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Paris with Kids: Quick Fix Fun for under 5€

Cheap activities for kids in Paris

Daisy de Plume

Apart from being romantic, Paris is also marvelously family-oriented. Despite this, it can be tiring traveling en famille. My son, Storsh, is far more tourist-tolerant if he knows some “kid time” is just around the corner. So instead of making the whole day about the kids, why not plan your days with several bursts of kid-time in between what you want to see? I’ll even give Storsh a few city facts, explaining that I’m going to quiz him on them before his next “kid-time,” and watch his ears perk up a bit. Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly activities, all of which are free or cost less than 5€.

Cheap activities for kids in Paris

Daisy de Plume

What’s better than free fun? Smack dab in the middle of town is the gorgeous Palais Royal, with Daniel Buren’s stripy stumps that any Parisian kid has raced through. Or there’s always the forest of columns at either end of the enclosed gardens, once Cardinal Richelieu’s residence, where my family and I play a quick game of hide-and-seek when passing through.

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A Weekend in Normandy: Rouen Roaming

A weekend jaunt through the rustic streets of Rouen.

I took the early morning bus to Rouen on a bright, clear day in October. But chillier temperatures wouldn’t diminish a visit to the Haute-Normandie capital, where you can spend the day exploring several of the most impressive gothic churches in France, antique and artisan shops, a 14th century astronomical clock tower, and restaurants serving buttery Norman indulgences and Calvados to warm up with.

A weekend jaunt through the rustic streets of Rouen. Continue Reading »

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City vs. Country: From Paris to La Loire Valley, Pt I

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Anne Arnould

It had only been a few months since I moved to the French countryside, but my city life already seemed like a distant memory.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

In exchange for a Parisian apartment, I now have a house in the Loire Valley. I also have a dwarf goat and a giant goose in my yard, a basketful of freshly harvested walnuts and farm-fresh vegetables in the kitchen, and 150 bottles of Gamay juice fermenting in an ancient stone shed in the front yard, slowly becoming my first batch of wine.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

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Posted in Parisian Living, Travel, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

A Quaint Mix of Old & New in Normandy’s Seaside Village Honfleur

Honfleur, a quaint town in the Normand region of France, is the perfect weekend retreat from Paris.

In late November, as my several-month stint in Paris was coming to a close, I felt far from ready to leave. Perhaps it was due to the fact that fall had flown by, or that I had met a sweet Frenchman. Likely both. So when he propositioned we take an overnight jaunt outside of Paris a mere week before I my return to New York, I was torn.

Honfleur, a quaint town in the Normand region of France, is the perfect weekend retreat from Paris.

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Experiencing the Wine Harvest in France

HiP Paris blog. Experiencing the wine harvest in France. Fun (but backbreaking!) work.

It’s been a belle année in France and the annual grape harvests are upon us. Due to the beautiful summer weather and almost ideal conditions throughout the year, the harvest – or vendanges – are taking place much earlier than last year. Sun-soaked southern winegrowing regions, like Beaujolais and Languedoc-Roussillon, began their harvests in mid-August and cooler regions, like the Loire Valley, will start the harvest in these first few weeks of September.

Taking part in the vendanges is almost a rite of passage for French youth. Broke high school and college students often take advantage of this opportunity to make some money before the school year starts, while spending time under the sun and making friends from all around the world. In smaller vineyards, the vendanges feel like a family affair, with communities forming among the harvesters who come back year after year. I kind of think of the vendanges as the French version of summer camp, only instead of making lanyards you’re helping to make wine.

HiP Paris blog. Experiencing the wine harvest in France. Well-tended, hand-raised grapes must also be harvested by hand.

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48 Hours in Marrakech

Weekend Trips from Paris: 48 Hours in Marrakech

One of the greatest things about living in Paris (and Europe in general) is how easy it is to get to so many amazing places; two hours and twenty minutes by train to London, an hour and a half on high-speed rail to Brussels, and in just three and a half hours by plane you can touch down in another world: the red city of Marrakech. There’s a reason the city has been a favorite of creative types and designers for decades; the colors and the chaos are intoxicating and inspiring. Because it’s a relatively quick flight, you can feasibly tackle the city in a long weekend. But if you have more time, by all means take it, and be prepared to use your French.

