Who said India is not family friendly?! I wrote a lot about Kerala last year, a region in the South of India which I fell in love with. Thought it would be very easy to visit with children (unlike Rajasthan which is perhaps more for grown-ups). Today, Chloe Le Bonnois, the designer behind the children’s clothing brand Nana Ki shares her love of Goa where she regularly goes with her 2 little ones for some chilled beach time. Time to prepare for next (northern hemisphere’s) winter when Goa is at its best. With a lot of international flights arriving into Goa, and a very good choices of hotel infrastructures, Goa is finally getting its chic back in hippie-chic. Ps: for BozAround city guide on Delhi, click here.
The Nana Ki family – portrait
I am Chloe Le Bonnois, a French woman of 32 years old married to Alex Lieury, also French and 34 years old. We have been living in New Delhi for 7 years now, we settled here for my business originally, Nana Ki. We have 2 children, Lola 6 years old and Matteo who is 18 months. Both were born in New Delhi in India.
And about Nana Ki and your inspiration…
We created, with my mother Danielle, our brand Nana Ki in 1999 after travelling for 2 years in India to study traditional textile techniques and handicrafts. We fell in love with India and all the possibilities we had here to make our dream come true, to create a brand for women clothes and accessories, for baby-children clothes and also decoration. Our inspiration comes from India only, all over India, and we always use Indian traditional techniques of embroidery, weaving, printing in our collections while designing in a contemporary way for the Western market.
To be able to make what we really wanted to achieve and in the conditions of work we wanted, we opened our own workshop in Delhi with the help of an Indian collaborator, Ritu Jain. It is a small unit where we all work like a family. That way, we can control everything at each stage of the production. We also work with several organisations that care about preserving all the traditional hand techniques, one of the richness of the country which risk getting lost over time.
A family beach vacation in GOA
Goa is a wonderful place for family holidays. It is best known for beach parties but some parts of Goa are true family places as well, with a lot of children having a wonderful time. We are used to going to North Goa, at Morjim which is nice quiet place where we can enjoy beach, walks and delicious food.
You reach it by car from the international airport in Goa, where you’ll find lots of taxis. You can also use my very good private driver company – call the boss Yosheh on 09637881804 and he’ll arrange any sort of car for your family!
PLAY in GOA
We spend our days at the beach. Sometimes we go for a walk or a boat ride where we can see dolphins, this is one of my daughter’s favourite activity. The departure point is in front of Fort Aguada, there is no need to book in advance, they do the boat ride everyday. During the tourist season, there are some travelling circus or small shows of puppets or dance which are nice for the family.
EAT in GOA
Our favourite restaurant is La Plage in Morjim, Ashwem beach. It is the best restaurant in Goa, and even one of the best in India!!! It is run by 3 French men who opened it 10 years ago, in front of the beach. The food is simple and yet refined, they always use fresh produce from Goa. It is really a wonderful place and they will always welcome you with a big smile. Make sure to book ahead in peak season.
There is also The Cue, owned by a French lady; the food is very homemade. It’s tiny, with just few tables so booking is essential, it is always full. For lunch a lot of small beach shacks have delicious fish, prawns, calamari..They are very simple places but nice to make a stop for a fresh meal; always in front of the sea which is pleasant;
Le Poisson Rouge is the perfect place for a gourmet and romantic dinner without children.
SLEEP in GOA
Of course our favorite one is the boutique hotel of my husband, Amariya Shamiyana! There are 4 huge luxury tents just in front of the beach and next to the wonderful restaurant La Plage. It is a good mix of luxury with all the necessary comforts but right by the beach. And children love the idea of sleeping in a tent!it’s very relaxed.
We sometimes also stay at a nice little hotel called Sur La Mer, 5 minutes from ours and also very close to the beach. It’s just 12 bedrooms in a beautiful huge house. The owner runs the place himself, the atmosphere is very cozy and he looks after all his guest individually. The children love the big swimming pool.
SHOP in GOA
Goa is famous for its big night market. It is a place to visit and to shop, but it’s huge and you have anything and everything. So you really need to search for the small stands which will sell typical Indian things. You must also check out Nirvana, is great shop in Anjuna(its small and easy to find) that sells accessories such as pouches, toiletry bag, t-shirts with all sorts of Indian gods prints.
Of course I recommend my little shop inside a tent in the boutique hotel of my husband, The Shop by Nana Ki. Over there we sell one part of nana ki collection, mostly woman and children beach pieces like kurtas, djellabas, beach wear, pareos and night dresses. And also accessories like fancy bags, pouches….only items that you feel like buying right now to wear in Goa.
There is also a wonderful shop in Calangute from Indian designer Malini Ramani. She carries a selection for woman, with mix of Indian and European touch. In Goa, you mostly want to bring back some kurtas, some pareos and slippers…but beware that quality is not always top. So shop around…
TIPS in GOA
– Avoid going to Goa out of season, mostly when it is the mousson as the rain is just crazy! Best time of the year is from November until mid to end of March. After that, it really becomes unbearably hot and humid. In July and August, the mousson is at its strongest so it’s definitely a no-no.
– Check out the website What’s Up in Goa, for the latest news and events.
– As always in India, make sure you eat in fresh and clean places. And protect yourself with mosquitos repellent as dengue is present pretty much everywhere in India. Take care also at nights on some beaches, mostly the one where there are parties as some thieves are there waiting for tourist. Otherwise nothing special, it is quiet and people are really nice and relax.
– By the way, you’ll find everything for young children in Goa, no need to overpack (except perhaps in low season, but then you would not want to travel there then!). From nappies to wipes, sun protection, mosquito protection etc..However, no ready-made baby food. In terms of doctors and medical help, you’ll also get it easily if needed, with good chemists all around.
Nana Ki is sold at Chloe’s shop Lola’s World in Delhi. If that’s not close enough for you (!), the brand has its own shop in Paris, in the heart of St Germain des Pres in Paris, on Place de l’Odeon but it’s only home decor pieces there. Or the collection is at the Bon Marche in Paris and here in the rest of the world. The collections are not online yet but apparently soon, stay tuned…