of the week: in which a woman shakes in her pants in anticipation of her european holiday!

love.: As most of you know, next month I’m spending three weeks traveling through Italy and France. People who know me well know that I am a woman who likes to be prepared. To that end, I’ve spent endless hours preparing my itinerary of hidden chow spots, tucked-away streets and art that will put my heart on pause. Some of my choice favorites: Localers, a service offering cool day tours by Parisians. At present, I’m swooning over the food trips. Whilst in Paris, I will definitely pass time in these coffee shops, as recommended by Sous Style. After over a decade of traveling to Paris, photographer and writer, Janelle McCulloch, serves up a sumptuous take on her picks for art, architecture, fashion, vintage, food, and all the hidden streets that are a must-visit in her vividly photographed book, Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart. Clearly, any advice Ines de la Fressange doles out I’m certain to follow. So I snapped up her beautifully bound, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide, and it’s chockfull of etiquette, tips and Ines’ picks for the ultimate Parisian holiday. Finally, the Bloggers Guide to Paris is a must-print {while you’re at it, devour all of Pret-A-Voyager’s posts, please!} When in Rome, I plan to follow Twitter friend + travel writer, Erica Firpo’s tips to the letter.

When it comes to apps, I’ve scored David Leibovitz’s divine Paris Pastry Tour, because if David’s writing about it, it’s certain to be DELISH. And to help me with my pitiful French and non-existent Italian, I’ve already downloaded the simple Mindsnacks apps.

**If you have any links, resources of tips for me, please share them in the comments section. I’m headed to Rome, Florence, Siena, Paris, Bordeaux, Biarritz, and possibly Basque country.

Brief aside: Golden Tip Cups. Aren’t they dreamy?

life.: Just as I ceased the endless trip vacillation {Basque country, no, Switzerland!}, do I read about Ashley’s visit to Southern Spain. You will fawn over the rich history, architecture and the sloe-gin vibe. Meanwhile, Jessica’s literary riffs remind me why I’m so delighted to have returned to books, articles, criticism with such fervor. Some days it feels as if I have a tapeworm when it comes to literature, and trust me, this is a good thing.

eat.: Indulging my passion for chocolate + chocolate are these yummy Homemade Bounty Bars. While I’m noshing on this and pretending to be more virtuous I can feast on Quinoa Salad, x3, Carrot Soup + Blood Orange Oil, Sweet Potato + Rosemary Biscuits.

traveling to paris: quick tips


Getting to/from the Airport: Of all the sites I researched, Paris by Train has the smartest, step-by-step instructions on getting to + from CDG. However, they left out a few critical points. If you’re coming to Gare de Nord from the Metro, keep your ticket as you’ll need this to validate in order to secure your tickets for the RER B I learned this the hard way, and luckily enough a service attendent was willing to validate me with his pass. Also, the service booths are closed on the weekends and the machines do not take most U.S.-issued credit cards (it says Visa but none of my cards worked). You’ll need Euro coins in order to purchase your tickets. Once you get through this mess, traveling to the airport is a cinch.

Getting around the city: The Paris metro system is probably the most efficient and easiest underground system to navigate. As I mentioned here, downloading the Paris Metro + Paris Maps apps will change your life. I used the Paris Metro every day, and it gave me the simplest routes to get where I needed to go, and even showed me a map of metro stops closest to my location. I made the mistake of buying a ton of metro tickets, when I should have invested in an unlimited pass. This wasn’t too frustrating as I enjoy exploring a city by foot, but it might have been more economical.

Dining in Paris: New Yorkers are spoiled in the sense that we have food and restaurants on demand, catering to our every whim. Not as much in Paris. Hip Paris Blog has the most comprehensive guide in dining out in Paris (along with rules of the road). Expect to have lunch from 12-2, dinner 8-11. Also, I did notice that table turns are not as aggressive in New York, so you’ll have to be proactive (and I mean PROACTIVE) in asking for, and receiving, the check.

When it comes to breakfast, don’t expect your ubiquitous coffee carts or Starbucks. “Takeaway coffee” is quite a novelty in Paris, as most places expect that you will sit down just for a cup of coffee. In all candor, I had a difficult time with this as I just wanted a large coffee and my iPod to enjoy the city. Starbucks is present (I saw 2 locations in Paris) and there are shops that offer coffee to go, but this isn’t the norm. Typically, I went to the local boulangerie and purchased a croissant/baguette and had water. Check out Lost in Cheeseland’s post on basic Parisian etiquette.

The language and the “rude” question: As I mentioned in another post, there are rude people everywhere. If you’re traveling to another country, make every best effort to learn simple phrases. I’ve shared many smart language apps you can download that will help you navigate the basics of French, but, in short, make an EFFORT. Don’t expect that our cultural norms are practiced in Paris, and don’t just walk up to someone and start speaking English. Nearly every Parisian I encountered was accommodating, English-speaking and willing to help. I only encountered ONE person who pretended to not know English when in fact he did.

Note: Thank you so much for your wonderful emails, comments, Twitter @ replies, Facebook notes throughout the week — I sincerely appreciate it. I work really hard to make this space a beautiful, virtual scrapbook of all the things I love, including my travels and all the food I DIE to eat. If you have any questions, suggestions, comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.