Weekend In Paris | Nice
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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. 

Giant ornament sculpture in Grimaldi Square   Giant ornament sculpture in Grimaldi Square The Nice Christmas Markets were in full force last weekend as I made my way through the carnival atmosphere in Grimaldi Square to the shopping area. Along the way to the markets I encountered such magnificent sights as the new pavilion which is a vast open green space with playgrounds for the children, gardens for the horticulturists and benches for the aged and the young in love.

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.

Cave de l'originale interiorWhen I asked Elénor, the concierge at the Palais de la Méditerranée, for a recommendation for a local restaurant that cooked dishes of the region with fresh ingredients, she did not hesitate for a second. She responded, "Where to eat in Nice? Why of course, Cave de l’Origine is the best for local cuisine" so Gal Pal Elizabeth and I made prompt reservations for a casual and excellent dinner that did not disappoint. The cuisine in southern France differs quite a bit from its northern counterparts. Heavily influenced by its Italian neighbors and Greek descendants, Nice’s local dishes contain fresh ingredients from the soil. Olives, tomatoes, shallots and garlic play heavily into the makeup of the famous local favorite “Niçoise stew.”

[caption id="attachment_7078" align="alignleft" width="300"]Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea[/caption] Old Town Nice has deep and complicated roots beginning with Greek civilization and provides us with some of the best sightseeing in Nice and France. According to Wikipedia, "Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Νικαία ("Nikaia") in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike is the Greek goddess of victory)". A long sordid history ensued and the people of Nice were co-mingled with roots from their Greek ancestors, Italian neighbors and seafarers who landed upon their shores and never left. The port of Nice was one of the busiest in the world and thus was a target for power-thirsty conquerors throughout the ages.