Why did I start this website?

I love planning trips, even if they are not my trips. I love trying new restaurants. I love finding that new route home from work, that street I had never walked down before. I love lists. I like to cross things off my lists but I also like to add things to my lists, revise my lists, and yes, sometimes even color-code my lists. I started to accumulate information, and ultimately decided that storing it all on my work laptop was not the brightest idea. Soon my friends and co-workers caught on that I was keeping lists of possible vacation destinations, lists of restaurants to recommend and restaurants I still want to try, mini guides for my guests from out of town… and then even my born-and-bred Parisian friends started asking me for recommendations. So a couple of years after I first mentioned the idea of a blog, I finally decided to put my collection of lists, notes and itineraries in one place.

My goal

…is to give you information in an organized way. I don’t plan to repeat what you can already find in the Lonely Planet or the Pudlo. There are too many sites, too many reviews, too many options out there these days; I imagine what many of you are looking for is concise, concrete suggestions. You don’t want to cart 7 guidebooks around 20 arrondissements. Sometimes you’re just too swamped at work to spend hours planning that free afternoon or that weekend getaway—or maybe you just can’t be bothered. You don’t want 409 pages on what to do if somehow you find yourself with a whole month to roam around one city. You want ready-made itineraries with the highlights. I hope this site will serve as an efficient resource for your weekend planning, and inspire and enable you to get out there and explore! I would love to hear from you on how I can make this site more user-friendly and more useful. Please tell me what you think!

About me

This blog is not about me, but I think it helps to know something about my tastes, my experiences and my personal biases to decide if my (sometimes very opinionated) suggestions are for you. So here goes: I have been living in France for more than four nine years now. I have a day job (which is sometimes a day and night job). I am an American who spent roughly the first 21 years of my life in small New England towns, and the bulk of my years since college in big cities—Madrid, Boston, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, New York and now Paris. I managed to squeeze in no fewer than four study abroad programs and a few overseas internships in my college and post-grad years. I spent many years amid studies and jobs backpacking through Mexico, Europe, Southeast Asia and South America, so I know quite well what it’s like to travel on a budget. Nowadays, I prefer to no longer share termite-invested single beds with two other friends to save a few bucks, but I am still always conscious of whether I’m getting a good deal or getting ripped off.

I cannot claim to be a gourmet restaurant critic. Nor can I claim to be your typical Francophile. When I first moved to France, I was hit with the tragic realization that I didn’t actually like French food. I spent quite some time investigating the best Italian, Thai, American—anything but French—restaurants in my neighborhood. It took me about a year to find a solid list of French restaurants I would actually return to for the food and not just for the ambiance. Now that I know how to avoid the bad apples, I happily indulge in French cuisine. (Although I still eat more Italian and Japanese than French during workdays as let’s face it, unless you’re not the one paying, the French food around the Champs-Elysées is crap.)

I also reached a point when I thought I had seen most of the major regions of France. I was bracing to increase my already disproportionate travel budget so I could venture farther afield on free weekends. Now I realize that I could spend a lifetime exploring within the hexagon and not run out of places to visit. I would like to say that my love of travel is inspired by a deep intellectual curiosity and desire to understand the culture I have landed in. Sometimes that’s true. But more often than not I don’t need to see every last museum or visit every last tourist site. I just want to walk around and get a feeling for the place. I want to breathe in some fresh ocean hour for a few hours. Sometimes I just like a place if it makes for a few good photos. And sometimes I just want to see how many helpings of pasta I can shamelessly consume in one weekend. (Oh, and my new obsession is burrata. If you don’t know what it is, think of it as a gooey-er, yummier mozzarella. If you’ve never tried burrata, you are missing out on life. And if your mouth doesn’t water at the site of burrata, well, this blog isn’t for you.)