Tag Archives: france

I Want to Go with Oh to Paris

Paris with a twist, that is!

I am lucky enough to have visited Paris three times in my life.  It is the first place that brought tears to my eyes upon arriving and is one of my most favorite cities. I feel as though I have a connection with Paris, like Lola must have lived there in a past life. Whenever I’m asked if I could live anywhere abroad for a year or two, Paris is always the city that comes to my mind. Why? Oh, a lot of the same reasons many people are enamored with Paris.  It’s beautiful. It’s delicious. It’s sexy. It’s fashionable. It’s diverse. It’s romantic. It’s alive.  I adore the French language and would truly love to speak it without making a faux pas. And, not to toot my own horn, but in February during a visit to the South of France, the French were quite fond of Lola.

soaring light

Tour de Eiffel

Despite having done the Parisian touristy thing a few times, Lola would still choose to Go with Oh to Paris and bring my fun-loving spirit to the “City of Light”. Of course, I will stroll the streets, taking in the sights and enjoy wonderful French meals as well as divine wines and cocktails.  Those are givens on my wish list.  However, I would like to DO Paris differently than one might imagine. So, using some of my favorite films with ties to Paris as inspiration, this is what my oh-so-chic Parisian itinerary would be.

Sabrina

A quote from Sabrina with a Lola spin…

Once upon a time, on the north shore of Massachusetts, not far away from Boston, there was a nice Victorian house on a hill where there lived a family by the name of DiMarco. There were NO servants inside or outside the house, nor boatmen and gardeners, not even a single tennis or swimming pool specialist in sight. NOT even a chauffeur, but there was  woman named Lola who wished she had some of these luxuries, because in Lola’s mind, she should be a wealthy heiress with loads of hired help and could jet off anywhere at any time.  BUT, since that’s not reality, instead Lola will enter a blogging contest in hopes of being the lucky winner of a month-long stay in Europe.

Luxembourg Palace

Luxembourg Palace

Just like Sabrina, Lola’s first wish is to be shipped off to Paris to work with Vogue magazine.  Lola won’t be a photographer’s assistant though. Lola will be the subject of the photo shoot on location at Palais du Luxembourg for a day.  Do you know this beautiful place? It’s a palace built by Queen Maria de’ Medici at the beginning of the 17th century. The surrounding gardens are divine and a parfait place for my photo ops!  Now, you may be wondering what on earth Lola might wear when having this tres magnifique photo shoot. Entre wish number deux.  Luckily, Lola is invited to attend a Paris Fashion Week event featuring some of the most prestigious designers.

The Devil Wears Prada

Since Lola is a travel writer and aspiring journalist like the character Andrea in The Devil Wears Prada, it makes perfect sense that I should attend a Fashion Week event in Paris.  I will write many a witty post describing the sassy stylings of all the fab designers and about the muses from around the world that don these lines.  I’ll be interviewing the models and designers to discover why they adore Paris and its fashion scene.  Unlike Andrea’s plain character turned trendy, Lola already is a fashion maven, so naturally, we all become friends.

en vogue, lola

Upon hearing about my upcoming Vogue gig, the designers plead with me to wear some of their hottest new designs for my photo shoot.  I tour the designers’ studios and discover where they create their most fashion-forward frocks and fabulous haute couture. I’m treated to an unbelievable day of pampering and then glamorously styled for my photo shoot. Alas, after a couple of days of walking on supermodel air, Lola needs to come back down to earth and dive into some history. Since I’m making my way into the travel-writing world, you know I love the great authors of the past. Oh, how they must have enjoyed Paris’ heyday.

Cafe de Flore

Cafe de Flore

Midnight in Paris

My third wish would be to step back into time just as Gil Pender did every night in the film Midnight in Paris. Since this isn’t really possible, unfortunately, I’ll have to settle for a coffee and cocktail crawl to famous authors and artists’ haunts of a bygone era.  I will have my café au lait at Café de Flore and drink absinthe at La Closerie des Lilas.  In my imagination, I am pursued by Picasso as a love interest while sipping on coffee at Les Deux Magots and I’ll have lengthy chats at La Rotonde with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway about becoming a better writer.  It will be fascinating to retrace some of the famous stomping grounds of Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Degas.  Energized by the engaging conversations and loads of coffee, I will have the vitalité to revive one of my talents and kick up my heels at Moulin Rouge.

colours of fun

the infamous Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

This shouldn’t be a huge stretch – Lola was made for the stage.  And, I wasn’t joking about the dance routines either.  Back in the day, Lola was on the school dance squad doing synchronized high-kick routines during halftime of the football game.  Can you believe it?!  Throw in my boa and BAM, you have a Moulin Rouge moment.  Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting that Lola take on the starring role of Satine by any stretch.  I really cannot sing, so let’s cast me in a supporting role.

woot! high-kicking it!!

