Sheep in the Big City // Salon de l’Agriculture

Picture this for a moment. You’re in the metro and you see some posters for an event called the Salon International de l’Agriculture (International Agricultural Show). What is your general concept of what this show entails?

If you are like me, a few things come to mind: farmers, pitchforks, plows, soil, crops, barns. Basically, a whole world of things that are very far removed from me. This is why for two years, I wrote off the advertisements as an event that wasn’t for someone like me. Certainly not for a someone who struggles to take care of the occasional house plant that has the misfortune of falling under my guardianship. I assumed it was a nice convention for farmers to put aside their road barricades (as seen in articles like this one) and meet up peacefully to discuss the hottest tractor of the year.

I’m here to do my civic duty of telling you this is NOT what the Salon is all about! Thanks to a post by Expat Edna, and then a huge food post highlighting the event by David Lebovitz, I realized last year that I had it all wrong. I needed to go check it out and -- and if you’re in Paris, you need to as well. It starts on Saturday, February 27, 2016 - so here’s a little of what you can expect.

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My "Souvenirs" of France: Part 2

If you missed the last post explaining my awesome pun, I'll fill you in: "Souvenir" in French can mean that knick-knack you need to buy for family and friends back home to show you thought of them on vacation, but it can also mean "memories." So in light of our near departure back to the US, here's Part II of my mini-series reminiscing about my favorite souvenirs I've acquired during my travels in France.

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Exploring France's Hidden Gem: Franche-Comté

Today I'm excited to introduce you to Elena of Elena's Travelgram! I really enjoy reading her insight on living in France as an Ukrainian expat on her blog. Here's her expert advice on what to see in her slice of France:

When you think of visiting France, which places come to your mind first?

Bet #1 is Paris! With Lyon, Nice, Marseille, and the Loire Valley coming shortly afterwards. Next you may be daydreaming of gorgeous Provence lavender fields and the rocky allure of the Normandy coast. 

Wine-lovers won’t miss a trip out and around Bordeaux wine routes and charming Alsatian villages in search for the best white wines. 

Corsica recently became a hype summer destination, though it still has a lot of amazing, absolutely deserted beaches, hidden in lovely bays. 

Blissful Biarritz is another fantastic beach destination overlooking the Atlantic and, of course, you’ll discover even more amazing wine routes around Burgundy, along with amazing local cuisine and cheese.

Ran out of ideas for your next trip to France? 

Well, how about visiting Franche-Comté

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Simply Sara Eats: at 5 Paris Favorites with Visitors

In the "Simply Sara Eats " series, I recount the my favorite food and drink discoveries.

Hosting friends and family from the US in Paris presents me with a quandary every time. Do I take the opportunity to try new restaurants or do I gravitate towards places I know are solid choices to get a proper food experience in France? While I occasionally try out a new place or two, I inevitably can't hold back my excitement to share some of my favorite bonnes adresses. My aunt and cousin were here in the beginning of July and as I reflected back on their trip, I recounted some of my favored Paris haunts.

Here are five food experiences I love to share with any guest visiting Pars: 

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C'est Beaune

I moved to Paris with the idea that I would travel as much as I could to “get it out of my system.” The problem I've found with that theory is for each place I go, three more get added to the wish list.

Take Dijon. Michael and I went on a weekend trip there in August 2012 and have been wanting to revisit Bourgogne ever since. Like anywhere in France, it can be characterized by delicious food, as well as pretty towns and plenty of vineyards. 

All it took for us to plan a return trip was confirmation that Michael’s sister was coming to visit. She was hoping to go on a weekend trip that included a vineyard tour, and that was all we needed to go on. This time we would travel just south of Dijon, to Beaune. And unlike last time when we took a train to and from Paris, we rented a car to be able to explore more.

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The Loire Valley in a Weekend

My husband handmade a scrapbook to propose to me. There was dinner, dessert, flowers, a limo, the works. But the fact that he took a hobby of mine that I loved and created a scrapbook really touched me. Especially when I realized later that it had involved many evenings of scrapbooking, not exactly a popular college senior male pastime. (His friends graciously marathon-ed through some TV series so he could craft and still participate.)

That’s exactly the way I was touched this past weekend. Not only did my brother and his girlfriend choose to visit us on the precious little vacation time they had, but after the big surprise of their presence in Paris, they announced that that was only the beginning. Michael and David had planned a weekend to the Loire Valley for us four, completely on their own. I love travel planning but I well know all the work, time, and effort that goes into it. Needless to say, I was sincerely moved by their gift to me.

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Into the Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Planning a Trip to Bordeaux

So did the winemedieval village, and ocean convince you that a trip to Bordeaux is a good idea? If it did, here's what I recommend to pull the vacation together.

Make the city of Bordeaux your home-base during your stay. It is the largest city in the area and offers plenty of choices for accommodations, restaurants, and night life. 

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Uncorking Bordeaux

You know that sound of the pop of the cork, followed by gurgling and a splash hitting the glass? I thought planning a trip to Bordeaux would be that easy, as simple as opening a bottle of wine and making the first pour. Wine flows freely in France so I assumed it would not be hard to figure out where to do some tastings in perhaps the most well-known wine region in the country, Bordeaux. 

The decision to select Bordeaux as a destination for some of the wine enthusiasts coming to visit me was the easy part. I planned a long weekend with friends there last March, and then a quick overnight stop-off on en route to Dordogne with my parents. Beyond that though, figuring out where exactly to go took much more time. 

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Bordeaux's Little Sister: Saint-Émilion

Promises of medieval quaintness and beauty led me to Saint-Émilion the first time. The small family-run vineyards that surround the town will keep me coming back.

About a 40-minute drive east of Bordeaux lies the town of St. Émilion, covered in cobblestones and surrounded by miles of vineyards. The city of Bordeaux is perfect to make a home base for its central location and for more happenings going on, but it is essential to make a trip east to its little sister, the small town of Saint-Émilion.

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