As we near the commencement of Summer, I have been desperate to coordinate only the best outfits to blend in as a true Parisian living in the 7th. Before leaving for the City of Lights, I grabbed every Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue I could find hunting for the best Paris street fashion. Unfortunately, as I suspected, I come to find out that the street fashion was the normal groupies dressed in assembles that most will only dream of affording.
True Parisian woman are practical. They wear clothes that will survive the city pollution, shoes that help them run to catch the metro and dresses that survive the daily potential rainstorm. They are some of the most beautiful and strongest women I have ever encountered. No matter what the situation, they make practical, look amazing and affordable. That being said I have decided to devote a weekly fashion segment to these wonder women of Paris.
My goal is to select affordable outfits for 80 euro or under. All with the ability for purchase at stores internationally known, not only in Paris. There are essential fashion staples I have noticed in the city for every season which I will bring to you weekly, listed as “Paris Essential”. Though Elle may offer the newest Gucci street style, I will share with you the secret to blend in as true Parisian on your next journey in the City of Lights.
With today being the eve of my 33 birthday, what better way to celebrate than to show off my “birthday suit”. This outfit is a dedication to the start of summer and staying young in Paris. Paris Essential: Wedges.
Every Parisian women rocks a pair with jeans, shorts or a dress. They are the only shoes for summer that can handle the cobblestone sidewalks and the metro stairs.
Dress: Forever 21, 18 euro
Sunglasses: H & M, 6.95 euro
Necklace: Forever 21, 2.95 euro
Wedges: H & M, 24.99 euro
I would love to invite you to a very chic outdoor picnic. Dress in the most glamorous white outfit you can find, bring the best meal you can cook and bring the best wine you know. Oh, by the way, you need to bring your own table, your own chairs and I can’t tell you where it is until 1 hour before. Hope to see you there!
Wait, what? Why would I want to attend this? Well, for those of you not familiar with this glamorous “do-it-yourself” extravaganza many might pass on this invitation. Why would I dirty my best white attire and lug my own tables across town? For this reason; bragging rights to the most speculator white soiree you have ever seen. After 26 years, people are begging to carry their own tables and chairs to be invited and pay for this exclusive event.
The affair that started in Paris with a small group of friends, is now celebrated in 16 cities all over the world and people pay good money for their ticket. Why would you buy a ticket if you are bringing all your own materials? The costs contribute to the extensive lighting, sound system, firework displays and organization that goes into coordinating such a large event. For the events not centrally located, there is also bus transportation that will take you to the “secret” spot. Honestly though, you are truly paying for ambience and well, bragging rights.
Here in Paris, there are no tickets available for purchase, it’s on a “who you know” bases. And in 2014, as the world watched the first game of the World Cup last Thursday, Paris watched exclusive attendees enjoy only the finest wines and French cuisine at sunset. The picnic has become so exclusive in Paris that all 10,000 attendees are by invite only.
Assuming a “secret location” meant a discreet park in the outer banks of the city, I expected not to see any Paris monuments in site. Come to find out every year the party’s “secret location”, that is revealed 1 hour before the event, is at one of the top touristic locations in the city. This year being no different, Pont Alexandre and six other bridges along the Seine were covered with giant cotton white blankets of Diner en Blanc attendees. Not the most secret location!
Traffic on the Pont Alexandre bridge came to a complete stop as tourists and local motorists halted to snap photos of the thousands in white. From the grass at Invalides to the sidewalks of Pont Alexandre, Parisians dressed their tables with fine white linens, silver candelabras and beautifully bloomed white flowers. Passing tourists gawked at the different themed costumes, overflowing displays of caviar, escargot, foie gras and of course, bubbly. I could not help and think, how could anyone not just setup a table too? There are so many people, how would they possibly notice?
My friend, who attend the event in Singapore, went on to explain to me the controlled system they have in place. Though it may not seem like security is present, it is. The obvious policeman were there but among the sea of white, there are coordinators carefully placing attendees, ensuring no crashers try to blend in.