Wish number four is to spend a day learning a high-kick dance number and get all dolled up Belle Époque cabaret-style for a performance at the legendary Moulin Rouge.  How fun would that be? And a great workout, to boot, which I’ll need after all the wining and dining I’ve been doing.  After my fifteen minutes of fame on the bohemian stage, I’ll be exhausted. I’ll need an opportunity to unwind, and a nice cup of tea and some delicious pastries will do the trick. Who am I trying to kid? Lola doesn’t ever do anything subdued. My fifth wish is to spend all day and night at a garden party at Versailles.  And get this, I will be in a full-on Marie Antoinette costume. I might as well go out with a bang.

Marie Antoinette

After my exhausting day of high-kicking around the Moulin Rouge stage, I can now squeeze myself into a tiny, pink corseted dress.  Phew!  I know you think blue when you think of Marie Antoinette; I do too. But, I’m Lola and Lola only does pink.  It’s a firm rule of mine and a part of my branding that I’m unwilling to negotiate.

curls

de toute beauté, Marie Antoinette!

This lovely garden party at Versailles will be held out in front of the Chateaux near the Water Garden.  Just like any good garden party, it will be tented and illuminated with candles.  All the guests will be dressed in costume just like me.  Can’t you just envision me in a powdered wig and beauty mark?  Ooo-lala! As far as the men go, they will be dressed like revolutionary soldiers without the fussy wigs.  Think Count Axel von Fersen, Marie Antoinette’s rumored lover – yummy.  We will be dining, drinking, dancing and gambling just like the queen who “let them eat cake”.  The drink of choice will be fine French champagne, of course, and there will be gobs of gastronomically-delicious French food and pastries.  Everything looks and IS delectable!  What a way to wrap up my Parisian stay.

Thuet Macarons

bon appétit

So, what do you say?  Don’t you want to follow along as Lola runs around Paris doing all these fantastique things?  Armed with my pink beret and boa, I think Paris and Lola were made for each other. It’s high time that Paris got LOLAFIED!

ooo-lala lola

Merci beaucoup for reading, and now for your perks…

Just because I’m throwing my boa in the ring to be the lucky recipient of a European tour doesn’t mean you can’t too. There are other prizes you can win as well.  Through Go with Oh’s Facebook contest, you can win tres chic Samsonite luggage, a Panasonic Lumix camera, an iPad2 or 500 Euros in holiday accommodations!  Boom chica chica wow wow…let’s all be winners!

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the ever lovely Aix en Provence

fountains, fountains everywhere!

this trip to Aix en Provence was actually my third. i love it every time and every time for different reasons. the first time i visited it was spring and everything was in crisp & in bloom. the second visit was in the fall and Aix was colorful and romantic with cozy fires lit and warm dinners every evening. this time was full on winter and it was cold in Aix. so cold, in fact, that what struck me most this visit about beautiful Aix en Provence was how many lovely fountains there are all over the city. i hadn’t really noticed them during prior visits but because so many of them were frozen and icy they really stood out. even still, they held a magical beauty.

Aix en Provence has lured many an artist from Cezanne to Van Gogh. today it remains a bustling artsy kind of place that is home to many university students keeping Aix extra lively…just like its fountains. enjoy the photos and visit Aix en Provence if you ever get the chance – you too will be taken by the city’s joie de vivre!

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la musique en France

when i travel i love listening to the radio. it’s so fun to hear what people like and listen to in other parts of the world. i REALLY loved listening to the radio in France. the music was fantastic but listening to the people speak and sing in French was even bettahhh! they don’t call it a romance language for nothin’! 😉

no surprise that two of my fave artists were quite popular over there…David Guetta’s ‘titanium’ and Flo Rida’s ‘wild ones’ were played over the airwaves repeatedly. both songs feature Sia! take a listen…

BUT i think this group is the one to watch – Colletif Metisse! the song i heard in France was titled ‘sexy lady’. i can’t buy it itunes or find it on you tube 😦 nevertheless, here’s a sampling of Collectif Metisse! tell me you don’t feel like dancing?!

