Weekend In Paris, Author at Weekend In Paris
Find out How Much it Costs to Go to Paris and then discover where the Parisian locals wine and dine, play and tell their friends to stay.
Paris, Weekend in Paris, How Much Does It Cost to Go to Paris, France travel
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19 Nov Loire Valley Castles along the Road to Happiness in France

Château des Hauts de Loire Hotel Domaine Hauts de Loire near the Loire Valley castles Depending upon your schedule, seeing the Loire Valley castles along the Road to Happiness (Route de Bonheur) can be as short as a few days or as long as a summer escape. My three-night mini excursion brought me, and newest Gal Pal Gail, to the Loire Valley where enchanting castles, charming Relais & Chateaux hotels and the best in food and wine awaited us. The journey began…
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13 Sep Loire Valley Hotel du Lion d’Or Deserves Gold Stars

rp_lion-dor-1024x683.jpgCharming villages dominate the landscape in the Loire region of France. The boutique hotels of the Relais & Chateaux are among the finest in the area. Grand Hôtel du Lion d’Or (Golden Lion) was the first stop in gal pal Gail and my three night mini “Route de Bonheur” – road to happiness and we were thrilled to find such a wonderful Loire Valley hotel.
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08 Aug Four Seasons George V Paris hits the Mark Every Time

  DSC_0250As a brand, The Four Seasons is consistently excellent and the classically French, quintessentially Four Seasons George V is definitely en pointe. Every visit I am pleased to experience a different facet of this awesome property. Whether it is a color scheme and fresh fabric change in the rooms or seasonal flowers brightening up the public spaces, George V is a leader in style and grace.
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13 Jul Hotel Le Fouquet’s Paris Where Everyone is a VIP

DSC_0774In the heart of the action off the Champs Elysées,  Hotel Le Fouquet's Paris has an energetic vibe that sets the tone for a refined and fun-filled experience in the City of Light. No matter if you are in town for business and crave a much-needed signature cocktail on the terrace in the cool and hip Galerie Joy bar, or if you are playing tourist and dream of an award-winning macaroon in a slice of French heaven at restaurant Le Diane, you will be well taken care of and feel special.
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10 Jul Context Travel Paris Chocolate and Pastry Tour

pierre hermé chocolate tourWhile recent medical reports have proven the health benefits of chocolate, the French do not need validation from scientists. For centuries they have realized the positive effects on mood and how including sweet cocoa treats in festivities adds to the joie de vivre. I had the pleasure of taking Context Travel’s Paris Chocolate and Pastry Tour and experiencing the depth of devotion Parisians have to my favorite food.
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11 May “Cook’n With Class” Wine and Cheese Tasting Paris

DSC_1001Paring wine and cheese is less complicated when broken down by type, region and purpose. Chef Preston Mohr of Cook'n With Class gave me and fellow students an excellent demonstration in a wine and cheese tasting Paris style. We learned the finer art of choosing complimentary products to replicate a palette pleasing experience back home.

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05 Apr Joyeuses Pâques, Happy Easter in Paris

Notre dame nightThe lead up to Easter in Paris was phenomenal. I had a wonderful chocolate tour with Context Travel's docent Alisa Morov and I visited several churches in preparation for Holy Week and the finale of Easter Sunday. I am thankful to be back in the U.S. with Mr. Weekend In Paris and our two sons to celebrate together. What a blessing! After all, you are, "no bunny, until some bunny loves you." Please enjoy my Easter tribute to Paris...
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24 Mar A Walk in the 8th and Paris Luxury Hotel Le Bristol

  DSC_0951My first day in Paris on assignment with Upscale Living Magazine is at Paris luxury Hotel Le Bristol. Its location is highly sought after, with its proximity to upmarket fashion houses and a close walk to both the Palais Royal and the famous Champs-Élysées. The 8th arrondissement has so much to offer visitors...
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17 Mar Chef Jean-Luc Rocha Hotel Cordeillan Bages

Rum baba: Sponge cake, soaked in rum-flavored syrup with strawberries Rum baba: Sponge cake, soaked in rum-flavored syrup with strawberries Approachable and effervescent two-Michelin star chef Jean-Luc Rocha at Hotel Cordeillan Bages in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region in Pauillac makes staying at this Relais & Chateaux property owned by the Cazes' family, a dream come true for foodies like myself. Delicious eye-candy, plate after plate came my way when I dined there on my last visit to area.
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26 Feb A Non-Tourist Walk in Paris 16th Arrondissement

DSC_0334Hotel Saint James Paris is just around the corner from a vibrant city area not much visited by tourists. While staying here, I took a stroll along Avenue Victor Hugo in the Paris 16th arrondissement. The 16th is not as sexy as the Right Bank, or as glitzy as the Place de la Madeleine, nor as trendy as the Marais, but it is definitely a cool neighborhood to hang out and be a global local amongst its wealthy residents.
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23 Feb Le Victory, Paris a Low-Key Brasserie in an Upscale Area

dessert victoryOne of the more difficult tasks when strolling along Avenue Champs Élysées is to find a low-key restaurant with decent food at reasonable prices. Le Victory, Paris is a local brasserie and bar just off the famous retail mecca. While a far reach from Michelin-star cuisine, Le Victory serves comfort food in a traditional French atmosphere.
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31 Jan Paris Safety Tips

Police Paris pompiersWhile I always feel safer in Paris than in most US cities, I am still street smart and pay attention to my surroundings. Paris Safety Tips for women travelers can be different than for their male counterparts, but all travelers to Paris should read the following: Keep documents in a zipper compartment and do not open up in pubic transportation or in crowded shops. Keep a copy of your passport separate in case you lose it and need documentation. Be aware of pick-pockets all over the city. Do not keep wallets in back pockets or in purses that don't have zippers. Do not flash wads of cash in public.
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29 Jan Hotel Napoleon gets to the Heart of Romantic Paris

DSC_4371 At the heart of Hotel Napoleon lies a romantic Paris story. According to the history of the hotel, “a rich Russian entrepreneur, Alexander Pavlovich Kliaguine, met a young Parisian girl at a Literary fair in the late 1920’s, and fell head over heels in love.” It would be a terrific story if it ended there,
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14 Jan Relais & Chateaux Cordeillan Bages Pauillac

Cordellian bages hotelOriginally a 17th Century Monastery, and later used as a guesthouse for the spirited wine family Cazes’ visitors. Chateau Cordeillan Bages Pauillac has been a relaxing oasis for the past 30 years. Perfectly situated next to one of my favorite wineries, Lynch-Bages (also owned by the Cazes family), it was a wonderful hotel to chill out in and spend a peaceful couple of days. 
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09 Jan #JeSuisCharlie Keep Calm & Stay Strong

DSC_0157I found it difficult to write anything light and sunny while the hostages were in harm's way and since they are likely still traumatized even though now freed I won't pretend everything is over and happy. Keeping Paris and France in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry for the innocents. Know I am glued to the t.v. and feeling solidarity with the French people resolved to stand up to terror and the freedom of the press. #JeSuisCharlie
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07 Jan Paris Attacks #JeSuisCharlie

DSC_0514Today's Paris attacks come at a time when the holidays are over and most people are trying to get back into a routine. School kids are having to wake up earlier and parents are headed back to work hyped up on coffee and commuting on public transportation while day dreaming about when the next break will come. A typical normal day in the life of a Parisian and for most people around the world actually. What now? What does it mean? How does this affect the way people think about Paris? For me it means standing in solidarity with the opinion writers everywhere...
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01 Jan Best of 2014 Happy New Year, Bonne Année

DSC_0330While not a New Year's Eve destination this year, the Best of 2014 travel for me included multiple trips to Paris. Speaking from experience, nothing beats a New Year or Bonne Année in the City of Light. My first time seeing the Eiffel Tower at night was on New Year's Eve, 1990 with Mr. Weekend In Paris. It was the 100th anniversary of the tower and the excitement of the occasion was palpable. Of course the evening was all the more special since Mr. Weekend In Paris' birthday is at midnight! I instantly fell in love with the iron lady of Paris and my grandmother's heritage. France, you are in my blood!
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25 Dec Joyeux Noël

Merry Christmas! Thank you for another fabulous year of Francophile talk and sharing of information to make our stays fun in France and Paris! Joyeux Noël...

