The Peach and the Pit: Tour de France in Numbers and Superlatives

There many reasons why I love my sister. (Yes, she’s technically Michael’s sister, but I believe when you luck out with great in-laws, you can just freely claim them as your own family.) One reason is that she shares the same enthusiasm I have at the end of a trip for reflecting back on the ups and downs. After an adventure with Dawn, we sit down over a meal and rehash the “peach and the pit” of the vacation. Each time we realize at some point that this exercise is really called the “peak and the pit,” but we inevitably decide that the peach and the pit sounds cuter anyway. We continue mentally narrowing down the experiences until each person arrives at one highlight and one lowlight of the trip that s/he shares with the group.

Last week, I began to recap our month-long road trip around France as seen through our various accommodations. This week is a different way of stepping back and taking a sweeping survey of the trip as a whole before examining each stop in sharp focus. (I warned you, I love reflection time!) Whether you’re more math-oriented like my hubby or a lover of language like me, I think both approaches give a sense of how this journey through France was an emotional release as we ran around the country with open arms, trying to embrace all that we could in our last month before moving back to the US.

Ready for the big picture of our Tour de France? 

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7 Steps to the Ultimate Paris Picnic

So...remember how I said that "the only way to get over moving away from Paris is to keep returning?" Well, I sort of jumped on that advice immediately and am going back in a few days! In honor of my last-minute trip, I'm going to share about an activity I plan to do every day in Paris if weather allows...

Going on a picnic is my all-time favorite thing to do in Paris, ever. It combines some of the very best elements that Paris has to offer - picturesque settings, delectable food and wine, and good company. The thing is, picnickers are not born, but raised...

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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 setting...at 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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Paris Practicalities: 15 Ways to Maximize Your Budget in Paris

In the "Paris Practicalities" series, I lay out some basic advice for the foundation of a trip abroad for the well-informed and savvy traveler.

Paris has a reputation for being a notoriously expensive city to visit. While it is pricey - especially when compared to neighboring countries Spain, Italy, and Germany or even the rest of France - it doesn't have to be a ridiculously pricey destination. Here are 15 ways you can maximize your budget during your time in Paris:

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Park it in Paris: Jardin Tino-Rossi

In the "Park it in Paris" series, I write about the city's parks - some of the best spots to relax, people-watch, and mingle with the locals.

Sometimes it's those things that are right in front of you that are somehow not obvious at all. Like the pen I search for that's on the table in clear view, or worse, in my hand. Or a cool sculpture garden right along the Seine that I somehow don't quite notice until after two years of living in Paris.

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Bastille Day 2014 Fireworks Show

July 14th marks la fête nationale for France and as you might imagine, the celebrations in Paris are elaborate. And although I didn't make it out to a Firemen's ball (more on what that is in my previous post) and only saw the military parade via the TV, there is one event I wouldn't miss for anything. That, of course, would be the fireworks show.

The last two years have taught me that a spectacle of this nature isn't one to just show up to at the last minute, and certainly not an event to make haphazard plans to meet up with friends. No, this year we sent out a Google map to friends with a small shaded area indicating where one might find our picnic blanket, and arrived just before 6pm to stake out a spot. (Note: The fireworks don't start until 11pm, when it finally gets dark.)

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Fête de la Musique

June 21st is one of my favorite days in Paris. Not only is it the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, but it is celebrated well in Paris. That's because June 21st each year is the Fête de la Musique. This music festival is a national celebration in France (and has spread to numerous other countries) where all musicians, professionals and amateurs alike, are encouraged to perform.

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In the Moment

Bon lundi!

Sometimes it's in the ordinary everyday moments that I fall even deeper in love with Paris. Sure, it's a beautiful city but sometimes I wonder if part of it is not the city but how I've changed. That I allow myself time to slow down and open my eyes to see the beauty around me. Like a picnic dinner along the Seine at one of my favorite spots (almost across the street from Hôtel de Ville). The short glimpse we got at the beginning of last week with its warm, beautiful weather makes me really look forward to those magical long Parisian summer days!  

Park it in Paris: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

In the "Park it in Paris" series, I write about the city's parks - some of the best spots to relax, people-watch, and mingle with the locals.

I'm just going to come out and say it. My favorite park in Paris is undoubtedly Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. 

I know that I really love this place because of the obstacles I've endured to picnic there. This park is perched up in the northeast corner of Paris in the 19th arrondissement, which is a hike to get to from my apartment. Even when I've faced transportation hitches to get there (like the bus by my house suddenly not running its normal route), I know in the end I will be happy that I withstand the hassle. And I always am thankful.

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