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flirty fun in France & Monaco

lolafication

if you follow my blog you know that lola has a certain je ne sais quoi. let me be clear, my time in France and Monaco proved they too were willing to be influenced by the lola factor. those along the Riviera were quite eager to be lolafied. i guess it was really the low-season 😉

lola served up on a silver platter

lola requested that difficult pink beret – a request more than sufficiently met! then i proceeded to wear the beret everywhere, which the French folk seemed to enjoy.

look at petit lola being a little saucy tart

one evening, lola brought out petit lola (aka my little mascot Barbie) to dinner and after dinner drinks only to be flirted with by many a cute man.

birthday buddies - max & lola

AND real-life lola wore out my boa on my birthday. by that evening’s end, i had many, oh so many, a man donning a boa feather here and there (ears, lapels, pocket feathers.) it was really quite a surprise, to be honest, how much those men adored the boa!

oh yeah...he WAS lolafied!

either France and Monaco have a spirit about them that totally identifies with lola or people really just needed to get outside of their usual routines. whatever it was, the embracing of lola and her silly sassiness made this trip and birthday extra EXTRA special.

i love the idea of lolafying a place – wouldn’t you?! my feathers floated all around Monaco for a good 24 hours at least. AND it’s been reported that i was missed once i was gone. locals lola met have confessed they are missing lola’s je ne sais quoi!

my lovely bartender crush in provence

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bon anniversaire ala France et Monaco

birthday fun – vive la lola!

happy birthday

lola got birthday treats all trip long. from a macaroon cake & wine at the Four Seasons Provence to champagne at Villa Gallici! i was treated like quite the b-day gal.

yummy cake!

sante - birthday girl!

on my actual birthday in Monaco i was brought a cake with a sparkler type of candle at dinner and yet another at the bar where i was having after dinner drinks. apparently they DO like flashy things in Monaco! AND of course i had some of both…it would have been rude not to.

lola loves sparkly things!

and cake number deux

sometimes turning a year older can be a drag but i truly had the best birthday this year. i mean, who couldn’t love 2 cakes? i was made to feel magnifique everywhere i went & why not?! i am kinda special because i’m lola after all!

ps – i highly recommend spending your birthday in France/Monaco but no matter where you are, do it up BIG. it is YOUR DAY!!

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staying fancy pants in France

Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche: a little slice of heaven in the South of France

Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche

Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche is situated amongst beautiful scenery in the village of Tourrettes just 45 minutes from Nice. this hidden part of Provence has always attracted artists and Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche is no different as it offers a haven of peace surrounded by pure, wild nature. all of the property’s 115 suites cling to the slopes of the hill the same as the homes in view from surrounding mountain top villages. it’s absolutely lovely. so is it’s gorgeous spa. total luxury! BUT that is not the story I want to share…

stunning pool of FS Provence

i began communicating with Four Seasons Provence through twitter and email. they were extremely responsive and made booking my stay a piece of cake sending me a link for the room & rate i requested. next, when i began to inquire about restaurants & wine tastings, the reservations department put the concierge in touch with me. this is when it gets really impressive. the options were so nicely organized by local cuisine or gastronomic dining experiences. i requested to try one of each and for the concierge to choose his favorites. not only did he choose, but went straight on to make the reservation for me. his choices were perfect! (more on this in my eating post) i also challenged this sweet man to finding me a beret to don upon arrival in Provence. he was unwavering in his efforts! (you know this if you read my raspberry beret post) the above & beyond effort is my favorite trip memory and for this, i will always adore both him and Four Seasons Provence.

upon arrival, i was personally welcomed by the travel industry sales manager and a very gracious and eager staff. it’s low season in Provence and the property was very quiet with only 8 rooms booked Friday and 12 on Saturday. it might seem that perhaps this is why i got such exceptional service but in retrospect i believe this is just how they do it at the Four Seasons Provence. they take extreme pride in doing their job perfectly – what a joy!

other perks from the stay:

An upgrade to a nicer room

watercolor notecard of Four Seasons Provence with a message from the General Manager

A birthday cake to welcome me, a handwritten note from the General Manager, plus 2 bottles of the region’s wines, gratis

A smiley staff willing to drive me to and fro at a moment’s notice

one of my happy drivers

A portfolio pre-made for me with details of dinners & wine tastings (including marked & highlighted maps)

A warmed car with driving directions when i was dropped to the car for dinner

i kid you not - the BEST

An inclusive breakfast with the BEST bacon i have ever had (America – adopt this European tradition, si vous plait)

A bartender who kept the bar open for one last drink although no one else was there

meet Jimmy bartender extraordinaire

A reception staff that knew who i was – greeting me by name each and every encounter AND did everything to ensure i was happy (including giving me a delicious Four Seasons Terre Blanche candle at check out)

AND a head of concierge that planned my visit better than i could have hoped and got me my treasured pink beret

what a cute pink beret!

i don’t believe Four Seasons Provence would have denied me anything. it was as if they anticipated my every wish and thought. it’s worth every penny when you receive this kind of exceptional service, i must say. i may be ruined now because i was spoiled so much. it truly was the VERY BEST service i have ever experienced.

