Category Archives: Travel

Shortcut to Fabulous Paris Eating

Salad Nicoise from Le Chalet

I’ve just returned from a fresh trip to Paris during August when many of my favorite restaurants were closed. Many Parisians flee the city during the month of August and as a result many shops and restaurants are shuttered up for the month. I knew this going in, but still found myself disappointed when I called my favorite places to “manger” (French word for eat) and instead of being greeted by grumpy a Parisian “Bonjour,” I either got no answer or an answering machine. This forced me to explore a bit more and find some new haunts, which I am happy to say after a few horrible meals and lackluster shops, I have a new Paris round up to share! First up…the food!

For those who have never been to the city of lights and dream of wandering into a cafe on the Left Bank and having the meal of your life, let me jolt you out of your trance right now and tell you that dining in Paris is either a fabulous experience or simply awful. The culinary scene is one of extremes. I have yet to find an in between “so-so” meal in Paris; they have all either been really great or really, really awful. If you find yourself hungry while sightseeing and do not have a recommendation readily at hand, save yourself some anguish and the cash and stop in a Monoprix or a boulangerie and get the fixings for a picnic and enjoy a lovely meal in a local park.

Here is the list of food heavens I found on this trek to Paris in no particular order:

  • Alcazar- 62 Rue Mazarine  75006 Paris, France. +33 1 53 10 19 99. Metro Stop: Odean. You should make a reservation at this super chic eatery. It is bordering expensive, but not ridiculous like many of the Michelin star restaurants in Paris. Service is efficient and friendly and they do have English menus if you request them. I had cod fish that was cooked to perfection with coconut on a bed of mashed potatoes. It sounds a little strange, but it was delicious.

    Alcazar Dining Room

  • Le Chalet du 16theme 63 Rue de la Pompe 75016 Paris, France. Metro Stop: Rue de la Pompe. This is the perfect stop after some serious shopping at Reciprocique, the designer resale shop that is a complete heaven and takes up an entire city block. It is located just down the street and has really fresh salads. I ordered the Nicoise Salad and was greeted with the lovely plate photographed below. Waiters don’t speak English, so be prepared to dust off your French. The restaurant has a very authentic feel and is frequented by the fancy set that lives in the 16th Arrondissement.

    Salad Nicoise from Le Chalet

  • Mariage Freres- 30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, Paris 75004. Metro Stop: Hotel De Ville. This tea salon has a shop in the front and very elegant tea salon in the back topped off with a tea museum upstairs. It is pricey, but a legendary place with absolutely wonderful teas and desserts. They have a strawberry creme brûlée that made me fall in love with Paris all over again. There are multiple locations throughout Paris, but my favorite is the one in the Marais.

    Strawberry Creme Brûlée at Mariage Frères

  • Mon Thai- 84 Rue Montorgueil, Paris 75002. Metro Stop: Artes de Metiers. After days of rich French food it is nice to take a break and Mon Thai is a delicious place to take it! The food is fresh, tasty and best of all not expensive.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on shopping, both for food and fashion.

 

 

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Shortcut to Fabulous Rome Shopping: The Ultimate Rome Shopping Guide

wheretoshoprome4

Whenever I visit a city, I spend a day or two walking the city trying to discover new and unique shops and things you can’t find anywhere else. 15 years ago it was easy to find new and interesting shops and the farther away from home you were the more you would find, but now in the Internet era with homogenized mega brands like Zara and H & M, finding treasures that are uniquely identifiable with a particular city or locale is hard to do. Well, that is where I come in. I just LOVE to create ultimate shopping guides for the cities I visit and on a recent trip to Rome, I scoured the city and uncovered the best of the best for the absolute perfect day of shopping. The shopping tour I’ve mapped out below can be done on foot in day. It is a LOT of walking, but you will burn a ton of calories and so you can eat as much gelato as you want! Plus, you will really get to see parts of Rome that are not frequented by tourists and get the true flavor of the city. You can also use taxis and other public transport for this tour. Just plug in each address and your starting point on Google Maps to get directions. I started the shopping tour at the Spanish Steps, but again, you can start play around with the route from your hotel by plugging each location into Google maps.