As for myself, we were lucky enough to be at Pont Alexandre when the moon rose and the sun set for this spectacular site. By far it was one of the most picturesque moments I have had in Paris. Though as I anxiously await my invitation for next year’s exclusive picnic, before then, I will be preparing my most glamorous white outfit and begin the hunt for next year’s “secret yet not so secret” location.
If you would like to attend the event in a city nearest you, here is the site for more information, http://www.dinerenblanc.info
The countdown has begun for one of the most anticipated world cup’s in decades. Starting tomorrow night, June 12th, 2014, the first match between Brazil and Croatia will kick of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Fans from around the world, Brazilian or not, are anxious to get their national FIFA gear on, wave their flags, paint their faces and represent their country with pride.
Brazil is known as one the football capitals of the world. Filled with die hard fans who live, breathe and sweat the game. Though Brazil may be hosting the matches this year, the country its self is struggling to defend why it is the best place to be for the 2014 World Cup. With transportation strikes, outrageous ticket prices, stadium concerns and security issues, many have decided to stay put somewhere else in the world then travel to where the action is. Though watching a game live will always offer the best and loudest element, you can still get in the mood at many World Cup events happening all over the world.
If have you decided to save the thousands on a 2014 World Cup ticket and watch the game elsewhere, there are plenty of places to get you in the stadium vibe. Here in Paris, whether your living or visiting, the mood will be ready for the first match tomorrow, starting at 10pm Parisian time. Brazilian bars around the city are preparing to get you in the World Cup or (Coupe de Monde in French), spirit including KIA motors who is providing an enormous floating Brazilian oasis on the Seine. GOOOOAAAALLLLL!
Where to watch the 2014 World Cup in Paris:
1. KIA Cabana: L’oasis Bresilienne a Paris
Located on the Seine between Port Champs-Elysees, this tropical oasis in the heart of Paris transports you to the heart of Brazil without ever leaving the city. Sponsored by KIA motors, the oasis is filled with palm trees, bars, dance floors, a restaurant, children’s activities and of course, TV’s to watch the matches. Open everyday from June 12th to July 13th, drinks are completely affordable, (5 euro for a Brahma Beer or Mojito) and the food offers a wide variety of Brazilian fair. Find more information at http://www.foot.kia.com. Metro: Champs Elysees
2. Favela Chic
If you want to use your foot moves while watching foot moves on TV then this is your place. A Brazilian restaurant that turns into a lively nightclub in the evenings, will be hosting the World Cup matches with a DJ and a high party atmosphere. Each match will offer a speciality food item of the night and speciality drinks, beginning tomorrow night with Burger des Balkans. 18 Rue du Faubourd du Temple, Metro: Republique, http://www.favelachic.com
3. Cuba Comagnie
This traditional Brazilian bar located in the 11th, offers a great South American atmosphere. Apparently they make one killer Brazilian Caipirinha and the best part is tomorrow they are only 5 euro! The pre-gaming starts at 6pm to get energized for the late night match and enjoy an early dinner from their delicious tapas menu. 48 Bd. Beaumarchais, Metro: Chemin Vert, http://www.cubacompagnie.com
A European sports bar chain among most of western European, Belushi’s offers one of the loudest atmospheres you can get. With outdoor seating and great views of the canal, Belushi’s is ready to serve you and 20 of your friends for all the World Cup matches. An ideal place for large groups, they offer speciality pricing for groups over 10. Why you need to see at least one match at Belushi’s? Their burger special. Belushi’s is offering The X-Tudo. A massive triple Brazilian burger topped with string fries and a fried egg. I’m thinking a new must on the bucketlist for meat eaters. 159 Rue de Crimee, Metro: Crimee, http://www.belushis.com
5. The Great Canadian
I understand if a Canadian bar sounds the exact opposite of where you would watch the World Cup. However, this is my go-to spot for sports, especially as a North American. The Great Canadian always plays the major sporting events from around the world, guaranteed. Though a little pricey at times, they offer daily specials such as 20 euro San Miguel beer buckets and wing night on Wednesdays. Centrally located in Saint Michel, The Great Canadian will televise every World Cup match with staff completely dressed up in full FIFA gear. Tomorrow night for the first match, they will be hosting Fireball shot promotions and specials. Get there early to grab a seat because it will be packed for the big match. 25 Quai des Grands Augustins, Metro: Saint Michel-Notre Dame.
