Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

What is La Rentrée?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Many of you may know that the people of France receive four to six weeks of paid vacation each year.  It is commonplace for Parisians to vacate the city for the entire month of August.  They want to escape the heat and the tourists and travel somewhere exotic.  As a traveler to Paris during this time, you will find many shops and cafes closed for the month of “vacances”.

September marks the beginning of La Rentrée.  Everyone comes back from their fabulous vacations and enters back into their usual routines.  It is kind of like the feeling of the first day of school.  You are wearing your new school clothes, brand new sneakers and carrying a new backpack and excited to meet your new teacher.  In Paris, the shops are spruced up, inventory is replenished and most people are refreshed and ready for the September season of travelers.  The weather is usually perfect; still warm with cool evenings.  The sun is still setting a little late to give you just enough time to get back to your apartment before dark to prepare for a night out.  It is a wonderful time in Paris!

Why We LOVE Travel Insurance

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Do you remember in the Spring of 2010 when a volcano in Iceland created so much ash that air travel was severely interrupted?  When it occurred, it sounded preposterous, but when flights of travelers were being cancelled left and right, it became a harsh reality.  A cancelled plane trip is pretty easy to re-book.  Lodging is another story.

We have talked about how far in advance you should book your travel to Paris.  So much more than weather can happen in those months leading up to your trip.  A broken leg while skiing in late winter can screw up a biking trip planned for spring.  Your child could come down with appendicitis the night before your romantic Italian rendezvous.  There could be a death in the family, a lost job or a financial emergency that could derail the best laid plans.  You need to cancel your trip.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin..the company providing your lodging.  They have taken your reservation and blocked out your room or apartment.  If it is a wonderful company with fabulous properties (wink wink), they have most likely booked another guest right after you check out.  When a traveler with a broken leg cancels their trip at the last minute, the lodging company most often does not have a last minute guest to take that unused reservation.

Here is the tough part.  Travel companies are humans.  We have had our vacations cancelled due to an awful situation.  We have had to make the desperate plea for a refund.  We feel your pain.  We want to help. We want to give you all of your money back but we are also a company.  We have explained in detail the “small print”.  What is the best solution?  Travel Insurance!  

The travel insurance that we offer is super affordable.  It covers you and it covers us.   And, that is it.  No worrying about the “what ifs”  or having to make a desperate plea..you are covered.

Have a wonderful trip!

Staying Active in Paris

Friday, July 13th, 2012

My passion for Paris is only overshadowed by one thing…fitness.  Many people go on vacation to give their brains a rest and often times to give their bodies a rest.  For me, I use a vacation to break out of a fitness rut.  I am excited to not only live, eat and sleep like a local, I want to exercise like one, too.  I love to choose a running path along the Seine and head out early in the morning before the cars, scooters and taxis create all of the noise.  I see a side to Paris that is unique.  I also feel that engaging in some extra exercise is a great way to acclimate to the time change and help the body loosen up after the long flights to the France.  Here are my top three “traveler friendly” resources for exercising in Paris.

Yoga

Taking a yoga class after arriving in Paris can be so therapeutic.  Not only will you stretch the muscles that ache after the flight but the right class can relax the jet lag right out of you.  I stumbled upon Yogateau on Twitter.  Martine does a fabulous job of listing the yoga studios, special workshops and events in Paris.  She also has an informative section on her website called “Know Before You Go” that will help you feel a little more comfortable about heading into your first Parisian yoga experience.

Running

Obviously, you can just open the door to your apartment and head out for a run.  Yet, we found a running club that will make it FUN!  Paris Hash House Harriers, The Drinking Club with a Running Problem (sounds fun, right?) has several runs in Paris.  Check the calender on their website to see when and where to meet.  They usually run off the beaten path and the runs are pretty lengthy (i.e. not for beginners).  There is also a 5Euro charge per run.

