Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world! This cultural mecca is known for its amazing museums, restaurants and shopping. I first fell in love with the ‘City of Love’ when I decided to take my first solo trip there for my 30th birthday. I planned this amazing all accompanying trip that included my favorite activities. Since it was my first trip I made sure to include all the worthy tourists attractions, but I also included some other unique experiences. There was just so much to do and see! As mentioned in my previous article (see My Top 5 Solo trips) I have been coming to Paris every year for the past 6 years because it’s my favorite city. During every trip I try to include some uncommon activities to keep my spirit intrigued and wanting to return. I have listed those below so others can enjoy the magic that is Paris.
- The French Open– During my first trip to Paris I came at the perfect time. I went during the last week in May for my birthday (Yes I’m a Gemini) and had the privilege to visit and experience Roland-Garros. This was my first major tennis tournament and I’m glad I took the time to plan this event into my trip. My experience at the French Open is one of the reasons I fell in love with Paris. I had a chance to see one of my idols, Serena Williams, crush her competition on the main court. (She even one the French Open that year!) Besides all day matches to watch, Roland-Garros has beautiful grounds to stroll and savor. There are also tons of cute cafés and shops in and surrounding the grounds. Roland-Garros is easily accessible from the city via public transportation; which I recommend using in Paris because it’s the best way to get around town. If you get the opportunity to visit Paris in the Spring I highly recommend incorporating the French Open into your trip.
2. A cooking class– French cooking is the epitome of cuisine. Paris hosts a number of Michelin star restaurants, although I honestly prefer the perfect corner bistro for cuisine. The most enticing part of French cuisine to me is their wonderful breads and pastries. I had the amazing opportunity to roll up my sleeves twice for two different cooking classes during my visits. The first class I signed up for through La Cuisine Paris was about French pastries and desserts. We concocted everything from macarons to pain au chocolat. The second class, by Cook N with Class, I joined during a separate visit focused on French breads. I learned how to make the classic baguette and some bomb brioche. Truly both experiences were amazing. The instructors were extremely personable and I was able to take home all the recipes we made with tons of samples. I had a blast learning about French food and was able to stuff my face at the same time. Immersing one’s self into a culinary experience brings you closer to that country’s culture. You not only are able to be a part of the food but it also becomes a part of you.
3. Versailles– France and Paris are known for its amazing historical architecture. When I visit Paris, I love to walk through the city in awe of all the old buildings and beautiful parks intertwined. The Palace of Versailles is the cherry on top of French design and composition. Versailles is located only about 30 minutes outside of Paris and it is definitely worth the trip. Plan to spend a whole day here because there is a lot to see and a lot of people who want to see it as well. The Palace of Versailles is a World Heritage Site where you can view fabulous and famous gardens, The Hall of Mirrors, The Royal Opera, regal chambers, etcetera. I had the opportunity to book a tour here using TripAdvisor that included roundtrip transportation and the entrance fee to Versailles. I would definitely suggest booking ahead of time as well. Check out more information here.
4. Catacombs– Paris is known as the ‘City of Light’ but who knew underneath lived a dark past filled with remains of millions of Parisians. The catacombs are a unique site and a great change of scenery to the hustle of the city. It is literally an underground maze filled with billions of bones. I encourage a visit to anyone with an inkling of an interest in history. I went a few years ago and I had a fascinating experience. I had the pleasure of a guided tour which is a must. Otherwise you are stuck wondering around confused underground. My tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and made my tour more enjoyable. The catacombs are easy to access via Metro. Once again I recommend booking your tour ahead of time otherwise the wait time can make the excursion unbearable. More information here.
