saint chapelleVery soon from now (estimated to be in December, 2014) the restoration of the stained glass windows at France’s National Monument Sainte Chapelle (Sainte-Chapelle or Saint Chapel) will be finished. It has taken thousands of hours and several decades to complete, but the efforts have been well worth it. Once finished, the 1,113 scenes from the Old Testament and the Passion of the Christ will be on full display.

cdg shopping ladureePersonally it ticks me off when I purchase an item abroad, carry it around all day, and spend time packing it carefully into my suitcase, only to find the exact item in the specialty shops or Duty Free section of the airport. Duty Free shopping at CDG Airport is both convenient and efficient. Many of the luxury brands found on Boulevard Saint-Germain and along the Champs-Élysées can be purchased while you wait to board your flight. Recently, I was wowed by the selections available in Terminal 2 at CDG. Here are my favorites:

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…

DSC_0143Mr. Weekend In Paris and I had our 25 year old marriage blessed today with a mass on the high altar at Notre Dame Paris. The officiant was the same priest who married us and our witnesses were our dear friends, Terry and Nancy Sheffield. Napolean was installed on this same altar so there was some incredible history we stood upon while reciting our prayers and repeating our vows. 

  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.

Our sword ceremony outside the chapel after our wedding Our sword ceremony outside the chapel after our wedding The first time I visited the City of Light, I was with Mr. Weekend In Paris for a little romance and now I am thrilled to report that we will also celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in Paris for more romance and some prayers of thanksgiving for our amazing life together. An added bonus is that we will be wine tasting in Bordeaux for a few days too!  The ultimate best part is that our plan includes bringing some friends along. The only regret is that our boys cannot join us. They are working and studying hard back home.

Arc de TriompheFavorite Summer Activities in Paris: Locals and frequent tourists to France usually have firm opinions about what to see and where to go. Trust me when I tell you there are hundreds of wonderful experiences to be had in the City of Light. I say try them all, but of course that would take a lifetime! Let me help you to narrow the gargantuan list down to a few options. National treasures and hidden gems top the list and many involve being outdoors. Of course it does rain every now and then, so some inside time shopping in boutiques or perusing a Picasso will do just fine when the sun fails to shine.

Au Petit Sud-OuestA Really Really Short Paris Visit by Contributor Margo Waite
When my step-son called and told us he and his girlfriend were ending their wine tour of France with a short Paris visit I was aghast. What can you do in Paris in such a limited amount of time?   I’m a regular visitor to Paris and there is still so much I haven’t experienced. I should mention he’s the manager of a restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware, so food and wine are important, indeed crucial, to him.