Frenchman Pascal de Villepin, Director (SEA) of Veja, shares where to go for great food, drinks and shopping.
Although Singapore failed to leave much of an impression with this Frenchman six years ago, he’s grown to love the place since his posting here in 2013. Pascal de Villepin, Director (Southeast Asia) for French sneaker brand Veja, shares, “I travelled for six months around Asia as a solo backpacker, discovering extraordinary countries like India, Laos and Indonesia.
To be honest, I did not really appreciate Singapore at that time, feeling that the city was a bit expensive and, at first sight, not as fun compared to Bangkok and Hong Kong. But after two years here, my wife and I are really enjoying ourselves. Singapore is like our second home!”
“My wife Berry and I both wanted to get an experience abroad and we have always been fascinated by Asia. Eventually, we chose Singapore, which is a perfect place for us – it has a dynamic atmosphere and is a regional hub, with lots of job opportunities. We’ve adapted quickly thanks to a good friend living here, who helped us to settle in. The heat is not really a problem, and day to day life is easy!”
So, where does a stylish 34-year-old Frenchman entertain and shop in Singapore? We ask Pascal for his must-visits…
Where do you entertain business partners?
Our office is in Chinatown, so I often meet partners for coffee in that area. Places include My Awesome Café, Department of Caffeine and Café Gavroche. At night, I like to take them to the restaurants and bars at Club Street. And if I’m looking for a quieter place, I’ll head to Prelude Bar or Southbridge (try the mini burgers!), which have a nice view of Marina Bay Sands. If the associates are adventurous, I test their chilli resistance at Lagnaa Barefoot Dining in Little India!
What about drinks?
I’d head to Artistry for a beer with friends; Loof or Mad Men for a drink with cool music; and Zsofi in Little India if we’re looking for a quieter spot.
Which family-friendly eateries do you like?
We have a nine-month-old daughter, Brune, and we take her out for family meals all the time. During the week, we go to Pizzaiola for their very nice pizzas andpastas. There is a small park behind with a playground. Then, there’s Din Tai Fung – kids (and I also) are always impressed with seeing the dumplings being made. Also, every month, there is a party called Sunday at Training Shed at Labrador Park. This free event offers a lot of games for children and good music for all.
What’s your fashion style?
My fashion style is really simple and casual: Levi’s for jeans and Dockers for chinos, paired with slim shirts by French brand, Sandro, and leather shoes or Veja sneakers, of course! Veja is a special brand – it was created 10 years ago in France and it’s among the first ecological and fair-trade brands. For example, we only use organic cotton and wild rubber to produce our shoes. I do not wear a lot of accessories, but currently I’m in love with the watch brand Memento. During weekends, I like to wear simple T-shirts, like those from Singaporean brand SIFR, available at Pact in Orchard Central, which are really soft and well cut.
So where do you shop for your clothes?
For formal wear, it’ll be at Robinsons The Heeren, Ion Orchard and a new shop I like in Capitol Piazza called Manifesto. It’s a multi-label lifestyle store. For casual wear, there’s Kapok at NDC, Rockstar or Assembly Store. A remote place named Little Man Shop also offers a very nice selection. For footwear, The Blind Cobbler has good quality leather shoes, and Tangs, where Veja is available, has a renovated floor dedicated to shoes which is really cool.
What about shopping for your daughter?
Tanglin Mall is the place for kids, and the Small shop has a lot of choices for Brune (especially the organic clothes from La Queue Du Chat) as well as my wife, Berry! Elly at Cluny Court is cool too! For accessories, I love Cuckoo Little Lifestyle Store at Dempsey.
Any place romantic?
My wife and I love to get a drink on our balcony at night when Brune is asleep. We can relax and talk quietly… so every day is a romantic day. When we have something special to celebrate, we go to Senso at Club Street.
Where do you escape to when you want to get away from the crowds?
We walk from our home in Lorong Chuan to Serangoon Gardens. It is a nice, peaceful residential area. To escape the crowds, I play football at 1 pm every Sunday. I can assure you that we are the only few running around outside!
What do you do in the weekends with the family?
We try to have a cultural or adventurous activity each weekend: Visiting museums, monuments, the theatre…and we quite enjoy watching the races at the Turf Club in Woodlands, too!
Do you have any Singapore secrets to share?
Only our neighbours know Jalan Girang. There are really good restaurants like Pizzaiola, Siam Society, Rokeby… all located in a very serene village-like environment. Another “secret” place I’ve found is New Ubin Seafood, hidden in an HDB area between Bishan Park and MacRitchie Reservoir. It’s weird for a seafood restaurant, but their speciality is the beef which I highly recommend.
Some people say Singapore is so boring…do you agree?
I can understand this feeling but after a few months here, I have come to know that there are great places to party…the proof is that I can’t even remember their locations the day after!
Looking for more favourite finds in Singapore, click here!
The Finder, September 2015