It happened so fast and I am super excited ... next month I am going to France! I will be doing some independent travel (I am going to miss my husband and daughter like crazy) in Paris and then meeting up with my friend Stephanie to help her design and furnish their La Maisonnette home that they are renovating and preparing to rent out. Their house is that gorgeous home below the castle in the photo above... dreamy huh? (Check out her posts... it is so exciting to see the whole renovation process, and I will keep you posted when it is available.) She just told me that the castle is in the movie Ever After, and the town is in the movie Chocolat, how cool is that? It is going to be quite the adventure, and I will be sure to show you lots of highlights, especially since photos will probably be my main souvenir. I would LOVE some tips on where to go in Paris, and if you are familiar with Bordeaux and places near Beynac that would be fabulous too. How many of you have traveled independently internationally?


Joanna said...

I thought the picture of the castle was a painting and seriously had to examine it all squinty-eyed before I could see that it's actually a photo. A dreamy, serene photo. The trip sounds fabulous. Bon voyage!

erin said...

oh, beautiful. you will have such fun! i've spent lots of time in france, but the bordeaux region is one that i haven't been to...your time there will be lovely, i'm sure, shoestring budget and all!

Handi Andi said...

Extremely Jealous! I am so excited for you!I can't wait to see your pictures. I'll have to have Mac and V over for some dinner so they are not too lonely. Bon Voyage!

caroline duke said...

i just typed a big long comment about how jealous i was, and blogger deleted it. so, here's the short version...


Di said...

I am sure that you are going to have a great time. I have been to Paris on my own a few times and it is a great city. I have a few posts on my blog in the Paris label with some cool places (food shops/markets, craft shops etc). My favourite museums at the Musee Quai Branly and Musee D'Orsay, my favourite areas are the Marais (particularly great place to be on a Sunday) and the Rue Monge for the Sunday morning market. Shopping is fun and the road down the middle of Ile St Louis is worth a wander as is Sainte Chapelle. But just wandering the streets of Paris and soaking in the atmosphere is great. Make sure you see the sparkly Eiffel Tower - for 10 minutes on the hour when it's dark. I always think big cities are the best place to be an independent traveller as people are used to seeing people alone. Try the mosque for lunch in their restaurant (in the 6th arrondisement) or crepes near Gare Montparnasse......if you want any more hints or have any questions just let me know...I love to talk about Paris.

Di said...

Oh and make sure you try some ice cream from Berthillon - their main shop is on the main road that runs down the middle of Ile St Louis and it is amazing! There is also a shop that sells just foie gras, a beautiful florist, a cheese shop and a cute Pylones shop that sells all sorts of colourful stuff.

becks said...

I'm going to France beginning July too. Paris, Brittany, Normandy and the Loire. I'm soooo excited! Your friend's place looks absolutely amazing. tooo idyllic! If you're into touristy stuff, Marie Antoinette's Versailles is verrrry pretty.

I agree with Di, Berthillon is amazing. It's got so many quirkly flavours! Not to forget Rick Steves, always a trusty travel companion :)

Sophie @ Century Finds said...

You are going to love France. And Paris is the best place on a budget. Just sitting in a park is one of my favorite free things to do. And in the evening when it gets dark, try a stroll around the bridges of the Seine, through St Michel, Le Marais.. and through the courtyard of the Louvre. It's magical.

Have a great trip!

Silvia said...

Wow! I'm super jealous! Have an amazing time!

orange sugar home said...

that photo makes my heart hurt. it is stunning. I can't believe someone is so fortunate to call that stone house home. looking forward to those posts!

Megan said...

Oh yay! Paris is my absolute favorite place on earth and traveling independently through France is a great experience! The Picasso Museum is a great intimate museum and perfect for a morning alone after a nice coffee! Also, make sure to eat lots of nutella crepe's!!

BB said...

