Originally from Athens, Kathie Argyros is the owner and founder of Sydney’s leading boutique homewares store French Cargo, where you will find a stunning mix of decor, fashion, jewellery, candles, soaps, vintage, and antique items- sourced mainly from France, but also from Greece and Italy.
With an eye for all things beautiful, Kathie’s lifelong passion for interiors and styling led her to follow her dream of bringing quality European products to Australia.
“I love the French Parisian and Provincial style as it’s classy, timeless, and always elegant. It’s become a destination for the discerning customer that wants to find something different to what large chain stores offer,” says Kathie.
With both her parents hailing from the stunning island of Corfu, Kathie travels to Greece on a regular basis and loves being able to source items from her homeland. “Greece and France are my two loves. I can’t go to one country without visiting the other. I regularly bring back unique artisanal pieces from Greece.”
Kathie recently spoke to IN+SIGHTS GREECE about her love of travel, tips on where to go and what to do in Corfu, as well as her exciting plans to launch travel tours to France and Greece in 2021.
Tell us about your love of France, when and how did it all begin?
At the age of 21, I visited Paris for the first time. I fell in love with the architecture, the French style, the cafes, the language, and the joie de vivre (joy of life). Since then, I always dreamed about one day opening up a French homewares store.
What do you love most about what you do?
Meeting amazing people that inspire me every day. I love the hunt for sourcing beautiful products and travelling to Europe to discover unique artisans. I get immense satisfaction in being able to offer something unique to my customers and their home.
When it comes to selecting products for French Cargo, what catches your eye?
I love discovering new talent. There are so many amazing artisans out there. I look for unique, artisanal products that are good quality and have a story to tell. I have a passion for European linens. The quality of European linen is amazing and I specialise in it because it is the best fibre in the world. It is strong, ecological and sustainable, and feels amazing.
You also stock pieces from Greece, tell us about those.
In 2018 I brought back beautiful Greek sculptures, artwork and jewellery from Sophia Thinking. I also stock Greek jewellery, bags and some local Greek artisans.
Who are a few of your favourite Greek designers at the moment?
I love the fashion of Zeus+Dione, the ceramics of Sophia Thinking and Christine Morali, the jewellery of Keras Design, Katerina Ionnidis and my recent discovery of Chaka Atelier and Topology jewellery which I now stock in my store.
What part of Greece are you from and how often do you visit Greece?
I was born in Athens, but both of my parents are from Corfu. Most of my family still lives there. I love Corfu and visit every time I go to Greece, which is once a year.
What do you love most about Corfu?
I love the provincial colours of ochre, rust, and green. Corfu is very green, and the island has strong Venetian and French Architecture. Napoleon occupied Corfu in the late 1700s and brought over his architect who modelled the area called Liston on the Paris Rue de Rivoli. It is a beautiful island with lots of history and small cobblestones streets and beautiful beaches. It is a very trendy island with unique shops and gorgeous cafes.
Where do you wine and dine in Corfu?
There are so many beautiful places to see in Corfu. For coffee, I always go to Josephine which is a cafe bar in Liston and was named after Napoleon’s wife, Josephine. For drinks, I have a few of my favourites, Azur Bar in the city overlooking the sea and old fortress, the rooftop bar of the Cavalieri Hotel, the Skyview Bar at Kanoni with awesome views of Mouse Island and beautiful sunsets and for something special, the Grotta Bar in Paleokastritsa. The view is unforgettable. For dinner, I love going to the Old Venetian Well in the old town and dining at Rex Restaurant in the city behind Liston for traditional Corfu food.
What should people not miss when visiting Corfu?
You must have a coffee at any of the cafes at Liston, walk through the old town, and visit Mon Repos Palace which was built in 1831. It is the birthplace of Prince Philip and was the summer residence of King George I of Greece. It has beautiful large gardens and artefacts and the walk leads you to a private beach. Visitors must see Paleokastritsa for its crystal clear waters and caves. A visit to Barbati Beach for a swim in the azure waters. But honestly, there is an endless list of places to visit, it really is an unforgettable experience.
What is your drink of choice when you are in Greece?
I really enjoy drinking Raki (something I got used to when I was in Crete). I love my Freddo Espresso and I also enjoy the Aegean Negroni at The Clumsies in Athens.
Your favourite Greek dishes and delicacies?
I am quite basic when it comes to food. My favourite meal is horta (Endives) with freshly grilled fish. I also love stuffed tomatoes, grilled sardines and grilled octopus.
Your most memorable lunch in Greece?
There are so many. The endless lunches at the taverns on the water’s edge on the islands, are unforgettable and are what I always look for. I had an amazing lunch at Dionysos Restaurant overlooking the Acropolis. It was hard to focus on the food. The view and the tranquillity of the place were amazing and the food has won many awards.
Where have you seen the best Greek sunset?
I would have to say Oia, Santorini, but honestly, Greece has awesome sunsets it’s hard to just pick one. I love the sunsets over the Old Fortress in Corfu – there is beauty everywhere you look in Greece.
Your best swim in Greece?
All the beaches are unbelievable on the Islands. Hard to pick one as the waters are crystal clear. Paradise Beach in Mykonos, Paleokastritsa Beach in Corfu, Lalaria Beach in Skiathos, were quite memorable. But I can’t forget my swim at Simos Beach on Elafonisso- it is one of the clearest, sandy beaches I have been to and truly unforgettable. It was also the last beach I had been to with my father (before he passed away) so it was memorable and the best swim because of him.
Your favourite spot in Athens?
When in Athens, I always go to Anafiotika which is the old area under the Acropolis, and a visit to Bar 360 in Monastiraki with awesome views of the Acropolis. I love Cafe Noel – you need to go and you will understand why. So different and chic. A walk through the Flea Market at Monastiraki for traditional Greek wares and I love going to The Clumsies for their awesome cocktails. A visit to Glyfada for its chic boutiques and cafes and private beaches are also a must.
Post- COVID you are also planning on launching tours around France and Greece. Tell us more.
I am super excited about my tours to Greece and France. COVID has put a hold on these for now but I am hoping to start my French Cargo Paris Tour in September 2021 and my Greek tours to Crete, Athens and Corfu the year after. These trips are for ladies that want to create memories that will last a lifetime. The Paris tour will include seven nights of accommodation, shopping in Parisian boutiques, visiting the famous flea markets, a trip to Reims, for champagne and lunch, and lunch and dinners at Parisian Cafes and high tea at the Ritz. The tour will also include a tour of Montmartre with our own personal guide. For the Greek tour, I am planning two tours for 2022 – Athens/Crete and Athens/Corfu. The tours will include accommodation, transfers and trips to famous beaches, restaurants, cafes, bars, and visits to artisans and hands-on workshops.
What do you always pack when you travel?
A change of comfortable clothes for the long airplane ride so that I arrive fresh and ready, my moisturiser and a comfortable pair of shoes. I always try to pack light so that I always have room to buy a couple of things (usually it’s shoes from Greece – as they have the best shoes.)