Swimming

Many of my fitness friends love to swim.  A swimmer is usually fanatical about their workouts.   Paris is filled with public swimming pools and for a small entrance fee, you can swim like a local.  Our favorite pool is located in the 6th arrondissement and is called Piscine Saint-Germain.  You can find the listing of all of the public pools on the Paris.Fr website.

Some of the best memories of Paris are the ones where I put myself in “non-tourist” situations and many of them involved exercise.  By the way, if you can pack a tiny camera in your running gear, you will capture some amazing early morning pictures.

Interview with Juliette Sobanet, author of “Kissed in Paris”

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Juliette Sobanet

If you have read this blog before, you know that I am a voracious reader of any book that has to do with Paris.   I do have a confession to make.  This spring, I took a break from Paris and got sucked into Seattle and the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy.  I know.  After reading that , it was time to head back to Paris and read something sweet and fun.

I had been following Juliette Sobanet on Twitter and has read about the launch of “Kissed in Paris“.  I had it on my “To Read” list and had a feeling it was the perfect bedtime story for me.  I devoured it in a matter of nights.  I quickly downloaded “Sleeping with Paris” and this time I read a little slower so that my Paris-filled dreams lasted a little longer.

I reached out to Ms. Sobanet for a quick interview and was thrilled when she accepted.  I wanted to know a bit about her and her love for Paris.  Here is what she had to say:

Your books take place, for the most part, in Paris and we know you are a French professor, have you spent time living in France?
In college, I spent a semester in Lyon, and after I graduated, I completed my Master’s degree in Paris. I absolutely loved my time in France, and since I wasn’t able to move there permanently, I decided to set all of my novels there!
 How do you get into the Paris mood when you are writing? Do you eat croissants and sip tea?
I do drink a lot of tea, and my other secret writing ingredient is chocolate. I also have French music playlists that I listen to when I’m brainstorming and writing, and blogging about France gets me in the Paris mood as well! I’m thinking I need I may need to take a “research” trip back to Paris soon to get the creative juices flowing for my next book. A Nutella crêpe and a French café wouldn’t hurt either!
In both books, the main characters have fallen in love but not with who they would have imagined themselves with. Is that how you fell in love?
My love story with my husband is really different from my characters’ love stories. I met my husband out at a crazy dance club in college (not the place you’d typically go to meet your future spouse:). We started dating immediately, then spent several years doing long distance while he was in the military and I was finishing college/living in France. We even spent our first year of marriage living in different countries, then finally made it back to the same location in 2006, and life has been much calmer since then! 
In your next book, “Dancing with Paris”, you are taking us back to the 1950′s. What inspired you to write about this era?
Since I’d already written about contemporary life in France in my first two novels, I decided I wanted to switch it up and take my main character back in time to 1950′s Paris. There’s just something so glamorous and exciting about that era in Paris. The fashion, the cafés, the cabaret clubs, and of course . . . the French men! For my next novel, I’m thinking of going back even further to 1920′s Paris.
Okay, a little bit about Paris..
What is your favorite arrondissement?
I love the Latin Quarter in the 5th and 6th arrondissements. Nothing makes me happier than roaming those charming cobblestone streets, stopping at cafés, drinking wine, and topping it off with a delicious pain au chocolat from one of the many corner patisseries in the area!
What is your favorite time of year in Paris and why?
Springtime in Paris is truly magical. The cold of winter has finally evaporated, the flowers are blooming, and the city really comes alive again!
Can you give us your “Best Kept Secret” about Paris?
This would have to be my favorite patisserie, found in the 16th arrondissement on the rue de Passy. It’s called Aux Délices de Passy, and they have the best pain au chocolat I’ve ever tasted in my life. Just thinking about it makes me want to book my ticket to Paris . . .
And, a speed round…
Amelie or Midnight in Paris
-Amelie
Laduree or Pierre Herme
 -Laduree
Musee D’Orsay or Pompidou
-Musee d’Orsay
French waiters or Waiting for a Birkin bag
-French waiters
rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré or Le Marche aux Puces
-rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Kiss on top of La Tour Eiffel or on Pont des Arts
-Love them both, but will have to go with Pont des Arts
Merci to Juliette for taking the time to answer my burning questions!  To learn more more about her, you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook to get updates about the launch of “Dancing with Paris”.

