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.

Police Paris pompiersWhile I always feel safer in Paris than in most US cities, I am still street smart and pay attention to my surroundings. Paris Safety Tips for women travelers can be different than for their male counterparts, but all travelers to Paris should read the following: Keep documents in a zipper compartment and do not open up in pubic transportation or in crowded shops. Keep a copy of your passport separate in case you lose it and need documentation. Be aware of pick-pockets all over the city. Do not keep wallets in back pockets or in purses that don't have zippers. Do not flash wads of cash in public.

DSC_4371 At the heart of Hotel Napoleon lies a romantic Paris story. According to the history of the hotel, “a rich Russian entrepreneur, Alexander Pavlovich Kliaguine, met a young Parisian girl at a Literary fair in the late 1920’s, and fell head over heels in love.” It would be a terrific story if it ended there,

DSC_0157I found it difficult to write anything light and sunny while the hostages were in harm's way and since they are likely still traumatized even though now freed I won't pretend everything is over and happy. Keeping Paris and France in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry for the innocents. Know I am glued to the t.v. and feeling solidarity with the French people resolved to stand up to terror and the freedom of the press. #JeSuisCharlie

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.

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:

Last in a group of hikers about to descend from the Aiguille du Midi Last in a group of hikers about to descend from the Aiguille du Midi On my recent trip I learned of the dangers that hikers experience when trying to conquer one of the many summits on and surrounding Mont Blanc. Just last week tragedy struck again on Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France when six climbers fell 250 metres to their death on another peak, the Aiguille d'Argentiere. Our guide from the local tourism office explained that there are on average 60 deaths on Mont Blanc per year and many occur in the summer time when the snow melts and avalanches occur and crevices swell open.