In the basking hot sun, the Parisian masses came out yesterday to watch the final match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for Roland Garros-The French Open. Just as you would in your living room, but with a way better view, Parisians filled the lawns of Champ de Mars park. Shirtless men and women with large sun hats, attempted to survive the heat as they watched their favorite tennis pro’s on the big screen with the Eiffel Tower creating a surreal backdrop.
Throughout the entire two weeks of the The French Open, which began on May 25th, Champ de Mars was prepared for viewers to watch all the matches with a huge screen TV. Booths selling your favorite Roland Garros gear were set, security on call and to commence it all…….a giant tennis ball in the middle of the Eiffel Tower! True marketing at it’s best. Though I have to admit, it was kind of an eye soar. If it was my first time in Paris, I would not want a Roland Garro’s tennis ball in my family photo.
While the games were played at the courts of Porte d’Auteuil, many were deceived that the games might be played on the court in Champ de Mars. The tennis court set on the other side of the lawn was used primarily for press releases and a chance for locals to play on! As I live only a minutes walk from the park, I thought I needed to snap a million photos when I saw two men playing on the court. However, I realized, with no crowds around, they were locals catching up on a lunchtime match to get their feel as a pro. Pro or not, it is pretty awesome to be playing tennis, in Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower.
As a neighbour to the park, I watched a few games on the big screen with the small amount of locals who brought picnics during the two weeks. However, yesterday was the big game and just as it would be for the Super Bowl, everyone brought their biggest feasts, national flags and all their friends to find spots where they could get the best view. Most scattered along under the trees to stay out of the boiling sun but it was the busiest I have ever seen Champ de Mars. As a regular picnicker there, night and daytime, I was not going to miss out on the biggest event. My roommate and I did not hesitate to gather our normal arrangements to cheer on with the masses.It is days like these I feel so lucky to be a neighbour of Champ de Mars. Though extremely busy at times, it gives you that “awww” moment as you stare up at the Eiffel Tower, anytime of the year.
If you are in town for the 2015 French Open ensure to grab a tennis racket, your blanket and pack a picnic, with wine of course, to watch the matches at Champ de Mars. One thing I know for sure this year is, I am ready for to have “tennis ball-less” Eiffel Tower pictures again.
“Ryanair is the worst airline in the world” a website that actually exists. I was dumbfounded by the reality of its exsistance after I searched obsessively for reason’s not to fly Ryanair. How can this site even exist? Wouldn’t Ryanair take this site down? Yet, does this site exist only to give motivation for a few angry travelers and is Ryanair actually one of the smartest airlines in the world?
I heard before moving to Europe the catastrophe that was Ryanair. Similar to Spirit Airlines in the U.S, everyone warned me about this rock bottom low-cost carrier. However, as a master of cheap travel, Ryanair came up as the least-expensive option even with airport transfer costs for my recent trip to Dublin from Paris. (additional, 17 euro for one hour bus ride to BV airport from central Paris). Plus, I wanted to try and see what all the fuss about. Was it truley the “worst airline in the world”.
I was thrilled along with terrified, never paying so little for a flight in my life, 30 euro? I can barely go out for dinner and a beer for that price, and you want to fly me somewhere? Perhaps we all pedal at the same time on one enormous bicycle under the plane in order to take off. Or is there the chance we don’t have seats. No matter what the possibility I thought for sure this was my death trip since it was so cheap. However, I was more than surprised after I surprisingly landed safely in Dublin. A smooth ride and speedy service was what I received and not what I expected after flying, “the worst airline in the world”.
Reasons why Ryanair is so cheap:
1. You get only what you pay for a seat.
2. They make all their money off your mistakes.
3. You have to buy everything including water.
4. Advertising, Advertising, Advertising.
1. If you are looking for free drinks, DirectTv or your seat to even recline, then this is not your airline. Ryanair is a bus in the sky. They offer anything you could possibly want, drinks, food, duty-free items, shuttle bus tickets but you are going to have to pay for all of it. However, if you are only taking a one hour flight, which is the case with many cities in Europe, will you not survive without a Diet Coke?