Parlez-vous Français? A Facebook Contest

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

We are excited to announce our very first Facebook contest!

Learning a bit of French can be so helpful when planning a trip to Paris.  Even learning just a few important phrases will help you feel like an Insider.

Enter to win 2 private French lessons via Skype with our partner Voulez Vouloz, French Lessons That Come to You.

VoulezVouloz provides expert, friendly French lessons and classes that come to you.
Our French teachers aren’t just native French speakers, they’re qualified teachers with many years of French tutoring experience.
We’re known for our excellent service, great value and teaching methods that work.
With VoulezVouloz you’ll learn French fast!

To enter, click HERE!

Bonne Chance!

*This contest begins June 29, 2012 and ends at 10:00 am (PST), July 31, 2012.  This prize is not exchangeable for cash.  It is good for two French lessons via Skype with VoulezVouloz to be used within 90 days of the end of the contest.

Escargot. Yes or No?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Saveur Magazine

We think that this picture will get most of your mouths watering.  We just posted it on Facebook and the comments immediately started coming in.  We posed the question, “escargot…yes or no?”  You all love escargot!  Here are a few ways to get your escargot fix.

Learn About It!

Not all species of snails are edible.  Make sure you choose the right ones.

Make It!

There were many recipes to choose from but the easiest we found was this one from AllRecipes.com

Buy It!

You can find escargot and the shells at gourmet food shops but we like the variety on sale from iGourmet.com

Watch Other People Eating It!

There really isn’t a graceful way to eat escargot.

 Share It!

 What are your favorite restaurants in Paris that serve escargot?  Send us an email at community@cobblestay.com.

Rollerblading in Paris!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

We stumbled across this video on YouTube and remembered that it was one of the most fun things to watch while we were in Paris.  Pari Roller is the association in Paris that organizes the group skates.  Every Friday night (unless it is raining) a large group gathers at a predetermined location and they start skating.  There are a few things that you see in this video that stand out…

1.  They have the support of the Paris police!  They police block off the course so that they skaters are somewhat safe.  Amazing!

2.  This video was shot at 10:05 pm and it is still light (it was shot in June).  They skate until 1:00 am.

3.  There are many families skating.

4.  Some people are in costumes!

Pari Roller provides some pretty detailed guidelines on their website.   If you decide to join in on the fun, make sure to follow them.  It is definitely a great way to people watch and take in some of the local Paris flavor!   If you Rollerblade on your next trip to Paris, send us a picture or video so that we can share it with the CobbleStay Community.  Have fun and be safe!

Timing Your Trip to Paris

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

“How far in advance should I book my trip to Paris?”  This is one of the most asked questions we receive and it is a great one!  The answer varies depending upon your situation.  The more “musts” you have, the farther in advance you should book.  These “musts” include staying in a particular area of Paris, during a particular show at a museum, during Fashion Week, on Bastille Day, when the flowers start to bloom, during the department store sales……  If you want to be in Paris on a specific date like your birthday or your anniversary you should plan your visit as soon as you get your dates set in stone.  Of course, if you are more flexible with your “musts”, last minute deals can be found but you may have to compromise on a few details.  For the average traveler coming to Paris, these are our suggestions for timing everything just right.

1.  You should start shopping airfares about 90 days before you plan to travel.  Depending on the season, you can get a gauge for what the fare will be and we suggest consulting with a travel agent for their take on  whether the fares will go on sale anytime soon.  If you are using airline “points” start inquiring about those flights the moment you decide on a date.   Reward travel is very limited, especially to Europe, and the flights sell out fast.  We have often booked airfare with points almost a year ahead of time just to make sure we got what we wanted!

