Today’s self-care dialogue is with Pauline Chardin, a Parisian, a pro-traveler, and the author of our favorite wanderlust blog, The Voyageur. Pauline is a freelance art director and trend consultant in fashion, who looks to travel as a steady source of inspiration. Her blog is unlike any travel blog you’ve ever seen. Each story is accompanied by photo essays that are aesthetically sensitive to their environment and attentive to details that might otherwise go unnoticed. The documented destinations are always interesting and full of beauty that feels raw and true, captured from a less expected angle. From a secluded cabin in the mountains of Central France, a Moss Temple in Japan, to a lush sculpture park in Brazil, Pauline’s got us daydreaming and plotting future adventures any chance we get.
In her self-care, Pauline is refreshingly down to Earth, with a bit of that inevitable, French chic thrown into the mix. Here, she tells us about her upcoming move to the South of France as a way to be closer to nature, her bedtime and beauty routines, her ways of dealing with jet lag, why she makes a point of packing parmesan and olive oil to bring on her journeys, and much more.
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
Making the best of time and things is definitely a big preoccupation of mine. I like to plan and think ahead, I guess that puts me in the routine camp.
— What do your mornings look like? If they differ from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I’m in the process of becoming more of a “morning person”, we’ll be moving from Paris to the countryside next year, and I have this image of myself getting up at 6am and having all the time of the world. I’m not there yet, but here’s a typical morning from these last weeks. I wake up at 7:30, before my husband, open all the windows while the air is still fresh and the street not too noisy. I spend some time in the bathroom before sitting at my desk to start working on some not-too-demanding tasks. An hour or so later, I prepare breakfast for us two. We’re both mostly working from home, which gives us the leisure of enjoying rather stress-free breakfasts and the time to have a nice conversation before digging into work. Everything is rather quiet until 10am, that’s when e-mails start to arrive and phones start to ring.
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
I found that there are three things that help me find a deep, relaxing sleep : the first one is the Sarvangâsana posture (also supposed to keep you from growing older if you do it 30 minutes every day, but I’m far from being that disciplined), my husband giving me a head massage and watching episodes of Cosmos (I’ll never know the secrets of the universe because I always fall into the most blissful sleep after 10 minutes).
— Describe your typical or ideal meal for each of these:
Breakfast – homemade fare, like vanilla millet pudding with fresh mango and almonds.
Lunch – cereals with vegetables, like polenta fries with peperonata and fresh ricotta. Generally no dessert but an espresso with a piece of chocolate.
Snack – I don’t really eat much between meals, except fruits in the summer.
Dinner – mostly vegetables, cold or hot depending on the season, like a beet and cucumber carpaccio with green peppers. I have fruits for dessert, cooked in the winter and fresh in the summer, often with a bit of ice cream!
— Do you partake in caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
I drink Mariage Frères tea in the morning and rarely have more than one espresso a day, at lunch. I only break that rule in countries where the coffee is very good, in Italy of course, but also in Japan because I love their milk coffee.
— Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, how do you keep it in check?
I really do, but I also find that I don’t like very sweet things anymore. My rule is to almost only eat pastries I’ve prepared myself. I’ve also realized that fruits are often enough to fulfill my cravings.
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking and his sincere and generous approach to cooking, I have a few of his books, and his recipes rarely disappoint me. I have also been very inspired by my trips to Japan and Japanese wisdom in general, from their ‘it’s the journey that matters’ philosophy to their culture of bathing, or their ceramics. I find these things really help my happiness. More broadly, my way of living and eating is and was influenced by my parents, whose health would put any twenty-year old to shame!
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
I’ve been doing pilates and yoga for years. I try to do at least one lesson a week, but lately it’s been more small home-sessions, by myself, two or three times a week. I also love to hike and swim whenever I have the opportunity.
— Do you find exercise to be pleasurable, torturous or perhaps a little of both? How do you put yourself in the right mindset in order to keep up with it?
I really enjoy it and would love to do more (hopefully having a big house instead of a small apartment will help). I’ve been working a lot lately and I’ve been finding it hard to take a break during the day to do it. It’s a pity because I know the benefits all too well!
— What is your idea of beauty – external, internal or both?
I feel it’s very important to be comfortable in my body, to take good care of it and to be healthy, but I don’t like to dwell too much on the idea of my own beauty. I’m much more interested in what others project. Partly because of my line of work, I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy all the subtleties of female beauty (much more than men, I must admit). I should also mention that I work in a very feminine environment that definitely puts style and personality before plastic beauty and basic seduction. I find it very freeing!
