Summer Series: Being body confident this summer!

Body confidence: something often discussed and debated but hardly realised. Whilst it is often easier to feign during the winter, hidden under chunky sweaters and coats, body confidence usually come to the forefront of our minds (and many lifestyle features appearing in women’s magazines) when summer arrives. Often seen as daunting and unattainable, achieving this type of self-love can be a lot more difficult than ‘experts’ in the field make out…. However, by following a few simple steps, all of us can put ourselves on the right track to capturing a genuine summer glow.

1) Getting the right fit…

Back in 2014, The Daily Mail published a piece on how over half of women in the UK buy clothes in sizes too small for them, seeing this as an incentive to get slim. However, studies found that this method rarely works, often inhibiting body confidence. Personally, I think that getting the right fit is a crucial first step on the path to summer body confidence. Who wants a bright and beautiful vest top, albeit far too tight-fitting, rolling up their stomach every five minutes? Many of us have been there and many of us felt self-conscious… So why go back? For the beginnings of genuine body confidence and comfort, buying items of appropriate sizing is key. Rather than using smaller sizing as an incentive in this sense, why not see a shopping trip once you’ve reached your goal as motivation? This summer, get the fit right.

2) …. whilst getting fit!

We all feel better after a little exercise. Whether it be regular Zumba classes, cycling to work or an evening summer stroll, it’s no surprise that regular exercise does our bodies the world of good, whilst releasing positive endorphins to give us that much-desired summer glow. It’s a common myth that we need to do crazy, exhausting workouts in the weeks leading up to our long-awaited week in the sun, in a bid for the ‘perfect’ holiday body. A more rewarding alternative is to do light exercise, in whatever form that may take, regularly, throughout the year. Even if it’s a few squats everyday during the ad break of your favourite soap, you will see a difference and feel more confident for it. Often, genuine body confidence is all about having something tangible to cling to.

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A tan is a sure-fire confidence booster for the summertime!

3) Glow, glow, glow

This may be more of a personal one, but I always feel more confident with a tan. Something about a bit of bronze (whether real or fake) can really bring out that summer glow we all crave. A beautiful British summer thus far has meant that many already look like bronze goddesses before even jetting off from their local airports. Why not embrace this and maintain a natural, healthy glow by moisturising regularly? For the sun-shy or those who simply find it hard to tan, a million versions of bronze in a bottle line the shelves of Boots and Superdrug. From Instant Tan products to lotions that build a natural glow, plenty of options exist to make us glow from the outside in.

4) Smile!

Yes, it may be a cliche, but simply smiling can put anybody on the golden path to body confidence. Feeling conscious? The age-old saying ‘fake it til you make it’ may serve you well. This is perhaps the simplest tip on the list, particularly for those of us that enjoy having fun on holiday (I don’t know anybody that doesn’t, on reflection!). Looking good and feeling good often go hand in hand, so smiling can really be invaluable to a genuine summer glow.

Wherever you’re off to in the world this summer, enjoy, smile and love yourself!

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Spending time with friends in the summer sun guarantees a smile and glow of confidence

 

 

 

Touring and tasting: champagne houses in the champagne capital

During my last week in Reims, I reflect on what it does best: champagne! Who could leave the Champagne region’s most popular city without a quick sweep of the specialist houses it has to offer?

In 2015, UNESCO granted the champagne industry a protected status. In short, this meant that consumers would only be drinking ‘real champagne’ should it be produced in its designated French region. Champagne ‘counterfeits’ (bottles produced anywhere else in the world) would be known simply as sparkling wine, from then onward. On the other side of the coin, this development ensured that producers local to Reims, Epernay and surrounding communes would be reassured of the consistent high quality of their trade.

When walking through Reims, you are never too far away from a champagne house. From the famous Veuve Clicquot to the lesser-known but equally enchanting Martel, touring and tasting spots are abundant. Only a short train journey away, neighbouring Epernay is home to the globally renowned Moet-Hennessy as well as a handful of smaller-scale, family-run retailers. Each has its own specialities and many offer both cellar tours and tastings.

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Enjoying a glass in Pommery’s main foyer, following a fascinating tour.

 

Vranken-Pommery, Reims

Perhaps the city’s most decadent champagne house, Pommery is the founder of Brut. Priding itself on this innovation (champagne with considerably less sugar mixed in), Pommery’s cellar tour also shows off its vast collection of art. Why would a champagne cellar house mesmerising art, you ask? The answer is one of a historical nature: the widowed Madame Pommery was not only the pioneer of female entrepreneurship in the industry but also conceptualised the ‘champagne tour’. Unsurprisingly, she envisioned making Pommery’s cellars as aesthetically-pleasing as possible for visitors. This ambition lives on today. For a taste of Vranken’s art (and, of course, a glass of its champagne!) a standard cellar tour with subsequent tasting amounts to 22 euros per person.

