Originally from the UK but recently expatriated to the French capital, I am slowly relearning the Parisian way of life (having done a brief six-month stint here two years ago). Iíve been lucky enough to get a flavour for life all over the place, most recently in Havana, and jumped at the chance to return to Paris as editor for Easyvoyage UK. Itís a job that allows me to take my rather selfish appetite for new horizons and channel it into a forum that will hopefully inspire people to travel in a way that improves their lives, and the lives of those they meet along the way.
What is it that you do exactly?
As editor for the UK website, the morning kicks off with plenty of coffee and newspaper-trawling to make sure our team is up-to-speed on the latest news. We have separate websites in five different languages, all based in Paris, and the wonderful mix of nationalities means a constant stream of info from all over the world. After that, attention turns to writing, updating and tweaking content for the site, from news and tips on the latest attractions to reviews of hot new hotels. We also provide one of the best price comparison tools for hotels, flights, packages and car hire, so we work closely with the teams who run that side of the site as they liaise with major vendors such as Opodo, EDreams and Ebookers.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love that every day is a full-on learning curve. From writing a review of the latest hotel on the Parisian scene, to discovering a weird and wonderful festival in the mountains of Japan, to tasting some of the most incredible Catalan food, I always feel like Iím a student in the worldís best history, or geography or culinary class.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
The Hotel Four Seasons George V, Paris Ė this is one of the only places Iíve stayed that deserves the title of ĎParisian Palaceí. I love the 18th century feel of the rooms here, and the fact that I can wander in off the street any time to take another look around!
Villa Spalletti Trivelli, Rome Ė you couldnít describe this place as a hotel, itís like time-travelling and ending up in the life of an Italian aristocrat. Iím pretty sure I went to heaven when I walked into the incredible library here, and the staff is exceptional.
Havana, Cuba – I didnít stay in one hotel here – itís all about the small, family-run Ďcasas particularesí. Some of the best I stayed in were in the neighbourhood of Vedado Ė a true family welcome, a laid-back atmosphere and perfect for exploring one of the most wonderfully contradictory cities Iíve ever had the pleasure of inhabiting.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
Lobster is my number one favourite, perhaps because my best dining experiences seem to have revolved around it! The restaurant at the Hotel Palazzo Manfredi literally knocked me out with its incredible view of the Colosseum, before bowling me over again with its lobster. But I think the pinnacle of my seafood-related experiences was sitting on a beach on a small island just off the coast of Belize and tucking into as much lobster as we could manage for around 5 euros a head. Iíve not eaten anything that comes close to it since.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Living in Paris, which is such a small capital, and working in the 15th arrondissement not far from the Eiffel Tower, Iíve certainly passed a few famous faces in the street, though nothing worthy of a good anecdote! Having said that, I did meet Matthew Lewis, who plays Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films, in a bar whilst on a business trip. Not exactly A-list, but that doesnít stop me bragging about it.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
Iím currently obsessed with visiting the Shetlands – I just canít get it out of my head. The islands are supposed to be brilliant for hiking and wandering along coastal paths and I love the idea of feeling so remote, stuck on some blustery little islands in the middle of the North Atlantic.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Francesca. He might not be A-list but I know my boys will be mightily impressed that you met Neville Longbottom! As for the Shetlands, you might like to read about our Scottish island trip from last Summer†(read from the bottom post upwards to follow the trip in order)… it wasn’t the Shetlands, I’ll have to admit, but it might still help to keep your obsession alight!