1. Sermoneta Gloves- We start off the tour with this Italian leather glove store that just makes me giddy. There are gloves in a rainbow of colors in about every color you can imagine. Cashmere lined goes start at 65 Euro, but you can get unlined gloves starting at about 35 Euro. When you enter the store walk upstairs and the women behind the counter will look at your hands and tell you what size you are. Then they will pull out gloves in your size and you can try them on until you fall in love with a pair. You tell her you want them, she gives you a ticket and you go back downstairs to pay. Depending on the exchange rate, you can really save a ton of money buying the gloves here. At the time of this post a pair of cashmere lined gloves was 65 Euros in the store (about 81 USD) and $189 online. Piazza di Spagna 61

2. Anteprima- I literally gasped with glee when I saw this store and the bags inside. I started talking to myself like a crazy person and just kept repeating “OMG, these are exquisite, I need one” over and over again. Finally, the sales associate Sebrena Urbinati came over and snapped me out of my trance. I had never seen these bags before and I know why….they only have five flagship stores worldwide in Rome, Milan, two in Hong Kong and one in Tokyo. These bags are amazing and worth the trip to Rome just to see them. They are made out of recycled PCV but shimmer and shine like a precious jewel box. Honestly, this will be a vintage treasure if you buy it. The brand was started in 1993. The brand is Italian but the designer and inventor of the “wirebag” is Japanese and a genius. If these bags aren’t an “It” bag in a few years, I will be shocked. The best part…I am a proud owner. I bought my little baby for 205 Euros. I just couldn’t resist. I am weak, I know, but honestly when you see these bags you will really just gush at how spectacular they are and the fact that they are eco-friendly makes them even more chic. Via Del Babuino, 147

Anteprima

3. Discount Dell Alta Moda. If you are on the hunt for discount designer brands, you can find some here. Honestly, I was not over impressed with the stock or prices, but I was told this is one of THE places to find discount designer goods in Rome. I find the US has really amazing designer discount deals at places like Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but to get the Italian version check out this shop. They had cute stuff just nothing that made me swoon, but it is worth a looksie, so I have included it in the Ultimate Rome Shopping Tour. Via de Gesu Maria, 16A

4. Koster & B. I stumbled on the jewelry mecca filled with unique and affordable vintage inspired pieces and I gave my walled a workout. They have really beautiful pieces that are quality reproductions and original designs inspired by vintage pieces. Their collection of cameo jewelry and Etruscan and Roman jewelry reproductions are gorgeous and they have something for every taste and price point. Rings starting at 15 Euro. Villa della Scrofa, 46.

Koster & B

Koster & B

5. Vestiti Usati Cinzia. This store is on the same street as a string of other vintage shops and cute boutiques that is very near to Campo di Fiori and perfect place to stop for lunch. Vintage shopping in Europe can be a little spotty mainly because Europeans seem to hold onto things a little longer than we do, but the selection of vintage sunglasses and animal skin handbags in this shop was pristine! Via Del Governo Vecchio, 45.

Vestiti Usati Cinzia

6. Mado. This shop is small but full of personality including the owner who hand makes the jewelry bags in which your treasured purchases are lovingly packed. She carries a gorgeous selection of silk kimonos, vintage inspired and actual vintage jewelry pieces. Most of the shop seems to have 60′s and 70′s finds and the vintage necklaces were so amazing I almost fainted. Via del Governo Vecchio 89/a.

Mado

Mado

7. Omero & Cecilia Vestiti Vecchi. This shop carries bric a brac vintage. Nothing smells bad and you can negotiate if you pay cash. 110, Via del Governo Vecchio, 110.

8.Groove. Found the cutest, sassy fashion t-shirts in this small but well stocked shop. Sadly, all the shirts are in English with a few French sayings sprinkled in, but the shirts were different than anything I’ve seen in my travels and I couldn’t resist my own purchase of a tee myself. Via die Giubbonairi, 93.