5. Champagne– This last trip to Paris I thought I would treat myself to an original cultural experience. As I stated in a previous post I fell in love with Rosé after visiting the Côte D’Azur. After popping and sipping several bottles over the years, I was intrigued to learn how to make Rosé and its bubbly cousin champagne. I went to my go-to TripAdvisor and found a tour to Champagne, France from Paris. During this all-inclusive tour I had the opportunity to visit a private vineyard, learn and visualize the process in making sparkling rose and sip on some the best champagne I’ve ever had! I also visited the Moet & Chandon mile long champagne cellar and sampled more champagne. This private tour also included a visit to the city of Champagne, one of the oldest chapels in France and also Dom Perignon’s grave site. It was truly an unforgettable trip and I recommended it to anyone visiting Paris.
Three Summers ago, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to the South of France. For those of you who don’t know, Paris, is my most favorite city in the World!! (Super cliché I know). I never had a bad experience while visiting France so figured that I had to check out one of these most renown places for the elite and prosperous.
Nice, France and its surrounding cities are in ways indescribable. The countryside, the breathtaking views, the historic sites, the people, the yachts, all make the South of France one of the thee most sought after places to travel. Once thing that I recall about the food of the area was the fresh produce.
While visiting Cannes, I had a chance to go an open market. I don’t want to call it your typical “farmer’s market” because this market would put any market I’ve been to in the States to shame. The food in Cannes was some to the freshest vittles I have ever put in my mouth. I mean the bread, the cheese and the PRODUCE!!. After that experience I realized why this area is called Côte d”Azur or “fruit of the sea.” Not only was seafood amazing but the literal fruits of the area are the best I’ve ever had. I had the tiniest of strawberries from the market but they were probably the juiciest little things I’ve ever tried.
Not only is this area known for their food but also their Rosé. A glass of Rosé with fresh ice is the drink of choice when one is sitting on the promenade enjoying the wonderment of France. I had the best and most Rosé I’ve ever had in my life. I must admit that Rosé is now my drink of choice on a warm relaxing L.A. day.
After this fabulous trip I knew that I wanted to create a way to remember all the glorious experiences of Côte d’Azur. I had heard of a pink champagne cake and thought I can make it better and luxurious like my Summer trip to France. Here’s what I came up with:
Côte d’Azur Cake
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Côte d’Azur Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1 ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. of granulated sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup Rosé or dry Moscato
¼ cup seedless raspberry preserves
1 pint of strawberries, wash and dried
1 pint of blackberries, wash and dried
8 large egg whites
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter room temperature, cubed
2 tsp vanilla extract
Côte d’Azur Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour three 8 or 9″ cake rounds, line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (5-7mins).
- Reduce speed and add egg whites one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Place raspberry preserves in a microwave safe measuring cup. Place in microwave for approximately 30 seconds until preserves have melted. Add Rosé to preserves and mix together.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and Rosé mixture, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of champagne) to batter in stand mixer. Make sure to fully incorporate after each addition.
- Add a small amount of Rose color gel using a toothpick. Mix to incorporate but try not to over mix.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
- Bake for approx. 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- While the cakes are baking, slice strawberries cross-wise about 1/8 inch thick. Place in a small bowl and mix with tbsp. of sugar. Set aside
- Slice blackberries length-wise. Place in a small bowl and mix with tbsp. of sugar. Set aside
- When cakes are done, place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 mins. then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.
- Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to touch and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 7-8 mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and continue to whip until smooth.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately ½ cup of frosting and spread evenly. Add strawberries on top of frosting in even layer. Repeat with the second layer of cake and frosting. Add blackberries evenly and place last cake on top. Apply a thin coat of frosting all over the cake. Chill for 20mins.
- Frost and smooth the sides. Chill for 20mins.
- Using a toothpick, add a small amount of Rose color gel to the remaining frosting. Stir with a spatula to incorporate, or place back on the stand mixer to mix in the color.
- Decorate with pink rosettes on top and add a decorative border to the bottom
Devour and Enjoy!!
