Minnie Mortimer: Paris en famille

Designer Minnie Mortimer is something of an expert when it comes to navigating Paris like a native. Here, her favourite addresses and the quintessentially french experiences she shares with her daughter

Words by Natasha Inchley

Minnie Mortimer loves to surf – she likens her early-morning dips in the ocean near her home in Malibu to a tonic – yet she feels just as enlightened when in Paris. Having lived in the city for two years, the designer, stylist and photographer has a deep affection for its cobbled laneways, museums and cafés – only nowadays she gets to experience all that through the eyes of her four-and-half-year-old daughter, Tuesday. Mortimer says, "I take Tuesday everywhere, I hate being away from her," and indeed Mortimer, together with her husband, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan, have clocked up countless adventures abroad, always together.

As a result, Mortimer says her designs are largely influenced by her lifestyle. “Because we're often on the go, my style is very mixed up – plus I have conservative roots. I’m all about a traditional way of dressing but with bohemian offshoots. You might describe it as preppy punk or pretty bohemian.” She also has specific “codes” for dressing that help to boost her own feel-good factor. “I always feel better in dresses,” Mortimer explains. “The more down I’m feeling the more I dress up to give myself a little boost. It may sound silly but if you take care of yourself, then you naturally feel better – and when in Paris, of course you want to dress the part, too.”

Above, clockwise from top left: Mortimer's suite at Le Meurice; Luxembourg Gardens; Dining out at La Fontaine de Mars; Mortimer's husband, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan; Tuesday at bedtime; Mortimer's indulgence, soaking in a scalding hot bath.


"My daughter is a great travel companion, it’s so much fun to see Paris through her eyes. I've loved introducing her to the French way of living –  the food, the people, the effort that’s devoted to style and the fact that it's an important element of life."

– Minnie Mortimer

Her favourite Paris outing: At Luxembourg Gardens there is a wonderful old carousel and all the children are given spears, a little game where they hook rings as they travel around. While you wait, you can have an espresso in a small paper cup and listen to the music, it’s heavenly. Even before I had my daughter it felt so magical here. Luxembourg Gardens, Rue de Médicis, 6th arrondissement.

Where she stays: I like the Meurice, which is located across from the Tuileries. They give my daughter little slippers and umbrellas and are always prepared for young families. I also pack her favourite blanket and pillow, a stuffed animal, games and puzzles in Ziplock bags, and her little pencil set and notebook. Le Meurice, 228 Rue de Rivolo, 1st arrondissement, Tel + 33 1 44 58 10 10.

For a sweet treat: We love to visit Ladurée for the rose and raspberry cream puffs and tea. Also, the cotton candy you buy at the carousel in the Tuileries – my husband and my daughter think it's unusually good. Ladurée, 21 Rue Bonaparte, 6th arrondissement. Tel +33 1 44 07 64 87.


Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 3rd arrondissement. Tel +33 1 42 77 00 33. I love this boutique, it’s such a really great concept store for everything – from food containers and drinking glasses to great clothes, it covers the gamut.

2. Poilâne bakery, 8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th arrondissement. Tel +33 1 45 48 42 59. For Viennese pastries, biscottes and their wonderful spoon biscuits. I always buy bread here.

3. Café de Flore, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th arrondissement. Tel +33 1 45 48 55 26. I like the coffee and the people watching. 

4. Natural History Museum, 57 Rue Cuvier, 5th arrondissement. Tel +33 1 40 79 30 00. This museum is quite unbelievable and just a little bit spooky. They have countless dinosaur bones, not behind glass, beautifully handwritten plaques and cabinets of oddities such as ducks with two heads. 

5. La Fontaine de Mars, 129 Rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arrondissement. Tel +33 1 47 05 46 44. We come here a lot for dinner, they are always so very sweet to my daughter and the menu is one of my favourites.

"I love shopping in Paris – the boutiques are so unique and I’m not normally someone who shops in department stores, but I think [Le] Bon Marché has particularly great buyers of food and fashion." 

"I take my daughter everywhere with me... I’m conscious of avoiding that scenario of being physically present but not  available... When I'm with my daughter, I really try to focus on the quality of our time together."


On juggling work and home life: I always try to separate work from family time. I think it’s important to have your own space for emails and making calls, and I’m conscious of avoiding that scenario of being physically present but not available. My mother worked and I was very proud of her for doing so – as mums, I think we’re made to feel a lot of guilt that’s undeserved.

The greatest lesson she has learned from her daughter: For me, it’s been an exercise in learning that when you don’t control things often the result is much better than what you could ever have imagined – sometimes you just don’t know what’s best for yourself.

And what she hopes Tuesday will learn from her: That you have to do what makes you happy – trying to manage people’s opinions of yourself or your work is a fast road to mediocrity. I’m such a people pleaser but I am hoping my daughter will show a different kind of confidence. 

Her personal indulgence: When I’m home, I love surfing. I’m always happiest when I’m in the water because it shakes off all the things that I might be worrying about and helps turn on all my senses. When I’m traveling I’m equally addicted to taking scolding hot baths – I think about it all day long. I like the feeling of being clean.”


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