St Barths: An island like no other

 

“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make the place beautiful”

St Barth; an almost unreachable destination in the French West Indies is the perfect hideaway for the jet setter. Surrounded by pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled nature; mountains and the turquoise clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean this associated Island of France had a long history before becoming the top destination for celebrities in search for privacy.

I thought this was also one of the cutest signs: Caution: Duck crossing
The airport in St Jean – St Barth is actually one of the most difficult landings in the history of aviation

The Beginnings: In 1493 Columbus landed in St Barth and named the Island after his brother Bartolomeo; the first inhabitants of the Island were the Arawak Indians; hostile conditions and the lack of gold were crucial for the Spanish Crown and St Barth remained forgotten for centuries; later ruled by the French; then sold to the Dutch to be returned to the French; St Barth started to be noticed by luxury resort developers just in the 1950’s when Rockefeller built his private home in the top of the mountains in Colombier; West side of the Island.

 

The discovery of St Barthelemy.  Columbus gave to the Island the name of his brother Bartolomeo.
The discovery of St Barthelemy. Columbus gave to the Island the name of his brother Bartolomeo.
A view from the cliff at Colombier.
A view from the cliff at Colombier.

Today; the most expensive yachts in the world are no strangers to St Barth and every day is almost a competition on size and style.

The Eclipse
The Eclipse mega yacht owned by Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich, I spotted from my balcony at the Beach House in Corossol.
Hotel Cheval Blanc LVMH Flamandes Beach
Hotel Cheval Blanc LVMH Flamandes Beach

Shopping: For luxury shopping the Quai de la Republique; Le Carre D’Or; a Caribbean version of Beverly Hills with the most desirable designers and limited edition collections made exclusively for St Barth. I spent many hours at the Dolce & Gabanna flagship store opened just a few months ago with its own Martini Bar for D & G collaboration. The colorful collection reflects the spirit of the Island; floral scarfs; bejeweled mules, oversized sunglasses, embellished straw baskets and wedges and the 1950’s inspired cocktail dresses just makes us want to wear them all and go for a stroll in a Moke (the ultimate transportation in the Island) around Gustavia.

The Dolce & Gabanna loves St Barth collection at the DG flagship store in Gustavia
The Dolce & Gabanna loves St Barth collection at the DG flagship store in Gustavia
The Moke
The Moke is the best transportation in St Barth. Wearing a hand embroidered dress and Mayan necklace.

St Barth is the culinary capital of the Caribbean; suddenly we see people walking with baguettes on the streets and freshly made pastries can be found at any of the Boulangeries and Patisseries; at supermarkets all of them carry French brands and is like going to Paris in the middle of a tropical setting.

Desserts served at Cheval Blanc. Flamandes Beach
Desserts served at Cheval Blanc. Flamandes Beach

Flamandes: The lifestyle of the Island is resort chic with impeccable service and attention to details, the French touch is notorious; For lunch I truly enjoyed The Cheval Blanc in Flamandes; it was also the best beach for swim and great cuisine by Chef Yann Vinsont. The Cheval Blanc is part of the LVMH Luxury Resort collection.

Flamandes Beach
Flamandes Beach

 

Lunch at Case de L'Isle Hotel Cheval Blanc LVMH
Lunch at Case de L’Isle Hotel Cheval Blanc LVMH

Grand Cul de Sac: Lunch at Le Sereno in Grand Cul de Sac is another must on my list; from its sister 5 star hotel “Il Sereno” in Laco di Cuomo; Le Sereno exudes style; designed by renowned Parisian designer Christian Liaigre.

The lagoon at Sereno Beach is also perfect for paddle boarding or canoeing in the afternoon. Great place to spot the turtles swimming on the water or picking up giant conch between the rocks.

 

Next to Le Sereno; Le Guanahani is another impressive luxury resort with a Spa by Clarins and its distinctive tiki bars by the beach; Le Guanahani offers true island feeling.

Le Guanahani St Barts
Wearing an embroidered vintage Manila shawl at the beach of Le Guanahani – Grand Cul de Sac, St Barth

St Jean: Dining in St Barth: a must is the Eden Rock at the “In” Beach of St Jean just next to the airport; with two signature restaurants: “On the Rocks” at the top of the cliff or “The Sand Bar” both headed by Michelin starred Chef Jean-Georges.

Eden Rock St Barts
Eden Rock St Barth by night

St Barth preserve its Colonial charm from the Dutch era; the Creole and the French; signs on the streets are both in Dutch and French.

Creole Village St Barts
At the Comca-Comca Creole Village in St Jean wearing a custom embroidered Otomi dress

Shell Beach: Walking distance from the lively port of Gustavia and just steps from divine dining spots like Bagatelle and Bonito; we are in Shell Beach; a small portion of the Island covered with shells of all types and colors; you never know when you’ll find a unique one in the middle of all these shells.