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14 Dec Christmas in France will Put You in a Festive Mood

DSC_0133I recently had the chance to spend an afternoon in Paris, and a night in Nice where Christmas was in full bloom. No apologies are made for celebrating this religious holiday so Christmas in France is a beautiful time of the year to witness the holiday spirit! The energy to light up the Christmas tree above is created by visitors peddling bikes connected to the power source. Green energy at work in the holiday season.
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12 Dec Hotel Saint James Bouliac, Bordeaux – Wine, Cooking School & Relaxation

DSC_0306Bordeaux is the perfect place to taste fine wines, but there are more experiences to be had in the land of vineyards. Hotel Saint James Bouliac, a Relais & Chateaux property is situated across the river from the city of Bordeaux and is not only a beautiful hotel but offers unique culinary experiences to enhance the visit to the area. The hotel began as an eighteenth-century farmhouse and in the late 1980's was made into a modern luxury hotel with a gourmet restaurant and first-rate cooking school.
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16 Nov Paris Take Away Food at Le Petit Flottes is a Perfect Fall Picnic in the Making

tuilleriesOften when in the City of Light, I long for a great Paris take away food spot where I can quickly pick up something healthy and fresh. Picnics are almost done for the year now, but there are still a few days where it's lovely to sit outside for impromptu dining en plein air. Le Petit Flottes is one stop shopping for a last-minute soiree.
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13 Nov National Monument Sainte Chapelle is Almost Finished Hooray

saint chapelleVery soon from now (estimated to be in December, 2014) the restoration of the stained glass windows at France’s National Monument Sainte Chapelle (Sainte-Chapelle or Saint Chapel) will be finished. It has taken thousands of hours and several decades to complete, but the efforts have been well worth it. Once finished, the 1,113 scenes from the Old Testament and the Passion of the Christ will be on full display.
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11 Nov Regal Hotel Saint James Paris is Fit for a King and Queen

  Sophisticated Library Bar Sophisticated Saint James Library Bar Impressive Hotel Saint James Paris is both regal and relaxed. Paris' only château hotel, this five-star Relais & Chateaux member is in a gated park-like setting. Close to Victor Hugo and the Arc de Triomphe, the peaceful estate made me feel like I was out in the country in the heart of the city.
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27 Oct Hotel Daniel Paris, A Relais & Chateaux Makes You Feel at Home

hotel daniel sitting roomFirst impressions count! When we arrived at the Relais & Chateaux, Hotel Daniel Paris, the bellman opened the door that led us into an impeccably decorated combination lobby and living room reminiscent of a comfortable French country estate. Boutique luxury hotels are plentiful in Paris, but ones that make you feel at home are the best types. Hotel Daniel exceeded our expectations on all fronts, especially the cozy factor.
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26 Sep Duty Free Shopping at CDG Airport Saves You Time and Energy

cdg shopping ladureePersonally it ticks me off when I purchase an item abroad, carry it around all day, and spend time packing it carefully into my suitcase, only to find the exact item in the specialty shops or Duty Free section of the airport. Duty Free shopping at CDG Airport is both convenient and efficient. Many of the luxury brands found on Boulevard Saint-Germain and along the Champs-Élysées can be purchased while you wait to board your flight. Recently, I was wowed by the selections available in Terminal 2 at CDG. Here are my favorites:
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15 Sep It’s my 50th Birthday, Here are 50 Things I love about Paris and France

DSCN2073Today it's my 50th birthday (I don't feel a day over 49) and I just experienced the best trip in all my trips to Paris and France in my 24 years of traveling to Paris. It may have been my best travel ever, not a small revelation for a journalist who has been all over the world, but I have to admit the best trips ever were the trip down the aisle to marry Mr. Weekend In Paris and the two visits to the hospital to give birth to my wonderful sons Jack and Phil. But today, I want to share with you 50 things I love about Paris and France to commemorate my big birthday. 
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06 Sep 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal on Notre Dame High Altar

30082014_PRISCILLA_PRINT-0023-3502300193-O photo by Gonçalo Silva from Flytographer The plan was to renew our vows in Paris. The particulars I left up to Father Tucker, the priest who married us 25 years ago. Father Tucker prearranged his "permission slip" from the Bishop which basically attests to the fact that he is a priest in good standing and should be afforded the opportunity to say mass in any church in France during the time frame he was traveling with us. Never did we imagine that he would be renewing our vows on the Notre Dame high altar where Napoleon I was crowned Emperor of France!
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02 Sep Sunday in Paris; Montmartre Hidden Gems and La Chapelle

DSC_0270When I began the morning with a fresh cup of ripen strawberries, a warm croissant and a view of hot air balloons in the background, I knew it was going to be a terrific day. Although I hated to leave our outstanding Hotel Saint James Paris for a minute, Sunday in Paris, for me, obliges a visit to church and a mandatory stroll of Montmartre hidden gems. For others in our party, who shall remain nameless, my stroll was more like a forced death march up the stairs, down the hill and back up again. C’est la vie…
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30 Aug Our 25th Anniversary Mass on the High Altar at Notre Dame Paris

DSC_0143Mr. Weekend In Paris and I had our 25 year old marriage blessed today with a mass on the high altar at Notre Dame Paris. The officiant was the same priest who married us and our witnesses were our dear friends, Terry and Nancy Sheffield. Napolean was installed on this same altar so there was some incredible history we stood upon while reciting our prayers and repeating our vows. 
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30 Aug Off the Beaten Path Paris

One of the best rosettas I have ever seen One of the best rosettas I have ever seen This morning began with an obscene amount of amazing freshly baked goodies and rich roasted coffee from the kitchen at Hotel Daniel. Crumbs galore fell from bites of buttery pastries onto my lap, but I didn't care. Carb-low diet be damned, this place serves sinfully great croissants and pain au chocolat. If we were headed off the beaten path Paris then I was going to be completely off the carb wagon. 
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28 Aug From Sunrise to Sunset, A Perfect Day in Paris

  The view from my lovely suite at Hotel Daniel The view from my lovely suite at Hotel Daniel From sunrise to sunset, a perfect day in Paris was had by our group. Father Tucker, Terry and Nancy Sheffield and myself landed in the City of Light after viewing a glorious sunset from the cabin windows of our respective flights. As fate would have it, there was a security scare at Charles de Gaulle which kept the Sheffields on one side of security and the rest of us on the other, awaiting the police to sort out the abandoned baggage and allow our group to reunite and depart for the City of Light.
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25 Aug Our 25th Wedding Anniversary in Paris and Bordeaux

Our sword ceremony outside the chapel after our wedding Our sword ceremony outside the chapel after our wedding The first time I visited the City of Light, I was with Mr. Weekend In Paris for a little romance and now I am thrilled to report that we will also celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in Paris for more romance and some prayers of thanksgiving for our amazing life together. An added bonus is that we will be wine tasting in Bordeaux for a few days too!  The ultimate best part is that our plan includes bringing some friends along. The only regret is that our boys cannot join us. They are working and studying hard back home.
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20 Aug Deaths on Mont Blanc, Chamonix are Unavoidable

Last in a group of hikers about to descend from the Aiguille du Midi Last in a group of hikers about to descend from the Aiguille du Midi On my recent trip I learned of the dangers that hikers experience when trying to conquer one of the many summits on and surrounding Mont Blanc. Just last week tragedy struck again on Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France when six climbers fell 250 metres to their death on another peak, the Aiguille d'Argentiere. Our guide from the local tourism office explained that there are on average 60 deaths on Mont Blanc per year and many occur in the summer time when the snow melts and avalanches occur and crevices swell open. 
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19 Aug Win a Free Trip to Paris for Two! Fat Tire Paris Giveaway!

facebook-2If you love macaroons and love the idea of sampling every flavor the City of Light offers, then you simply must enter this contest by Fat Tire Paris to win a FREE trip to Paris for two. With just a few clicks on your laptop, smart phone or desktop you could be on your way to winning this fabulous prize vacation which includes your airfare, accommodations, and a customized itinerary that you will love. Although I am already headed to Paris next week, I've entered and so should you! 
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15 Aug Challenge from a Reader to Perform Another Le Procope Restaurant Review