These are all great suggestions... my husband and I have been to Paris several times the past few years... one place that was not mentioned, that I highly recommend is Parc de Monceau. It is one park where people actually have picnics on the lawn and enjoy a lazy summer day with out any pretense. I also notice that there does not seem to be an excessive amount of tourists in the park. It really is a beautiful park. And WOW that you are going to help with the decorating of Stephanie's new place... I follow her blog as well... interesting, I didn't know you two were friends... small world :)

Leigh said...

There is an amazing new design store in Paris called Merci, I was there in March and met with one of the owners. it was really amazing here is a link of some pics and more information from the store....

Michelle said...

Oh my gosh, I am so jealous! I loved the castle in Ever After. Sounds like you're going to have an amazing time.

Los Jones said...

here's a list of shops in paris

i remember a cute knitting shop called la droguerie behind the forum les halles on rue du jour and rue rambuteau.

Wandering around that area was my favorite. :)

oh and there are a few amazing gelato shops around the city called amorino where they make your gelato look like a rose.

have fun! i'm jealous.

Uncle Beefy said...

Oh, Rachel! My heart goes out to you in such distressing times as these! This is just AWFUL news! But you are a strong and creative woman and I have every confidence that you'll overcome the misfortune of HAVING to go to France. ;)

It already sounds like a fairy tale!!! That "to do" list? If "Make Uncle Beefy disastrously jealous." is on there? can cross that one off!

TM said...

I wrote this to a friend who went two months ago for her first trip there. I've been to Paris almost too many times (yes, there is no such thing of course), I even ran the Paris marathon back in 2005. It's my favorite city when I'm not in NY...

Buying food

One of the first places I go, and one of the last things I do, is go to the Grand Epieerie at the Bon Marche and shop for food.

It's German, I think, but their cheesecake is amazing. 11 rue Poncelet. I don't remember the name.

Cheese. You need to buy as much local cheese as possible and gorge yourself. OK, maybe not gorge, but definitely enjoy. Fromagerie Chez Virginie (54, rue Damrémont, 18th) and

romagerie 31 at 64, rue de Seine (6th)
a cheese shop with tables, they offer you samples – it's a must ;)

Eating Food

You need to eat at this bistro, and it will give you an excuse to explore Paris.
Jadis 208, rue de la Croix-Nivert, 15th

If you really love coffee, then go to Soluna Café 52, rue de l'Hôtel de Ville, 4th). They treat it like fine wine. Seriously.

Cheese – see the buying food section.

Ice cream.

31, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile 4th

Métro: Pont Marie
this is the main store. Their ice cream is sold at a lot of places and restaurants, but this is ground zero.

47, rue des Martyrs
Métro: St. Georges
get the salted caramel – oooh, yummmmm

39, rue de Roi de Sicile 4th
Métro: St. Paul

more places... small places often do not take reservations and are only open for a few hours for dinner. If you are hungry at 4pm, you're a bit screwed ;)

Racines, 8 Passage des Panoramas , a wine bar/ bistro with exceptional wine, make sure you order a vins naturels. vins naturels are untreated, organic wines only available in France. It's like a box of chocolates ;)

Le Square Trousseau
1, rue Antoine Vollon 12th

Les Fils de la Ferme
5, rue Mouton Duvernet 14th

da rosa
62, rue de Seine 6th

25, rue Caile 10th

41, rue Monsieur Le Prince 6th

Bistrot Paul Bert
18 Rue Paul Bert

Chez Omar
47 Rue de Bretagne

Le Baratin
3 Rue Jouye Rouve

Le Violon d'Ingres
135 rue Saint-Dominique 7th

Le Pré Verre
8 rue Thénard 5th

Ambassade d'Auvergne
22 rue du Grenier-Saint-Lazare 3rd
Back in 1999 I barged the canal du Midi. This restaurant has food from that region

Having coffee... btw a caffè ristretto (café serré) is a traditional espresso

Espressamente Illy (Italian coffee)
13, rue Auber 9th
Métro: Opéra

Café Malongo
50, rue Saint-André des Arts (6th)
RER: St. Michel

Cuba Compagnie
48, blvd Beaumarchais 11th
Métro: Chemin Vert
It's a basic café really, but last year I was on a mojito kick and they're popular for them. The guy who brought me here insisted it was the best place... although I'm sure 'best' is very subjective here...

