Good news for those of you living in France: the newly enacted “Loi Hamon” allows consumers to easily – and without any fees – change their car, motorcycle, home or rental insurance providers at any time after one year. That means no more complicated “resiliation” procedures, registered letters or penalty fees if, after the initial year, you find a better offer elsewhere.
It’s hard enough fining a hotel that fulfills the three ideal requirements of location, price and comfort, but then you have to worry about exactly which room you’re going to get (unless of course you book the Shangri-La’s eponymous “Suite Shangri-La”, in which case you should invite me for apéro, I’ll bring the Champagne!).
But now there’s a website, MyRoomIn, which lets you reserve the specific room you want from over 300 extraordinary hotel rooms in Paris. This is particularly interesting because many Parisian hotels have one or two very unique rooms that are unlike any others, and MyRoomIn highlights them all in one place, allowing you to search using over 100 filters to help you narrow down the choices (bed size, view, check-in/out hours, amenities, equipment, decorative vibe, etc).
And the best part is that the team behind MyRoomIn are all locals with experience in the tourism industry, so they know firsthand the best properties in Paris, hand pick each room to be included on the site, and send their own photographer to perfectly capture each one in detail, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Very few hotel booking sites offer this kind of local expertise and transparency, I highly recommend it.
It’s getting cheaper and more comfortable to travel by bus around France and Europe.
Isilines is a new coach service by Eurolines offering very cheap fares on bus routes that aren’t already covered by Eurolines, and in many cases allowing you to travel between small French towns without having to be routed through big cities like Paris, Lyon, or Marseille which is usually the case when taking the train).
The rates for one-way tickets fluctuate depending on the dates, but with their chart it’s easy to see when the cheapest fares are available. Just a quick glance I found the following fares: Paris to Lille €5, Paris to Bordeaux €14, Paris to Aix-en-Provence €18.
Superior Comfort and Amenities
All busses have free WiFi, electric and USB outlets, personal fold-down table, a/c and light control (like in an airplane), no charge for bags, and huge comfy seats that recline. All stations are in city centers, so no more airport shuttles, and buses actually go slow enough to enjoy the views of the French countryside (ever try taking a photo from the window of a TGV zipping through sunflower fields at 275km/h?) If you've got the time, it can be a great way to travel, see the countryside, and avoid the busy airports and train stations.
Isilines only covers France (they’ll be adding more stations through 2016). You can also check out the European-wide routes offered by Eurolines and the the SNCF-operated OuiBus (formerly known as iDBus) wich has a 15 or 30-day pass covering 53 European cities.
Didn't get tickets to this year's three-day Rock-en-Seine music festival in the Domaine de St-Cloud just outside Paris? You can now watch the concerts live in streaming and archived here on the CultureBox feed throughout the duration of the festival, including The Libertines, The Offspring, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand & Sparks, The Chemical Brothers, and Hot Chip, among many more. Starting Friday August 28th, stay tuned!
"Behind a packed shop of plush animals, in the 14th district of Paris, is Patrick - "Monsieur Peluche" - an amazingly friendly and chatty man you wouldn't expect to own a toy shop. This two minute portrait video specifically was made for the Sony FS7 competition in Europe during the month of November 2014. Patrick, however, did not want his face to be filmed - which provided an interesting challenge that ended up a part of the creative narrative."
Tout en Peluche
39 rue Raymond Losserand, 14th
Tel 09 52 18 22 51
If you're near the Centre Pompidou, don't miss the Sergeant Paper Art Store (38 rue Quincampoix, 4th), a concept store which promotes and sells original art prints and screen prints by well-known and up-and-coming artists in the field of urban arts, graphic arts and illustration. They are priced to be accessible, in limited editions signed by the artists.
You can find prints by the internationally-renowned street artists like Shepard Fairey (of "Obey" and Obama"Hope" poster fame), screen prints of music festival posters like the Gallows from Hellfest, and cool vintage-style posters reminiscent of the old French Chemin de Fer publicity posters from the artist Mads Berg.
Shepard Fairey art posters with a Rodchenko touch.
Hellfest poster for Gallows and Mads Berg art print.
You can purchase their artworks online to be shipped, or you can pick them up in the boutique. The sturdy mailing tube and certificate of authenticity are included with every purchase. They also sell art books and organic cotton t-shirts, scarves, hats, etc. under their Paris-made brand Sergeant Cotton. Open Tues-Sat, noon-8pm.
As an aside, you should visit the Rue Quincampoix even if you're not shopping for prints. I have always loved this historic, virtually car-free cobblestone street, almost always calm despite being in the center of Paris. When I was a student in the 1990s I would hang out with my friends at L'Imprévu, a quirky little café and bar at the bottom of the street that has barely changed in 20 years.
When I first got married and worked at ELLE.com I lived right around the corner on the Rue du Grenier St-Lazare, and always preferred taking the Rue Quincampoix to avoid walking through the ugly 1970s modernism of the Quartier de l'Horloge next to it (although I still like the old Défenseur du Temps).
Aside from the Starbucks on the corner of the largest intersection, most of the street remains populated by art galleries, hidden little bars, and specialty shops (spraypaint, craft beer, Japanese calligraphy, nuts).