The Golden Rule of Parisian Fashion and How I Broke It

I smiled politely at the waiter who brought me my almond pastry. I had yet again found myself seeking sanctuary in Angelina’s, home of the most delicious hot chocolate in all of France. Given the dreary weather and cold winds, it was not surprising that half of Paris was trying to get a table. Tourists and locals alike clamored into the restaurant, adding their names to the growing wait-list.

I bit into the almond fluff, suddenly very aware that I was alive. I licked my lips with a little too much satisfaction. Paris was going to make me fat and I was totally at peace with this.

My phone vibrated against the spoon on the table, signaling receipt of a text from Clarisse. She was running late so she was sending a good friend to meet me. I didn’t particularly need to be entertained, especially since I had a succulent pastry to keep me company, but I was always up for meeting new friends. Continue reading

When Paris Glitters

It was a windy and wet day in Paris, leaving perambulators soaked and shivering. But even with my soggy jacket and tornado hair-do I was enthralled with the beauty of the city. Snapping photos to stay warm, I strolled through the posh neighborhoods with no set destination.

I watched the clouds roll by as if they were late to an important event. My mind drifted to the Paris Hotel in Vegas. I tried to explain to Clarisse the absurdity of this thought. “The skies look so picture perfect, they almost look as fake as the ones adorning the ceiling of the hotel!” At least now I could give the architects credit for their accuracy. Continue reading

A Day at the Museum: Navigating the Louvre Labyrinth

I could have spent a month in The Louvre. Well, the reality is I could have decided to move in and no-one would be the wiser. Sitting on almost 100 acres, the Louvre was a whopping 650,000 feet and housed three wings worth of paintings, sculptures, and other one-of-a-kind pieces. I’m pretty sure you could play hide and seek in the Sully wing never to be found again.

According to the Louvre’s official website, it was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century, only to later become the home of royalty such as King Louis XIV. For as monumental and breathtaking as the buildings were, what was more mind-boggling was that the museum also housed precious artifacts deep underground.

My Parisian friend and hostess, Clarisse, had brought me to the Louvre on my first day in the city. We were doing the Reader’s Digest tour and according to her, this was the best way for me to determine what I wanted to see. We spent most of the day on the subway racing from one historical landmark to another. I hadn’t decided much after my Paris-in-a-Day experience except that I was dying to go back to the Louvre. Continue reading

My Top 5 Parisian Hangouts- Unusual places I love in the City of Love

Trust me, I was more stoked than anyone to check out the national landmarks strewn throughout Paris. Need proof? See my enthusiasm captured below.

And while I feel like seeing the most popular tourist attractions is a right of passage, I found I preferred to spend time in off-the-map locations. The more I travel, the more I find this is the case; some of the coolest locations to experience aren’t frequented by tourists. You have to find them on your own. In a way, that’s part of the magic of travel. However, I am aware that time is often a factor and not everyone can afford to get lost in cities for days on end.

This being said, I have been receiving e-mail inquiries asking me to share some of my favorite hangout spots and secret loves in the countries I’ve visited. And since I’m all about enhancing the travel experience for everyone, I present you with…

Hilary’s Top Five Atypical Parisian Attractions Continue reading

How to not piss off Parisians (in five simple steps)

Since returning from Europe, I’ve heard countless horror stories and anecdotal recounts of what I’m dubbing the “Cold-shouldered Parisian Encounters.” I am simultaneously puzzled and fascinated by the emotional scarring my friends have received while visiting this romantic city (it is the city of love, after all). For a city so filled with sweet delights and romantic music, the reviews on the hospitality of its people have not been as positive as I would have imagined.

I have been contacted by many fellow travelers asking why I didn’t receive the snubs, snide comments, and snobbish ‘tudes that they did while in France. Maybe I simply lucked out on my journey, but after comparing notes I think I’ve determined a few key differences that put me in favor with the locals (leave it to me to analyze the psychology of the situation). Continue reading