Entrancing French Shops, Boutiques, Bistro’s & Eateries at Blue Mountains
A visit to the Blue Mountains is always a great idea, particularly in July during our winter which I find to be the most beautiful time to go. There is a special kind of romance and atmosphere at the Blue Mountains in July where everything feels cosy and snug, people are wrapped up in jackets, ponchos and knitted scarves cuddling on the streets, sipping on mugaccinos and kissing on the scenic perch with the cascading mountains in the background. The wood burning fire places in most restaurants and hotels are crackling and blazing and guests are treated to Christmas in July festivities and decor. The mountains are flaunting a lovely shade of
winter blue at their awe struck audience and to the envious Three Sisters who normally draw the most attention. It had been a while since mon mari and I payed a visit to the Blue Mountains and to the nearby quiet suburb of Leura. However, a tempting invitation to meet up with friends for a birthday celebration gave us a great excuse to go and what I had discovered whilst there during the second weekend of July truly delighted me. Dear readers, as you may have already guessed, what impressed me about Leura in particular was the noticeable rise of French experiences you could have on just one “megalong” street mall or market street as the French would say. French inspiration is most definitely everywhere at Leura Mall situated on Megalong Street and most boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants have a little or a lot of something authentically French or inspired to offer whether it be delicious sweet and savoury French pastries, cuisine, home decor, apparel, beauty products or delightful scented candles and soaps. That je ne sais quoi inspires even the French to visit in droves and you will pleasantly notice and hear the French happily chatting away in the lovely restaurants and cafes and stocking up on soaps and goodies made in France. As you promenade along Megalong Street in Leura you will certainly feel as though you are walking through a friendly and humble Provincial village somewhere in France and with the French accents floating in the mountain air you might be able to convince yourself that you are indeed en France. So, with a glass of wine in hand read my tips on where to get a satisfying French fix next time you’re up at Leura in the Blue Mountains and make the time to visit in July – c’est tres merveilleux.
THE FRENCH SHOPPE
The “French Shoppe” is by far the queen of the French scene at the lovely boutique shopping village of Leura and could without a doubt be the most adorable French shop in all of NSW. I don’t know how I missed it the last few times I visited the Blue Mountains but I would have to blame it on not devoting enough time to some girly shopping especially when visiting with young children who tend to lure parents to other forms of entertainment. Dear readers, I cannot begin to describe to you the rush of awe and excitement I experienced when stumbling upon this shop – a Francophile’s most happiest of dreams come true. What makes this gorgeous shop so special, apart from its incredible French decor, interior and pretty black and white French inspired gift bags and wrapping paper are the superb products and items that are sourced and imported to the shop directly from some of the finest suppliers in France.
Here is where you could spend hours in a French haze and stupor browsing through products and luxurious goods made in France while listening to the sound of Parisian jazz in the background. Some of The French Shoppe’s specialities include: scented candles, diffusers, fragrances, body and bath products, books, French CD’s, home decor, umbrellas with French inspired print (the Eiffel Tower print over sized umbrella is truly charming), gloves and beautiful casual Paris print and silk scarves not to forget a small selection of French inspired clothing. What will grab your attention more than anything else are the incredible variety of savon (soaps) made in France where the heavenly lavender, citron or rose scented soaps, in particular, transport you directly to the lavender fields of Provence or to the flower and produce markets of Nice or Marseilles. Almost thirty years ago when it all began, The French Shoppe primarily sold and sourced soaps made in France and slowly over the years expanded and began to source and sell more delightful and endlessly pleasing items. A perfect little escape and indulgence to France while searching for a special gift for yourself or for a dear Franchophile friend or relative.
