UM: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally? What brought you to Paris and how long have you been living here?
Rosemary Allan: I was born in Greystoke (where Tarzan was born!) in the Lake District, in the North of England where all my family are farmers. Nobody I knew had done anything other than finish school at 16, have a little job, marry a farmer, have kids, stay close. Unfortunately, I always knew that wasn’t me – I went to university, worked in London, then in Hong Kong.
I fell in love but then was asked to give that all up to create our new life in Paris. I refused because I adored my life in Hong Kong but I continued the long-distance relationship and two years later agreed to ‘give up Hong Kong’ rather than positively choosing to move to Paris. That was 20 years ago and it took several years to let go of the negative comparison.
UM: What do you do?
Rosemary Allan: I offer personal and confidential style and colour consultations that transform the way my clients feel about themselves, forever. By understanding which colours and clothing styles are perfect for them my clients know they are looking their absolute best, effortlessly, whether they’re wearing jeans or dressed for the boardroom. Another effect is that they save time and avoid costly mistakes when shopping.
I also have two award-winning properties in central Paris that I run as a BnB and self-catering apartment for up to six people, currently ranked 6th and 8th of all +/- 9500 properties in Paris listed on TripAdvisor.
UM: How did you get started as a colour and style consultant?
Rosemary Allan: I’ve had a Cruella Deville streak in my hair since I was 21 but when I started going grey nothing seemed to look or feel right. I knew lots of people who had been for colour analysis, so in 2008, I asked my mother to organise one for the next time I was home. The experience was worse than useless, there was no explanation of what was happening or why and the room was so dark I literally couldn’t see the effect the different colours were having on my skin. I left knowing that one day I would learn how to do this myself, properly.
In 2010 I had an opportunity to come back to the UK and train with ColourMeBeautiful, the leading image consultants in Europe. I was doing it for myself as I was sure no-one in France would want me to help them – fortunately, I was wrong!
UM: What is the most challenging part of managing a BNB and being a colour and style consultant? How do you transition between the two roles?
Rosemary Allan: There is no challenge, they are obvious bedfellows and I’ve created several cross-over ‘Getaway experiences’ for clients staying in the B&B or apartment such as my 2 or 3-nights luxury style getaways. They are full of colour, styling, personal shopping, champagne lunches and dinners in hand-picked restaurants plus a session with a professional photographer.
I also have special intimate 1-day experiences: “Mother and Daughter” and Sisters or BFF packages which include cakes and champagne and are hugely popular but it is not necessary to stay with me for those.
UM: Which part of Paris do you live in? What is the best part about living in your arrondissement?
Rosemary Allan: I live on rue de Clichy in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. It’s a super busy road but thankfully I don’t hear any traffic noise as I’m at the back facing gardens. I love it because it is still full of local families so there are great restaurants, local shops and of course the amazing Landemaine bakery on the corner.
Then there are the speciality shops; all the model toy shops like Au Pullman and the herbalist which are both on rue d’Amsterdam. I buy knives for friends and family at Planète Rasoir and tend to idle by when someone is in the window getting shaved with a cut-throat razor just like my grandfather used all his life.
Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are at the bottom of the road and I love being so close to Montmartre so that I can look for new boutiques or have a meal then come home leaving the tourist swarms behind.
Walking is my preferred form of transport but I appreciate the convenience of having St Lazare 5 minutes away as it means I can be anywhere in Paris in 20 minutes even though when I take the metro I regularly find myself going the wrong way.
UM: What is your ideal way to spend a free weekend in Paris?
Rosemary Allan: If I have a free morning I will spend it on my balcony watching the sun come up, I am not a morning person but if I am awake at 5 am in the summer there is nothing more peaceful.
On a warm day having a picnic is my favourite way to spend the day, but I don’t travel light! I have a proper wicker basket with china plates and wine glasses and sometimes a one-use barbeque. We have been known to have picnic barbeques before watching an open-air film at Parc de la Villette or on the Champs de Mars for the fireworks. When security came over we would show them the two London bricks the barbeque was balanced on, brought specifically so as not to singe the grass – they would just think we were mad English and let us continue.
Otherwise, I love being in Montmartre, reading a book in a café with a view or shopping for materials and wool on rue d’Orsel as I knit, sew and am re-learning how to crochet.
UM: Is there anywhere you’d like to visit or explore in Paris or around that you haven’t yet?
Rosemary Allan: The Catacombs but the 2-hour queues have always put me off and the Scottish part of me is reluctant to pay for the new ‘jump the queue’ pass!
UM: If I am in Paris for a day, where would you recommend I go for dinner and drinks?
Rosemary Allan: Obviously, because of running the B&B I have my little black book of great places all over Paris so that my guests can feel like locals but I would probably suggest you choose one of my two favourite restaurants because they are next door to each other – Jeanne B and Au Virage Lepic.
They have wildly different personalities, I love the vegetable tart at Jeanne B and Au Virage Lepic has the best onion soup in Paris. Then you can keep walking up to the artist’s Square and the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre to see the evening views.
On the way back, you could pop into the bar Le Cyrano just off the Place de Clichy. I love the original mosaics and mirrors, the super-friendly staff and the lively atmosphere. They also do great tapas in the evenings if you want to nibble something with your last glass of wine.
Next time you are in Paris and looking for a charming BnB to stay, be sure to check out Rosemary’s properties at 52 rue de Clichy (her Facebook page here). If you are wondering how to look your best in Paris, join her for a personalised colour and style consultation at BWonderful (Facebook). You can also follow Rosemary on Instagram and LinkedIn.