August 15, 2013
Every time I take my first stroll along the terracotta colored and ivy-clad streets in Rome I fall in love all over again. Despite the smoldering heat (you can’t expect much else if you’re going to the Italian capital in the middle of the summer, I know) and the never-ending groups of tourists, I always manage to enjoy the city when I visit.
My trick? Waking up early and strolling around before 10am. In the early morning hours, you can discover the city and the monuments almost tourist-free.
I found myself nearly alone in front of the beautiful Trevi fountain one morning! I also wake up at this time to get some good photographs of the city before the harsh light starts casting shadows over the streets (which is any photographer’s nightmare).
August 12, 2013
“Do you want help with that?” and Italian man asked me when I was trying to push three suitcases at the same time over a threshold at the airport. “Non, merci” I said and smiled. “I mean no, thank you. Or no, I mean no, grazie!”.
I don’t know if it was adjusting to people actually asking me if I wanted help or if it was the language that confused me the most when I arrived in Italy from Paris. But let’s just say that I adapted to both the language and the kindness quite quickly.
Almost every summer since I have been old enough to stand (and even before that) my family travels to Italy — to Terracina to be a little bit more precise. We go for the warm weather, the delicious food and the laid-back lifestyle. Terracina is located about an hour and a half south of Rome, which makes this little town a perfect escape for many Romans during summertime as well.
January 15, 2013
This year, you could spend Valentine’s day the way you usually do. Or you could go to Europe. No, really.
If you were thinking of surprising a certain special someone this Valentine’s Day (yes, even if that special someone is you), we would love to help. Book any Haven in Paris apartment over Valentine’s day and enjoy our special Valentine’s Day Romantic Getaway Package:
- Up to 40% off your Paris or London apartment rental
- Complimentary champagne & chocolates waiting for you in your very own Paris or London apartment
- 10% off massages by HiP approved massage therapists Beatrice Marzana and Desbina Collins
- 10% off on airport transfers from our recommended private drivers
- 10% off concierge services from Complete Paris for the duration of your stay
- 15-20% off cooking classes at La Cuisine Paris and Cook’n With Class
- Discounts on personalized Paris walking tours from Context Travel
An added bonus? Come a few days early and take advantage of les soldes, the twice annual city-wide fashion sale (running until February 12).
These discounts aren’t reserved exclusively for couples. Take a group of friends and make it the trip of a lifetime! Contact us today to start planning your trip.
December 18, 2012
Some people love stationery. A lot. These are the people who browse stationery stores like others do cheese shops, picking up notebooks and greeting cards, smelling, weighing, pressing the pages between their fingers, thrilled by the possibilities within. These people are often diligent list makers, brainstormers, budgeters and recorders of funny expressions overheard in the subway.
I am one of those people. I carry around a total of four notebooks with me at all times: the day planner for appointments (never, ever trust your iphone to keep up with time-zone hopping), the list journal, the ideas journal, and the diary. I have slimmed down over the years, shedding the fuzzy-heart adorned secret-keepers of my youth in favor of lighter, more “mature“ versions. Ahem. I swear.
October 25, 2012
Beer, frites, comics. Blah, blah, blah. No disrespect to lovers of ambers and ales, salty, fried foods, or Tintin, but there’s so much more to Brussels, capital of Belgium—capital of all of Europe—than these perennially touted attractions. Here are three lesser-celebrated reasons to hop on a train and make the 80-minute trip from Paris.
Chocolate boutique in Brussels (flavijus)
September 24, 2012
Paris (Haven in Paris)
The idea seemed too good to pass up. I’d exchange my Paris flat for a place in San Francisco for two weeks to visit family. Two whole weeks! Rent-and-hotel bill free! And we’d do it in August when no one really wants to be in Paris, anyway. I’d heard stories about fabulous swaps that didn’t end in identity or home accessories theft. With a little luck and a few well-lit interior pics, I was sure it could work for us, too. And so my search was on.
After several near-commitments that folded at the eleventh hour (“I had no idea airfare would be that expensive…” and “Off to Rome instead. Sorry!”), we swapped for a sweet little house just over the Golden Gate Bridge. It sounded perfect: Three-bedrooms with a view of Mt. Tamalpais complete with a private dock on a small saltwater lagoon.
July 31, 2012
Coffee is still good. Coffee is still cheap.
June 25, 2012
I’m still in Italy. The coffee is still fast and the Italians are still ever so sweet. I’m still in Italy, but not for long.
I will soon be leaving the country of sunshine, smiles and scooters where everything is possible and everything is doable.
I will leave behind, gelato, pesto, focaccia, 1€20 cappuccinos and laundry hanging to dry in the street. I will be welcomed by flaky butter croissants, crispy baguettes, stinky cheese and laundry hanging to dry in my apartment. I will leave the sea, sun and heat for cold, rain and smog. Paris, here I come!
May 31, 2012
Brocante finds in action (Laurence Amélie)
At My French Country Home in Normandy, we love to go antiquing. We welcome guests from all over the world, from private shoppers looking to experience real French brocantes (flea markets) and hopefully bring back a special souvenir of their holiday in France, to professionals looking for hidden gems to add a little French je-ne-sais-quoi to their boutiques.
Here is how it went for a recent client, Jeni, who came to shop for her vintage rental company in California. She was only here for 24 hours, but thanks to careful planning and her ability to make quick decisions, she managed to purchase all kinds of amazing loot!
May 24, 2012
I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Monet’s paintings. Yes, they’re pretty—that much is undeniable. He certainly cornered the market on water lilies and haystacks. But I suppose I’ve developed a sense of indifference toward his work because it’s so ubiquitous. He’s one of the first artists I learned about (in a cursory 5th grade unit on art history) and whose work I learned to recognize with ease. But then suddenly it was everywhere: mouse pads, t-shirts, calendars, and the walls of countless dorm rooms I would encounter during my high school and college years. Before I knew it, I was Monet-ed out.
But once I moved to Paris, I kept hearing about Giverny, the quaint village where Monet famously made his home from 1883 until his death in 1926. It’s here that he cultivated the celebrated garden that many of his most famous works depict. Suddenly, unexpectedly, my long dormant interest in Monet was revitalized.