2. Water Bottle– We all know that airport and airline food/drinks are way overpriced. I refuse to pay for a meal in the airport unless it’s a last resort these days. The same goes for water. I always make sure I have a sturdy water bottle on hand and on board my flight. I find that water bottles are essential because a. flying is known to dehydrate you and b. I don’t trust airplane water. Before I start my travel journey and leave for the airport, I try and intake at least 50% of my daily water need. I do this because once I have arrived at the airport and checked in I immediately fill my bottle at a fountain and get ready for my flight. I try to drink as much water as early as possible so I can relieve myself before my flight and not worry about having to get up every hour on my flight to use the bathroom. I also do not want to be concerned about not having water access on board or once I reach my travel destination and become dehydrated. I recommend Nathan and Survimate brands.
3. Compression socks- This travel accessory is imperative for any international flight. For flights longer than 5 hours I wear my compression socks. During my pre- compression sock days I would do the necessary exercises on the plane in order to prevent venous stasis or blood clots. That was definitely a concern of mine for those extended flights but I also tired of arriving to my destination with cankles and ill-fitting shoes because of swelling. Since buying my compression socks I no longer worry about the complications of being sedentary for too long and they also keep my feet warm and stylish. Try these out.
4. Travel slippers– These are definitely my on-flight travel secret. I discovered these luxuries a few years ago while I was in Paris getting ready to head back to the States. I was traveling in the winter and had over packed so much so that I had to wear my knee high boots on my flight. Don’t get me wrong the boots were comfortable enough to walk the cobblestone streets of Montmartre but I was not at all interested sitting at least 11 hours in them. I found these portable travel slippers with their own carrying pouch for about twenty dollars in an airport store and they were worth every penny. I remember that flight being incredibly comfortable and relaxing because of me being able to wear those slippers. I have had my pair for about 5 years now and I bring them on every flight. As soon as I get to my seat and get situated, I kick my shoes off and slide my slippers on. Those along with my socks guarantee my feet will be pleased. Here’s an option to buy.
5. Antibacterial wipes- This one speaks for itself. There are so many opportunities for germ encounters during any flight. If you think about how fast airlines shuffle people off the plane just to fill it back up, it doesn’t leave much time for thoroughly cleaning your seat and surrounding areas. On every flight, once I arrive to my seat and put my carry-on up I pull out my wipes and turn into Lil Boosie. I wipe down everything from my tray table to my seat belt with my wipes. I then bathe my hands in hand sanitizer and get cozy in my seat. This routine of mine has kept me healthy during travel for the past years.
6. Cashmere scarf- I recently acquired a cashmere scarf after finding an amazing Black Friday deal at Macy’s. I purchased mine for 65% percent off so I could not pass it up. I have always been a fan of wearing an oversized scarf on a flight but a cashmere one gives the luxury I feeling like you got upgraded. I always wear a scarf on my flights because they are so multifunctional during travel. I have used my oversized scarf as a pillow, blanket, fashion accessory, head wrap, etcetera. I took my recent scarf purchase on my last trip to Southeast Asia and I was sold on cashmere. Here is one I recommend.
7. Eye masks– Trying to get decent sleep on any flight is quite a task, especially on a long flight. Traveling through many different times zones can make it hard to adjust your sleep cycle in order to prevent jet lag. Modern international flights have now started to use ambient lighting during different times on long flights to try and help us passengers avoid the jet lag slag. I appreciate the effort of airlines but sometimes I must take things into my own hands. When I’m flying and I’m ready to sleep an eye mask is a must. I try to trick my mind as much as possible that its night time. In order to do that I must block out as much light as possible. Eye masks also come in handy for those unpredictable hotel room lights or city lights.
8. Carry-on pharmacy– We all know that those in meal flights can sometimes be unpredictable. If you don’t get the pleasure of flying business or first class or ordering your food ahead of time, you can be left with options that don’t necessarily agree with you. I have learned from experience that it’s always better to be prepared for the unpredictable. This includes possible food poisoning, GI upset (I’m lactose intolerant), indigestion, menstrual cramps or motion sickness. For this reason in my carry-on I keep a pouch with all my essential travel medication. This includes Tums, Pepto-Bismo tables, Simethecone tablets, Lactaid, immunity dissolvable tablets, melatonin, Ibuprofen, natural tears, etcetera. This portable pharmacy keeps me reassured that I will have a healthy and enjoyable flight.
