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Paris Greeters Program – Meeting The Friendly French, No Kidding

Paris Greeters, a volunteer organization of amiable Parisians who look forward to welcoming visitors to their city are changing the impression that Paris is a less than friendly city, one tour at a time, every day.

As Linda and I make our away across the city from the broad perfumed boulevards of the Champs Elysee to the gritty, lyrical lanes of the Left Bank,  we are giddy with anticipation.  We are about to meet a new friend that we met a few weeks ago online thanks to the Paris Greeters organization.  Our Paris Greeter / guide, Laurent, has volunteered to show us his city on this particular Saturday afternoon.  We’ve been in touch by email to set a time and place to meet, discussed our mutual interests, and exchanged photos so we can recognize each other outside the Metro station.

Within minutes of meeting we are talking, laughing and already appreciating the nuances of Left Bank neighborhoods and seeing French culture through new eyes.  Beyond a litany of Louis’ and their royal accomplishments (how DO they keep 18 Louis straight?) we stroll by a Pierre Herme´ pastry shrine  (you really can’t call it a bake shop when there are 50 people waiting in line to get in the door!); Paris Market - Wild Asparagusthen on to Gelati D’Alberto where the iced delights look like rose blossoms, and  of course we can’t resist ogling the decadent cheeses and fragrant produce at an open market.  Oh to be a Parisian on market day! Laurent schools us on choosing restaurants to dine in, “NEVER enter a restaurant that has ‘French Cuisine’ on the sign or menu”, he admonishes,  “they are just for poor unsuspecting tourist!”

World's Most Luscious Food Markets

Local food markets give a glimpse into the soul of a destination.  The crops that local farmers grow and the culinary creations that food artisans produce speak to the history of the location and the traditions of its citizens.  Nothing is more pleasing and engrossing than roaming among the stalls of a neighborhood farmer’s market or the grand food halls of a metropolitan city.  In China I was almost afraid to look (bugs on a stick?!), in Vancouver the smells and colors were dazzling, in Hawaii I found vegetables I had never seen before in my life, and the markets in Rome and Paris were sensuous.  Now that it’s harvest time around the world, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a luscious food market wherever you roam – here are some of the world’s favorites:

Americas
New York
Chelsea Market, a hub of foodie activity
San Francisco
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, large Organics Markets, operates 3 times per week
New Orleans – Crescent City Farmers Market
, Uptown and Downtown fabulous fruits
Seattle – Freemont Sunday Market
– more than fruits & veggies – treasures of all description
Hawaii – Hawaii Farmers Markets Online, several gorgeous markets on every island
Vancouver – Granville Island Public Market
, The ethnic diversity of Vancouver makes this market a sensory explosion
Mexico City –
Mercado de la Merced, nirvana for chili pepper lovers – every color of the rainbow!

5 Fun and Surprising Outdoor Activities in Paris

Beach It In Paris – yes, Paris!
Each July and August since 2002, Paris creates its own beaches right along the banks of the River Seine (by the Pont Neuf, Notre-Dame and Pont au Change).  Industrious crews bring in over 3,000 tons of sand to create an urban beach right along the city’s beloved Seine River, for all Parisians (and visitors) to soak up some rays and participate in (my favorite activity) – eye popping people watching!  But it doesn’t stop with sand – we’re talking palm trees, chaise lounges, umbrellas, hammocks, wifi, games and books, grassy lawns and raised decking – a sun lovers paradise for sure!  Find all the details at Paris Plage
Swim The Seine, really – no pollution involved
A number of giant swimming barges (floating swimming pools) have been anchored along the banks of the Seine creating the illusion of being able to swim in the river.  Perhaps the most notable is the Josephine Baker, where a 25 meter pool can delight 375 swimmers at once.  After your refreshing swim, relax in the cafe, on the sun deck, or work out in the gym facilities.  Their sliding roof makes this spot perfect on any day, in any weather.  Here’s where you can find all the info on the Josephine Baker Swimming Pool.

World’s Best Chocolate Vacations!

For everyone who loves chocolate as much as I do, it's time to plan a vacation swirling with chocolate tours and adventures. Nothing matches the euphoric lift after munching on a creamy chocolate delight. Here are eight destinations for immersing yourself in...