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Veuve’s elegant terrace is the perfect spot for a tasting in the sunshine.

Veuve Clicquot, Reims

A five minute walk away from Pommery, the luxurious base of Veuve Clicquot can be found. Much of Veuve’s significance comes through its prestigious brand reputation. The fact that the organisation pioneered ‘riddling’ (a crucial champagne production technique) only adds to its historical importance. Tastings are readily available at the house, as are captivating tours. For those who fancy a glass of Veuve’s finest produce, tastings begin at 12 euros per person and are best enjoyed on the house’s bright yet elegant terrace in brilliant sunshine.

Martel, Reims

For a low-key tasting and a comprehensive explanation of what you are drinking and how it is produced, Martel is the place to go. Although tours do not operate here until mid-late summer, the 3-glass tasting offered (12 euros pp) comes complete with a friendly connoisseur in a luxurious sitting room. For an alternative champagne experience, away from the grand houses which tend to dominate international markets, Martel is highly recommended.

Jacquart, Epernay

In neighbouring Epernay, Moet-Hennessy is by far the biggest name in town. However, whilst in the area, a few of the smaller houses are definitely worth a visit. Take Jacquart, for example. A family-run business, passed down through generations, Jacquart offers an informative tour of its chalk cellars and production rooms which are still in action today, in contrast to many larger houses. Whilst failing to compete with Moet in terms of glamour, the pared-back experience Jacquart offers is inherently authentic, presenting a fascinating insight into the life of a champagne tradesman today.

The best breakfast… in France!

As a British girl, I have grown up on bacon sandwiches and poached eggs with toast to begin my days (on the weekends, at least). This meant that coming to France was quite a shock to my system: no bacon? How could I survive? What would I possibly eat for breakfast? I soon worked it out…

Sitting in a Parisian cafe in the Paris-Bercy quarter, I ordered my first ever ‘French breakfast’. The title sounded fitting and, for only 3 euros, what was not to love?

When a singular plain croissant and shot of espresso arrived before me, I realised that the breakfast to rival a Full English I had foolishly anticipated definitely suited its low price: they don’t call it a petit déjeuner for nothing… It was time to adapt to this culture shock and to begin my pursuit of the Best Breakfast in France!

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Ready to enjoy a classic Pain Chocolat Amade before class

The Best Pastry: Pain Chocolat Amande

Love pastries but bored of a plain old croissant? The Pain Chocolat Amande might just be for you! A mixture between a classic Pain Chocolat, Almond Croissant and cake, this intriguing yet delicious pastry is cheap, relatively filling and can be found in France’s best bakeries. Whilst Reims is a city better known for its Champagne, if you venture to student-favourite La Cave à Pains you will find the ultimate Pain Chocolat Amande (that is, if the morning batch hasn’t sold out already!) Of course, France offers an endless selection of traditional pastries, but this is the best by far.

The Best Regional Breakfast: The Breton Crepe

Each region in France has its own speciality. One could literally spend years studying French gastronomy. However, in all due respect to France’s localised dishes, the best regional treat to be had at breakfast is the Breton Crepe. Lighter than a pancake, but of a similar composition in essence, the crepe is first and foremost a Breton product, although creperies do appear in many towns across France, from Dijon to Paris. This is perhaps the most versatile French breakfast too, with an endless number of toppings to be selected at the most accommodating creperies. Note: crepes are popularly eaten for lunch or dinner in France, but if you cannot wait for a late brunch, multiple street vendors across Paris tend to offer these sweet-savoury treats throughout the day.

The Best Supermarket Breakfast: Chocolat Chaud et Muesli

If you’re on a budget or would like to enjoy something a little healthier, why not pop down to your local Carrefour? The best thing I have found in there to eat for breakfast is the chain’s own-brand Muesli (which is actually just Granola and comes in about 7 flavours). Add some pasteurised milk and Chocolat Chaud powder (Hot Chocolate is traditionally drank at breakfast, in France) to your basket and you will be set for days to come.

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Carrefour Crepes: a supermarket staple

Special mention: Carrefour Kids Crepes

Yes, technically this one is a light snack for children, but sometimes one must improvise when living in a new country. The Carrefour Kids Crepes are compact, tasty and more filling than you would think. Sold in packets of 8, with a choice between chocolate or strawberry flavoured filling, these hidden treasures have become a staple in my French shopping basket. Why not give them a try if you get the chance? What have you got to lose? A crepe may not be an appropriate substitute for a bacon sandwich, but it will be an immense challenge to find the latter anywhere.