2. Ryanair has very strict check-in guidelines. If you don’t follow their rules, you will pay the price, a very hefty price.
- Check-in up to 2 hours before your flight (70 euro fee)
- Print your boarding pass (70 euro fee)
- One large carry on bag that must be the following dimensions:55cmx40cmx20cm, weighing no more than 10kg. In addition you get one personal bag, 35cmx20cmx20cm.( 25 euro per small bag during off-season, 35 euro during high season)
When first reading these guidelines, my skin was boiling. What airline has the nerve to charge someone 70 euro for their boarding pass. Though the one thing I do credit them for is, they give you plenty of warning before you arrived. I received several emails with the warnings signs letting me know, “Avoid the fines”. Well, they can say ” It’s not like I didn’t tell you so”
3. Ryanair is not a luxury airline. This is where being strategic comes into play. You know if you are flying Ryanair it is to save money. So, you can’t be mad at them when they charge you for coffee on board. Buy what beverages you need at the airport or do what I do which is pack food for the trip from home. It is surprising how well certain foods travel and this way you won’t be angered by the 5 euro bag of chips on board.
4. Advertising gives companies the extra boost they need. Ryanair advertises possible more than Times Square. The overhead compartments have advertisements and they are constantly on the overhead speaker selling something. However, I understood it because again, you get what you pay for.
Why Ryanair may be geniuses?
After taking my 17 euro, one hour bus ride at 6:30am from Porte Malliott in Paris, (the only public transport way to get to BV) I arrived at the tiny Beauvais Airport. The benefit to the bus service is the VIP drop off in front of the Ryanair gate, which is one of only two airlines at the airport. When I collected my bags from the bus, I scurried to the check-in line hoping to relieve the anxiety over whether they will charge me for my bag if 1cm too large. I was ready for duty with boarding pass in hand and bag measured. Your not gonna get me Ryanair, not this girl!
I was eyeing the line to see who would be the first one served with the boarding pass or check-in fee. To my surprise, I found only prepared soldiers, such as myself ready to defeat Ryanair’s extra cost tactics. And for this reason, I have never gone through airport check-in so fast in my life. The normal treacherous, slow, long and dreadful line waiting behind confused travelers trying to slide their credit card and passports through the check-in kiosks that either do not work or closed, was all but non-existent here. So, after all this, are Ryanair’s guidelines crazy or just a genius solution?
I would have to say genius. You threaten fees to the customer and customer’s will listen. We don’t want to pay them and they don’t want to do the extra work. It costs nothing if you are staying at a hotel to print a boarding pass, we all check-in online anyway and if your flight is short, BYOB!
I was thrilled with this speed check-in. No arguments, no closed kiosks, hand over your piece of paper and you are on your way. Though I would like a reclining seat and some free water, I still will fly Ryanair again. Fast and friendly service with a safe landing is all I need for a 30 euro plane ticket.
There is no better way to enjoy the sites of Paris than when it’s free! As everything you purchase in Paris will make you gasp a little, tonight the CIty of Lights let’s enjoy some culture and an alternative for a spring Saturday night free of charge. All 192 museums in Paris, including the big boys, Louvre and D’Orsay, are offering free admission to all and the best part is they are keeping their doors open till 1am. It is just like going out with the packed crowds on a Saturday night but with a little more cultural and a lot more money in your pocket.
Though the date changes, this is an annual May tradition here in Paris. If you can’t make it this year, you can maybe think about when you want to arrange your Paris visit. As the secret is not out to everyone, those who do know, will be taking full advantage of it leading to block long lines and packed metro’s. Best time to enjoy this treat, is early evening or after 11pm if you want a chance to actually see a painting without someone’s head in front of it.
For a list of all free museums admissions throughout the year check out the visitor bureaus site, http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/themed-guides/paris-for-free/low-cost-culture/free-admission-and-good-deals-in-museums-and-monuments-in-paris
I get many questions as an active traveler, where are the best places to stay? What is your favorite country? Where are your favorite places to eat? But one of the most common questions I get is,” What do you do about your money?” I know, this sounds like such an obvious question to answer but there are many travellers who just assume they have to go to the exchange bureau when you really don’t ever have to walk in the door. Though handling your money abroad takes more practice than you think but once you perfect the science, it is amazing how much money you save.