Le Procope SignLe Procope has been one of my favorite spots in Paris to dine in for over 20 years, that is until now. This past winter I received a challenge to my positive review from a reader named Paul. He wrote a comment on my article that was very disturbing about both the food he ate and the service he received while entertaining out-of-town guests for an evening out. Here's what happened after I read his comments and my new Le Procope Restaurant Review:
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10 Aug The Guide to Bordeaux: How to Plan the Perfect Weekend

Kirwin wines I tasted. Kirwin wines in Bordeaux By now my regular readers know that Bordeaux is the preferred wine of the Gal Pals and when in Paris we drink it almost exclusively. That is, when we are not drinking Champagne, Burgundy or Sancerre. My recent trip to visit the chic and unique city left me wondering what took me so long make the short trip from Paris to this fabulous wine country. Now that I have been, there's no turning back. I loved every minute of it! The Guide to Bordeaux: How to Plan the Perfect Weekend first appeared in Upscale Living Magazine and was meant to be a launching point for a stay, not a complete guide. After my next trip in a couple of weeks, I hope to bring you more tips and tastes! 
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31 Jul Le Chapon Fin Bordeaux, Famous History, Modern Cuisine

Dining room as seen from inside the Grotto, unusual decor Dining room as seen from inside the Grotto, unusual decor Le Chapon Fin Bordeaux is one of the city's oldest establishments. Famous for its unusual decor, this restaurant is the choice of well-known actors, artists and local Château owners. Michelin-star Chef Nicholas Frion believes that all his customers are VIP's and treats them all with respect and like family. Move over stuffy codgers, this restaurant may have some history, but its modern cuisine is definitely 21st Century!
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27 Jul Breaking Rules in Paris and Having Fun While Doing It

Although the sign said private, we snuck in for a quick peek. Although the sign said private, we snuck in for a quick peek. When it comes to being a rule follower, sign me up. I believe in rules and I abhor getting in trouble, but when it comes to Paris all bets are off. Sometimes it's good to be an "Ugly American" and bend the rules just a bit. How do you know which ones to break? Here's my gals guide to breaking rules in Paris and having fun while doing it.
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18 Jul The Matterhorn and Zermatt, Exceeding Expectations

Paragliders enjoying the views of Zermatt from the skies above Paragliders enjoying the views of Zermatt from the skies above It was a fantastic few days on the mountains of Zermatt, Switzerland. Ever since my brother and his friends stayed there during college I dreamed of seeing the Matterhorn and Zermatt, both of which exceeded my expectations. I hiked, ate mountain lunches en plain air and checked into a couple of hotels that were just delightful! The weather was idyllic with blue skies and few clouds which made photographing the  majestic views of the Matterhorn a dream come true.
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12 Jul Chamonix and Mont Blanc, An Awesome Day at High Altitude

DSC_0598What a fantastic day in Chamonix and Mont Blanc. I woke up with a perfect attitude for high altitude. It was an early morning, up for breakfast and out the door for eight o'clock in hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive Mont Blanc that had thus far eluded me on this trip to the French Alps. It was a good sign when having my coffee on the deck of my luxury chalet that some blue sky peered out from the clouds to reveal the mountains and I hoped it would last until I had the chance to take the cable car up to the Aguille du Midi. Camera in hand and donning a new Chamonix alpine hat from the kind folks at the Chamonix Tourism office, I headed out for the adventure of a lifetime.
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10 Jul Best Massage of My Life at Spa Le Fer à Cheval, Megève

Photo courtesy of Le Fer á Cheval Photo courtesy of Le Fer à Cheval I just had the BEST massage of my life at Hotel Le Fer à Cheval in Megève, France! My therapist Alice applied the perfect amount of pressure to my aching back, legs, neck and feet which took away the tightness that sometimes comes with my busy travel. Lugging heavy bags and carrying a camera around all day tends to leave me with knots the size of Texas in my neck and shoulders. Not to mention that action-packed press tours where hiking in the rain and pounding the pavement in search of the best souvenirs can also bring on tension headaches.
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09 Jul Hiking in the Rain in Megève, France was Surprisingly Fun

photo 1Hiking in the rain was surprisingly fun! A rainy day in France is better than a sunny one in most places. Megève, France has a multitude of activities, both indoor and outdoor, to keep visitors chipper no matter the weather. So far it has been rainy on and off since my arrival yesterday, but I have hardly noticed. Between shopping, touring the local sights and hiking today in the mountains it has been an absolute pleasure spending time here with Best of the Alps – a European collaboration of the twelve world famous tourist destinations of the Alps - Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Davos, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Grindelwald, Kitzbühel, Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Megève, Seefeld, St. Anton am Arlberg, St. Moritz and Zermatt.
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08 Jul Getting My French on in Geneva, Switzerland

  Hidden art in a passageway from the Cathedral down to the shopping district. Hidden art in a passageway from the Cathedral down to the shopping district. Yesterday was a difficult day between me and Wordpress, the program I use to compose these posts. They published my ode to Geneva before it was primed. So here's round two of Getting My French on in Geneva, Switzerland which includes the highlights of a low-light day: It's been a great first day of my Best of the Alps trip. First stop, Geneva. My French is rusty, but my photography is up to par. Enjoy these photos from today's walkabout in this timeless city. Please ignore the rain, because I did and had a great time!
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13 Jun Naked Parisian Model in Window Catches Pedestrians by Surprise

Brochier window modelEarth shattering no, but the sight of a naked Parisian model definitely caught pedestrians by surprise. Fashion runways are full of skinny chicks in short skirts and low cut, backless numbers so it came as no shock to me when I was roaming the streets of Paris in the textiles area, close to Boulevard Saint-Germain, that I happened upon a window with a pretty gal wearing what appeared to be nothing but paint.
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11 Jun Outside the Palace of Versailles

  versailles courtyardIt was a brutally frigid day when I last visited the Palace at Versailles, but that did not stop the hoards of tourists who flocked to the village for a chance to see where royals once roamed. The bulk of the guests were Chinese. The long haul flights and inclement weather did not deter them from checking out every inch of the Palace, both inside and outside the Palace of Versailles.
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30 May Flower Power at Monet’s Gardens in Giverny

flowers monetThe 70's might have been the era of Flower Power, but this millennium in Paris is dominated by the flora and fauna at Monet's Gardens in Giverny. Below is a little eye candy for botanists. Don't ask me what the names of the flowers are. I haven't a clue. At my house, the only green things that survive are due to luck and a team of professional landscapers. I may not have a green thumb, but I know what is beautiful. The gardens at Monet's house are exceptional - truly a must see when visiting Paris.
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27 May Favorite Summer Activities in Paris

Arc de TriompheFavorite Summer Activities in Paris: Locals and frequent tourists to France usually have firm opinions about what to see and where to go. Trust me when I tell you there are hundreds of wonderful experiences to be had in the City of Light. I say try them all, but of course that would take a lifetime! Let me help you to narrow the gargantuan list down to a few options. National treasures and hidden gems top the list and many involve being outdoors. Of course it does rain every now and then, so some inside time shopping in boutiques or perusing a Picasso will do just fine when the sun fails to shine.
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20 May Benefits of Using a Private Wine Guide in Bordeaux

Chateau d'Agassac Chateau d'Agassac The advantages of using a private wine guide in Bordeaux are tremendous. With over 300,000 acres of Bordeaux vineyards to cover, wine enthusiasts will benefit greatly from narrowing down the scope of a visit to France's most prestigious wine country. Private wine guides, like Dominque Garcia of Les Sommeliers et Les Vignerons (The Sommeliers and the Winemakers) customize itineraries to fit the needs of individuals and groups. Here are some of the ways guides make a visit to Bordeaux easier.
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25 Apr Easy Steps to Bike Rentals in Paris

paris velibPicture yourself riding a bike along the Seine on a sunny afternoon scoping out the perfect plot of grass for an impending picnic. A vintage bottle of 2010 Bordeaux and a wedge of soft brie are wrapped tightly into a plaid blanket. A warm baguette hangs out of the wire basket attached to the front and lays against the picnic blanket. All the makings of lovely afternoon in paradise are now in place. I have always thought it's a great idea (riding bike in Paris) in theory, but have been afraid I would get hit by a crazed motorcycle driver. Now, seeing this graphic about how many people are using them, presumably without meeting their demise, I am convinced I must conquer my fears and check out the Velib bike rentals in Paris to make this little vignette come true.
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21 Apr Sometimes It Pays to Hire a Personal Shopper in Paris

