DSC_0330While not a New Year's Eve destination this year, the Best of 2014 travel for me included multiple trips to Paris. Speaking from experience, nothing beats a New Year or Bonne Année in the City of Light. My first time seeing the Eiffel Tower at night was on New Year's Eve, 1990 with Mr. Weekend In Paris. It was the 100th anniversary of the tower and the excitement of the occasion was palpable. Of course the evening was all the more special since Mr. Weekend In Paris' birthday is at midnight! I instantly fell in love with the iron lady of Paris and my grandmother's heritage. France, you are in my blood!

DSC_0133I recently had the chance to spend an afternoon in Paris, and a night in Nice where Christmas was in full bloom. No apologies are made for celebrating this religious holiday so Christmas in France is a beautiful time of the year to witness the holiday spirit! The energy to light up the Christmas tree above is created by visitors peddling bikes connected to the power source. Green energy at work in the holiday season.

DSCN2073Today it's my 50th birthday (I don't feel a day over 49) and I just experienced the best trip in all my trips to Paris and France in my 24 years of traveling to Paris. It may have been my best travel ever, not a small revelation for a journalist who has been all over the world, but I have to admit the best trips ever were the trip down the aisle to marry Mr. Weekend In Paris and the two visits to the hospital to give birth to my wonderful sons Jack and Phil. But today, I want to share with you 50 things I love about Paris and France to commemorate my big birthday. 

  castle view cannes abbeyWhat do you think of when I say Cannes? Naturally the Cannes Film Festival comes to mind, but there is so much more to this sleepy little village than meets the eye. People are usually surprised when I tell them that Cannes is quiet for the majority of the year and that only 70,000 people live there year round. I discovered this while attending the 2013 International Luxury Travel Market last December as part of the press corps. What amazed me the most is there are serious winemakers on Saint-Honorat off the coast of Cannes, France.  Award winning wines and liqueurs are being produced by some savvy Cistercian Monks on the pristine island of Saint-Honorat.

DSCN0985The second in my series of Christmas Markets in France, Cannes has an impressive amount of stalls despite the small year round population. The booths remind me of little log cabins, rustic and charming. The decorations around the market were traditional pieces - greenery with ribbons and bows all lit up with elegant bright white lights. My favorite decoration was the adorable larger than life topiary teddy bear dressed in a red sweater which was at the entrance to the market along the Boulevard de la Croisette.

DSCN1099The International Luxury Travel Market has kept me very busy with press briefings and breaking news from the world of luxury travel, however, I did take some time during the lunch break Tuesday to visit a few nearby landmarks and take in the local beauty while sightseeing in Cannes. Centuries old food recipes, charming pedestrian streets, spectacular views of the yachts in the harbor and iconic Cannes Film Festival murals were among the highlights of the walking tour from professional guide Karin Osmuk who works at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès - Cannes Visitor's Bureau.
cannes muralOde to the Cannes Film Festival
The city of Cannes owes its notoriety around the world to the ingenious idea to host a unique film festival once a year which brings the best of the best from around the world in the film industry to this tiny little town in southern France. Artists pay homage to the festival with several large murals throughout the city. At the foot of Old Town, the entire front of the Gare des Autobus (bus station) is one such mural dedicated to the history of the festival itself. Actors, both real and animated, are depicted on the facade of the station from the early days of black and white film to more recent animated cartoons and feature films.

DSCN0988After 24+ hours of non-stop travel to Cannes, it seemed like a good idea to head out into the fresh air for a vigorous walk to get the lay of the land, verses taking a nap before my 6:00pm International Luxury Travel Market kickoff evening. The Tourism Office in Cannes provided a lovely tour guide, Karin for me today to enjoy the 20 minute boat ride out to Île Saint Honorat where the working Abbey remains today.

Downtown Monte Carlo Downtown Monte Carlo While attending the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, as part of the invited press, I will be doing some sightseeing, experiencing some one-of-a-kind activities and reviewing some of southern France’s best restaurants. Come along on my visit to Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo.
First Stop Cannes
Take off is from Houston, connecting in Dulles to Zurich with the final destination Cannes. After dropping my bags off at the four-star Hotel Mondial, I will make a beeline for the Tourism Office, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, to meet my guide for a quick overview tour of the city. After attending an official briefing about all things luxury at the Market, I will have the privilege of dining at La Palme d’Or, (2Michelin) at Hotel Martinez. In addition to this fantastic culinary delight, another night I will dine at Le Park 45, (1 Michelin) located in the Grand Hotel on La Croisette.