France

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…

June 16, 2018 update: Félicitations to Barbara, our Giveaway winner! I hope you enjoy your two free tickets to enjoy any theatre show of your choice (with English subtitles) in Paris! Thank you all for participating: I noted your excellent suggestions and will try and implement most of them.   Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)   …

La Bastide, Bordeaux’s Right Bank Challenging decisions await travelers exploring a city for the first time: To visit landmarks, or not to visit landmarks, that is the question. Embracing crowds near said-landmarks, or exploring the roads less traveled to make one’s own path, is another question. To really capture a city’s essence, one must do…

Bordeaux is always a good idea. Audrey Hepburn would have certainly said so in that famous movie, had she visited the current version of what was once an elegant but austere French city in need of an overhaul. Paris got her remodel in the second half of the 19th century thanks to Napoleon III and…

In the heart of Paris’s trendy 10th arrondissement lies the peaceful and atmospheric Canal Saint Martin. Unlike some of the eateries, cafés and boutiques in the neighborhood, the canal has been there for a very long time. In the early 19th century, Napoleon I, who was as much a skilled administrator as he was a military…