Shell Beach
Shell Beach and Flamingo espadrilles by Soludos @soludos weaved basket with Oaxacan accesories

St Barth has it all; from hiking thru the mountains and spotting baby turtles on the way to incredible views of the secluded Island in Colombier to infinite white sandy beaches in Saline or the freshest catch of the day to your table.

Shell Beach St Barts
Shell Beach

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous.

Until the next destination.

Posted on Fashion & Wine Magazine http://www.fashionandwinemag.com

 

 

 

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Miami’s top patisseries

 

Feeling nostalgic about that trip to Paris when you visited Angelina or Laduree or maybe even the calissons in Aix-en-Provence? Well fear no more, in Miami you can certainly have some options for French specialties.  I updated this post from years ago with the newest additions in patisseries around town so this one is the updated version as of May 2017.  Enjoy!

Here are some of my picks:

Atelier Monnier (848 Brickell Ave.)

Macaroons anyone? Photo by Montserrat Franco
The Macaroons at Atelier Monnier, you can customize boxes with your favorite flavors, my recommendations: lavender, pistachio and rose petals

Laduree ( 1118 Lincoln Road)

Maison Ladurée Lincoln Road
The display at Laduree in Lincoln Road where you can find limited edition gift boxes or the signature Maison Laduree boxes.
But first coffee and macaroons
But first coffee and macaroons?  If you can resist Miami’s outdoors seating; take a pause from shopping at Laduree in Lincoln Road

Bachour (600 Brickell Ave.)

The interior design at Bachour in Brickell just a block away from the newly Brickell City Center
The interior design at Bachour in Brickell just a block away from the newly Brickell City Center
Creations by Bachour
Creations by Bachour

Le Roy Rene (701 South Miami Ave. 35B – Brickell City Center)

Le Calissons at Brickell City centre
And here is the very first calisson boutique in Miami at Brickell City Centre.  You can also customize boxes in different designs.  Calissons are originally from Medieval Italy and were introduced to the French court for the second wedding of King Rene of Anjou.

Enjoy !!!

@MontserratFranco

 

Miami’s Romantic Dining Guide

We hear all the time that Miami isn’t a romantic city just because is considered mostly a party destination but in the magic city you can still find the perfect spot to dine at candlelight while overlooking at the Biscayne Bay with Miami’s fantastic skyline or maybe just that intimate and charming atmosphere.  I updated this post from years ago as of May 2017.  Restaurants have changed or closed and I wanted to keep my most recent picks up to date.  Enjoy!

The Lido Bayside Grill @ The Standard (40 Island Ave. Miami Beach)

Dining with a view at Thei Lido The Standard
Glorious views from The Lido @ The Standard Hotel & Spa.  Tip: arrive by boat (dock on site) sip on Rose all Day (preferably day because the view is just the best) Photo credit @stefmeriaux

Casa Tua (1700 James Ave. Miami Beach)

Casa Tua private dining room
Casa Tua Lifestyle, more than a charming restaurant located in a historic Miami Beach Spanish Renaissance cottage is also a members-only club on the second floor.  Enjoy superior service, Italian cuisine and great wine selection.  Reservations highly recommended.

Juvia (1111 Lincoln Road. Miami Beach)

Juvia Miami Beach
Loving rooftop dining or cocktails at sunset? Juvia in Lincoln Road is “the place” for a date night.  Tip: Make reservations in advance for an inside or outside seating with the perfect view of Miami Beach.  Photo: @JuviaMiami

Crazy about you (1155 Brickell Bay Dr. Brickell)

If you are looking for that place with a view which is affordable: “Crazy about you” maybe the answer.   Located on 1155 Brickell Bay Dr. at The Mark building with convenient valet parking on location.

Crazy about you Brickell
Romantic dining at “Crazy about You” restaurant overlooking the Biscayne Bay and Miami’s skyline.

Rusty Pelican (3201 Rickenbacker Cswy. Key Biscayne)

 

Decoy at Rusty Pelican
The romantic dining at Rusty Pelican has stunning views of Miami and fireplaces. Photo credit: David Franco

Red Fish Grill (9610 Old Cutler Rd. Coral Gables)

Lost in paradise but in your own town, that’s how you feel when you arrive to the Red Fish Grill, a romantic waterside restaurant inside Hammock Park that you will be thrilled to discover.

Matheson Hammock Park
The quiet beach at Matheson Hammock Park in Old Cutler Road is the perfect setting for a romantic walk before dining at the Red Fish Grill.
Red Fish Grill
The Red Fish Grill is a great hide away restaurant located on a historic coral construction that used to be a beach pavilion. Once you know this place it will be your best kept secret.

 

Enjoy !!!

@MontserratFranco