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Shortcut to Fabulous Travel Planning Tips and Websites

Lori Riviere travel blogger

I am your go-to girl when it comes to planning fab travel…especially to Europe. I have been bopping around Europe since I was a kid. Whenever a girlfriend is planning a trip, I am on speed dial and I love every minute. I get in total nerd mode when planning a trip and spend hours researching to find the best restaurants, best shopping, best hidden treasures, walking tours, bicycle tours, spas, experiences, etc. I must admit I almost enjoy the planning part more than the actual trip…all those days of playing travel agent in my walk in closet as a kid clearly indicate I was a weird kid and grew into a weird adult!

 

Over the years, I have developed a list of no-fail tips for planning travel along and have a nice set of fab websites bookmarked. So without further adieu…here are my travel planning tips for you:

  • Merry, Merry Miles. Try to use miles to book first or business class on the way to your destination…or upgrade. Here is my rule. If the flight is over 6 hours, I want first or business class. I put absolutely EVERY purchase on a miles credit card and usually have enough to score a first or business class ticket to my destination. If I don’t have enough to book round trip, I choose biz or first class for my flight to the destination. Here is why: I want to be fresh as a daisy when I arrive so I can squeeze every ounce of fun out of my trip. You can’t beat a bed on a long haul flight to keep you fresh and help fight jet lag. On the way back, I almost want a coach ticket because then I am that much happier to be home after a miserable flight. (Fave website for tips on maximizing airline miles: The Points Guy)
  • Deals Dictate. Sometimes when I am feeling stingy, I let the deals do the talking when planning a trip. I do a quick google search to find out the destinations offering the best deals and plan from there. Since I am a big fan of European travel, I also sign up for deal alerts with Expedia, Orbitz, Smarter Travel, etc and also with companies like Gate1 and Go-Today. I went on a fab trip to Budapest and Vienna a few years ago using Go-Today and stayed in one of the cutest boutique hotels EVER in Vienna. What is great about Go-Today  is that you still get to plan your own trip and be an independent traveler, you are just getting their buying power to get a package deal on the hotel and flight.
  • Insure it Baby. Remember the Icelandic Volcano a few years ago in Europe? No? Well, I do because I was there, in the thick of things, on a trip with my mom. We were supposed to be flying to Paris, but because of the Volcano never could make it there and ended up having to retool our trip and book new hotels, flights, etc. We spent about $1000 to salvage our vacay, but luckily we recouped every penny because I was smart enough to get trip insurance. You are spending a lot on your vacation…it is completely worth it to spend a few hundred dollars to make sure you are covered for lost bags, cancelled flights, a toothache in France, etc. I used Insure my Trip to compare travel insurance offerings and pricing. Generally for every $5K you spend on a vacation, you will spend about $200 on travel insurance with “the works” as far as coverage goes. That is less than 5% of your total vacay cost.
  • Krazy for Kinkos. I learned this tip from my pal, Rick Steves. I get knee deep in guide books…I am partial to Rick Steves and Lonely Planet guidebooks. I make them my bedtime reading for months before a trip and then I run to Kinkos and make copies of all of the pages I might need. Why you ask? Well it leaves more room in my suitcase for shopping! I have tried to use my ipad, but it is not the same as having actual pages to flip through.
  • Strike a Pose. One of my best tips for traveler is to hire a local photographer to take your photos on your vacation. Often, they end up being part tour guide, part photographer and you end up with the most fabulous photographs that are better than any cheap “made in china” souvenir you could get in a junk shop. I detail the experience here. To find a photographer in your destination city google “engagement photos” and the name of the city or “wedding photos” and the name of the city. You can also try googling “photo tours” and the name of the city. If you are going to be in Vienna, I highly recommend Claire Morgan. If you are going to be in Paris, I highly recommend Christiane Michels.
  • Rely on Reviewers. I am a big fan of the boutique hotel. When in doubt, I go Starwood, usually W Hotels…the one in Istanbul is sick! Anyway, back to my penchant for boutique hotels…how do I find fab hotels? TripAdvisor my friends. I usually do a city search  on Trip Advisor and look specifically for Boutique Hotels. For food recs I like Chowhound and Virtual Tourist.
  • Go Global with your Cell Plan. Before a trip call your cell phone company and see if they have a global roaming package you can add for just one month. Most companies do and they range anywhere from $5 to over $100 depending on whether you are looking for data plans, texts, etc. I highly recommend the upgrade, because you don’t want to get slapped with unexpected fees cause your bff was texting you on her disastrous date.

