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Insidr Paris: Friendly Frenchies Deliver Smartphone Rentals & Local Tips to Travelers

Insidr: The New Digital Guide for Travelers in Paris

Paris is the third most visited city in the world, but it’s also one of the hardest to figure out. “The hype [about Paris] is so big, but when you get here and are confronted with the complexity of everything, it can be difficult,” says Benjamin Forlani, co-founder of Insidr, a new service for travelers to Paris.

Sixth-generation Parisians, Benjamin and his sister Nina love this city, but after years spent living and working in over ten countries, both realized that there is room for improvement. “We are deeply in love with our home city, but at the same time we look at it from an outsider’s perspective and it’s not the best city to travel to,” says Benjamin.

Insidr: The New Digital Guide for Travelers in Paris

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Posted in Parisian Living, Tours and Classes | 1 Comment »

Your Italian Escape: Advice on Buying Property in Italy

Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Frans de Wit

Buying property in a foreign country can be a logistical, cultural, and legal minefield. When I started house hunting in Italy, I was a complete novice, and with hindsight would have done many things differently – learning to speak Italian at least semi-fluently would have been number one on my to-do list!

I’d passed through Italy briefly on an Interrail trip years ago and seen Gladiator enough times to mistakenly consider myself an expert, but Italy is a diverse place and it’s important to have a feel for the country as a whole before you consider making a purchase.

Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Frans de Wit

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Posted in Homes, Italy tips & suggestions | 2 Comments »

Back to School in France: Frantic Moms and Fading Tans

Hip Paris Blog, La Rentree, Emma Stencil 8

Emma Stencil

In North America, it’s “back to school.” That time of the year when classrooms fill up and families slip into familiar routines, or start new ones as the youngest step into kindergartens and the oldest fly the nest for college. In France, it’s la rentrée, and is not just about families and their children. Each September, almost the entire population faces their regular routines after a long holiday season.

Hip Paris Blog, La Rentree, Emma Stencil 11

Emma Stencil

Since many businesses close for the month of August and three-week holidays are taken for granted, September means Parisians are frantically mourning their fading tans as they get back into the swing of things. Stock that has been arriving slowly over the previous weeks has shop owners scrambling to get their newest collections out on the floor (eg. the Pablo boutiques just announced their collaboration with actress Clémence Poésy, who played Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter series and dabbles in fashion design on the side). Figs and wild mushrooms also begin to perfume the air at local markets, inspiring chefs to rewrite their menus to reflect on fall’s bounty. And, like Canada or the US, it is also back to school for the young ones. 

Hip Paris Blog, La Rentree, Isabel Miller-Bottome

 Isabel Miller-Bottome

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Posted in Parisian Living | 6 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 »

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 »

Day-Tripping Through Liguria: From Genoa to Cinqueterre and Beyond

Our very own Erica Berman has just landed in Genoa for her yearly stint in Liguria, her favorite region of Italy. This still relatively untouched corner of Italy is one of our favorite spots for experiencing authentic Italian living in a gorgeous, seaside setting. Until the rest of us are able to make it there ourselves, we can live vicariously through Marisa’s gorgeous photography… -Geneviève

Sarzana details

I’ll just put it right out there: I love Liguria, and centrally situated Genoa is the perfect home base from which to delve into and savor Liguria’s many enchanting qualities and seaside cities. A maritime marvel, La Superba (the proud or the haughty, as it was once known) rivaled Venice as a powerful city-state for over 500 years. And while the splendor of its storied past as a seafaring legend is evident in the magnificent UNESCO-protected Strade Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli, Genoa’s real charm is its present-day incarnation as a working port city.

Cinqueterre

This is a city that doesn’t bend over backwards to market itself to tourists. The result is an authentic Italian metropolis, more accustomed to the visiting Milanese than Manhattanite. As a traveler who thrives on finding and experiencing those places that aren’t (yet) teeming with fellow Americans, Genoa is a joy for me. Plus, I’m a sucker for labyrinthine medieval lanes, which Genoa has in spades. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 15 Comments »

My Ligurian Villa vacation (on Tuscan border – by Cinque Terre)

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One of our views & rose bushes by the villa
Photos: Erica Berman

For some reason, one I am not sure of, most Americans (and the majority of tourists in general) come to Italy for Tuscany, Rome and Venice. Don’t get me wrong, these are all beautiful places, and definitely merit a visit, or many, but there are oodles of other places in Italy worthy of discovery.

picture-3The Villa

Liguria is a small region of Italy nestled between the French border and Tuscany, and covers a long coastline bordered by mountains. Genova is the capital and Portofino its most known city, followed closely by the spectacular Cinque Terre. Luckily for those who care to sojourn within, few have heard of Liguria – not even most French, whose border touches it. Miles of unspoiled mountainous coastline and sandy beaches, kilometers and kilometers of hiking, excellent food and friendly hosts – this is right up our vacation alley. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 6 Comments »