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.

priscilla kate andy mom del papaBucket List
Multigenerational travel to Paris is easier than most people think, as long as you follow a few simple tips. The usual trip to Paris for me, for over 20 years, has been with girl friends (my Gal Pals) and/or with Mr. Weekend In Paris. This past summer it was about time that fellow Francophile's - my mother-in-law and two sister-in-laws accompanied me as the latest Gal Pals. The rule was that each person had to pick one thing that was on their "bucket list" to accomplish. First priority, of course, went to my mother-in-law, Maryann, as the Matriarch of the group for our multigenerational travel to Paris.

The famous Moulin Rouge The famous Moulin Rouge There's more to Montmartre than meets the eye. It is usual for most tourists (myself included) to pop out of the Métro at Abbesses and head straight up the hill to Sacre Coeur to the highest point in Paris to check out the spectacular views of the city. On a very clear day you can see for miles and appreciate just how large a city Paris has become. We took a walk with Context Travel Paris docent Marie Dessaillen on our History Walking Tour of Montmartre and were quite surprised at the many things we saw and learned in the course of just three short hours.

saint sulpice windowA remarkable amount of stained glass windows have survived the test of time, wars and natural disasters in France. Picking the best stained glass windows in Paris and France is an impossible task. I have seen but a mere slice of the possible choices. There are hundreds of them in Paris and thousands upon thousands France-wide in large and small villages. At first glance, many appear similar, however to the trained eye they are quite different and reflect the artistic styles of those who created them over multiple centuries. The rosettas in the Cathedrals of Notre Dame Paris and Reims are magnificent and among the best examples stained glass windows in Europe.

The windows below represent a small sample of my favorites so far in France. I look forward to sharing more with you from my future travels. What are your favorites?

saint sulpiceAlthough Saint-Sulpice seems diminutive compared to Notre Dame, it is only slightly smaller. It is actually Paris’ second largest church. Its Roman roots date back to the 13th Century but the bulk of the construction and renovations were done much later in the early 1600’s.  A new sanctuary, ambulatory, transept, portal and chapels were added on in the latter part of the 17th Century and into the 18th. Often overlooked for the more popular churches like Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, its claim to fame is that Saint-Sulpice is home to the best organ music in Paris. People flock from all over to see and hear the organ that is one of the greatest in all of Europe.

karine dupontKeeping up with the ever-changing fashion world of accessories can be overwhelming and very costly if you have teenage girls. Where can you find adorable, affordable accessories in Paris? I’ve got you covered. Karine Dupont Paris is the place to stay atop of the latest trends without breaking the bank. The brightly colored aqua façade of the stores set the fun tone of the Karine Dupont shops. While shopping here is fun any time of year, the soldes (sales) times are particularly enjoyable where picking up already inexpensive pieces become major league steals when 50% or more off!

Strategies of how to travel with friends and keep the friendship at the end of the trip vary as much as the personalities that accompany me on my journeys. Here are a few tips on how to have fun, keep the peace and come back home feeling excited about your next trip with your favorite Gal Pals:
Selfie Venus LouvreKnow Your Pals: Museum Person Vs. Foodie Person
It is pure Nirvana if you travel with people who enjoy the same types of activities and at the same pace. It can be hell if the majority of the group loves to try a new museum and one person hates them. Love to shop, but the rest of the group avoids it like the plague? Examine everyone's needs, do your homework before the vacation to assess compatability. If you know one of your pals won't appreciate what the rest of the group likes, then give them options. During the times when you visit museums they can either do their own thing and meet up with the group later, chill at the hotel or opt out altogether and wait for another trip when the group is more aligned with their goals for sightseeing destinations. Sometimes the best option is not traveling together at all.

[caption id="attachment_7712" align="alignleft" width="225"]Cour du Commerce Saint-André off rue Buci Cour du Commerce Saint-André off rue Buci[/caption] You've dreamed of Paris your whole life - walking along the River Seine, the views from the Eiffel Tower, or having a picnic in the Jardins du Luxembourg only to arrive to a nightmare cold and wet City of Light. What is there to do in Paris in the rain? Plenty! Do not be discouraged; a rainy day in Paris is better than a dry day in most of the rest of the world. Button up your overcoat, throw on a scarf, muster up a positive attitude and you very well just might have one of the best days of your life, rain and all. Here are a few suggestions of what to do when faced with less than stellar weather:

mini grand prix MCYou 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.