French Exploration

Cityscapes and countryside have much to offer

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Sean Hsu /

The Eiffel Tower



We teamed up with to share this guide to Paris and the French countryside.

After an overnight, trans-Atlantic and most sleepless flight, I remembered the advice that my husband, Steven, and I received for combating jet lag:

Power through the first day, don’t take a nap and go to bed early.
Following that prescription was easy enough. We were pumped about being in Europe — Paris, no less — for the first time.

We relied upon Uber throughout our stay in the city as a way of making up for lost time. (Our itinerary was set back two days when we discovered upon checking in at the Tallahassee airport that Steven’s passport was expired.) And, although a more expensive option than taking the Metro, Uber dodges language barriers. 

We simply typed in the addresses of our destinations.

Sanchai Kumar /

Breze Chateau and vineyard in Loire Valley, France


We had a list of must-see stops and a “B” list of lower priority sights that we intended to visit as time allowed, but first we dropped off our luggage at the flat we rented off Rue Delambre. Veteran travelers had told us that renting a flat versus a hotel room would enable us to enjoy a more genuine French experience.

Our place was located in the city just east of the Luxembourg Garden, tucked between a coffee-and-book store and a florist and featured a private patio. After a bite at a corner café, we hit the streets, headed to the Eiffel Tower.

I encourage anyone visiting Paris to walk as much as you can. The streets are lined with impressive architecture and there are flowers everywhere, including balconies with their hanging baskets of blooms, vegetables and ornamental plants.

The smell of the city is fresh and crisp. The lush grass in front of the Eiffel Tower invited us to relax and enjoy the view. This is a great place to unwind, people-watch and pick up some authentic French food from a food truck or stand.

A Big Red Bus tour of the city helped give us a feel for the lay of the land and provided us with historical facts and passing views of sites where we planned to spend more time later on. Plus, we tacked on a few sites that were not already on our lists.  

Dinner was at Le Parc aux Cerfs, a restaurant that we stumbled upon during a walk. A traditional French venue, it has menus in both English and French and would prove to be our favorite.

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