La Caféothèque
52, rue de l'Hôtel de Ville 4th
Métro: St. Paul or Hôtel de Ville

Gocce di Caffè
25, Passage des Panoramas (2nd)
Métro: Bourse or Grand Boulevards
The guy is Italian,


I can't find my list! This is killing me... the markets in Paris are just amazing, but it takes a team of twelve accountants to figure out the schedule..

Things to do

Watch the sun set from the Pont des Arts.

Drink hot chocolate (chocolat chaud ) every chance you get. Angelina's is the best you will ever have, but it's thick as soup.
226, Rue de Rivoli 1st

Visit the Montparnasse Cemetery (Satre, des Gas), and Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Oscar Wilde, Proust, Jim Morrisson, and the tomb of Abelard and Heloise, finally buried together)

Go to the Jacquemart-Andre Museum
158 boulevard Haussmann 8th

At night, go stand on the Left Bank opposite Notre Dame and look for the touristy boats that go up and down the Sienne. As they pass the church, their lights shine on it – it's beautiful and worth standing there and watching.

Jessica Marie said...

Beynac is a beautiful city. I loved visiting there. I would definitely recommend making the trip over to the little town of Sarlat. It is quite charming - my favorite place that I visited when I lived in France. The saturday morning market is fantastic. Chez Angelina's in Paris has amazing hot chocolate. Off of the Metro stop Porte de Clignancourt, line 4, is the world's largest flea-market - Les Puces de St. Ouen. Incredible stuff there - and about 90% of American tourists never see it. Off of Rue Vavin (near the Jardin du Luxembourg you will find an excellent gelato shop, Amorina, and one of the best chocolate shops in France, Jean-Paul Hevin. I think it's closed Sunday and Monday though. But definitely worth the trip if you can make it over there! I hope you have a great time. I can't wait to go back and visit myself. :)

jamieofalltrades said...

Fun! I love France, you'll have a fabulous time!

Jess said...

Wow, this sounds like a fantasy come to life. Have a wonderful time!

Amber said...

I lived in france independently for two years. I worked for families as an aupair and taught in paris as an english assistant. i love paris. when you are there, visit le marais. fabulous falafel sandwiches and shopping. and if you want a funky night out check out le pop-in. it is a small bar with local djs spinning and occasionally live music. my favorite place to go out when i lived there. have a wonderful time.

Mairead said...

Hi, I spent a summer in that area of France, it's beautiful. Best advise I can give you is borrow a bike and cycle around from one great little village to another - Beynac, Castelnaud, La Roque Gageac, Sarlat, Domme.. It's very hilly around there but cycling is still a great way to see it. If you ask the locals they will point you in the direction of quiet rivers away from the tourists to go for picnics and swimming. You can hire Canadian canoes and spend a day going up the Dordogne river.. and don't miss the food markets on Sunday mornings... I'm jealous!

Joanna Goddard said...

oh my GOODNESS! i totally thought that was a painting! you're going to have the MOST amazing time!!!!!!!!

Sarah said...

That sounds like an amazing adventure! When I saw the picture I thought it was a painting!!! I absolutely cannot wait to hear all about it!

La Vie est Belle said...

Do you read French? Get "Le Guide de Routard" for la Dordogne. The whole area is outstanding.

If not, we just went and it was great:

lyndsey | paper girl said...

yay for france! we were in paris in september -- i highly recommend checking out rue cler. we stayed in a tiny hotel just above the shopping district; there are tons of quaint cafes and shops to explore right there. very parisian :)

Bri said...

I do a lot - it's strangely liberating. You experience much more when you're sharing with the world around you instead of the person you're there with.

Anonymous said...

It's my very first time reading your blog, and though I'm not too familiar with your interests, I have to share--if you're looking for a good meal, Bistro Paul Bert (11th) was such a treat. Call or ask for help at your hotel to make a reservation! Bon Appetit!

