luxembourgOne of my favorite things to do in Paris is stroll through the magnificent Luxembourg Gardens. Every season provides beautiful topography, but it is at its finest during the summer months when the exotic flowers are in full bloom and the enormous hedges provide dramatic cover for a romantic rendez-vous.

DSC_0968It would be hard to find a better place to begin our gal's trip to the Loire region than visiting France's Chambord Castle, the best in France. Feeling regal, we checked into the Grand Hotel du Lion d'Or a Relais & Chateaux property where we were treated like queens. 

Rum baba: Sponge cake, soaked in rum-flavored syrup with strawberries Rum baba: Sponge cake, soaked in rum-flavored syrup with strawberries Approachable and effervescent two-Michelin star chef Jean-Luc Rocha at Hotel Cordeillan Bages in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region in Pauillac makes staying at this Relais & Chateaux property owned by the Cazes' family, a dream come true for foodies like myself. Delicious eye-candy, plate after plate came my way when I dined there on my last visit to area.

DSC_0334Hotel Saint James Paris is just around the corner from a vibrant city area not much visited by tourists. While staying here, I took a stroll along Avenue Victor Hugo in the Paris 16th arrondissement. The 16th is not as sexy as the Right Bank, or as glitzy as the Place de la Madeleine, nor as trendy as the Marais, but it is definitely a cool neighborhood to hang out and be a global local amongst its wealthy residents.

dessert victoryOne of the more difficult tasks when strolling along Avenue Champs Élysées is to find a low-key restaurant with decent food at reasonable prices. Le Victory, Paris is a local brasserie and bar just off the famous retail mecca. While a far reach from Michelin-star cuisine, Le Victory serves comfort food in a traditional French atmosphere.

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!