Perrin clutch Perrin clutch I must admit, I have my favorite shops and shopping areas in Paris and tend not to stray too far from them. I could be a guide myself on rue du Bac and rue de Buci or in the Marais, however, with hundreds of stores in the city proper, there are dozens of back alley and private access only boutiques that tourists would never find or be able to pop by without the aid of a personal shopper in Paris. Tourists on a mission to find certain items can streamline the whole process by engaging a private guide to assist them. On my last visit, I decided to see what I had been missing and thus elicited the help of CJ Tours and met the charming private guide Ellie.
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20 Apr Happy Easter Sunday

Happy Easter! On this Easter Sunday I am reminded of all the beautiful churches and religious symbols I have seen over the 20+ years of traveling to France. Here are some of my favorites... [caption id="attachment_9134" align="aligncenter" width="725"]Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Paris Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Paris[/caption]
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18 Apr Serious Winemakers on Saint-Honorat off the Coast of Cannes, France

  castle view cannes abbeyWhat do you think of when I say Cannes? Naturally the Cannes Film Festival comes to mind, but there is so much more to this sleepy little village than meets the eye. People are usually surprised when I tell them that Cannes is quiet for the majority of the year and that only 70,000 people live there year round. I discovered this while attending the 2013 International Luxury Travel Market last December as part of the press corps. What amazed me the most is there are serious winemakers on Saint-Honorat off the coast of Cannes, France.  Award winning wines and liqueurs are being produced by some savvy Cistercian Monks on the pristine island of Saint-Honorat.
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14 Apr How to find an apartment in Paris; Easy if You Follow These Tips

Traditional old world feel, with an updated kitchen How to find an apartment in Paris: Picking the perfect apartment in Paris to rent can be a daunting task for first time visitors. There are lots of considerations to think about before settling on the right accommodations for your vacation or extended stay and choosing the right company to help you get situated is one of the most important decisions in the process.  Here are some things to think about before jumping in to the rental pool.
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13 Apr Favorite Sunday Morning Outings In Paris

20140411_160441 Killer pair of leather gloves found on my outing

by Contributor Margo Waite

One of my and my husband Rob's favorite Sunday morning outings in Paris, when so many shops and markets are closed, is going to the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th.  A center of attraction in this 60 acre expanse, the second largest park in Paris, is the large pond ringed by Parisian families enjoying their day of rest.  The radio controlled sailboats are great fun to watch and chairs are provided for just relaxing.   From there, it’s a pleasant stroll to the Marche Biologique Raspail at 116 Boulevard Raspail also in the 6th.
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01 Apr Happy Birthday Eiffel Tower

DSCN2073Who is 125 years old, but looks 25? The best looking gal in France celebrates today - happy birthday Eiffel Tower! The tower is like a best-dressed woman in Paris. By day she shows her strong lean legs, dressed classically in black with modern accessories and poses statuesque-like. But come dark, she transforms into the epitome of elegance. Dress her up with a vibrant accessory of lights and she becomes a beacon of sexy, but subtle beauty. Chic, but not overpowering she casts a glow in The City of Light that draws your attention to her without being overbearing. Sparkly in dress, but still demure in nature.
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27 Mar Paris Hemingway Tour Puts You on the Right Path

One of the gardens Hemingway traversed One of the gardens Hemingway traversed Walking in Hemingway's footsteps in Paris is a daunting task. I contacted Context Travel to take their Paris Hemingway Tour because I was a huge fan of his work, but also because I was curious how a man so talented in his writing could be such a bad character in his personal life. I've known many men and women alike who adore the man they envision from his travels as a war correspondent and admire the sense of joie d'vivre that comes across in his works. I was one of those folks until I got to "know" him a bit better.
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21 Mar Finding a Carousel in France is Always Fun

Marais Marais, Paris Childhood memories of running towards a merry-go-round to try to be the first to select a favorite horse to ride upon come flooding back whenever I am in France. It seems that every city I visit has at least one of these nostalgic rides. You need not look far in Paris for one of the brightly colored carousels. Most are strategically located in high tourist traffic areas, others are smaller and tucked away in petit pocket parks in residential neighborhoods. No matter where you come across one of these gems, finding a carousel in France is always fun.
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19 Mar Paris Blue Lemon is this year’s favorite affordable shop in Paris for everyday women and men

DSCN2023The best shopping places in Paris are the spots where you find great looking fashion accessories for men and women that don’t break the bank. Paris Blue Lemon, founded in 2006 by Gregory David Salzmann and David Arnoux has already expanded into three locations within the city and is taking Paris by storm. Crisp blue and white store fronts with simple lines of shelves inside with products lined up need no fancy decorations because the gorgeous pieces speak for themselves.
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14 Mar French Cooking Classes in Paris; From Market to Table

Lid Sid hanging out with us. Lid Sid hanging out with us. While some may consider it cliché to take French cooking classes in Paris, I beg to differ. There is nothing commonplace about the Discover Walks “Ooh La La Fun Cooking Class” where hands-on learning is the key to its success. Our education began with a culinary shopping spree at the widespread St Mandé farmers market, and ended with a sophisticated meal prepared by yours truly and fellow guests under the instruction of the popular native Parisian and local celebrity chef Philippe Cazenave.
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27 Feb Concorde Opera Paris Hotel is a Four Star with a Five Star Lobby and Staff

DSCN2959The Concorde Opera Paris Hotel: four star hotel with a five star lobby and service. Located near the Palais Garnier, the Hotel Concorde Opéra Paris is a four star hotel with a five star lobby and service. As I write this post the hotel is amidst big changes. The Hilton Hotel chain has purchased the property and is beginning renovations of the rooms soon. The management team of Hilton has already begun working with the staff to ensure a smooth transition and their goal is to deliver guests a first class experience once completed.
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20 Feb Wine Cheese Pairings at the 4th Annual Tweetup in Paris

  Thibault of @38SAINTLOUIS Thibault of @38SAINTLOUIS The 4th Annual Paris Tweet Up is now history! Last month we gathered at the adorable cheese shop at 38 Saint Louis at 38 rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Isle. Entrepeneurs Thibault Lhirondelle and Didier Grosjean are the young kings of frommage behind the innovative idea of serving fresh cheeses at the peak of their perfection. The shop also sells everything you will need to complete your evening meal or make a picnic out of their goods to take to a local park. Wine cheese pairings were a huge hit, a great time was had by all!
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18 Feb Travel Tips for Tracking Lost Luggage

Tim D. from United Airlines Tim D. from United Airlines Last month one of my sisters had her bag delayed from Boston to Paris when her original flight was cancelled and she was rerouted on another airline carrier. While sometimes understandable when weather delays wreak havoc with airlines, it was extra stressful for her because the gate agent failed to give her the baggage claim ticket to more easily track her missing suitcase. Today, I received a helpful tip from a Tim D. at United’s Providence Airport for tracking lost luggage that I think will help us all avoid anxiety in the future.
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10 Feb Cartier Exhibit at the Grand Palais

Princess Grace's tiara Princess Grace's tiara If diamonds are a girl's best friend, the Cartier Exhibit at the Grand Palais has become the BFF (Best Friend Forever) of thousands of visitors. The exhibition covers two centuries of history in the world of jewels and the famous women who adorned them. Everyone from Marie Bonaparte to Queen Elizabeth, and beloved Princess Grace wore tiaras made by Cartier that lucky museum visitors can view until February 16, 2014. Stephane Bern, television presenter, was at the opening of the exhibit and was quoted as saying, "Cartier is the king of jewelers, and jeweler to the kings." He is too right!
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08 Feb Rue de Seine Food Market in Paris

market near hotel louissaneThe food market on rue de Seine was bustling 25 years ago when I first stayed in Paris at a modest (that's putting it mildly) hotel across the street. Each day Mr. Weekend In Paris and I were awakened by the sound of a woman in the street singing a song of food, enticing people to come shop for the fresh fruits and vegetables. Both of us working for the US Navy at the time, money was tight so we purchased bread, ham, cheese and a bottle of wine that we made a picnic out of for our meals. My love for this area has been strong ever since.
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06 Feb Announcing Contributor Margo Waite