The French Shoppe 6/166 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4784 2383
MEGALONG BOOKSTORE LEURA
Avid readers of all things French will adore this lovely book shop on Megalong Street where you could easily spend an hour or two browsing through new and old titles. This adorable shop is reminiscent of the book shops you would find in Paris’ Boulevard Saint Michelle and along Boulevard Saint Germain in the heart of the Latin Quarter with its cobalt blue, emerald green and pale yellow historic facade. There is a substantial selection of fiction and non fiction French inspired novels as well as beautiful hard cover books on French art, interiors, culture, photography, travel and cuisine. As it is located in the Heritage Listed Blue Mountains Megalong Bookstore stocks books about the Blue Mountains and its local flora and fauna, its history including informative books such as guides to bushwalks. It was here that I discovered that Janis Macleod’s new novel/memoir “A Paris Year” had been released and was thrilled as her first novel Paris Letters inspired me greatly and whose blog page I follow from time to time. Some additional finds were Susan Cahill’s “Hidden Garden’s of Paris” and her newish release – “The Streets of Paris” – a walking tour of the most celebrated famous Parisians throughout history and look forward to my reviews on all the books above very soon.
Megalong Bookstore 183 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4784 1302
BON TON French/European Restaurant, Leura
A quintessential French restaurant that looks like it has been zapped from a Provincial town somewhere in France and plonked in the heart of Leura Mall. Bon Ton is a lovely bistro and wine bar with it all and set inside a splendid heritage style mansion where the proprietors empty wine bottles add a sense of quirkiness and interest to the beautiful decor and tempt you to a glass or bottle of splendid wine sourced from France and Australia that will compliment any item from their wonderful menu. Enjoy a dining experience in their garden courtyard, or by their open log fires in European and cosy interiors that makes for pleasant and memorable breakfasts, lunches, dinners some afternoon tea or a little snack by the wine bar with friends. if you have the opportunity to dine in their newly renovated second floor your French experience will be heightened by the pretty views of vintage trees from the expansive windows. The bistro also caters for children and offers a delicious menu that even the fussiest of kids will enjoy and takes group and function bookings. Every Monday & Tuesday they offer a fixed price special of $45 for two courses or $55 for three courses so locals especially have an excuse not to cook and step out and enjoy delicious food with wonderful ambience with friendly service. It was just a couple days after Bon Ton’s Bastille Day special event that Mon mari and I decided to visit the bistro to find traces of the event in the form of whimsical posters and signage which really reinforces the bistro’s French style. Mon mari and I enjoyed a few wonderful dinners at Bon Ton years ago, however the management, menu, decor and concept has changed for the better and this time around we popped in for a romantic breakfast just us two before heading back to town. I enjoyed a sensational french toast and mon mari was more than satisfied with his big breakfast with perfectly prepared coffees and some delightful conversation with Anthony one of Bon Ton’s very friendly and knowledgeable waiters. “Bon Ton” in French translates to having “good manners or form” or “good style” and you will certainly find this in abundance here.
192 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4782 4377
If it’s vintage clothing or bric-a-brac your heart desires, or brocante as the French would say, then Leura Vintage is a a shop you can’t miss. Much like the vintage boutiques in the bohemian parts of Paris, this lovely store will take you back to those moments spent searching for some special tchotchkes, tea set or that decorative vase from the sixties or seventies like your grandma once owned. Perhaps it’s a 1920’s Parisian inspired black and silver tassled dress you’re after for a theme party? Or a chic French scarf, hat, tie, sunglasses, jewellery, cufflinks, skirt or fur coat to add to your wardrobe vintage collection. This delightful store specialising in both men’s and women’s vintage inspired accessories is a little treasure bursting with personality, character and that much needed bohemian chic inspiration. Francophile’s, in particular, who are longing for the Parisian brocante weekend markets and vintage stores hidden in those cobbled street lanes of Paris or almost anywhere in France will enjoy the experience.
Shop 9 The Strand Arcade 178 The Mall Leura, NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4784 3333
THE WEEKEND PETITE OPEN AIR MARKET
Just next door to Bon Ton Restaurant, is a dear little pale daffodil yellow house with contrasting grey gables and base for the CWA – Country Women’s Association hall that plays host to the weekend open air markets. Here you will enjoy a sample of a French market like experience and find pre loved bric-a-brac, art pieces or hand made home decor such as cushions and knitted throws to hand crafted dolls and teddy bears. You will also find it hard to resist something chic and cheap to wear like a colourful scarf, shirt or interesting hat or something incredibly tasty and organic to eat and enjoy at decent prices. This market is a must not miss for lovers of organic honey, gluten, egg and dairy free bread (that tastes incredible by the way) and tasty banana bread loaves or carrot cakes – the food available varies from time to time. Open of the first and third Saturday of the month and on the third Sunday of every month from 9am-4.30pm and a lovely thing to add to your French inspired day in Leura.
