Interview: Kim Laidlaw Adrey – ‘I Heart Paris’
Episode 1 of 2: Follow your heart
Kim Laidlaw Adrey followed her heart to be in Paris to “do exactly what I want to do…in the city I want to be in” and started the blog “I Heart Paris” in 2009. Since then, Kim has been showing visitors and locals the best, newest and most interesting places in Paris. Her judicious selection and beautiful photos make the blog much more than a guide, reading it is like being shown Paris’s best secrets by a close friend. She reviews exhibitions, restaurants, bars, shops, hairdressers… anything interesting that she feels her readers would enjoy.
Kim also writes guest articles; translates, writes and copy edits for guide books, online guides and fashion magazines; and has editorial, copy writing and social media roles for various clients.
Who is Kim Laidlaw Adrey? And what is your connection to France?
I originally moved to Paris about 10 years ago, as part of my degree. I was reading History of Art and French at Edinburgh and for my year abroad, Paris was the obvious choice. I loved being in Paris, but at the same time it was in many ways quite difficult; it was like I was a child peering through the shop window seeing all the toys, because I saw all these people having a good time, giggling and laughing, and I’d pass beautiful restaurants and see people eating in there, and I’d say, “Can I play, can I play?” But I didn’t know anyone, and it’s quite a difficult city to penetrate and to find French friends, so I felt like I hadn’t really lived an authentic Paris experience. I was here for a year, before I moved back to Edinburgh to finish my degree. In the interim, I started going out with the man, who eight years later would be my husband. So I came back to Paris after I finished my degree, because I was young and I thought “why not?”. That’s when I really started to find my way here; I started to make friends; I started to make Paris my own. I was no longer a child looking through the window at the toys; I was playing with them now.
Overall it’s been a positive experience and I love Paris. I moved back to London in 2007 for a job but came back to Paris after only a year, as even thought I’m from London, I feel more at home in Paris (almost). I do exactly what I want to do now in the city I want to be in.
What makes you tick?
What’s happening now; contemporary culture and creativity. Whether it’s in gastronomy, arts, fashion. It’s all happening here in Paris. I studied History of Art and in any one time, any piece of art is the product of what’s going on around it. The politics, the economics, all kinds of external factors have an influence on that particular cultural creation. I’m interested in what’s happening now for us. I’m interested in the world I am in and what is causing things to happen, in what’s happening creatively. Maybe it’s because lots of my friends and family members are artists. I’ve always been interested in creativity and culture but that said, I’ve also worked in investment banking!
You’ve really changed your life from investment banking to what you’re doing now. Is there anything about yourself and your journey that has surprised you?
I think the investment banking part of my life was a parenthesis and now I am back to normal. I came to France, and it’s difficult to find a job in a foreign country, so I took one of the first jobs I could find. It went from there and turned into a successful career. But then it dawned on me that I should be injecting the same amount of time and energy into doing something I really enjoyed and so I decided to changed my career path.
I think my philosophy of life has changed; you should do something you like, because life is short and money is less important to me than enjoying my hours.
It took me a long time to realise that. Perhaps it’s a bit spoilt, but I have the option of doing a job that is just a great career, but that suits me too.
Can you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Sensitive, curious and creative.
How do you spend a day relaxing?
Well I’m on a permanent mission to ‘découvrir la région’, which is a running joke with my husband. It’s like I’m always on holiday wherever I am. I don’t just want to see the same things I see every day. I love going out and doing new things. I treat everyday as a chance to discover things, often exhibitions or checking out new restaurants.
Now, let’s play a quick game of favourites.
– What is your favourite city in France?
– What is your favourite arrondissement?
The area north of the 9th / south of the 18th
– What is your favourite restaurant to celebrate a big event?
Probably Châteaubriand or Aux Deux Amis.
– What is your favourite recent discovery in Paris?
Au Passage – a great little wine bar in the 11th.
– What is your favourite personal indulgence?
– What is your favourite leisure activity?
Going to an exhibition.
– What is your favourite designer or fashion brand?
Isabel Marant for my Parisian side, Stella McCartney for my London side.
– What is your favourite drink or food?
Depends what time of year it is!
– What is your favourite bar?
Carmen. It’s incredibly romantic, it’s beautiful, but it’s also a bit rock ‘n’ roll.
To read the continuation of our interview with Kim follow this link- Episode 2 : Becoming French
Images of Paris: Copyright Kim Laidlaw Adrey