20131207_122953 The Weekend In Paris is proud to announce that popular guest blogger Margo Waite has been named an official Contributor for the site. Margo has been traveling to Paris for many years with her husband Rob. They live amongst the Parisians, renting an apartment for weeks at a time, using it as their home base as they navigate the city by Métro and bus to discover the everyday joy of shopping in the markets, visiting museums and soaking in the culture.
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05 Feb Important Musée Bourdelle

20131130_135930by Contributor Margo Waite for The Weekend in Paris The City of Paris owns 14 museums (les Musées de la Ville de Paris) ranging from the Catacombes de Paris and the Musée de la Vie Romantique to the lesser known, but important Musée Bourdelle. One wonderful thing about these Paris museums is that admission is free AND they are generally open every day from 10 to 6 (except for Monday and holidays).   There is, you should know, a surcharge if you wish to see the temporary expositions.
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03 Feb Stay in an Apartment in Paris

View from our living room View from our living room Over the course of the twenty-four years I have been traveling to Paris I have always wondered what it would be like to stay in an apartment in Paris. Thanks to Go With Oh my days of wondering are over. With a large selection in their inventory, Go With Oh gave me several properties to choose from on their easy to navigate, user-friendly website. Of course, I selected one in my favorite arrondissement; the sixth just steps away from Place Saint Michel and my area for shopping and café people watching.
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18 Jan What City Should You Live In?

DSCN0160We've all received dozens of stupid quizzes to take online that are supposed to reveal something about us that we didn't already know. Silly, but amusing at times. Mr. Weekend In Paris was out jogging before dinner so I jumped on Facebook and took the quiz, "What City Should You Live In?" Sucker! The très non-scientific survey asks you all kinds of irrelevant questions like what is your favorite
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15 Jan The Charm of Paris is in Hotel Lenox

Gal Pal Elizabeth out front of Hotel Lenox   Gal Pal Elizabeth out front of Hotel Lenox The Charm of Paris refined in Saint-Germain, is how Hotel Lenox is billed, and I would add very accommodating to the list the describes this quaint hotel on the edge of the 6th and 7th arrondissement in Paris. The reservations team were very helpful as I kept switching dates and adding people at the last-minute. They were very patient and emailed me immediately to confirm any changes. I like that!
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10 Jan Gal Pal Rule #10 Go, Go, Go with Oh In Paris

8 Photo courtesy of Go With Oh In a couple of weeks I am headed to Paris again and trying something new. I will be staying in an apartment with my two sisters. My philosophy has always been that as soon as we arrive in Paris we need to head to the hotel, dump our bags and Go! Since we will be staying in an apartment provided by the company Go With Oh in Paris, I am changing Gal Pal Rule #10 to Go, Go, Go with Oh! Oh the places we will Go!
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01 Jan Bonne Année, Happy New Year!

20140101-154000.jpg Bonne Année! Happy New Year! I began 2014 with French champagne in the British Virgin Islands. Very relaxing and interesting to hear Christmas Carols playing on New Year's Eve while sitting at the beach. Champagne is always French you know. If it doesn't come from the Champagne region, it must be called sparkling wine. If you have never known this fact before, look at the labels on your bottle for proof!
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28 Dec Post Christmas Vacation and Wrap Up

pink pajamasIt seems silly to be writing this as I am sitting on the beach in the British Virgin Islands with Mr. Weekend In Paris and our kids, but Santa was too good to me this year to leave out of the post Christmas vacation and wrap up of 2013. For starters, my sisters and I all received matching fluffy, French themed pink pajamas with Eiffel Towers on them - très chic! How fun it will be when the three of us go to Paris together at the end of January and wear them in our apartment we are sharing that is sponsored by Go With Oh? Yes, that's me on Christmas morning with one of the Eiffel Tower sparkly ornaments from my Christmas tree. When I return from this trip I will try to photograph all the French ornaments on my tree and show them to you.
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23 Dec Need A Break from the Holiday Stress?

Need a break from the holiday stress? Weekend In Paris Contributor, Margo Waite offers the perfect distraction from the hustle and bustle. Take a little walk with Margo while she was in Paris for the past few weeks.
From Margo: During the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations sometimes we’re even too busy to read.  So I though perhaps readers of Weekend in Paris would enjoy a few street scenes taken around the City of Light in the last few weeks.  Sit back, relax and dream of being in Paris.
Mix a unique shade of ink for your fountain pen at this shop on Rue du Bac
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19 Dec 2014 Trends in Luxury Travel

The annual International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes, France is an amazing event where we, as press, are able to discover the latest trends in luxury travel that not only apply to the expensive brands, but also to more affordable hotel markets everywhere. This year a noticeable trend in sustainable tourism, family-friendly and experience based travel came through loud and clear in our press briefings. I hope you will forgive that this piece is not about Paris or France in particular, but I thought you would like to know a bit about the overall trends in travel which are not exclusive to the luxury market. All brands are beginning to take notice of these important pieces of the travel market.
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16 Dec Christmas Markets in France: Menton

cresh mentonThe third of my Christmas markets in France, Menton was a place I had never heard of until my Parisian friends Michael and Marlys announced they were moving there. I was in Monte Carlo and could not pass up the chance to visit this adorable couple in nearby Menton. They met me in Monaco and we traveled together by astonishingly cheap bus (1.50€) for an afternoon of Christmas market shopping and local sight-seeing.
Best Christmas Nativity Scene
The best, most wonderful Christmas Creche on display was in Menton, close to the markets. Its simplicity, combined with the gorgeous colorful architecture surrounding it, made this peaceful corner in Menton one of my favorite stops in the Côte d'Azur. I loved that the Creche was placed next to a replica of the village of Menton and that the entire scene was modest and beautiful like the locals themselves.
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14 Dec Christmas Markets in France: Cannes

DSCN0985The second in my series of Christmas Markets in France, Cannes has an impressive amount of stalls despite the small year round population. The booths remind me of little log cabins, rustic and charming. The decorations around the market were traditional pieces - greenery with ribbons and bows all lit up with elegant bright white lights. My favorite decoration was the adorable larger than life topiary teddy bear dressed in a red sweater which was at the entrance to the market along the Boulevard de la Croisette.
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13 Dec Shock at death of popular Monaco figure

My head is spinning. How could this be true? I was invited for a drink as part of the Christmas celebrations that Hotel Metropole in Monaco was having for the local press. I then followed it up with a brief meeting with Odile Firmin-Guion before she guided me to my dinner at the Chef's Table at Jöel Robuchon. She apologized profusely because she had to leave quickly in order to accept a ride home to Nice to be with her three children. I am glad that I told her, "Of course, go now and be with your kids. It's the most important thing of all." She was profusely thanking me and I was uneasy about that. I knew she worked hard, a woman in her position as Directrice of Public Relations for Hotel Metropole, and I did not want her to feel guilty that she chose to be with her family versus having dinner with me. Thank God she was home that night.
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12 Dec Christmas List Ideas for the Francophiles in Your Life

Christmas List Ideas: Know someone who is obsessed with Paris or all things French? Here are a few of my favorite things for the Francophile's on your Christmas list this year. There is something for every budget and I have included the descriptions directly from their websites. Simply click on the image to go directly to their site for more information on where to order these delights:
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11 Dec Southern France: Nice Christmas Markets

