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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 »

Posted in 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

Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Travel | 5 Comments »

Channeling Monet: An Afternoon at Giverny

Billbooz & Thezartorialist

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.

Pierre J

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. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Travel | 5 Comments »

A Day in London: Amy’s Perfect One-Day Itinerary

Amy Thomas loves London, and so do we.  In fact, we adore it so much we just launched our very first London vacation apartment, a gorgeous 2-bedroom rental in the heart of Chelsea.  If you’d like to do London in more than a day, and enjoy afternoon tea or cocktails in your very own central London flat, let us help you plan your trip. Thanks Amy for this wonderfully ambitious London itinerary.

The daily menu at Lantana

From Gare du Nord to St Pancras in just over two hours? Do you really need another reason to hop on the 8:13 Eurostar and spend the day in London? Vite, mes amis! Allez à Londres!

Where the delicious flat whites at Lantana are made

The key to tackling the jolly old British capital in just a day is to focus on a select few neighborhoods—and fuel up on caffeine immediately after arriving. Both can be accomplished at Lantana in Fitzrovia, a relatively quick walk west of the San Pancras train station. The toasted banana bread with blueberry butter is divine and a “flat white,” more delicious than the best café crème, will put a spring in your step all day.

Gorgeous furniture by Designer’s Guild

Once caf’ed up, head to nearby Marylebone, where the shopping is as spectacular as the architecture. A stroll down Marylebone High Street will reveal everything from colorful home accessories at Designers Guild and Emma Bridgewater to beauty supplies at Space NK and Boots. Continue Reading »

Posted in London, Travel | 8 Comments »

Day-Trip From Paris: A Visit to Champagne Includes Tastings In a Private Chateau

Spending a summer in Paris is a dream come true, but as the Parisians rushed away to enjoy the famous French summer holidays, we got a bit envious and started dreaming of our own escape into the countryside. Thankfully, we were in for a treat: a day trip to one of the most famous regions of France…Champagne! We were invited along by Sydney Kruger, owner of A Tasty Side to Life, a private tour service that specializes in unlocking doors to some of the best small producers of the region.


Picked up in the morning by a private driver, Sydney, a girl who knows her way to my heart, had croissants waiting for us in the car. As we made our way out of Paris to the fresh air of the countryside, she filled us in on the history of the region (still one of the least visited in France), and gave us some great information on how champagne is actually made. By the time we arrived at the first vineyard, we had enough knowledge to taste like the pros. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Tours and Classes, Travel | 6 Comments »

Mont Saint Michel: A French Tourist Destination That Still Inspires

Mont Saint Michel (Jean-Christophe Dichant)

With four feet of snow piling up around my New England home, it’s no wonder I’m dreaming of Paris. This happens a lot. New England snowstorms are perfect for daydreams about somewhere else. Anywhere else, really.

France just so happened to be my last trip, so I keep drifting back to a little rendezvous just two hours north of Paris. We were three ladies in a rental car, armed with iPod, rain boots and a destination: a little-known spot called Mont Saint Michel. I knew virtually nothing about the cultural significance of this big pile of granite on the ocean. I just wanted one night in the country, in the dark, away from the dazzling Paris lights. (Sometimes we need a break from all the dazzle; it makes us miss it and eventually appreciate it more upon our return.)

The view from the top of Mont Saint Michel (Maggie Battista)

Two hours later, glowing from a cidre and mille feuille tasting (though both didn’t occur in the same place because that would just be too dreamy), a chance encounter with the sweetest apple orchard puppy, and barrels of rain falling around us, we came upon this rock with its abbey and elegant spire in the far-off landscape. My mouth went permanently agape and I just snap, snap, snapped photos. Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 19 Comments »

Chateau de Miserey – A Heavenly Day Trip from Paris

Sharon, HiP Paris friend and the author behind “My French Country Home”, has a lovely blog about the delights of living in the French countryside with her husband, children and… horses?? Yes, it’s true. She seems to live the dream! Here she writes about a gorgeous château not far from her home in Normandy where you are far from crowds and in the middle of nature and calm. As it is only a short train or car ride from Paris, this is the perfect summer city escape. Sharon also does private tours of her beautiful region (you can contact her through her blog) and rents  a country cottage on her charming property for short stays.

Miserey Montage

You know how sometimes you come across a place or a person that is so totally delicious you’re torn between telling everyone about it or keeping it greedily just for yourself?  Well, that’s how I feel about Monsieur and Madame de Roumilly and their beautiful château and rose garden.

Day Trips from Paris: Chateau de Miserey

If it wasn’t all uphill, I would cycle to their home, they live in a village just above our valley.  They bought this sweet doll’s house of a château many years ago and have single-handedly restored it and created gardens that people come from afar to visit.

Day Trip from Paris: Chateau de Miserey

I adore their old greenhouse with it’s unusual rounded roof and generous roses climbing all over. Continue Reading »

Posted in Tours and Classes, Travel | 2 Comments »