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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 to 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 reachable by an easy train or car ride and 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 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 | No Comments »

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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Posted in Food, Travel | No Comments »

Loches: A Glimpse into Historic French Countryside in the Heart of the Loire Valley

HiP Paris Blog, Loches, Isabel Miller-Bottome DSC_0313

On a hill overlooking the Indre in the heart of the Loire Valley, Loches remains one of the best-preserved medieval cities in France today. With its shadowy cobblestone streets, sweeping views of the enclosing forest landscape, and lively marketplace and cuisine, Loches has a particular authentic charm difficult to find elsewhere. A half-hour from Tours and a three-hour drive from Paris, it’s an off-the-beaten-tourist-path detour for visitors of the Loire region, as well as an easy weekend getaway for Parisians seeking a breath of fresh air.

HiP Paris Blog, Loches, Isabel Miller-Bottome DSC_0335

I find the best way to learn about French history is simply to wander and take in the historical sites themselves. Loches may be a quiet city today, but its sundry past features some of France’s most fascinating characters: Joan of Arc, Anne of Brittany, and King Charles VII and his notorious, “favorite” official mistress, Agnes Sorel.

HiP Paris Blog, Loches, Isabel Miller-Bottome DSC_0264

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Posted in Travel | 3 Comments »

Summer Wanderlust: A Photo Trip Through the French Riviera

HiP Paris Blog, South of France, Sivan Askayo, Villefranche-sur-Mer

When I’m not traveling on assignment, I often choose my travel destination from a picture I see of a place, a picture that fuels my curiosity.

HiP Paris Blog, South of France, Sivan Askayo, Menton

While the pursuit of visual pleasure is a common motivator for many, I find it to be a particularly strong motivator for photographers.

HiP Paris Blog, South of France, Sivan Askayo

We see a picture of a place and the next thing we know, we are on a plane, on our way to take a better photo.

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Posted in Travel | 8 Comments »

Living A Dream: The Search For An Old Stone House In the French Countryside

Buying a House in Burgundy, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Paige Frost 3

Paige Frost

It started on a whim. We were vacationing in the South of France near the idyllic medieval town of Roquebrun, about an hour’s drive from Montpellier.  Its sun-baked stone facades are built up into a cascading hillside; a smattering of cafes and merchants dot its central tree-lined street. At the foot of the village, the Orb River meanders through the densely green valley, inviting swimmers, fishermen and kayakers to partake.

Buying a House in Burgundy, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Nebojsa Mladjenovic

Nebojsa Mladjenovic 

It’s a hidden gem in the Herault region of Languedoc-Roussillon, affectionately known to locals as Le Petit Nice.

Glancing up the hillside at Rocquebrun’s ancient buildings — from my perch on a sunny cafe terrace — it was impossible to miss the sign hanging on a nearby iron balcony: A Vendre. The house faced the river offering what appeared to be an unbroken view of its lazy waters, arched stone bridge and the rugged valley beyond. It looked too good to be true. I had to see inside.

Buying a House in Burgundy, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Andree & Edward

 Andree & Edward

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Posted in Homes, Travel | 3 Comments »

It’s Not Just A Man’s World: A Closer Look At Women and Wine in Burgundy

Women of Burgundy, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Casey Hatfield

Cristina Otel (Casey Hatfield)

Although the world of wine has long been a men’s game (with a couple notable exceptions), women are increasingly playing greater roles in winemaking around the world.

Women of Burgundy, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Mugneret-gibourg.com

Mugneret-Gibourg

Perhaps nowhere are they having more of an impact than in the Burgundy region of France, where it seems women own many of the best and most prestigious domaines. The region, whose wines are often described as elegant and subtle, seems well suited to a woman’s touch. Here are some of the women who are making Burgundy tick. Just don’t call their wines feminine.

Women of Burgundy, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Mugneret-gibourg.com

Mugneret-Gibourg

The female winemakers association of Burgundy, Femmes & Vins De Bourgogne, is about 40 members strong. For the first time, the Director of the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne is a woman; but to the women of Burgundy, this is not really news. “I don’t think you make a better wine if you are a man or a woman, “ said Caroline Parent-Gros, the daughter of winery owner Anne-Francois Gros “you have to understand it.” Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel, Wine | No Comments »

A Transatlantic Life: Williamsburg, Brooklyn vs. Ile St Louis, Paris

Hipster vs. Classic, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by The All-Nite Images, Brandie

Williamsburg & Île Saint Louis (The All-Nite Images & Brandie)

Of all the things to do in Paris, taking a stroll on the Ile St. Louis on a sunny day and grabbing a cone of Bertillion ice cream is on just about everyone’s favorites list, whether they be a tourist, expat or long time Parisian. Personally, I’m a devout fan of their chocolate noir.

Hipster vs. Classic, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Ana Luiza Oliveira

Île Saint Louis (Ana Luiza Oliveira)

The Ile St. Louis, smack dab in the center of Paris, is full of old Parisian families, award-winning butchers, and beautiful limestone buildings from the 1630s. It’s clean, peaceful, and just a bit removed from the whirr of Paris proper.

Hipster vs. Classic, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Jo Morcom

Williamsburg (Jo Morcom)

I like it even more than ever before because I somewhat miraculously found a flat here to rent last summer. Now that we are fully ensconced on the Ile as official residents, I’ve fallen in love with my little island in the way that almost everyone does with their own little corner of Paris.  Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 13 Comments »

A Summer Day in Rome

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, A Day in Rome

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.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, A Day in Rome

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.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, A Day in Rome

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). Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 4 Comments »

Summer In Italy: A Beach Escape To Terracina

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Week in Italy

“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!”.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Week in Italy

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.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Week in Italy

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. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 11 Comments »