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
Like a lot of people, these last years I’ve been trying to embrace more natural products. I aspire to low maintenance but find as I get older that being a woman is definitely high maintenance. For now I put in the time because I find it relaxing and a good break from working. My favorites include Nuxe Huile prodigieuse, almond oil, Océopin pine powder scrub, and Aesop déodorant herbacé.
— Are there any foods, herbs or supplements you find to be helpful to your skin/hair/general glow?
Not really, I think I haven’t graduated to supplements yet.
— Do you have any beauty tips/tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years? Family heirlooms are very much welcome.
My mother often used an eyebrow pencil and it has become a make-up staple of mine.
— Do you practice any consistent routines in order to avoid stress?
Yoga, cooking and being close to nature are the three simple things I strive to include in my daily life to keep things relaxed. So far I’ve been really good with the cooking part, I could definitely do better with the yoga, and the nature is still a work in progress. At the moment I live in Paris, so it’s complicated, but I look forward to a future where I can just open the window and hear the cicadas.
— If stress cannot be avoided, what are your ways of dealing with it?
I find it ironic, and well, sad, that stress tends to keep you from doing anything that would make you feel better. It’s paralyzing in a way. Besides the solutions cited above, I find that making something with my hand (be it a cake, a dress or a drawing) helps me get centered again. Another good measure is travel or any form of exploration, if I manage to get excited and curious again, then I’m on my way to feeling better.
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
I cook your magical broth! I really do, even when I’m in good shape…which probably makes me too energized for my own good. Apart from that, working mostly from home means I’m rarely sick.
— Do you strive to maintain a healthy work/life balance or do those things overlap for you? What is your approach?
It’s complicated. I’m very passionate about my job, which is relatively stress-free but also quite time-consuming. After ten years of doing it, I’m only realizing now that I may be working too much. This being said, I totally embrace the overlap, for me everything is connected, everything could and should be a source of inspiration, I “just” need to be careful about keeping some time to explore new things… I stopped counting the people around me who are in pain because of their job, so I try to be extra vigilant about the choices I and my loved ones make on the subject.
— Describe the actions you take or mindset you try to tap into in order to stay on track with your self-care practice and being nice to yourself?
Most of my work requires that I spend a lot of my time in front of a computer and it would not come off as shocking to say that this isn’t a good thing. I’ve found out it has a way of making me feel like I’m not accomplishing much, even though I’ve been working for hours, maybe it’s because tasks get blended with one another, I don’t know. In any case, this “distortion” has the added drawback of not making me feel really good about myself, like I’m spinning in a wheel. On the other hand, when I spend a day, of even half a day, off my computer, I feel like I’m moving mountains, even if I’m only attending to mundane things. This is a great feeling and I wish it didn’t feel like some sort of luxury!
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
Picking up yoga and pilates years ago was life-changing. I wasn’t into sports before that, and the body awareness it creates is an endless source of fascination.
— You have a talent for seeking out the less traveled paths, hidden corners and beautiful places to stay wherever you travel. What is your approach when it comes to planning a trip?
Coming up with the destination is a rather subjective process, which is often more about fantasy and pieces of information than reality. It might come from photographs I’ve seen, or a movie, or a conversation I’ve had. It’s a difficult balance to pick a place that sounds promising but which still remains a bit mysterious. Today with instagram, you sometimes feel like you’ve been there already, and it’s nice when you’re on your couch but a bit disheartening when you’re planning a trip. I sometimes also like to pick a rather touristic place and go there to see if it could be done off the beaten track, or photographed differently, like when we went to Rome, or to see the Giza pyramids.
Besides that, I find that doing a lot of research is key if you want the trip to be both relaxing and interesting. It takes a lot of time and might ruin the surprise a little bit, but unless you’re traveling for a month, I find it too frustrating to “fail” a destination because you were too lazy to check opening hours and interesting spots. It’s a complicated task though, because you have to find recommendations from people whose sensibility is close to yours. It’s easy enough to find adresses of shops and restaurants, but when it comes to knowing that little neighborhood with a fantastic atmosphere, or that incredible building from the 70’s, or that little-known museum, then it gets complicated. For me travelling isn’t necessary about “consuming” or doing “breathtaking” things, it’s about finding inspiration. I’m doing The Voyageur to make it easier for others!
— Do you practice any special self-care routines while traveling, especially when it comes to jet lag?
