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One of my secrets to finding travel deals is to fly to international destinations that are nearer when visiting the opposite US coast.  Los Angeles generally has pretty good prices on flight to Asia, but not always to Europe. When my boyfriend Jason and I started making plans to visit his mom in Buffalo, New York, I thought to start checking on the flight prices for departures out of NYC or Toronto.  At the time round trip flights from Toronto were pretty low to Europe, and Toronto is only an hour and a half drive over the border from Buffalo. I found us nonstop flights from Toronto to Paris and returning from Rome for around $600 per person.

We decided to visit Paris; a city I have visited a few times but not for many years, and that Jason had never been to.  Paris is also where a couple of good friends live, and at the time the conversion rate from US Dollars to the Euro was closer to 1:1 than it had been in nearly 10 years (1 Euro equaled 1.09 USD).  Travel money saving secret number two: go where your currency is hot right now (also a major deciding factor in visiting Russia and Japan later in the year).

Jason and I spent a short week in Paris where we stayed with our friend in the cool lively Bastille neighborhood and from there we rented city bikes to explore all over the city.  In the mornings we ate fresh croissants, midday we ate baguettes and fresh fruit and cheese, and in the evenings we went all out trying fancy restaurants recommended by our foodie friends.  Nice dining was surprisingly reasonably priced with the low Euro.  We made the necessary stops to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  We visited our favorite fragrance shops; Diptyque, Cire Trudon, and a new one we discovered called Buly.  Both of us have a bit of a thing for smells, and nobody does fragrances better than the French! We especially love the candles at these shops, which are all quite expensive but well worth a stop by to smell.

Other highlights were our day trips to see famous French architect Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in Poissy, and the Palace of Versailles.  And of course seeing one of my besty friends from San Francisco, Paris native and amazingly talented photographer David Luraschi, and catching up with Vincent, another old friend.

Recommended places visited on this trip:

ShopCire TrudonBuly, Diptyque: Great design and smells. Whiff the Spritus Sancti and Abd el Kader candles at Cire Trudon.  Feu de Bois is the original campfire scented candle at Diptyque.

EatBistro Paul BertLa Poule Au Pot: Both classic French restaurants, we did Paul Bert for lunch one day and tried the famous chicken pot (a sort of stew) at Poule Au Pot for dinner.

BakeriesMaison Landemaine: If you happen to be near one of these, they have the best almond croissants EVER where they flatten and toast them to crispy perfection.

And of course make the trip out to Versailles and give yourself plenty of time to wander the gardens.  We beat the crowds by going late in the afternoon but also didn’t get to spend as long as we would have liked there.


Photos by Renee Lusano and Jason MacDonald on Mamiya 7ii, Ricoh GR and Fuji X100T.

Visited June 2015

Bread with dinner at La Poule Au Pot



Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, designed in 1920s and still modern today.

Villa Savoye restoration lady

There's a hot dog on the loose at Villa Savoye