DSC_0306Bordeaux is the perfect place to taste fine wines, but there are more experiences to be had in the land of vineyards. Hotel Saint James Bouliac, a Relais & Chateaux property is situated across the river from the city of Bordeaux and is not only a beautiful hotel but offers unique culinary experiences to enhance the visit to the area. The hotel began as an eighteenth-century farmhouse and in the late 1980's was made into a modern luxury hotel with a gourmet restaurant and first-rate cooking school.

tuilleriesOften when in the City of Light, I long for a great Paris take away food spot where I can quickly pick up something healthy and fresh. Picnics are almost done for the year now, but there are still a few days where it's lovely to sit outside for impromptu dining en plein air. Le Petit Flottes is one stop shopping for a last-minute soiree.

  Sophisticated Library Bar Sophisticated Saint James Library Bar Impressive Hotel Saint James Paris is both regal and relaxed. Paris' only château hotel, this five-star Relais & Chateaux member is in a gated park-like setting. Close to Victor Hugo and the Arc de Triomphe, the peaceful estate made me feel like I was out in the country in the heart of the city.

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. 

DSC_0270When I began the morning with a fresh cup of ripen strawberries, a warm croissant and a view of hot air balloons in the background, I knew it was going to be a terrific day. Although I hated to leave our outstanding Hotel Saint James Paris for a minute, Sunday in Paris, for me, obliges a visit to church and a mandatory stroll of Montmartre hidden gems. For others in our party, who shall remain nameless, my stroll was more like a forced death march up the stairs, down the hill and back up again. C’est la vie…

One of the best rosettas I have ever seen One of the best rosettas I have ever seen This morning began with an obscene amount of amazing freshly baked goodies and rich roasted coffee from the kitchen at Hotel Daniel. Crumbs galore fell from bites of buttery pastries onto my lap, but I didn't care. Carb-low diet be damned, this place serves sinfully great croissants and pain au chocolat. If we were headed off the beaten path Paris then I was going to be completely off the carb wagon. 

  The view from my lovely suite at Hotel Daniel The view from my lovely suite at Hotel Daniel From sunrise to sunset, a perfect day in Paris was had by our group. Father Tucker, Terry and Nancy Sheffield and myself landed in the City of Light after viewing a glorious sunset from the cabin windows of our respective flights. As fate would have it, there was a security scare at Charles de Gaulle which kept the Sheffields on one side of security and the rest of us on the other, awaiting the police to sort out the abandoned baggage and allow our group to reunite and depart for the City of Light.

Le Procope SignLe Procope has been one of my favorite spots in Paris to dine in for over 20 years, that is until now. This past winter I received a challenge to my positive review from a reader named Paul. He wrote a comment on my article that was very disturbing about both the food he ate and the service he received while entertaining out-of-town guests for an evening out. Here's what happened after I read his comments and my new Le Procope Restaurant Review:

Kirwin wines I tasted. Kirwin wines in Bordeaux By now my regular readers know that Bordeaux is the preferred wine of the Gal Pals and when in Paris we drink it almost exclusively. That is, when we are not drinking Champagne, Burgundy or Sancerre. My recent trip to visit the chic and unique city left me wondering what took me so long make the short trip from Paris to this fabulous wine country. Now that I have been, there's no turning back. I loved every minute of it! The Guide to Bordeaux: How to Plan the Perfect Weekend first appeared in Upscale Living Magazine and was meant to be a launching point for a stay, not a complete guide. After my next trip in a couple of weeks, I hope to bring you more tips and tastes!