I recently took a trip to the U.K. and almost passed out when I saw the exchange rates again after 8 years. One tourist center I strolled by had the American dollar to Pounds at $1.94!!!! That means the 2 pound bottle of water you buy is actually almost $4, that is like being at Yankee Stadium for a week straight! I knew the pound was always a terrible exchange on my journeys through London but it still hurt to reach in my wallet to buy a $4 pack of gum. Though, the pain has lessened over the years as I have traveled from one country to another perfecting the best way to keep more money in my pocket and not spent on exchange rates. Many of you may already know these tips if you travel often but for those starting to see the world, here are 5 ways to make your exchange rate the most beneficial.
1. Avoid the exchange bureau at all costs!
Just as it was in our grandparents day, you assume you have to exchange your U.S. dollars at the exchange bureau obtaining the local currency, right? Wrong! New travellers forget that one of your bank branches in the U.S. will more than likely have any foreign currency you need. Take a decent amount in cash in that currency to get started and you can negotiate the rate better at your bank. Always bring a few dollars for when you arrive home as well. Some get nervous about having too much cash but as long as you split it up in between suitcases, your fine. When you are ready for more cash, use your ATM card. The exchange rate and fees( if any) your bank charges will be at least half the cost of what you will receive at the exchange bureau. Sometimes, I can not believe the exchange bureaus still exsist but again and again I will say, avoid it all costs!
2. Use your ATM card from country to country to get new currency
If you plan on making a backpacking trip through several countries, more than likely you already know the countries you will be visiting. If you want on living spontaneously and head to a unexpected destination, then the wonderful world we live in where Skype exists, you can call your bank to let them know where you are headed. Once, you do that, use what you have left of that country right before you leave. Unfortunately, it is actually better to just buy something than exchanging the money back. When you arrive in the new country, go to the first ATM to get the new currency. Depending on your bank, as I have Wells Fargo, they are very quick about granting my requests for any new country I need it while I am abroad. This way I don’t worry about not having enough cash.
3. Get rid of your coins
Here in Europe where coins are worth up to 2 euro and pounds, it is easy to forget they are there. That being said, many of us go home with this street performer bulk of coins that sometimes adds up to $20 or $30. The problem is? If you don’t use them, most banks and exchange bureaus will not take the coins back leaving you with a heavy bag of souvenirs. Even if you have to buy a key chain, use your coins before using your bills. As American’s coins are not really worth much to us so we get angry with people in line at the store who even reach in their coin purse. In Europe coins are everything! A 2 euro coin is enough to buy a Metro ticket, snacks, newspapers and sometimes even a beer!
4. Use your credit card only as back up
I understand that many of us have credit cards and debit cards all set up without international fees, which is great. However, don’t assume that your debit and credit card are always going to work. Most countries are using smartchips now, which the U.S. is slowly trying to integrate. That said, most machines in the world at train stations, restaurants and certain venues will not take cards without the smartchip. This is why, though cash can be a risk, it is always a guarantee that you will have something that works. As long as you only bring the cash you need for the day and have an ATM card as backup, you will be set. Another thing you may want to do before leaving the states is order a second ATM card just in case your get’s stolen. That way you have immediate backup instead of a credit card. If you travel, especially to third world countries, a lot of places only take cash. Remember, cash is still the universal currency no matter what year it is.
5. Be Smart
Whether you are bringing cash or credit card always be streetsmart. Major metropolitan cities such as Paris, Madrid, Rome and Prague are all known for their pickpockets. However, if you get travel insurance before you leave, keep your bags zipped, close to you and always have backup in your hotel or hostel, your vacation will continue to be as enjoyable as you dreamt it would be before you ever arrived.
If you have any exchange rate tips, I would love to hear them!!
Spring is in the air and so are the outdoor markets! Just like at Christmas, Paris starts to sprinkle white tents around the city indicating the coming of the beautiful spring and summer markets. And as the city grows greener and more colorful, so has my appetite to spend every moment eating, drinking and enjoying life outside. Now, the Village de Printemps is just one of the perfect places to accomplish that.
