It’s easy to feel intimidated by anyone with a number of slashes in their title. Garance Doré, for example, is an illustrator/photographer/author/entrepreneur/curator of an Instagram account that makes even diving into a bowl of granola look like a whimsical escape (seriously, who can make oats look dreamy?!).
And yet, there’s a sincerity in everything Garance does that makes her not only approachable, but also the kind of person we can imagine swapping airport horror stories with over a couple cocktails… ideally in some fabulous boutique hotel garden. We here at Mr & Mrs Smith have felt for a while now that she’s a travel kindred spirit. In fact, it was around the same time that Garance moved to Los Angeles that a number of our colleagues packed their things for a transfer to Smith’s very own West Coast outpost. More than one of us passed her story about life in La La Land post-NYC around the office and reacted with an overwhelming ‘Yes! Exactly!’
While we’d all love an opportunity to hit the road with Garance – perhaps to her native France or on a meditation retreat to the Atacama Desert in Chile – for now, we’ve done the next best thing and picked her brain about all things travel. Here she shares her thoughts on hotel must-haves, finding inspiration and what we can learn from French women about packing.
The first thing you do when you check into a hotel room…
Throw myself on the bed, check the bathroom, open the window and stop the music! I’m not crazy about hotel welcome music.
What’s the best in-flight reading you’ve done lately?
I do a lot of in-flight writing; it’s like the ideas pour out of me when I’m flying. If I’m not working, I’ll watch very romantic movies on the plane. I love crying on my own in the dark…
An ideal hotel must have…
When I lived in New York, I would have said a bath tub, as I didn’t have one in my apartment. I would specifically ask for rooms with a place to soak and was very disappointed at the new trend of huge showers but no tubs.
Now that I have a great tub at home, I have to find a new obsession. Actually, I’d love to be able to go to a yoga class. Or at least know I have the option and then push the snooze button.
The world has long been obsessed with the way French women do things (dress, date, etc). Is there a characteristic way that French women travel that we can all emulate?
Yes! One thing French women do is not pack too much so they can shop local and wear their treasures during the trip. A straw bag from Greece or Morocco, a hat, a pair of espadrilles in the South of France… French women love to pass as locals.
That’s also why anywhere I go, I try to create one ritual. Maybe have an espresso at the same café every morning. After a week, people know you, you’ve made friends, you know all the good places to visit that aren’t in guides. Going multiple times to the same place is the best way to create real memories that will last.
You’re a writer, so what are your thoughts on out-of-office messages? Leave one or skip it? Keep it simple or make it poetic?
I’ve never done one because my life is always on the go, and I don’t really differentiate between work and pleasure.
What’s the most fashionable airport in the world?
Oh, that’s such a great question! One of my favourite spots is actually LaGuardia’s Marine Air Terminal, the historic side, in New York. It’s a beautiful art deco building that hasn’t been touched.
I got lost in it one day and I was like wait, what? How did they make such beautiful airports back in the day? With such beautiful art? It’s a testimony to what air travel used to be, when people still dressed up to go on planes. It’s not really in use anymore, but it’s really worth a look whenever you land in LaGuardia (I know, never…).
Oh wait, the question was fashionable? I don’t know, because people don’t dress up for travel anymore (and I understand them).
Have you ever stolen something from a hotel room? (We won’t tell, promise.)
A good soap, maybe. That’s where I would stop.
What’s your favourite camera for shooting while you’re on holiday?
My phone. As much as I love my Canon 5D, it’s too heavy to walk around with. I wish it wasn’t, really. I’ve tried other, smaller cameras, but nothing comes close (yet!).
Do you have any personal rules for posting to Instagram while you’re on a trip?
No rules, I just try really hard to not be annoying and to show the good and the bad, and I probably fail most times. (Why is it so hard not to be annoying on Instagram?)
What’s the best meal for room service (breakfast, lunch, dinner…. 3am second dinner)?
Breakfast in bed. Doesn’t get more heavenly than that.
Luggage of choice?
Your packing style in three words…
23 pounds max
What beauty products do you never leave home without?
An oil that can do everything, such as a good coconut oil. It’s great because it solidifies when it’s cold, so there’s less chance it will spill in your luggage.
The best souvenir you bought this year…
A really cool long shirt I got in Morocco.
And the souvenir you’re kind of regretting…
I have become very good at NOT buying after so many mistakes. I can’t remember my last one, though I might have gotten over excited about a djellaba in Morocco and bought one too many of them.
Where’s the most surprising place you’ve found inspiration recently?
I know it’s going to sound woo woo, but since you’re asking: in my struggles. They challenge and change me. Also, in Los Angeles, where I just moved. This place is so inspiring. Oh and have you ever been to the botanical gardens at LA’s Huntington Library or Santa Barbara’s Lotusland? Vegetation is very inspiring to me.
What’s a trip you took in the last year that fired up your creativity?
Morocco for sure. It’s amazingly beautiful, and it feels like the moment you step foot there, you immediately get ideas… And you can make them happen! There are so many gifted artisans there.
Any tips for fighting the post-holiday blues?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I always love coming back home… I guess create a life you love. It’s not easy, but so worth it.
If you could ‘accidentally’ pick up someone else’s suitcase at baggage claim – anyone in the world – whose would you pick and why?
Oh gosh, I don’t know… Kim Kardashian’s? Out of pure voyeurism. And because I’m sure her packing is perfection.
You recently moved from NYC to LA. Any newly discovered favourite escapes on the West Coast?
Big Sur is one of my favourite places on earth after my island, Corsica. The irony? They look pretty similar.