Giant ornament sculpture in Grimaldi Square   Giant ornament sculpture in Grimaldi Square The Nice Christmas Markets were in full force last weekend as I made my way through the carnival atmosphere in Grimaldi Square to the shopping area. Along the way to the markets I encountered such magnificent sights as the new pavilion which is a vast open green space with playgrounds for the children, gardens for the horticulturists and benches for the aged and the young in love.
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09 Dec Pop-up Restaurant by Legendary Chef Nobu Here to Stay in Monte Carlo

fairmont mc water facadeToday, the Fairmont Monte Carlo unveils a new restaurant by legendary Chef Nobu which was formerly a pop-up concept but is now a permanent part of the hotel. It will occupy the space previously taken by their formal dining room. The hotel added a narrow terrace space providing a bit of outdoor seating where diners will experience the serene views and sounds of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Nobu restaurant added a spectacular bar and two private meeting lounges.
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05 Dec Sightseeing in Cannes Part Deux

DSCN1099The International Luxury Travel Market has kept me very busy with press briefings and breaking news from the world of luxury travel, however, I did take some time during the lunch break Tuesday to visit a few nearby landmarks and take in the local beauty while sightseeing in Cannes. Centuries old food recipes, charming pedestrian streets, spectacular views of the yachts in the harbor and iconic Cannes Film Festival murals were among the highlights of the walking tour from professional guide Karin Osmuk who works at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès - Cannes Visitor's Bureau.
cannes muralOde to the Cannes Film Festival
The city of Cannes owes its notoriety around the world to the ingenious idea to host a unique film festival once a year which brings the best of the best from around the world in the film industry to this tiny little town in southern France. Artists pay homage to the festival with several large murals throughout the city. At the foot of Old Town, the entire front of the Gare des Autobus (bus station) is one such mural dedicated to the history of the festival itself. Actors, both real and animated, are depicted on the facade of the station from the early days of black and white film to more recent animated cartoons and feature films.
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02 Dec Ambitious Day One Sightseeing in Cannes

DSCN0988After 24+ hours of non-stop travel to Cannes, it seemed like a good idea to head out into the fresh air for a vigorous walk to get the lay of the land, verses taking a nap before my 6:00pm International Luxury Travel Market kickoff evening. The Tourism Office in Cannes provided a lovely tour guide, Karin for me today to enjoy the 20 minute boat ride out to Île Saint Honorat where the working Abbey remains today.
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01 Dec International Luxury Travel Market

Downtown Monte Carlo Downtown Monte Carlo While attending the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, as part of the invited press, I will be doing some sightseeing, experiencing some one-of-a-kind activities and reviewing some of southern France’s best restaurants. Come along on my visit to Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo.
First Stop Cannes
Take off is from Houston, connecting in Dulles to Zurich with the final destination Cannes. After dropping my bags off at the four-star Hotel Mondial, I will make a beeline for the Tourism Office, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, to meet my guide for a quick overview tour of the city. After attending an official briefing about all things luxury at the Market, I will have the privilege of dining at La Palme d’Or, (2Michelin) at Hotel Martinez. In addition to this fantastic culinary delight, another night I will dine at Le Park 45, (1 Michelin) located in the Grand Hotel on La Croisette.
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29 Nov Grocery Shopping in Paris: Musings via Margo

the real mccoy margoMargo is in Paris spending three weeks with her husband, Rob, in an apartment. She is enjoying the festivals and the gastronomy in Paris. Grocery shopping in Paris is one of the best parts of renting an apartment and Margo and Rob are certainly making the most of the culinary offerings close by. Below are some foodie musings from Paris via Margo.
Foodie Musings from Paris
Readers who travel to Paris and miss their peanut butter need fret no more. It’s available at La Grande Epicerie at Bon Marche and some supermarkets. Brands vary. We found jars of creamy and crunchy from Arkansas and the UK. Alas, all have sugar added—a taboo for those concerned about such things. And almost any American product you might want can be found on 194 Rue de Grenelle at The Real McCoy which carries, they say, the largest selection of products from the US in Europe. No need to use up your airline weight allowance bringing these items from home, although you will pay more for them here.
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28 Nov Blog Facts and Time to Give Thanks This Thanksgiving

thanksgivingWith everything left to do before we sit down to eat our feast today, I am taking a minute to pause and give thanks this Thanksgiving for the blessings that come from all of you! Fact: Without the support of my family, none of this would be possible. Thank you Mr. Weekend In Paris for the 20 plus years of research that went into the making of The Weekend In Paris. He supported my yearly, now turned multiple times a year, habit of meeting the original Gal Pal Lisa in Paris and now me bringing others along too. He believed in me when I might not have believed in myself. He held down the fort with the kids when they were young despite his own grueling schedule and is simply the best man I have ever known. When people ask who the heroes in life are, I point to him. Honest, hard-working, loyal and loves me and the kids first and foremost. Not perfect, mind you, he is still looking for that open spot in the hamper in the bathroom to deposit his socks and underwear, but I'll keep him!
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25 Nov Multigenerational Travel to Paris

priscilla kate andy mom del papaBucket List
Multigenerational travel to Paris is easier than most people think, as long as you follow a few simple tips. The usual trip to Paris for me, for over 20 years, has been with girl friends (my Gal Pals) and/or with Mr. Weekend In Paris. This past summer it was about time that fellow Francophile's - my mother-in-law and two sister-in-laws accompanied me as the latest Gal Pals. The rule was that each person had to pick one thing that was on their "bucket list" to accomplish. First priority, of course, went to my mother-in-law, Maryann, as the Matriarch of the group for our multigenerational travel to Paris.
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22 Nov History Walking Tour of Montmartre

The famous Moulin Rouge The famous Moulin Rouge There's more to Montmartre than meets the eye. It is usual for most tourists (myself included) to pop out of the Métro at Abbesses and head straight up the hill to Sacre Coeur to the highest point in Paris to check out the spectacular views of the city. On a very clear day you can see for miles and appreciate just how large a city Paris has become. We took a walk with Context Travel Paris docent Marie Dessaillen on our History Walking Tour of Montmartre and were quite surprised at the many things we saw and learned in the course of just three short hours.
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20 Nov Shopping in Paris at Le Village Royal

IMG_3028While I am usually a fan of shopping at independent boutiques in Paris, I do love to check out what's new and hot at the luxury fashion chains like Chanel and Dior. Luckily, shopping in Paris at Le Village Royal makes you feel as though each shop is an independent boutique. The petit village is accessed through an archway off rue Royal and leads you into the interior of a mansion block courtyard that connects to the opposite mansion block of rue Boissy-d'Anglas. Shopping in Paris at Le Village Royal at any time of year is quite a treat, but at Christmas time it is pure joy. The decorations last year where whimsical and cheery.
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17 Nov The Best Stained Glass Windows in Paris and France

saint sulpice windowA remarkable amount of stained glass windows have survived the test of time, wars and natural disasters in France. Picking the best stained glass windows in Paris and France is an impossible task. I have seen but a mere slice of the possible choices. There are hundreds of them in Paris and thousands upon thousands France-wide in large and small villages. At first glance, many appear similar, however to the trained eye they are quite different and reflect the artistic styles of those who created them over multiple centuries. The rosettas in the Cathedrals of Notre Dame Paris and Reims are magnificent and among the best examples stained glass windows in Europe.

The windows below represent a small sample of my favorites so far in France. I look forward to sharing more with you from my future travels. What are your favorites?