9. Bag Bungee– When I travel internationally my go to storage solution is my roller suitcase that I can either check or carry on and also my reliable and super stylish train case from Calpak. These two items travel well but it helps knowing that when I’m darting through the airport or trying to find my AirBnB in a new city, I don’t have to worry about my train case falling off my suitcase. With my bungee I can safely secure my carry-on luggage to my suitcase when I need to transport it. It makes it so much easier to navigate through an airport. It also easily detaches and stores well in my carry-on. This concept seems so simple but I tell you it makes a huge difference when traveling. Give it a try.
10. Healthy snack– Last but definitely not least is a good snack. A snack has served me at one time as a meal when I had zero time to eat during my flight connection or when a flight ran out of the vegetarian option. This is why having a healthy, filling food option is everything. When I travel I always pack protein bars and trail mix. Protein is necessary to keep me filling full and not getting hunger pangs in between those in-flight meals. I also like protein bars because sometimes I can trick myself to thinking it’s a candy bar with taste without all the calories. I also prefer trail mix with nuts listed as the first ingredient with some sort of fruit and dark chocolate mixed in. I need that fiber and those antioxidants. If I’m here in the States I usually fill up on snacks at Trader Joes. When I’m overseas I can usually find what I’m looking for at any local grocery store.
When Like Gives You Lemons Cake
- 2 ½ cups of all purpose flour
- 2 ½ tsp. of baking powder
- ½ tsp. of table salt
- ½ cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups of granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup of greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 6 lemons (approximately ¼ cup)
- juice of 6 lemons (approximately ½ cup)
- 1 ¼ cup of milk
- ¼ cup of limonc”hello” (optional)
- 2 ½ cups of confectioner’s sugar
- Remainder of lemon juice (¼ cup)
- ½ tsp of salt.
1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. Grease and flour your bundt pan
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and doubled in sized, approximately 5 minutes.
5. Add eggs one at a time to the mixture.
6. Add yogurt, vanilla extract, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice (¼ cup)
7. Beginning and ended with flour, add flour (divided into thirds) and milk (divided into halves) to the mixture until batter is smooth and all ingredients are together
8. Transfer batter to the cake pan and smooth batter until even in the pan.
9. Hit cake pan onto the counter a few times to knock out air bubbles
10. Bake cake for approximately 45-50 minutes until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean
11. Place cake onto cake rack and poke cake all over using same toothpick or cake tester. (optional)
12. Pour limonc”hello” slowly onto cake and allow cake to cool completely.(optional)
13. Invert cake onto cake plate or board.
14. Pour glaze onto cake
15. Decorate with candied lemon slices, devour and enjoy!
Candied Lemon Slices
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 lemon
1. Slice lemon into 1/8 inch thin round slices, using very sharp knife and set down.
2. In a large skillet, mix together sugar and water on medium heat and bring to a boil.
3. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn heat down to medium low- low heat.
4. Add the lemon slices in a single layer and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, remember to turn over lemons once using tongs or spatula.
5. Lemons are done when they are translucent and syrup is thick and sticks to lemons.
6. Place lemons on parchment paper and allow them to cool completely.
A few years ago (yes a few years) I was wondering around Marshalls in the home section, which I absolutely adore. I always seem to find the best home finds to furnish my castle. While I was perusing the aisles I stumbled upon these two lonely looking shadow boxes in the corner. As soon as I saw them, I knew exactly what to do with them.
At home, stashed away in the same draw I kept my passport and other travel essentials was my “memory bag.” This gallon sized plastic bag was filled with different mementos I had collected on some of my various travels. I had tickets, travel cards, passes, and currency all awaiting for their debut and now I finally had a place to store them.
Flash forward to this past weekend where I finally decided that this period of social distancing and travel restriction was enough motivation to assuredly complete this project. I gathered up all my needed essentials which I keep stored nicely in my home office and got to work.
