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. 

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:

Although the sign said private, we snuck in for a quick peek. Although the sign said private, we snuck in for a quick peek. When it comes to being a rule follower, sign me up. I believe in rules and I abhor getting in trouble, but when it comes to Paris all bets are off. Sometimes it's good to be an "Ugly American" and bend the rules just a bit. How do you know which ones to break? Here's my gals guide to breaking rules in Paris and having fun while doing it.

20140101-154000.jpg Bonne Année! Happy New Year! I began 2014 with French champagne in the British Virgin Islands. Very relaxing and interesting to hear Christmas Carols playing on New Year's Eve while sitting at the beach. Champagne is always French you know. If it doesn't come from the Champagne region, it must be called sparkling wine. If you have never known this fact before, look at the labels on your bottle for proof!

thanksgivingWith everything left to do before we sit down to eat our feast today, I am taking a minute to pause and give thanks this Thanksgiving for the blessings that come from all of you! Fact: Without the support of my family, none of this would be possible. Thank you Mr. Weekend In Paris for the 20 plus years of research that went into the making of The Weekend In Paris. He supported my yearly, now turned multiple times a year, habit of meeting the original Gal Pal Lisa in Paris and now me bringing others along too. He believed in me when I might not have believed in myself. He held down the fort with the kids when they were young despite his own grueling schedule and is simply the best man I have ever known. When people ask who the heroes in life are, I point to him. Honest, hard-working, loyal and loves me and the kids first and foremost. Not perfect, mind you, he is still looking for that open spot in the hamper in the bathroom to deposit his socks and underwear, but I'll keep him!

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.

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.