overlooking the beautiful Tuileries gardens is the Hotel Regina, which was opened for the World Fair, and chosen as a backdrop by the great movie directors, Claude Chabrol, and Luc Besson for its Belle Epoque style and Parisian charm.

One of the Four Season's flagship hotels and considered one of the most beautiful hotels in the world is the George V. The restaurant Le Cinq is rated three stars by the Michelin guide.

The Pavillion de la Reine is a charming hotel in the Place des Voges. It was created by Henry IV and one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, frequented by Racine, Moliere, and where Victor Hugo lived. It is located in the Marais, one of the more historical and interesting districts in Paris.

As France is known for its exquisite cuisine it is difficult to recommend restaurants as there are so many wonderful places, not only in Paris but throughout France.