Today 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.
Childhood memories of running towards a merry-go-round to try to be the first to select a favorite horse to ride upon come flooding back whenever I am in France. It seems that every city I visit has at least one of these nostalgic rides. You need not look far in Paris for one of the brightly colored carousels. Most are strategically located in high tourist traffic areas, others are smaller and tucked away in petit pocket parks in residential neighborhoods. No matter where you come across one of these gems, finding a carousel in France is always fun.
Today, the Fairmont Monte Carlo unveils a new restaurant by legendary Chef Nobu which was formerly a pop-up concept but is now a permanent part of the hotel. It will occupy the space previously taken by their formal dining room. The hotel added a narrow terrace space providing a bit of outdoor seating where diners will experience the serene views and sounds of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Nobu restaurant added a spectacular bar and two private meeting lounges.
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.
You can dress the kids up in designer clothes, coif their hair and try to turn them into “mini-me(s)” by teaching them the proper dining etiquette but it is not nearly as much fun as letting them drip ice-cream down the front of their jerseys as they enjoy a cone filled with their favorite flavor at a carnival. Working on their attention span to sit through a long fine dining experience is admirable and thoughtful for the guests around you, but they will eventually break out into a temper tantrum if they don’t get to run free at some point during the day. Let the kids burn off some steam and act their age while vacationing with these kid friendly family activities in Monte Carlo.
Gal Pal Elizabeth and I were dropped off at the bottom of the famous village Eze near Monaco, by taxi for an epic vertical journey in heels for the meal of a lifetime. Something special is how restaurant Château Eza was described, and the town of Eze was pitched as being charming and old-world. “Get there early” and check out the little shops along the way up to the restaurant, was the advice. “Stop at the church near the top for a sweet treat to see a peaceful retreat” another enthusiast chimed in. It was peaceful all right – it was dead quiet. I would put the emphasis on dead because we were nearly dead by the time we arrived at the church and discovered we were only half way to the restaurant.