Prêt à Voyager said...

too bad i'll miss you when i'm there (i'll be there full time starting in sept :) ). anyway, know you (from your blog), you MUST check out Le Petit Atelier de Paris (check hours before you go) and Merci is quite nice too. I'm happy to provide any specifics if you email me, but anyway, here's my guide to Paris :)


Cookie Cutter said...

OMG! Your friend is actually gonna live there? It's absolutely gorgeous!I'm excited for you about the trip!

Pamcasso said...

dreamy is right. that is gorgeous. I have only been to Paris once, but I highly recommend visiting Rue Cler, which is near Des Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. I stayed in a little hotel there, and the street is a fabulous market, pretty floral shops, very fun. I also loved Musee d'Orsay, and Pere Lachaise cemetary. If I went back I'd want to go to the Paris Flea Market. I hope you have a fabulous time!

tiel said...

I seriously thought that was a painting not a photo. WOW!

Looks like you have lots of suggestions. I went last year and spent 3 days walking and train hopping by myself. I received lots of suggestions before I left here

and wrote some info after I came back here

but what looks really good is a new book just out by Pia Jane Bijkerk. It is titled, PARIS MADE BY HAND gives lots of where to go places if you love looking for one off treasures.

have fun and lovely blog.

Signorina Svizzera said...

I have traveled independently internationally, as well as I am a student at a Swiss University. It is scary at first to travel alone, but afterwards you feel like, "Hey! If I could do that, or, if I could make a life for myself in a town where I knew no-one and didn't even speak the language, then I can do (almost) anything!"
Have a great time!
Wander, do things that you could never do in groups. Once in london, I took myself to Victoria and Albert Museum, wandered up to Hyde Park, admired the gardens at Kensington and ate at their cafe. It was one of my best days there, and it was only me and my thoughts :)

Carol said...

How fun!! I'm excited to see your pictures and hear about your adventures!

duet letterpress said...

oh! fabulous. you'll have a wonderful time in paris. i blogged about a few shops + details from our paris trip in april that may be helpful. and i know steph has lots of great suggestions on places to check out while your there, too!

naomi megan. said...

oooh i am so jealous! cannot wait to see the photographs you take...

Jessi Rayhill said...

I'll be in Paris Middle of july! I start in Nice, then Paris, and evenutally London!

Hope you have a wonderful time

Anonymous said...

I was just in the Sarlat/Beynac area in October, and I had two of the best meals of my life at this little B&B:
When you're there you should try the local walnuts and foie gras. Delicious!
Set aside some time to see the prehistoric cave drawings at Font de Gaume (please excuse my spelling). Words cannot explain what you feel standing in front of these works of art.

Anonymous said...

In case that Trip Advisor link doesn't work, te B&B is called Logis De France La Hoirie

amber {daisy chain} said...

jealous!!! this sounds like a trip of a lifetime...please keep us posted!

Apt. #34 said...

I traveled through London France, Spain and Italy by myself which was an incredible and challenging experience but one I would never trade for anything. I'm still in touch with some of the people I met. Your adventure sounds particularly fabulous. I will be eagerly awaiting updates!

barbie desoto said...

C'est genial! Je suis jalouse... la France me manque!

kirstin said...

Sounds wonderful. I just moved back to Washington from France... Everyone has pretty much covered Paris I just have 3 suggestions. Goldfinger- is a typical bistro that will take you back in time- make a reservation and request to sit downstairs. Hidden Kitchen is another awesome thing to do...a couple from Seattle moved to Paris and have dinner parties in a secret and the 3rd is an open air movie- have fun!

Eva said...

I met one of my dearest friends while traveling solo in Europe. I was at an underground music venue in the Belgian countryside and desperate for some English conversation when I overheard a few voices talking in a lovely Australian accent. I ended crashing on a cot in their hotel room that night, and staying with one of them a couple of weeks later in her London flat. 10 years later and we are still friends. I would never have even met her if I hadn't been alone. (You can see her beautiful photos and creative projects at )

Best of luck to you! What an amazing opportunity!

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