Across the street from the Eiffel Tower you will begin to smell the delicious sausages and brats with peppers and onions grilling from the vendors underneath the white tents of Village de Printemps.
When arriving, stop and fill your appetite by grabbing yourself a smoky sausage and fries. You will need it to walk through the market while you shop and explore all the great purses, jewellery and crafts on sale starting at 5 euro!
After you gathered all your great deals, ensure to indulge in a Nutella crepe or just hang out at the portable bar for a beer which serves several international beers on tap, including Brooklyn Brewery.
When at the tower, the village can be easy to miss when you are smothered by tourists. But worth the search to save yourself the money on the 15 euro burger at the so-so “glamorous” restaurant that claims to have the best view of the Eiffel Tower. At the Village de Printemps, you still get the fabulous view of Mr.Eiffel’s masterpiece, the outdoor breeze, great eats and souvenir shopping all in one place. Just how Paris is supposed to be enjoyed.
Village de Printemps is open till May 4th but here is a list of similar outdoor markets throughout the summer.
1. Village de la Diversite Culturelle Place du Palais Royal
May 1st to May 11
2. Village d’ete
Place Raoul Dautry-Montparnasse
May 16th to June 1
3. Village Estival
Mail Branly-Tour Eiffel (same location)
June 20th to July 10th
4. Village Eiffel-Boudonnais
July 18th to August 30th
Running errands one sunny afternoon, I came across a sign I had not yet seen here in Paris, “Frozen Yogurt”. Not only have I not tasted, nor even thought of frozen yogurt since arriving here five months ago. Living in the city of glorious pastries, it is not the most French dessert I would think of. However, when seeing this magnificent sign, marketing began working at it’s best and I immediately began to crave a delicious mixture of cool yogurt topped with a buffet of fruit toppings.
When entering the small store the first thing that jumped out at me was the sparkling cleanliness. The shining metal from the yogurt machines had almost a perfect mirror reflection that would give Mr.Clean a run for his money any day. The very friendly store owner, Stephan came running up to me with a huge smile asking in French if I was familiar with the yogurt process. I told him I was American and an expert “froyo” patron. He was thrilled anyway to tell me about the process and about his new-found market he discovered when visiting Miami (which, btw, the French LOVE Miami).
He then came back here to France immediately opening the store as he thought it was crazy no one had really tapped into this market yet. Though do exist here, he is right that they are nowhere near as common. I tried two selections of his simple flavors, all which are fat free, strawberry and vanilla and they were delectable. It was the freshest, smoothest frozen yogurt I ever had. The mixture he used was not of the same consistancy that the main chains in the U.S. serve. It was absent of the sugary after taste that most frozen yogurt contains and I loved this absence.
Placed out where the normal accompaniments, again extremely clean and organized with a selection of candies, m&m’s, skittles and gummi bears along with beautifully cut fresh fruit and cake crumbs. The cakes where much smaller but tastier that in the U.S. At the end when I had my beautiful edible masterpiece finished and like most “froyo” ,it was a bit expensive, 2,50 euro per 100kg. All in all it was a “sweet” break to the typical French pastry.
After, I went home to see how expansive the frozen yogurt market was in Paris. Though they have gone unnoticed to me, unlike the eye-catching ice cream stores, they do exist. So, if you are headed to Paris this summer and want esape from the 15 Nutella -Banana crepes you devoured already on your trip, here is a list of frozen yogurt chains in Paris. And when traveling to Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower, grab a seat outside and try some Top Yog, it will be a nice, refreshing break.
Frozen Yogurt in Paris
39 rue Champ de Mars,75007, Metro: Ecole Militaire, Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel
4 rue Mouffettard, 75005, Metro: Place Monge, Cardinal Lemoine
3 rue Saint-Merri, 75004, Metro: Hotel de Ville
15 rue de l’Aniennce Comedie, 75006, Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Pres
Chacun ses gouts
4 rue Geoffroy l’Angevin, 75004, Metro: Rambuteau