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.

flowers monetThe 70's might have been the era of Flower Power, but this millennium in Paris is dominated by the flora and fauna at Monet's Gardens in Giverny. Below is a little eye candy for botanists. Don't ask me what the names of the flowers are. I haven't a clue. At my house, the only green things that survive are due to luck and a team of professional landscapers. I may not have a green thumb, but I know what is beautiful. The gardens at Monet's house are exceptional - truly a must see when visiting Paris.

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.

Perrin clutch Perrin clutch I must admit, I have my favorite shops and shopping areas in Paris and tend not to stray too far from them. I could be a guide myself on rue du Bac and rue de Buci or in the Marais, however, with hundreds of stores in the city proper, there are dozens of back alley and private access only boutiques that tourists would never find or be able to pop by without the aid of a personal shopper in Paris. Tourists on a mission to find certain items can streamline the whole process by engaging a private guide to assist them. On my last visit, I decided to see what I had been missing and thus elicited the help of CJ Tours and met the charming private guide Ellie.

  castle view cannes abbeyWhat do you think of when I say Cannes? Naturally the Cannes Film Festival comes to mind, but there is so much more to this sleepy little village than meets the eye. People are usually surprised when I tell them that Cannes is quiet for the majority of the year and that only 70,000 people live there year round. I discovered this while attending the 2013 International Luxury Travel Market last December as part of the press corps. What amazed me the most is there are serious winemakers on Saint-Honorat off the coast of Cannes, France.  Award winning wines and liqueurs are being produced by some savvy Cistercian Monks on the pristine island of Saint-Honorat.

Traditional old world feel, with an updated kitchen How to find an apartment in Paris: Picking the perfect apartment in Paris to rent can be a daunting task for first time visitors. There are lots of considerations to think about before settling on the right accommodations for your vacation or extended stay and choosing the right company to help you get situated is one of the most important decisions in the process.  Here are some things to think about before jumping in to the rental pool.

Wall of Copperby Contributor Margo Waite: When my friend Michael Kathens, architectural and interior design historian and author of the book American Splendor, told me about Museum Nissim de Camondo several years ago I should have dropped everything and gone there. Finally last December I did visit the Musée Nissim de Camondo. And even then I had to make two trips because I neglected to note that this museum is closed on both Monday AND Tuesday. Now that I’ve visited this incredible home I’ll return to it again and again. The vast array of exquisite art, furnishings and architecture makes it difficult to absorb in one visit.

DSCN2073Who is 125 years old, but looks 25? The best looking gal in France celebrates today - happy birthday Eiffel Tower! The tower is like a best-dressed woman in Paris. By day she shows her strong lean legs, dressed classically in black with modern accessories and poses statuesque-like. But come dark, she transforms into the epitome of elegance. Dress her up with a vibrant accessory of lights and she becomes a beacon of sexy, but subtle beauty. Chic, but not overpowering she casts a glow in The City of Light that draws your attention to her without being overbearing. Sparkly in dress, but still demure in nature.

One of the gardens Hemingway traversed One of the gardens Hemingway traversed Walking in Hemingway's footsteps in Paris is a daunting task. I contacted Context Travel to take their Paris Hemingway Tour because I was a huge fan of his work, but also because I was curious how a man so talented in his writing could be such a bad character in his personal life. I've known many men and women alike who adore the man they envision from his travels as a war correspondent and admire the sense of joie d'vivre that comes across in his works. I was one of those folks until I got to "know" him a bit better.