I must say that I am quite pleased with the results. I decided to post my project and instructions on my other blog ConfectionsCraftsCouture.com. Please head on over to see how you can recreate this easy DIY project that you’re sure to love!
- 15 organic lemons ( I used 6 meyer lemons and 9 regular lemons)
- 2 (750 ml) bottles 100-proof vodka ( I used Tito’s)
- 4 cups sugar
- 5 cups water (filtered tap water or distilled water)
- Clean the lemons to remove any dirt, pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.
- Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel.
- In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar with lid), add vodka.
- Add the lemon zest as it is zested.
- Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer the mixture rests, the better the end taste will be.
- There is no need to stir – all you have to do is wait. As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.
- Make a Basic Simple Syrup using the 4 cups sugar and 5 cups water:
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; bring to a gentle boil and let boil, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture.
- Add cooled sugar mixture to the Limoncello mixture (from Step One). Cover jar and allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.
- After the rest period, strain the Limoncello ( I used a cheesecloth); discarding the lemon zest. Pour strained Limoncello in bottle/bottles (of your choice) and seal tightly.
- Keep your bottle/bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve ice cold from the freezer.
My top 5 places for solo women to travel to:
1. Paris, France. My favorite city in the world! This is very biased list because Paris is the first city I ever solo traveled to. I decided that I wanted to spend my 30th birthday in Paris, so I planned a fantastic trip that included the Lourve, Palace of Versailles, nd last but not least the French open and seeing my girl Serena Williams play. I have traveled to Paris every year since then. Each trip is different and exciting. I always feel safe and have never run into any security issues. I never get bored and always seems to find something new to explore in my favorite city. With the shops, fashion, food, museums and eye candy what’s not to love?
2. Tokyo, Japan. I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Japan a few years ago after I found this awesome deal for a roundtrip flight to Tokyo for $400!! I spent a week in Tokyo and had the time of my life. I went to a kitty cafe, Tokyo towers, Shibuya square, Harajuku and everything in between. Tokyo offers so much to do for every walk of life. There are amazing shops, museums, ecletic cafe/ bars, temples and parks. It’s so clean and organized. Its probably one of the safest cities in the world and I can’t wait to go back.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thailand is in itself an amazing country! The country is so beautiful and inexpensive! The American dollar goes a long way over there. I had a chance to spend a few days in Chiang Mai this past December. Chiang Mai in my opinion is the middle ground between lackadaisical Phuket and busy Bangkok. Its the perfect place to relax, eat amazing food and pamper yourself on the cheap. That’s exactly what I did and enjoyed so much about Chiang Mai. It’s a great place to get off the plane, kick your feet up and feel like a queen.
4. Split, Croatia. Split is a beautiful city that mixes both modern life and ancient history. Its located off the Adriatic sea so the views are breathtaking. I enjoyed strolling along the Promenade, eating breakfast and staring out watching the crystal blue waves. Split offers so much ancient history including Diocletian’s Palace (which was built in 305AD), St. Domnius Cathedral, and Old Town Split. There are great restaurants, shops and so much natural beauty. I took a day trip Krka National Park which was unforgettable. Let’s not also forget that Croatian eye candy Split offers.
5. Singapore, Singapore. I am definitely one of the cliches that read Crazy Rich Asians and then absolutely had to take myself to Singapore. I mean between Nick Young, the hawker stalls, Orchard Road and pineapple tarts I knew I had to go. Singapore in real life exceeded all my expectations. It’s so freaking pretty! The city is so vibrant and you know I love my colors!! There’s Joo Chiat Rd., Little India, Gardens by the Bay and so much more. I also appreciate how important nature is to Singapore. The Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome and the Singapore Botanical Garden are definite must. Also lets not forget Marina Bay Sands and the award winning Singapore Airport! I say every solo traveler must experience Singapore.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Hi and welcome to my site. This website serves as a means to share my love for travel with the world. This include my photos, tips or anything else I feel would benefit someone on their travel journey. Feel free to contact me with anything you would like to see featured on the site!