Got questions? Drop me a line at editor{at}shortcutstofabulus{dot}com and I will answer…unless your questions are about porn or viagra :)

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Shortcut to Fabulous Key to Coed Travel- An Item you Never knew you Needed but you sooo do!

you go girl

Have you ever been on a trip with a boyfriend, lova’, your gay boyfriend or anyone for that matter and found yourself wishing they would leave the room to go get a cup of coffee so you can take care of some necessary “business?” I can’t believe I am writing about this…this is sooooooo not me, but I realized that I would be a really crappy (*) blogger if I didn’t share one of the secret items that should be on every girl’s packing list. The item: You Go Girl Toilet “Conditioner” The purpose: Keeping the illusion alive that your $hit don’t stink….literally…I know this is so gross so I am just going to quote from the package now, “Your business shouldn’t be anyone else’s. Reduce bathroom anxiety on airplanes, restaurants or at work with You Go Girl. Just pour a packet into the toilet before use to mask embarrassing odors, dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Biodegradable, phosphate-free formula is safe to flush, and each packet is small enough to carry discreetly in your purse, day bag or pocket, so you can feel confident taking care of business away from home. 10-pack.”  Where to get it: One of my favorite online travel stores, Magellans, click here to check it out. A ten pack is $12.85. Why you Need it: Well if it isn’t obvious why this isn’t the greatest item you never knew you needed, then you are clearly way more secure about yourself than the rest of us and Dr. Oz is very proud.

* Yes, I went there with the silly pun…I know maje cheeseball, but I was so uncomfortable writing this blog post, I went from zero to cheese in under 30 seconds. Please excuse. I am going to go die now…Mom I know you read my blog and I know I was not raised to discuss these topics in public…didn’t learn this one in etiquette school, but it is a public service for all womankind :)

 

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Shortcut to Fabulous Henri Bendel Sale with some Must have Summer Travel Items

Henri Bendel's Summer Sale

I know I have been on a bit of a travel kick lately. Here’s what: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE travel and I know this is blasphemy to say, but I am not a huge fan of summer fashion. As I type I am sure the Fashion Gods are stripping me of my magical “editor of a blog” powers, but the thing is that I just look better in winter clothes and since it is so hot in the summer my allergy to exercise and anything that causes sweat results in weight gain which has me dreading bikini season. Anyhow, this is all besides the point..yes there is a point….Henri Bendel is having their Brown and White sale right now and there are a few items on my gotta have it list that are perfect for travel:

The absolute perfect travel accessory to avoid a meltdown…of your make-up that is. Marked down from $58 to $29…this is a no brainer

Such a fan of this travel tote that it is my third pick in an animal print below. This bag will fit all the essentials you need to board an airplane and lead a jet set life…on a budget of course. Marked down from $178 to $89.

The sassy little sister to the Black tote above…this little number will help you take a walk on the wild side. Marked down from $168 to $84, this is perfect summer accessory for planes, trains and automobiles.

 

 

 

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Shortcut to a Fabulous day NYC

Shortcuts to Fabulous (revised) from Inferno Concepts on Vimeo.

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Shortcut to Fabulous Chic Beach Towels

Screen shot 2012-07-02 at 8.42.06 AM

Now that summer is officially here and 4th of July is just days away, it is time to make sure your beach gear is as cute as you are! I am not a beach person…my skin is sensitive and truth-be-told, I would rather be pasty white than have wrinkles, but I do head to the beach a few times a year, and when I go a good beach towel that distracts from my cellulite is kind of a necessity. Here are the towels on my summer crush list:

 

This Reserved towel is perfect for beaches with beach chairs or better yet cruises! $27.17

As a blogger, I am obliged to include this towel...plus the $9.99 price tag makes it a no-brainer

Towel and vintage fashion art all in one....$49 from Zappos

I might be a Madame these days, but don't mind if I do partake in this presh Mademoiselle towel

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