Or, a story about creating your own happy place in a foreign land.

I have this strange ritual I repeat every time I land in Paris.

I almost don’t want to tell you about it, because I am aware that it’s random and a bit odd. But it takes me right back to some of the happiest moments of my life. So, I hold onto the habits (and even come clean with them here, to you.)

After dropping off my bags where I’m staying, is to immediately head to the nearest French chain grocery store — Carrefour, Monoprix, it matters not. The red lipstick and ballet flats emerge, and calm comes over me as I take to the Parisian streets.

I then proceed to pick up the same four things: a bit of both carottes rapées and celery rémoulade salads, (I told you this was random…) a wheel of cheese (the stinkier the better,) and a bottle of French red wine that’s under 10 euros. Perhaps I also get a fresh baguette.

This is my simple ritual.

renting an apartment in paris


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You came to Paris to fall in love. You just didn’t know it when you did.

For what does the city of love and light have to offer a solo traveler?

Love, and light.

Paris window

You stroll contemplatively. You have days where your only agenda is to go by a certain ice cream shop or pop in to a particular bookstore. You look up at the rows of structured buildings and admire the stretch of intricate, iron balconies placed delicately upon beige facades.

You pick one arrondissement and decide: this is your home for the next two weeks. You explore the neighborhood, find the cheapest place for wine in the evenings and cafe au lait in the mornings. The pâtissier begins to recognize you as the days pass slowly into evenings. You sit in parks and public squares and watch life and the city go by.

You dine alone for three hours, sit in a cafe with a glass or two or champagne, cherish three courses, and end with a cafe gourmand. No one rushes you. No one hassles you. You write in your journal or lose yourself in thought. And you enjoy every single minute.


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The accidental discovery of French pharmacy beauty while traveling has completely changed my skin — and my perspective.

This is the story of a travel writer (aka not beauty blogger) who like many, loves visiting Paris and goes as often as possible. It’s the story of choosing a different arrondissement for each visit and making a point to discover the neighborhood as much as possible. The mode of discovery is  always the same: wandering aimlessly on Parisian streets and through alleyways (see also: flâneur) and trying (or not trying, because how very Parisian) to do so with an air of calm (read: not wide-eyed and smiling.) This latest visit is the story of an accidental French love affair…with the pharmacy.

The arrondissement in question for this visit was Saint Germain-des-Pres (6th.) I knew that I would be roaming towards Le Grand Epicerie (just do it, people) for its food and wine. I wrote down the restaurants and cafes I wanted to sit for hours in, and had a few names from new local friends as well. I had a few museums and parks to see. I’d bike by the Eiffel Tower and walk along the Seine, because…Paris! (Already failing at proposed Parisian coolness.)

Normally I would do my best to avoid any obvious area of Paris that draws in a crowd. Yet on this mildly sunny day, slowly walking against a brisk wind, a horde of people at the corner of Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Four caught my attention. Swarms of women elegantly exiting…a pharmacy? Sans health issues requiring a prescription, I popped my head in to take a closer look.


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The Best of My Experiences in…


Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, Italy, France

 

I promised myself I wouldn’t go to Europe again.

My heart yearns to return to Asia, all the time. I haven’t set foot in South America yet. The only place I have lived in and have seen a lot of is…Europe.

 

A traveler always has to decide — return to a place they already know they love, or see someplace new?

Yet with a strong dollar and a conference in one of my favorite places in the world, it wasn’t exactly hard to persuade me to reconsider. I was spending a month in Europe: some new places (Croatia, Slovenia) and some classics revisited (Spain, France, Italy.) Truth be told, my heart skips a beat every time I think about traveling in Europe. Though I know I need to venture out to see more of the world, it can be difficult to repeatedly resist Europe’s charms…

You all asked, and so I sat down to recap the best eats, stays, views, and experiences (that’s almost all the senses.) While I’ll be writing about many of these in more detail, I thought it might be helpful to have a list of everything all together.

I’ve narrowed it down to a (*cough, short*) list.  It might seem like a random collection of recommendations, but I’m confident it will send some of you off to some of the best experiences in the world.


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You all know I love color.  Yet there is something fitting about Paris in black and white.  And so continues our exploration of favorite places in these two shades…

Latin Quarter

Place des Vosges

View from rooftop


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