Keep it Classy - Your 5-step Guide to a Wonderfully Romantic Parisian Picnic

When you visit Paris, you want the whole package: delicious French food, complex French wine, and delicate French pastries, all to be enjoyed with in a perfectly romantic a price that inflicts minimal pain to the wallet. Unfortunately, dinner out (especially with the above elements) in Paris often comes at an inflated price tag. But now that summer has come, I’ll let you in on my warm-weather secret for inexpensive romantic dining with the best seat in the house - a jazzed-up picnic along the water.

The plan is pretty genius. It involves a self-service picnic with very little effort involved, while including a few key items that add class to the simplest of spreads.  Think of it as the little black dress of picnics if you will.

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Coming This Weekend to Paris: Nuit Blanche 2014

One thing that has always impressed me about Paris is the focus on cultural events. It seems that everyone is well-versed on the latest expositions going on in the city’s museums and other cultural events. People love to talk about what’s on, what they went to, and what’s on the list to visit. I got some insight in how this interest in the arts becomes ingrained when I started tutoring English. I took my elementary-aged student to Centre Pompidou and she started telling me about one of her favorite artists, Robert Delaunay. I was blown away by how she could remember his name and give some reasons why she liked his paintings. Part of the school curriculum incorporates the arts, and the appreciation for people who create and bring beauty into the world is certainly celebrated here.

Given this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the events Paris puts on during the year is one to celebrate the arts...all night long. Nuit Blanche takes place the first Saturday in October. The 13th annual Nuit Blanche is set for October 4, 2014 so get ready for a night of art, dance, music, theater, and more!

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August Staycation

Bon lundi!

It's August, and Paris is in its typical summer mode. Bags have been packed, the Parisians have headed off to the beaches, and many establishments have posted signs on the door announcing closings for the month. The city has officially been handed over to the remaining tourists.

Even though it's a nuisance to keep up-to-date with which of my favorite spots are still open this month, I don't mind staying behind and finishing out summer in Paris. I want to savor the remaining sunshine, squeeze in another picnic or two, and still hope to catch a free movie outdoors.

Walking along the Port de l'Arsenal, just south of Place de la Bastille

Besides, I'm continuing to discover new spots throughout the city. It's hard to believe I have walked to Place de la Bastille so often (where the notable July column stands) and somehow have never wandered a little further south to walk along the last stretch of the Canal Saint-Martin to where it meets the Seine river. It's interesting how we tend to develop patterns in our everyday life without realizing it, like walking or driving the same route consistently. This month, I want to change that and embrace being a tourist in my own city. (And I've started with visits to Jardin des Plantes and the Pantheon.) Everyone else is a tourist here at the moment, so why not?

Wherever you are this August, here's to making an effort to break routines and explore new ground!

Canal St. Martin

When the weather breaks in the winter with some sunshine, I grab my coat and walk. And walk and walk. (I'm not kidding - this walk ended up being close to three hours long by the time I was done.)

This past Sunday was one such day. I decided to switch it up and instead of walking near the Seine through the center of the city, I opted to walk up the often overlooked Canal St. Martin.

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