AND since then, i have received follow-up emails from Andrea Ramseyer – Travel Industry Sales Manager, Jean-Jacques Yonnet – Head Concierge (who made all my dreams come true) and Mauro Governato – General Manager of Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche, all expressing the wish that i enjoyed my stay, thanking me for my patronage plus inviting me back as soon as possible.

merci beaucoup, i will be back – you can count on that!

Villa Gallici: a hidden treasure in Aix en Provence

the charming Villa Gallici

the Villa Gallici in Aix en Provence has existed for two centuries before becoming a hotel devoted to the French art de vivre 20 years ago. the property has 22 gorgeous, individually decorated rooms as well as some fabulous common areas to enjoy. it is just as the Baglioni/Relais & Chateaux families desire – comme a la maison “just like at home”. it’s no wonder Villa Gallici has been named one of the best 500 hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure and has an impressive standing on the 2011 Conde Nast Traveller list. when you are at the Villa Gallici it’s as if time has stopped and all of life is enjoyed at a slower pace. there’s a simple ease in your time spent there that’s divine in this day and age of lightening-speed life. i wish i could bottle up that feeling and sip it every now and then!

so very true

similar to FS Provence, i began communicating with Villa Gallici about dinner reservations while staying there. they, too, were very responsive and recommended & booked a fantastic restaurant for my one evening in Aix en Provence. (also to be reviewed in my eating post)

beautiful blue room

i prompted Villa Gallici as well that it was my birthday and upon arrival, after an easy check in (with an upgraded room!), i was brought yummy little sweet treats and some veuve clicquot champagne along with a handwritten note from the Managing Director welcoming me. the French know how to do it right!! kinda makes me wish i had a birthday more often!

birthday champagne - sante

Villa Gallici made sure i had a well-marked map and directions to all of my evening’s destinations. after a fun night out, i came back to Villa Gallici to find rose petals scattered about in my turned down sheets. how lovely. i was well attended to but left to enjoy Villa Gallici at my leisure. my only regret is that i didn’t have more time at this special place but i had to get onto Monaco.

TRIP TIP

if i’ve said it once, i’ll say it again. DO NOT hesistate to let the hotel know you are there for a special occasion (that is, of course, if you are)! it’s a very competitive business and i find that hotels across the board want your loyalty so it’s important to make you feel special.  the concierge is there to help you – so take advantage of that too. i haven’t asked for anything in my travels that i haven’t gotten or received help with. so ASK and YE SHALL RECEIVE!

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she wore a raspberry beret!

ooh lala lola

if you read my blog often enough you know that my trips are usually quick jaunts here & there. my getaway to France and Monaco was no different. you probably also know that lola likes her props…ie “the boa”.

when i started putting together my trip plans for France i decided i would need a beret (and hopefully a pink one) in order to really get into the French spirit. BUT i didn’t have time to go search this out. i needed to hit the ground running. plus, i thought it would be a fun exercise to see how much i could get the Four Seasons Provence concierge to do for me in advance of my arrival. BOY did they ever rise to the challenge! here’s what happened:

i asked via email about getting a beret to which i was told a nearby village had a store where i could get one. since this was the very same village where i’d be having dinner my first night in Provence, i figured it would be easy enough to pick up myself. next, the Four Seasons Provence concierge followed up with the store and apparently they were no longer carrying “proper berets”. this put the concierge on a mission to search high and low to find the nearest beret store and did indeed find one in Cannes (about 30 or so minutes from the resort). obviously, this wasn’t really convenient for me to obtain so the concierge personally went and fetched it for me and i had it perched on my little head less then 30 minutes after arriving at the Four Season Provence. how is that for service and making this girl’s French dreams come true?! 

MERCI BEAUCOUP, jean-jacques yonnet, for all of your effort!!! i love my beret AND, as it turns out, Provence was unseasonably cold so i needed it and wore it faithfully every day!

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