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15 Nov Fruit and Veggie Shopping: Farm to Table Paris

radishes au verger d'aliceFarm to Table Paris
Shopping for fruits and vegetables in Paris can be stressful, unless you know who has the best, most organic produce grown locally. Many Parisians travel far to attend the great outdoor markets in pursuit of the freshest ingredients to cook with, but those living in or near the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissements can rejoice, because Au Verger d'Alice is just a short walk away. Finding farm to table Paris options can be as close as your neighborhood corner.
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13 Nov A Peek Inside Saint-Sulpice: Best Organ Music in Paris

saint sulpiceAlthough Saint-Sulpice seems diminutive compared to Notre Dame, it is only slightly smaller. It is actually Paris’ second largest church. Its Roman roots date back to the 13th Century but the bulk of the construction and renovations were done much later in the early 1600’s.  A new sanctuary, ambulatory, transept, portal and chapels were added on in the latter part of the 17th Century and into the 18th. Often overlooked for the more popular churches like Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, its claim to fame is that Saint-Sulpice is home to the best organ music in Paris. People flock from all over to see and hear the organ that is one of the greatest in all of Europe.
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11 Nov Veterans Day and the Connection to Me becoming a Travel Writer

Oberammergau 1991 Oberammergau 1991 Each Veterans Day I look back at our time living in Europe (stationed there for three years) where I was seriously bitten by the travel bug. It was all due to the military that we were able to afford our first trip to Paris. I also had the privilege of seeing the most beautiful vista in the world in Oberammergau, Germany. I ate the best food of my life while working at the NATO HQ for the Southern Region in Naples, Italy and my first child was born a Brit while working and living in London. The military was good to us. It was not without stress, however. We endured a long six month deployment BEFORE email, cell phones and Skype. The Commanding Officer of the USS Capadanno FF1093 had his car blown up during deployment and five people were killed in the
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10 Nov Adorable, Affordable Accessories in Paris

karine dupontKeeping up with the ever-changing fashion world of accessories can be overwhelming and very costly if you have teenage girls. Where can you find adorable, affordable accessories in Paris? I’ve got you covered. Karine Dupont Paris is the place to stay atop of the latest trends without breaking the bank. The brightly colored aqua façade of the stores set the fun tone of the Karine Dupont shops. While shopping here is fun any time of year, the soldes (sales) times are particularly enjoyable where picking up already inexpensive pieces become major league steals when 50% or more off!
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07 Nov Tips on How to Travel with Friends and Remain Friendly

Strategies of how to travel with friends and keep the friendship at the end of the trip vary as much as the personalities that accompany me on my journeys. Here are a few tips on how to have fun, keep the peace and come back home feeling excited about your next trip with your favorite Gal Pals:
Selfie Venus LouvreKnow Your Pals: Museum Person Vs. Foodie Person
It is pure Nirvana if you travel with people who enjoy the same types of activities and at the same pace. It can be hell if the majority of the group loves to try a new museum and one person hates them. Love to shop, but the rest of the group avoids it like the plague? Examine everyone's needs, do your homework before the vacation to assess compatability. If you know one of your pals won't appreciate what the rest of the group likes, then give them options. During the times when you visit museums they can either do their own thing and meet up with the group later, chill at the hotel or opt out altogether and wait for another trip when the group is more aligned with their goals for sightseeing destinations. Sometimes the best option is not traveling together at all.
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06 Nov Paris in the Rain

[caption id="attachment_7712" align="alignleft" width="225"]Cour du Commerce Saint-André off rue Buci Cour du Commerce Saint-André off rue Buci[/caption] You've dreamed of Paris your whole life - walking along the River Seine, the views from the Eiffel Tower, or having a picnic in the Jardins du Luxembourg only to arrive to a nightmare cold and wet City of Light. What is there to do in Paris in the rain? Plenty! Do not be discouraged; a rainy day in Paris is better than a dry day in most of the rest of the world. Button up your overcoat, throw on a scarf, muster up a positive attitude and you very well just might have one of the best days of your life, rain and all. Here are a few suggestions of what to do when faced with less than stellar weather:
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04 Nov Best Paris Food Markets on Rue Cler

IMG_0174Another fabulous Guest Post from writer Margo Waite… Unlike Priscilla, when we head for Paris we rent an apartment and stay for a few weeks, settling into a studio in the seventh.  Just around the corner from our temporary home is the Rue Cler market, proffering a fine selection of the best Paris food markets have to offer.   Even if you’re in staying in a hotel, you’ll find it fun to explore.  We  purchased a small rolling suitcase at one of the shops to take home our excess purchases.  There’s something for everyone on this busy street.
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31 Oct Serious French Fun on the Riviera

Sculpture by Youn Sculpture by Youn, photo courtesy of the hotel The French Riviera, playground for the rich and famous, can be quite a serious place. Being seen in the right clothes at the hottest nightclubs or casinos is an art form in and of it self. Partygoers may look carefree, but a serious amount of effort goes into looking effortless. Hair, makeup, wardrobe choices are huge dilemmas for the fashion conscience on the Cöte d’Azur. I mean, what if George Clooney suddenly appeared and I forgot to put on my makeup that makes me look like I am not wearing makeup? That would be tragic, right? What item do the billionaires and mega actors sometimes forget to pack when visiting the land of sunshine? A sense of humor! Look out Nice, because we were about to create some of our own serious French fun on the Riviera.
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29 Oct Kid-Friendly Family Activities in Monte Carlo, Monaco

mini grand prix MCYou can dress the kids up in designer clothes, coif their hair and try to turn them into “mini-me(s)” by teaching them the proper dining etiquette but it is not nearly as much fun as letting them drip ice-cream down the front of their jerseys as they enjoy a cone filled with their favorite flavor at a carnival. Working on their attention span to sit through a long fine dining experience is admirable and thoughtful for the guests around you, but they will eventually break out into a temper tantrum if they don’t get to run free at some point during the day. Let the kids burn off some steam and act their age while vacationing with these kid friendly family activities in Monte Carlo.
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25 Oct La Moulin de Galette – The Windmill of the Brown Bread on Montmartre

windmillLa Moulin de Galette - the windmill of the brown bread dates back to the 17th Century. Built in 1622, the mill originally was on another part of the hill, but later located towards the top of Montmartre. This landmark has been witness to some of the wildest history Paris has known. I learned from my lovely Context Travel docent Marie, that the Debray family owned and operated this windmill as a factory to sift flour from the local bran grown nearby. The tasty brown bread, known as galette, was served with milk at first but later was served with alcohol and parties ensued. Of particular note, the wine served was also mostly local as the nuns had vineyards (one still exists today) on the hillside of Montmartre and produced wines from them.
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23 Oct Michelin Restaurant Château Eza – Ambitious Menu, Epic High Heel Trek to Get There

Chateau Eza walkwayGal Pal Elizabeth and I were dropped off at the bottom of the famous village Eze near Monaco, by taxi for an epic vertical journey in heels for the meal of a lifetime. Something special is how restaurant Château Eza was described, and the town of Eze was pitched as being charming and old-world. “Get there early” and check out the little shops along the way up to the restaurant, was the advice. “Stop at the church near the top for a sweet treat to see a peaceful retreat” another enthusiast chimed in. It was peaceful all right – it was dead quiet. I would put the emphasis on dead because we were nearly dead by the time we arrived at the church and discovered we were only half way to the restaurant.
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18 Oct My Favorite French Souvenirs of 2013 – so far!

IMG_4186Souvenir - means "memory" literally in French. The best souvenirs stimulate your trip memories and remind you of the places you visited while giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Sometimes a French souvenir can be edible and therefore fleeting, but powerful at the time of tasting. Buying souvenirs for family and friends back home can prove challenging, but if you keep in mind that it is the thought that counts, then souvenir hunting won't be too taxing. See my favs for this year here:
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16 Oct 10 Practical, but Fun Tips on How to Learn French

Monsieur Roberts If you are like me, you want to learn French more easily! I took French for a few years in high school and perhaps one more in college.  I retained lots of vocabulary, but zero ability to use it.  Three year old French babies watching American Sesame Street come out of pre-school more bi-lingual than I fear I ever will become but it's not my fault...I blame my ancestors for this.  My maternal grandmother was of French decent whose family emigrated to the US from Canada and can trace their roots to France.  When they left the Montreal area they left the language behind.  Quel dommage...Hindsight is 20/20! Some of us are visual learners, some auditory, some tactile but if you are like me, you need multi-sensory stimulation to imprint anything into your brain, never mind a foreign language.  Taking a multi-sensory approach, here are the strategies I have been using to learn how to be able to communicate on my annual trips to Paris:
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13 Oct Where to Stay in Paris: Five, Four, Three-Stars