Weekend Trips from Paris: 48 Hours in Marrakech

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A Provençal Villa and Working Wine Vineyard in the Heart of Côtes du Rhône

A Provençale Villa and Vineyard in the Heart of Côtes-du-Rhone

Settled amongst the vines of the Rhone Valley, where the fresh air is perfumed with the scent of the surrounding fruit orchards and olive groves, you’ll find Nick and Sabine’s slice of paradise in France’s Côtes du Rhône region.

A Provençale Villa and Vineyard in the Heart of Côtes-du-Rhone

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Posted in Homes, Travel | 2 Comments »

Day Trips from Paris: Château de Fontainebleau, Château de Malmaison & More

Backside of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Backside of Vaux-le-Vicomte Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

From strolling the various quartiers and visiting museums to checking out the new “it” restaurants, there is no end to what you can see and do in Paris. Still, I must admit, some of my favorite days have been spent escaping the city. Many fascinating day trips are accessible by an easy train or car ride. While Versailles is by far the most famous and popular, there are other great places to visit that are just as interesting, and far less crowded.

Paris Day Trips, Palais de Fontainebleau, Chateau

Paris Day Trips, Palais de Fontainebleu Sculptures, Chateau Visit

Château de Fontainebleau, Richard White

Approximately 7,500,000 people visited Versailles in 2013. That’s 15 times more than the number of people who visited the Château de Fontainebleau, which is truly a bit of a crime. The only royal (and later imperial) chateau in France to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries, Fontainebleau’s history is deep and rich. It dates back to the 12th century, but much of what you see today was the work of King Francis I, who had the palace renovated during the early 1500s. And the Francis I Gallery, with its frescoes framed in stucco by Rosso Fiorentino, serves as a beautiful example of Renaissance art and architecture.

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Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 1 Comment »

Following Vincent Van Gogh: The Artist in Auvers-sur-Oise

HiP Paris Blog, Van Gogh, Isabel Miller-Bottome, 10

Although the bright colors of Provence normally come to mind when thinking of the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, it was actually in Paris and nearby Auvers-sur-Oise that the passionate artist produced most of his work. As this year commemorates the 125th anniversary of his death, I’ve put together a stroll through the village using his own correspondence as a guide in his work, to pay homage to the artist and highlight the places that so fervently inspired him.

HiP Paris Blog, Van Gogh, Isabel Miller-Bottome, 16

“Auvers is decidedly very beautiful. So much so that I think it’ll be more advantageous to work than not to work, despite all the bad luck that’s to be foreseen with paintings.” A poetic foreshadowing by Vincent near the beginning of his stay in Auvers; in the 70 days he spent in the hamlet, he produced over 70 paintings. It was his fellow artist and dear friend Cezanne who encouraged the Dutchman to spend some time in Auvers under the care of Doctor Paul Gachet. The doctor himself dabbled in art and, over the years, had become a patron and friend to many other Impressionists including Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and Sisley. For him, art was therapy.

Montage HiP Paris Blog, Van Gogh, Isabel Miller-Bottome, 18

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Posted in Arts, Travel | 5 Comments »

In Search of the Perfect French Oyster: Les Huîtres de Cancale

HiP Paris Blog, Huitres, photo 4-2

Kate Robinson – Oysters getting ready for market

On a clear day, the ghostly meringue-like swirl of Mont Saint Michel is just barely visible across the bay from Cancale. This plucky little seaside town has been famous for its oysters since the Roman occupation of Gaul, and continues to be a top destination for ostreaphiles the world over.

HiP Paris Blog, Huitres, Isabel Miller-Bottome DSC_0253

Isabel Miller-Bottome

On a painfully bright day in July, I found myself sitting on a beach littered with shards of chipped and broken oyster shells, bleached white by the sun. Balanced on my knees was a plate of nine intact oysters, fresh from the Cancale bay, deeply cupped and glistening in their own liqueur. The oyster farmer who had sold them to me five minutes earlier had cracked each one open with barely a downward glance, as he stood talking to me in the shade of the little blue and white striped hut where creuses and plats sat in jumbles designated by size (the largest was surely only meant for cooking…). In exchange for the last three euros of vacation money that still jingled in my pocket, he presented me with a sturdy white plastic plate of oysters, a half a lemon and his condolences regarding my imminent return to Paris on the afternoon train.

HiP Paris Blog, Huitres, photo 1

Kate Robinson – Oysters on the beach!

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