7 Reasons to Love Paris That Have Nothing to Do With Food or Shopping

Pink Blossom

Paris, the City of Light. Paris, home of delicate pastries and strong coffee. Paris, the place where artists sketch in lively, public gardens, where writers write on wobbly tables on the sidewalks of street-side cafes and where ordinary girls from Boston fulfill a lifelong wish of visiting a place so seemingly distant and exotic it’s like only a spectacular dream could make it feel real.

But then the dream becomes a reality and the city she’s pined after for so long lives up to every expectation. (And that’s one of the many reasons I love this city.)

I could pontificate for days about the endless ways Paris feeds your soul with its culinary delights. Or the way it inspires with its effortless street style and big-name fashion houses. But this post has a different agenda.

This post has nothing to do with food or fashion because those things are obvious (and I could dedicate many, many blog posts to them. Heck, I think I will). If ever you needed more reasons to visit, here are seven more:

1. Beautifully crafted Métro stations like Cité. I love those weeping light fixtures.

Cite´ - Metro station - Paris

2. 360 views of the city besides the Eiffel Tower. My top picks include the Arc de Triomphe (pictured), Notre Dame, Tour Montparnasse (the only skyscraper within the périphérique) & from the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre.

Paris views from Arc de Triomphe

3. Public gardens for people watching, like the Jardin du Luxembourg (pictured below).

4. Wandering through Cimetière du Montparnasse. Am I telling you to meander through a cemetery? Um, yes. But this one is beautifully pruned and preserved and in one of my very favorite neighborhoods. Notable graves include Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (buried together), Guy de Maupassant, Charles Baudelaire, and Samuel Beckett.

5. Exploring the neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a unique attitude and feel like the boho-chicness of Montmartre or the medieval alleyways of Marais (pictured).

Rue des Barres, La Marais, Paris

6. Paris Plage (the beach on the River Seine). For the past 11 years, the city of Paris has transformed the concrete sidewalks of the Seine to a summertime getaway with sand, green spaces and free chaise longues (lounge chair) rentals.

The Seine has a beach!

7. Twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower. At dusk, the Eiffel Tower truly sparkles every hour on the hour. It’s been disputed that the Tower has a copyright on all images of the Light Show, but I found it pretty difficult to find some official language on the subject. Even so, I’ve decided not to display a photo, you know, just in case. But, you can Google away and see some fantastic, iconic shots of the beautiful structure all lit up.

Oh and PS – Happy International French Week!

{photo credits: Notre Dame by Carin OllsonCite MetroBeachMarais}

Do you love to travel? Is there a city that feeds your soul? Is there a place you’d love to visit in the future? Share your travel wish list with us!



London’s Street Markets

Highlights from London

Good day, kind sirs and gentle ladies! I was across the pond last week helping Will & Kate move into their new Kensington Palace apartment (pictured above, top left). I am such a selfless person. Turns out they had plenty of professional help though (and armed guards) so my services were not needed after all.

What a shame. I hear baby George threw a terrible fit in question of my whereabouts. I was at Topshop, Georgie! Just a short 5 minute walk from your very humble palace. It’s my happy place.

Since this was a return visit to Londontown, I whisked by many of the city’s iconic sites, and instead, pointed my laser beams on its beautiful outdoor markets. Antiques, apparel and food was the name of the game. Indeed it was a successful trip for an eager consumer of all things British. So much so, I will be eating Ramen noodles until Christmas to make up for the damage I’ve done to my bank account.

Worth it.

Portobello Road in Notting Hill

Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill

Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill is famous for two reasons: (1) it’s an antique lover’s paradise, and (2) the charming Notting Hill section of London was the backdrop for one of my favorite romantic comedy’s of all time; of the same name. Remember THE LINE OF ALL LINES that Julia Roberts uttered to Hugh Grant? It went a little something like, I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. There is no other line in cinematic history that beats this EXCEPT when Mark Darcy stops Bridget Jones on the staircase and declares, I like you. Just as you are.

You can’t see me, but I just fainted from the romantic-ness of it all.

I begged my husband to be Julia and recite the line to me as we strolled by many of the vendors last Saturday morning, but he politely refused. I think too much of his manhood was already being held captive by spending his weekend looking at old teapots and vintage brooches.

Old Spitalfields Market in London’s East End

Old Spitalfields Market in East London

Old Spitalfields Market is a labyrinth of stalls fitted to the brim with goods ready to be plucked and taken to a good home. Leather jackets, scarves, costume jewelry, you name it, Spitals has it. Yes, we are on such good terms I gave the market its very own pet name. I really loved spending a couple hours here before catching the Tube to Heathrow for my flight home.

The apparel was modern, trendy and very well kept. A bit on par price-wise with some retail stores so it wasn’t a total bargain place, but the items did seem to be unique and many even handmade.

Petticoat Lane Market

Petticoat Lane Market

Also in London’s East End, I happened to walk through Petticoat Lane Market by accident en route to Old Spitalfields. It was an accident because we got lost.

Petticoat is a different world. It’s where old Topshop and Asos clothes go to die. So basically I was in heaven.

Unlike Old Spitalfields, the apparel in this market is more akin to a bargain basement store. If that’s your jam, you’ll like it here. There were bins and racks of wrinkled and worn-looking clothes selling for 5 pounds each. I recognized some of the Topshop items from a 1-2 years ago (including a peplum dress I spent $90 on and took 4 weeks to deliver), which are old by retail standards, but still in style.  I cried a little on the inside.

I’m still not sure if those were happy tears or tears of regret.

In fashion, you win some and you lose some.