Sadly I’m not immune to jet-lag, on the contrary I find it totally messes up my digestion (in addition to my sleep). Jet-lag or not, I found that the best way to feel good abroad was to cook for myself as much as I can. To me it’s a win-win, it’s cheaper, I feel better and lighter, and I get to shop groceries and cook in a totally different setting. It has become an important part of our travels, one that I enjoy very much. I pack a whole battery of pantry essentials and then I buy fresh produce when I’m the ground. Every destination has its on treasures, things you’ll probably have a hard time finding back home, and it’s not necessary what you would get in restaurants : mountains of berries in Finland, cheap zucchini flowers in Venice, sour cream in St Petersburg or sweet muffin bread from the Azores islands.
— We are captivated by Joan Didion’s compact travel packing list. What are some essential objects that would be in yours?
I tend to believe I allow more time for packing than most people (I’m puzzled when I hear someone telling me they just throw random stuff in a suitcase an hour before their flight). I like to really think through what clothes I’m bringing, so it will fit the atmosphere of the destination, but also obviously local constraints and the kind of adventure I’m embarking on. I don’t really believe in a standardized list, I’m actually rather depressed by this packing advice of people bringing the same standard black and white things everywhere. I’m more about having the right equipment for each situation, it might be a stylish rain cloak if you go to Yakushima island, a fan for Egypt or a scarf in Andalucia that echoes the local ceramic patterns. It’s about those items that will be useful but will also make you happy. I find that objects can take on a new life when you bring them somewhere far-flung, they become the green dress you couldn’t stop wearing in Kerala or the perfumed oil you wore in Brazil. It builds new connections, it’s somewhere between a science and an art! Whatever the trip, beside the obvious items, you’ll have a good chance of finding in my luggage :
– a camera
– a swimsuit, even when swimming doesn’t sound like an option
– A homemade meal for the trip, which makes a world of difference, and was actually initiated by your article on the subject. I recently acquired a wood bento box which makes it even greater! It also means that I have a box at hand if we’re having picnics during the rest of our stay.
– If I know I’m going cook, I’m bringing a few ingredients, but most certainly there will be olive oil, a box of pasta and a chunk of Parmesan, which sounds pretty weird. It’s kind of a survival kit, when I have that, I know that we’re only a couple of tomatoes away from a comforting meal. Also, I’ve been to countries where finding all three ingredients would prove quite challenging, and expensive, which makes you cherish them even more.
Fun and Inspiration
— What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?
Pretty much what I do to keep stress at bay, but if we’re taking things to another level of indulgence, I’d say anything water-related : a Japanese onsen bath, hammam, a swim in the sea or even just a plunge in the pool.
— A book/song/movie/piece of art to feed the soul:
Book – The Way of the World by Nicolas Bouvier, and, any of his books really. He’s a Swiss writer and traveler who documented his journeys with a lot of wisdom and poetry.
Song/Album – Nina Simone and Piano, even though it might be more soul-wrenching than soul-feeding.
Movie – The Vertical Ray of the Sun by Tran Anh Hung, makes me want to book a ticket to south-east Asia right away.
Piece of Art – Crépuscule by Felix Vallotton, strangely the landscape in the painting appeared to me on a stormy evening on Yakushima island in Japan…
— What are some of your favorite places to eat in Paris?
Mokonuts, 5 rue st bernard, 75011 Paris
A Japanese and a Lebanese in a tiny kitchen. I’m in love with their olive and white chocolate cookie and their carrot soup. They’re only open for lunch and you have to book ahead.
Café Ineko, 3 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris
Freshly opened vegetarian restaurant. Sincere and flavourful, my favorite of late. Their breakfast sounds fabulous and I’m planning to go very soon!
Rice and Fish, 16 Rue Greneta, 75002 Paris
Delicious fusion-style makis in a super relaxed atmosphere. Come early to get a seat.
Pizzeria Dei Cioppi, 44 Rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris
It’s easier than ever to find good pizza in Paris, but we’re faithful to this tiny one. Light, sophisticated pizzas in a quiet street with good music, what else?
Osteria Ferrara, 7 Rue du Dahomey, 75011 Paris
A slightly high-end italian restaurant with to-die-for risotto.
— Is there anyone you would like to hear from next in this interview series?
Tina of tforia.com, I love her very low-profile and delicate approach.
All photos are from Pauline’s travels (and kitchen), courtesy of Pauline Chardin
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