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It’s here, and we’ve had a launch party to prove it. Mr & Mrs Smith’s latest guidebook features 31 hotels in 12 destinations around France, is packed with gorgeous original photography and irreverent hotel reviews, and is genuinely a thing of beauty. (If we do say so ourselves.) What better excuse for a shindig?

Last week, Team Smith descended on The Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill (yep, the one from the film), armed with champagne, an accordion-player and appropriately tricolore bunting, to celebrate our new book in fine French style. Ruinart and Chambord cocktails flowed, Maison Blanc quiches were meticulously sliced and Patricia Michelson, the big cheese behind La Fromagerie in Marylebone and Highbury, selected a platter of dairy pleasures to thrill the pickiest palates. (Incidentally, Patricia contributed her cheese-choosing wisdom to our new book, with a piece on how to select the best fromage in France).

By the time the bottles were cleared and the comprehensively scavenged cheese plates removed, we’d waxed Gallic for three hours, discussed our favourite Provence pads and St Tropez stays in unhealthy detail, and found the time to have a nose around the warren of serendipity that is the Travel Bookshop. It’s impossible to come here without finding some unexpected must-buy tome – so we’re very grateful they kept the tills open.

No launch party worth its cheese would be without a goodie bag, and we’d like to thank L’Occitane, Caudelíe, La Maison du Chocolat, Transworld and Random House for making ours the must-have accessory of last week. Thanks must also go to jewellery designer Ligia Dias and Ormonde Jayne’s Linda Pilkington for not only providing their stylish little somethings, but also penning hotel reviews for our France book (of Le Mas de la RMr & Mrs Smith France hotel guide – new French boutique hotel guidebookose and Bastide Saint Mathieu, respectively).

Sadly, we’re all out of champagne and goodie bags, but Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France is still in plentiful supply – you can order your copy at the Smith shop (and get a discount if you’re a Smith member, too).

And, if you’re in the area (Blenheim Crescent), and the doorway isn’t blocked by Richard Curtis’ snap-happy fans, make sure you pop into the Travel Bookshop to remind yourself what a pleasure book-browsing used to be in the pre-Amazon days…

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