France

Heat wave, glorious heat wave! It’s been a hot July, one of the hottest ever recorded. This month, I toured around France for two weeks with a group of brave travelers: We never got a break, and the heat wave was our daily companion from Paris to the Loire Valley, in Lyon, Annecy and the…

Au revoir, Junior! Junior, my 19-year old, flew home to Seattle yesterday. He spent his last night in Paris at his grandmother’s house. We decided to meet at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport (“Roissy,” as the French call that marvel of 1970s urban design,) to send him off on Monday morning. I could have splurged…

Le village d’Auteuil, a historic village inside Paris Life was peaceful in the old commune of Auteuil west of Paris, until Baron Haussmann and his employer Napoleon III decided to overhaul the French capital and turn it into one of Europe’s grandest cities. By 1860, Paris was incorporating Auteuil and several other suburban areas including…

Tired of the crowds and traffic when visiting Paris? Looking for a change of pace and a taste of Parisian life that does not involve lining up at a major museum or landmark? Bienvenue to the 15th arrondissement, one of the largest and most densely populated areas in the French capital. A favorite section of…

L’Ile de la Cité is, in many ways, a condensed version of Paris: It offers magnificent architecture, eye-catching perspectives, atmospheric streets and bridges. Like the rest of the French capital, it is a combination of history and elegance, and in sections, tacky touristy eateries and shops. It is crowded and loud, yet, at certain times…

Ile Saint Louis, Ile de la Cité: the only two natural islands of Paris. The legend says the story of Paris started there, on the largest one, l’Ile de la Cité, more than 2000 years ago. From that secure location, local fishermen pushed away invaders successfully, until a powerful leader with dreams of grandeur named…

I once lived in the 11th arrondissement before it became trendy. My first place was a 270 sq. foot studio I rented rue Alexandre Dumas, for almost two years. It was cramped, dark and damp (the only window faced north.) It had no proper kitchen. Like an afterthought,  a two-burner electric cooktop, small sink, and…

Is unexpected Paris hard to come by?  Even if books and lists claim the opposite, there are hardly any real secrets left in Paris anymore. There are, however, off-the-beaten-path places (and experiences) some Parisians or visitors (who got lucky, or did their homework) discover and enjoy around the French capital. Many of these have not…

What to do in Paris at night? Just about anything you can think of. The Opera, the movies (look for movies in “V.O.,” presented in their original language with French subtitles,) a stroll by the Seine river or in the atmospheric streets of the Latin Quarter, a cruise on the Seine river, a delicious meal…