Leura CWA Hall Markets Megalong Street, Leura Contact Diane on 02 4754 2152
I honestly hadn’t heard of this gorgeous brand of plush, cosy and comfy, super feminine comfort wear until pleasantly spotting their lovely boutique in Leura and am now an admirer. This delightful store is warm and inviting with its pretty window displays, soothing and neutral interior decor with chic sleep and home apparel dreamily displayed enticing you to purchase something nice and climb straight into bed with a hot chocolate and good read. Whilst browsing in the store, I couldn’t resist purchasing a pretty blush pink pyjama with white stars and a creamy pair of faux fuzzy fur slippers that are a pleasure to wear. While the brand is Australian it has French written all over it and is most definitely French inspired as it reminded me of a few sleep wear shops I had seen particularly in Paris in the rues of the Marais and Trocadero areas that are lined with speciality and uniquely beautiful boutiques. French women adore beautiful sleep and comfort wear as well as pretty under garments and would certainly find the Papinelle brand hard to resist. Papinelle began in Paddington Sydney and the word papinelle was concocted by its founders by cleverly mixing and combining together the French words “Papillon” meaning butterfly and “Coccinelle” meaning lady beetle. Combining sleep with chic is always a great idea and Papillon takes this feminine and comfort factor all the way to the Eiffel tower and back again.
5/152-160 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4784 1195
JOSOPHANE’S FINE CHOCOLATES
What makes a chocolate shop memorable? A chocolate shop that is French inspired but of course! Where all the essential ingredients are there to combine an ambience and whimsical experience that calls to mind a precious custom made dolls house filled with treasures. In this case, the treasures are of the white, dark and milk chocolate kind and where the selection is as fine as the chocolate is crafted and tastes. The custom built French Provincial shelving displaying sweets, French inspired items and Eiffel towers and where chandeliers gently illuninate the beautifully crafted chocolates delectably displayed behind pristine glass counters. Once inside the store you can take a sneak peak in to their production space and watch the team at work assembling those beautiful chocolates and more. What makes Josophans’s
chocolates extra delicious and special is that they use the finest chocolate and infuse it with fresh ingredients and flavours with nothing artificial. At Josophan’s not only will you be able to purchase a decadent array of chocolates they also specialise in confectionery, a tasty caramel selection, toppings for ice cream, chocolate cakes, personal gifts, wedding cakes and gifts and so much more. The boutique regularly offers workshops and events and offers tasty recipes on their website that work best with ingredients purchased at the store or online. When you visit Josophan’s don’t leave without a personalised chocolate selection, their “Best Ice-cream Topping in the World” and the “Rocky Road with Macadamia” and “Dark Chocolate or the Rocky Road” with “Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate” and take the time to soak up all that sweet aroma and atmosphere.
132 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4784 2031
LOAVES & THE DISHES RESTAURANT
A vibrant, casual, bustling, friendly and lovely restaurant in Leura Mall that serves dishes and food prepared with love, heart, great flavour and the freshest of ingredients. Loaves & The Dishes doesn’t classify itself as a French restaurant, however, their motto of using the freshest of ingredients does resonate with the French notion of making everything fresh on the day with the best produce available at the market and purchased in season and fresh on the day. The restaurant isn’t short on French inspiration and you will find and greatly enjoy their vegetable and feta frittata, salmon and leek tart, chicken frittata or chicken and bacon frittata as well as their daily quiches. You will pleasantly find on display a variety of French pastries like almond or traditional croissants that go down well with their perfectly prepared coffee and other tasty beverages served in eye catching and spunky mugs with Paris, London and New York printed on them. When in Leura do pop in and enjoy a hearty breakfast or lunch and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere, friendly staff and food that is tres delicieux with a touch of French inspiration.
180 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Phone: 02 4784 3600
C’EST TOUT ET FINI!