Our Marais Magic Property

2.  Booking your airfare and finding an apartment can be done at the same time.  Especially if you are falling in love with a particular property, you should check that it is available around the dates that you are shopping for your airfare.  Our easy to use calendar that is on the same page of each property makes that very simple.  We find that people who start booking about 90 days prior to their arrival have the best selection to choose from.   For those last minute travelers, the online calendar makes it very easy to see what is still available.

3.  Check your passports!!  You should give yourself a 90 day cushion to make sure that passport is in your hands and up to date!  Really look at the date and make sure that is doesn’t expire during your trip.   It has happened but we won’t name names!

4.  As your trip gets closer, you will want to make any “must see” reservations or event ticket purchases.  Our experience is that most restaurants in Paris won’t book a table more than 30 days in advance.  There can be exceptions but this is the general rule.   It is also a great time to secure some Euros.  At the time we are writing this, the Euro is dropping!!!  This means it is the perfect time to go to Paris!

5.  Your trip is about a week away!  It is time to start pulling things to pack, buy a couple of things you might need and don’t forget to make arrangements for your pets!  We have written about packing for Paris before and we love to get creative packing tips from Pinterest.

We hope you have a fabulous trip to Paris!  Bon Voyage!

What the Ladies are Wearing in Paris This Summer

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Summer in Paris!!!  Yes, it can be very crowded but at least you have your Paris apartment rental to escape from it all.  From a fashion point of view, summer is the time when the Parisian girls, who normally stick with black and white, show off their colors.  Visitors to the fashion mecca should follow suit.  Here are CobbleStay’s top picks for what to pack this summer when traveling to Paris.

The temps in July peak at about 70 degrees, so wearing a long sleeved top can be a smart idea.  We also love this long skirt for the days that you might visit a church.  Keeping your limbs covered is a sign of respect.  The model’s platform sandals peeking out from the skirt are great for walking the cobblestone streets.

This outfit is perfect for visiting the museums and lunch at a cafe.   She can easily take off the cardigan when it is warming up outside and the bag…the perfect size for your cell, your camera, a journal and a bag of snacks.

We love this look because it is classic Paris style with a kick!  The Breton stripes thrown around her shoulders are perfect.  Her red pants are VERY à la mode and her shoes will keep her moving in comfort all day.

We can’t leave out the men!  We know it takes a special guy to get all fancy like these Paris locals.  But we can’t help but love them for their hats, touches of red and their argyle socks.

So…what are you packing this summer?

Paris After Dark

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

 Guest Post by Daniella Carrese      

 La Ville-Lumière. The City of Light, Paris got its nickname from all the lights that illuminate the night sky. During the evening in Paris, the streets light up with the lamp posts and lights from around. All the lights make the city seem as if it is always awake.  Along the Seine, there are beautiful lights that seem as though they have been there forever. Due to the lights, you can take a nice stroll along the river at night. Looking down from the Eiffel Tower in the evening is magical.  The streets are light up beautifully.  Along the Champs Elyseès the trees are strung with lights that make the night seem as if it day.  Although you cannot see the stars in Paris, due to all the light pollution, the sky is normally covered with a navy blue blanket. The city dies down a bit, but there are still a number of things to do during the evening.

You can take a tour of the Seine and explore all of its canals at night. You can visit the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge is a cabaret and music hall, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller this building has seen many stars including Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra. Today it is still used, there is a nighttime cabaret show. You can see shows at this historic concert hall at most times of the day. Le Procope is Paris’ oldest cafe that was established in 1686. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Hemingway and Picasso were some of the few who regularly ate at this establishment. Closing at 11:30, this cafe is a great place to hangout for the night. Walking around the streets near your Paris vacation rental is a great way to get a feel of the city and what it is actually like all the time.

To read more from Daniella, click “here

For even more tips  and tricks to make Paris travel easier, ask for our “Insider’s Guide to Paris”!