I’ve been visiting my sister at her house in the Aveyron for years and recently returned from an exquisite four-day stay. She asked me to come down and help her with her garden, but the pleasure was all mine. This area makes for one of the best getaways in the south of France. It’s an unspoiled, undiscovered central-south region not marred by as many tourist buses as Provence or the Loire. In fact, normally the only tourists you see in the region are French.
I’d always wanted to go back to Toulouse. I had made a quick stop there for lunch more than 20 years ago with my sister, and the brick buildings intrigued me. Toulouse looked like nowhere else in France. It’s an easy weekend trip from Paris, and I recently had my chance to return there.
I was recently on a whirlwind trip through Paris and decided to check out some new hotels. I simply had to stay at the Legend, in the 6th Arrondissement, as we are currently partnering with the hotel and offering a free two-night stay there through a photo contest with our partner Tempting Places.
Recently an e-mail about French real estate entered my inbox, and since I’m such an impossible real estate addict, I just had to take a look. I’m still amazed by the unbelievable deals you can get in France if you are willing to do a bit of work.
A spontaneous weekend in a hotel room in Paris makes for the perfect romantic holiday. If you are looking to reinvigorate your relationship, rekindle a lost romance or fan the flames of a newly burning one, the City of Light is, and has been for years, one of the most romantic destinations in the world.
You may be hesitant to spend your precious vacation time visiting Saint-Malo, in the notoriously rainy region of Brittany, while your French friends are quick to head straight to the sunny south of France, but this beautiful walled city has enough renowned food and drink, stunning panoramas, thrilling history and even sunny days to make it an attractive excursion. After seeing friends’ photos of the turquoise and emerald coast, I coaxed my French boyfriend into spending a long holiday weekend out west.
If I were going to open a fantastic luxury hotel in Paris, I probably would not call it La Maison des Centraliens, which explains why this gorgeous hotel is trying to impose its name as La Maison Champs Elysées. ’Tis not an easy task, because the trendy new hotel has been the headquarters of the Centraliens for nearly 100 years. Which leads to the question, What is a Centralien? The Ecole Centrale de Paris is a very exclusive engineering school.
If you turn down the quiet street of rue des Beaux Arts in Saint-Germain, you could easily walk by the chic Paris hotel simply named l’Hôtel, as I did, but I quickly learned that this privacy is a central component of l’Hôtel’s charm and enduring success.
When I go to Paris, I like to be treated like a VIP, but I don’t like to pay for it. Call me cheap, but isn’t it divine to feel like a princess? Now don’t get me wrong: I enjoy picking up the tab for a friend at a restaurant, but when it comes to hotel rates, apartment rentals or that new blouse, I love a bargain. Maybe it’s those tag sale weekends I spent with my mom while growing up in Nebraska. Anyone can pay full price for something, but it’s the savvy gal who is able to strike the deal on that vintage Hermès shirt. And that was the idea behind our newly created circle of friends, the Girls’ Guide to Paris Travel Club: value meets VIP treatment.
What do you look for in a Paris apartment rental? A lot of our readers have become savvy and are renting apartments rather than hotels for their stays in Paris. Let’s face it: it’s cheaper and much, much roomier. But there are a myriad of companies, so how do you find a good one, one that is reputable and has wonderful places available but won’t charge you through the nose?
Recently I was lucky enough to venture en famille to the glorious Basque region of France. The town in the area that you might have heard of is Biarritz, but having been there previously, and not having loved it, we decided to stay near Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Saint-Jean—or Luz, as some of the locals call it—is just 10 minutes south of the fading glory of Biarritz and infinitely more adorable and charming. It’s a village filled with white stucco buildings with red roofs and red shutters unique to the Basque region. Actually, they are a shade of burned red; you might call the color bordeaux, but we are two hours south of Bordeaux here and on the Atlantic Ocean. Saint-Jean is a wonderful walking town, as most of its key shopping streets are closed off to cars and the harbor is terribly picturesque.
Not long ago I met the proprietress of our local château. Actually there are several near my house in the Bordeaux region of France, more than several. Perhaps it’s because we are so close to the famous wine village of St.-Emilion that most are wine châteaux. Thankfully, there are several French châteaux in the region that owners made into hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or holiday vacation rentals. One such is Château Rigaud, from the 12th century, profiled before on these pages as a popular place to host a wedding.
As I’ve mentioned here before, my two great loves are travel and real estate—that’s after my kids and hubby, bien sûr. In a quest for learning more about Paris real estate, renting Paris apartments or buying them, I had breakfast with Adrian. Oh, she’s the lady you’ve seen on House Hunters International on HGTV, my all-time favorite show. (I have a bit of an addiction to it, it’s sad to say.) Anyhow, it was off to the Marais to meet Adrian Leeds, doyenne of all things real estate in the City of Light. I had been reading her French Property Insider newsletters for years, and now I was finally going to meet Madame herself.
Recently during a stay in Paris, I rented a gorgeous one-bedroom apartment through one of my favorite rental firms, Just France. Renting an apartment in Paris is one of life’s great joys. Different than a hotel, a vacation apartment rental affords you some space to throw your clothes about, relax and sip coffee without a hefty room-service tab, and to pretend you are a vrai Parisian for the week. Going to the market on Sunday morning (in my case the nearby Raspail Organic Market) is reason enough for an apartment stay. Lugging back perfect French radishes, rotisserie chicken, flowers for 5 euros and fruits and veggies that I’ve handpicked for a proper Sunday lunch is seriously one of my favorite things about France. Market shopping is a sport, and picking out the best vendors is an art.
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