May is all about the French fervor in the air. With the various film screenings and events happening in Hong Kong and Macau, we decided to speak to a few French expats themselves on their life, work and views on Asia. Featured this week is Aude Camus of Hong Kong Madame. Born and raised in Paris with some short stays in Nantes (West of France) and Sweden she decided to swap baguettes for dumplings in 2015.
Launched in 2010, Hong Kong Madame is the only city-guide in Hong Kong with a Parisian twist: elegant but not uptight, chic but funky, definitely not too serious and with a nice dose of self-mockery… a true Parisian! Just like its new Owner and Director (since 2018), Aude.
Where are you from originally and what brought you to Hong Kong?
I am from Paris and tagged along with my French boyfriend to Hong Kong.
Can you share with us a little about yourself and what you do in Hong Kong?
I am always in a rush! Running from meetings to meetings and having a full-time job by day plus running my lifestyle platform, Hong Kong Madame, at night. I am always on the lookout for a food porn-esque snacks to nibble on. And if I am neither eating nor working you’ll probably find me hitting the barre at barre 2 barre and sweating out all those calories from food tastings or trying on some new beauty products, laying on a beach, traveling or looking for some food and travel inspirations on Instagram and Pinterest.
What is Hong Kong Madame and how can our readers best use it?
Hong Kong Madame is the only French/English bilingual lifestyle platform in Hong Kong. Sharing tips, new addresses, latest trends, upcoming events and nice offers with our readers on a daily basis. No worries, we are absolutely not ‘French people only”! If you are on the look for a yummy place to take your friends or your loved ones, inspirational thoughts and experience sharing from entrepreneurs living in Hong Kong, travel inspirations or wanna keep an eye on the latest trends in the fashion or beauty industry we’ve got your back.
As the owner, what is the biggest challenge with running a bi-lingual website?
For me, one of the biggest challenges is to only share relevant and honest content. There is so much happening in Hong Kong, I could easily write and share 10 articles a day but first of all, I just do not have time for that and then I don’t see the point. Whenever I am trying a new place or reading a press release I need to ask myself “Would I recommend this to my friends?”, “Would I personally pay for that?” if not then why share it with my readers. But I must admit having a full-time job and running my website on the side is definitely an everyday challenge.
What is the most popular content on the site and why?
Food, for sure! Why? Well probably because food is the best thing in life. Or maybe because I have a personal approach when it comes to my food articles and like to tell a story and share thoughts and feelings rather than just sharing facts which makes it longer to read but definitely different from other restaurants and food reviews. The entrepreneurs of Hong Kong category is also quite popular which I am super happy about because I only launched it this year and personally love writing those articles
What do you love most about running Hong Kong Madame?
Meeting lots of people. I am meeting so many people it’s crazy: the brands I am working with, the people I am interviewing, the other media I am going to events with, the readers I am inviting to our monthly Hong Kong Madame Apero meet-ups and more. Whenever I go somewhere–the beach, a restaurant, an event–I always end up bumping into someone I know. Like many French people in Hong Kong I tend to be a little socially lazy so basically, all of my friends here are French. I love it that Hong Kong Madame gives me the opportunity to meet other nationalities. Plus I must confess it’s quite nice to be identified as the French media girl by the people I meet. It feels like it gives me something special and people usually remember me (also because to them my name sounds so strange so people would usually remember it).
What is your favorite topic to write about on the website and why?
Food food food! I tend to be very passionate about it. I love food so much, it just feels easy to write about. Plus, if I am writing about it, that means I have been having yummy tastings before. But I also love the entrepreneurs of Hong Kong category because it gives me the opportunity to meet inspiring people and being an entrepreneur myself I love to hear about their background, their struggles, their victories and more.
What is your favorite French brand and why? Any up and coming French brands you think we should know about?
Oh tough one, there are so many! Fashion wise I love the SMCP group: Sandro, Maje, Claudie Pierlot. Those three brands are hugely famous in France and are so very recognizable, it gives you that very Parisian look. I also love ba&sh for its very hippie chic clothes. And if you are looking for a place to buy those French brands without paying full price make sure to check Vestiaire Collective. I used to spend hours on this luxury and designer pre-owned fashion website back in France and I am so happy that they are now in Hong Kong. Another of my favorite brand is Rouje, for the sexiest yet very comfy dresses: sunny cuts, embraced waists and a very Parisian finish. They don’t have shops in Hong Kong but deliver worldwide.
And if I had the budget for it, I would live in Dior. When it comes to beauty, I definitely think that French products are the best. Some of my go to brands are Caudalie and Thalgo for skincare, Kérastase for my hair, Buly 1803 for their natural formulas and amazing vintage packaging, and Roger & Gallet for their very affordable yet super chic fragrances. Oh, and I wish I could have diptyque candles all over my place! I’m absolutely obsessed with this brand.
A lifestyle concept-store which I love visiting in Hong Kong is Maison XXII in Wan Chai where the ground-floor is dedicated to scent with a florist corner and many home fragrance and beauty products whilst the first floor features a yummy selection of products from Parisian Deli–La Maison Plisson.
What do you think is a French stereotype that isn’t true? And one that is?
I get so frustrated when I hear that French people are lazy and always on holiday or on strike. In one of my previous jobs, every day at 6:00pm my colleagues would look at me and joke “what are you still doing here? It’s 6:00pm and you are French, you should be home by now”. But working in France (in the private sector) is nothing like that. Plus it’s silly to measure the performance of someone on the time he/she spends behind his/her computer. Ah there are so many clichés that are so very true. I think one that is very true is that French people are proud of being French. Which is cool in a way, after all, there is nothing wrong with being proud of who you are and where you come from.
What are your favorite places to grab a French meal in Hong Kong and why?
I absolutely love Le Bistro Winebeast which I think is the best in terms of value for money. Chef Johan Ducroquet has a Michelin-starred restaurants background and I love the way he twists traditional French dishes. Plus the menu is seasonal so it’s super fresh and changes every six weeks which is the perfect excuse for me to go there regularly. If I am just looking for French casual food I will head off to A.O.C eat and drink, and order oysters and homemade rillettes, or to La Creperie for my fix of galettes (buckwheat crepes–a specialty from Brittany, west of France where I have a vacation house). And for a special occasion, I would either choose L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon or Caprice. I’ve loved Robuchon, and its three star service and food in a relaxed atmosphere. For years they’ve been serving my absolute favorite dish on earth–a sea urchin in a rich lobster jelly topped with a layer of cauliflower cream. I would literally kill for this dish! And lately I was blown away by Chef Guillaume Galliot’s amazing cuisine at Caprice. Not to mention Caprice has the most decadent cheese platter in town! Also, a big fan of Rech by Alain Ducasse for the freshest seafood. For baguettes, I go to Maison Eric Kayser.
When you are missing home, what do you do to help you feel more French here?
Pretty much all my friends are French and it’s so easy to find French stuff in Hong Kong I am never heavily missing home. I’m just enjoying my life here too much. But if I am feeling really gloomy there is nothing a buttery croissant can’t cure especially when it’s delivered straight to your door. God bless Laura for launching Le Petit Croissant. A buttery croissant and a French movie are usually all I need on a gloomy day.