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]Four Seasons George V Five-Star Four Seasons Paris[/caption] When planning where to stay in Paris consider what type of traveler you are and what your budget will allow. Business travelers will find that if they stick to the five-star category they will be more than pleased with the size of the rooms and access to WiFi along with business centers and Gold Key Concierge's to help them work more efficiently in the luxury of Paris' best addresses. Room service options are great for dinner for your first jet lagged night in town or for finicky kids. Newer five stars now have workout rooms and fabulous toiletries. No need to bring your own blow dryer!
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11 Oct Four Captives at the Louvre on this #FriFotos Theme of Three

three statues in the LouvreThis week's Twitter Friday Fotos "FriFotos" theme is "Three" - any which way you can, play on the word three. Three little pigs, the three wise men, the three stooges. But alas, my mind always goes to Paris and so today I found an archive photo of three of the Four Captives at the Louvre by Desjardins in my Paris file to fit the theme. These larger than life bronze figures captivate the room with their presence.
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10 Oct In the Shadow of Sacre Coeur Find Saint Peter Church of Montmartre

st peterTalk about finding hidden treasures wide open in Paris, my last post about missing a lantern or an alley way pales in comparison to missing an entire church right next to the most visited Basilica in Paris. Saint-Pierre de Montmartre or Saint Peter Church of Montmartre as we call it, sits in the shadows of The Basilica of Sacre Coeur, unassuming and humble. It was on my Context Travel tour of Montmartre that we learned of the significance of this church and its historical value to Catholics worldwide. Peaceful and serene are the words that come to mind when describing the inside of this understated chapel.
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08 Oct The Best of Paris is Hidden in the Wide Open

Paris alley behind le procopeThe best of Paris is hidden in the wide open. Her beauty is in her history; the architecture, the windows, the doors and the colors that represent the differing sides of conflicts that shaped the city, as it is known today. The city of Paris is like a Parisian woman, she is aging gracefully with little need for cosmetic intervention. Paris has good bone structure (architecture) and a few accessories that enhance her beauty more (ornamental lanterns, colorful doors, classic gates), but how many times do tourists miss these in the rushed commute to the main attractions?
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01 Oct Where to Eat in Nice, France

Cave de l'originale interiorWhen I asked Elénor, the concierge at the Palais de la Méditerranée, for a recommendation for a local restaurant that cooked dishes of the region with fresh ingredients, she did not hesitate for a second. She responded, "Where to eat in Nice? Why of course, Cave de l’Origine is the best for local cuisine" so Gal Pal Elizabeth and I made prompt reservations for a casual and excellent dinner that did not disappoint. The cuisine in southern France differs quite a bit from its northern counterparts. Heavily influenced by its Italian neighbors and Greek descendants, Nice’s local dishes contain fresh ingredients from the soil. Olives, tomatoes, shallots and garlic play heavily into the makeup of the famous local favorite “Niçoise stew.”
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29 Sep Visiting the Luxembourg Gardens Never Gets Old

[caption id="attachment_7303" align="alignleft" width="300"]luxembourg gardens Summer in the gardens[/caption] Some tourist attractions and areas of cities can get stale. The "been there, done that" thought can creep up when I am in Paris and someone asks to see the Mona Lisa, but never will I say that about Luxembourg Gardens (Jardins du Luxembourg). It never gets old strolling through the vast landscape even in the winter time when the tropical plants and trees disappear behind the bundling bags that keep them warm during the harsh cold and  dark months. There is life year 'round in this park with school children taking their mandatory walkabout at lunchtime, folks jogging, tennis players serving things up, and chess champions queueing up for a match. The ducks remain all year poodeling around in the various fountains and pond. They seem to validate that life in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris in the winter is better than summer in other places.
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27 Sep Pastry Shops in Paris: La Pâtisserie des Rêves

[caption id="attachment_7278" align="alignleft" width="300"]pastries for kids Bouchee's for the kids[/caption] Of all the pastry shops in Paris, La Pâtisserie des Rêves (the pastry of my dreams) is definitely one of my favorites! Some women dream about shoes, purses or the perfect home. Me? I dream about chocolate éclairs (and champagne) in Paris. I am an éclair connoisseur of sorts. Heck, what I really am is a bona fide, certified, raging éclairoholic. I have been off the wagon several times but thought I had finally kicked the habit for good until I took the Baguette to Bistro tour with Context Travel and relapsed big time.
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26 Sep Getting my French On in Houston, TX: Champagne!

photo-12The Texans might razz France about many things, but not about champagne! They love champagne just as much as the rest of the world. Thank God the locals put down their guns (well maybe they were just concealed) for one night and picked up a glass of bubbly! Personally, part of my obsession about France has to do with loving wine and especially brut champagne. I was in heaven last night at the 10th Anniversary party for The Tasting Room in Houston, TX courtesy of fellow travel blogger Leah Walker of Leah Travels who was invited as part of the VIP crowd. Leah is a Houston City Editor for The Daily Meal and an Expert and Correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
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25 Sep What Hotel Toiletries Will Be In Your Room?

[caption id="attachment_7210" align="alignleft" width="300"]l'Occitane goodies at Hotel Montalembert, Paris l'Occitane goodies at Hotel Montalembert, Paris[/caption] A large part of my job as a travel writer is reviewing hotels. The quality of the bed linens is crucial to my rating, but what will make or break you in my book are the bathrooms. Part of the evaluation I do is examining the hotel toiletries and sometimes the lack there of.  It is annoying, at best, to try to fit “needed” toiletry items into the TSA approved gallon-sized zip lock baggy.  Mine is usually full because I hate to be caught off-guard. I am a “just in case” traveler who despises over-packing, but find it difficult to avoid. I don’t like to waste precious time shopping for forgotten essentials when visiting someplace spectacular.  Wouldn’t it be super to have a definite answer, before packing, as to what amenities will be in your hotel bathroom?
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23 Sep Picnic in Paris? Oui, this Park is Perfect!

DSCN0347Green space is at a premium in the City of Light so it is always a pleasant surprise when you turn a corner and find a little pocket park on a town square (or triangle since the city is infamous for trisecting streets) with lovely shaded benches in the summer months and areas in the sun for winter warmth perfect for a picnic in Paris.  One lovely summer morning I encountered a woman playing an Australian didjeridoo, a petit French cowboy, a merry-go-round and some lovely gardens in the Square Boucicaut across from the fabulous Hotel Lutetia and in front of the famous Le Bon Marché shopping mall.
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20 Sep End of Summer, Monet Gardens Revisited

[caption id="attachment_7138" align="alignleft" width="300"]July 2013 Gal Pals July 2013 Gal Pals[/caption] On this second to last day of summer, I am remembering Monet's Gardens and the warm sunshine heating up the luscious green earth outside Paris in Giverny, France. The only ones more sad than me to see the flowers fade from the landscape are the busy bees who kept the pollination process going and now must accept that winter is fast approaching. As the leaves fall and wool coats are dusted off, I am reminiscing about my visit to the vibrant gardens of the most masterful painter of water lilies in history. To see the lilies from the same vantage points as Monet was a dream come true.
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17 Sep Outside Paris: Best Sightseeing in Nice, France

[caption id="attachment_7078" align="alignleft" width="300"]Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea[/caption] Old Town Nice has deep and complicated roots beginning with Greek civilization and provides us with some of the best sightseeing in Nice and France. According to Wikipedia, "Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Νικαία ("Nikaia") in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike is the Greek goddess of victory)". A long sordid history ensued and the people of Nice were co-mingled with roots from their Greek ancestors, Italian neighbors and seafarers who landed upon their shores and never left. The port of Nice was one of the busiest in the world and thus was a target for power-thirsty conquerors throughout the ages.
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13 Sep Poor Dining Experience in Paris Turned Into Good Customer Service Opportunity

[caption id="attachment_6963" align="alignleft" width="300"]Know for its fresh seafood, Le Procope served Benjamin Franklin & famous Paris authors/actors and politicians throughout history Known for its fresh seafood, Le Procope served Benjamin Franklin & Voltaire[/caption] A recent poor dining experience in Paris at one of the city's most historic cafés led one of my readers (Paul) to write a scathing review of one of my favorite restaurants. After reading what he had to say about Le Procope I began to wonder if the place was too far gone for me to recommend to anyone else (its been one of my favs for 20 years). After contacting Paul directly to see what happened - he had cold, bad food and very poor service, I asked if he spoken up at the time about his unsatisfactory situation to which he replied in the affirmative. It appeared that the waiter and the maître d' for the evening in question were both indifferent to his plight. Paul was understandably furious over the ruined evening which he had planned especially for guests himself and the bad taste lingered on for him long after the indigestion.
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