Travel Journalism and Marseille’s 1950’s Heritage

As some of you may have noticed from my Twitter bio, I am very lucky to be called upon from time to time, to contribute to my favourite magazine, Homes & Antiques. Many moons ago I did a shoot wearing a 1950’s dress for them (Jan 2009!), and it turned out to be the beginning of many a lovely collaboration. Three highlights really stand out to date. A few years ago I picked for them my top ten 1950’s Christmas party dresses and accessories which were then superimposed on beautiful drawings, in the style of old fashion plates (Jan 2010). Incidentally it was during the 1950’s that fashion photography really came into its own. I have a lovely Elle from 1953 which features a mix of drawings and photography.

Last year I was beyond proud to be asked to be on the judging panel for the ‘top 50 Vintage Shops in the UK’ article, which came out in August this year. I love to share my finds so it was a dream come true to be asked. The Shop in Brick Lane and Tango Tea in Portsmouth are still proudly displaying their  ‘winners’ boards in their windows and it makes my grin like a Cheshire cat to think that I made that happen. One of my winners even made their local news. It’s so important to keep indie shops going (pls do another round H&A!).

Before I come across all ‘Mary Portas’ I will leave you with my favourite assignment of all time: I had one of those heart-stopping moments last year when I was asked to travel to Marseille to write about the towns’ shopping and 1950’s heritage. Yes, that’s right readers; I got paid to travel abroad and write about vintage and antiques (known as ‘Vintiquing’ – a catchy term to cover simultaneous vintage and antique shopping, for anyone who may be unaware of its meaning).

I have two things to say about this assignment. Firstly it was the most exciting and eye opening job I have ever done. The warm welcome I got from the business owners and tourist reps was mind blowing. They are gearing up to be the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and boy, are they proud of it.  No one was snobby or stuck up and I felt thoroughly looked after. To be honest, I was humbled.  And there was no lack of material to write about. Secondly I have never done a job as exhausting as this one. Why?  Well 3 days nonstop of walking for 12 hours a day, trying to fit in all aspects of a town from food to shopping to other things to see was knackering, and throughout it all I felt a heavy obligation to report accurately and to do the town justice. I also quickly cottoned to the fact that people have their own agendas and a few times I sensed that I needed to keep on track rather than be led down a suggested path. The funny thing was, the whole town seemed to know I was there. I would go into one shop and they would say ‘ah la journalist Anglaise, we have heard all about you!’ which was actually very funny, and somehow also very French. I also needed to balance this with finding the very best for the magazine readers.

So I can tell you now, travel writing is not the doddle it seems. There is a HUGE amount to process and take in and memorise and then you very quickly have to sift it to retain the best. Luckily I am a big fan of going to bed at 10pm and getting up at dawn. There is also not a huge scope to go back ask more questions when doing the write up!  On the way home my evening Eurostar hit a stag and which resulted in testing the tracks for damage.  I came home exhilarated but phsycally and mentally spent.

If you would like to read my article (teaser: bakelite bangles for 6 Euro’s anyone?) or to order any of the back issues of Homes and Antiques (they really are quite timeless) then all you have to do is call this number: 0844 844 0255 or email Its worth it for the shopping guides alone if you are planning a city break. I’m going to leave you with part one of my Marseille pictures, with part two coming up next week with a look at what is on offer this month (1960’s interiors fans you are in for a treat). A big thank you to Hanson Leatherby for editing my amateur work.

Eames DSW Chairs

Chairs and Lamps at Atelier 159

Brocante Cafe Display

Helene Boy's eclectic shop

Mid Century Cabinets and Chairs

Helene's shop doubles as a gallery

Helene's shop doubles as a gallery

Lunchtime at La Boite a Sardine

Vintage sardine tins

Entrance hall of La Cite Radieuse

Le Corbusier Corridor

Front of La Cite Radieuse

Small Studio Appartment


These little bedrooms were guest rooms for people visiting.

Side elevation of La Cite Radieuse

The view from the restaurant in La Cite Radieuse

Le Relax Factory Shop

Le Meublier Shop


Curiosities in Le Meublier

Propellor and clock at Le Meublier


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