Vegan and Gluten-free: Paris

vegan gluten free restaurant interior Paris

You may think it would be miserable to visit Paris as a vegan with gluten sensitivity. However, I have successfully navigated the culinary gem with this lifestyle, staying true to my values and not getting sick while enjoying amazing food. In recent years, restaurants catering to these foods have been opening regularly in Paris. Although it takes time to research the options, it is time well spent to reduce frustration and missteps. Here are 5 tips for planning a delicious vegan and gluten-free vacation in Paris, though they apply to any city. RESEARCH & PREPARATION 1. Instagram Instagram is a wonderful place to learn about restaurants, see photographs of their food, and read mini reviews. Discoveries are made organically over time and it doesn’t feel like a chore. I follow the Instagram accounts of vegan restaurants, gluten-free restaurants, and people who live these lifestyles in Paris. Then I explore the associated websites of those I find intriguing and bookmark ones I want to try. The most influential person I have met through Instagram is...

Happy Birthday, RUE DE VARENNE

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A year ago today I published my first post on RUE DE VARENNE. Suddenly, my reflections, travel tips, and photographs had a place to come together and be shared with others. As a child writing poems and stories in my bedroom, and a creative writing major in college just before the internet became widely available, I never imagined I’d reach so many people from all over the world. Thank you for reading and for your support! I hope RUE DE VARENNE not only provides useful travel tips but also provokes thought and dialogue about travel preferences, aspirations, and the things we carry with us long after the trip has passed. A yoga teacher once said, “yoga is a practice, not a perfect.” The phrase can also apply to travel. Casting aside notions of “perfect” and “should” opens possibilities for new experiences and a lighter heart. We just returned from an amazing time in Paris. There were a few romantic rainy days, which we adored. On others, the late autumn light and shadows were breathtaking,...

A Day in the Jardin du Luxembourg: Part 2

pink flowers urn park Jardin du Luxembourg

On the cusp between summer and fall, the Jardin du Luxembourg teemed with life enjoying the last days of mild weather, though dark clouds threatened impromptu showers. On the far side of the pond we settled into a couple chairs to watch the scenes of an idyllic Parisian Sunday afternoon play out before us. Students and young adults unencumbered by children lounged in the distance, soaking up the sun, laughing, and having picnics on the one lawn on which they allow people to tread. Couples of all ages and small groups of friends strolled slowly, heads bent in conversation. Families congregated around the water where children have enjoyed sailing miniature boats since 1927. We became engrossed with them and their boating dramas, the dynamics so different from those in the U.S. Children ran in little packs ahead of their parents, and we tried to guess to whom they belonged. They had their own way of deciding who got to use the big stick to pull in a boat. Toddler’s hands weren’t held tight next...

A Day in the Jardin du Luxembourg: Part 1

park pink petunias stone urns balustrade chairs trees Jardin du Luxembourg

We enjoyed another amazing brunch of avocado toast, bright green vegetable laden risotto, juice and coffee at Judy’s. Sitting next to the window we watched the Sunday rhythm of the street, people walking dogs, families on their way to a day of fun, people sunning themselves on the terrace across the street. As we left the restaurant the Jardin du Luxembourg, or Luxembourg Gardens, beckoned from the end of rue de Fleurus. We’d planned to spend the afternoon at the Musee d’Orsay, but it was too beautiful a day to spend indoors. There were only a few clouds in the sky and it was warm enough not to wear a jacket in the sun. It’s a decision we’ll never regret. Sometimes you need to throw your itinerary out the window to have the time of your life. We’ll never forget our day in the Jardin du Luxembourg. As we entered the shaded path, we looked up into the bright green umbrella of light through the leaves while crushing the first fallen leaves of autumn. There...

A Day Trip to Arles

cobblestone street pastel houses and shutters Arles

As the train pulled into the station at Arles on a mild November morning, I found myself entirely unprepared. I’d set off for a day trip to Arles from Montpellier on a whim, intending to go where the wind blew me, finding joy in discovering things for myself, a true flâneur. Usually I do more planning, but it had been an extremely difficult few months, and I was exhausted. I knew Van Gogh had lived in Arles for a time, had painted prolifically, cut off his ear, and was institutionalized in the asylum. However, I didn’t have a map or know where to find the places he’d painted. I recalled reading there were none of his paintings in Arles so I had no hope of seeing one (see Travel Tip section below, this has since changed); but I still wanted to see the scenes he’d painted, visit the Arles Roman Amphitheatre, and wander in a charming little town in Provence. An elderly woman in a red sweater set off to the left pulling a...

Aligning Expectations

fountain Ferris wheel Louvre museum cloudy sky

I’ve discovered that, for me, the key to planning enjoyable and meaningful travel experiences is beginning with realistic expectations. There are many reasons to travel, styles and personalities of travelers, experiences each person wishes to have, and perhaps different physical needs. Acknowledging these factors and aligning my expectations allows me greater focus when planning an itinerary. I’ve learned to tailor the experience based upon who will be on the trip, our various needs, capabilities, and desires. Aligning expectations enables me to appreciate each experience for what it is meant to be, to be present in the moment, and not feel as though I ought, or want, to be doing something else. When I first traveled alone I covered an insane amount of ground in a day, starting out at 9 a.m. and not returning to the hotel until late in the evening, perhaps even 9:00-10:00 p.m. in the summer months when it stayed light so late. This was mainly because I had limited time between work obligations; but also, because I fell prey to...

A Winter Day in Rome

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome river bridge angels ancient Roman building sunset

One night, I dreamed that I was alone in the darkened streets of Rome. Rounding a corner, there was the Pantheon, lit up in the night, its enormity and beauty breathtaking. Stunned, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see it if only in a dream. What was I doing there? Why was I alone? It would be ten years before I knew. In December 1999, I traveled with artwork lent to an exhibition at the Chiostro del Bramante, my first trip to Europe alone. After a two-day journey, in the still dark early morning hours, my taxi made its way down the narrow via dei Pastini to the Hotel Pantheon. Beyond exhausted, my limbs trembled as I undressed and got into bed; once I lay down my heartbeat racked my body. It felt wonderful to be still in my small, elegant room. I wondered about all the incarnations the building had undergone over the centuries, and who had lived and died there. Determined to make the most of two free days before...

The Marais: An unexpedted meeting

Rue de Sevigne ©ruedevarenne.com

Many travelers love getting to know people wherever they go. However, when traveling alone I tend to keep to myself for safety’s sake. I have, however, been blessed to meet some incredible people, particularly colleagues, but also a small handful strangers. I once had an unusual experience in the Place des Vosges, in the Marais district of Paris, that reminded me not to close myself off altogether. In 2005, I was in Paris working on an exhibition of photographs at the Mémorial de la Shoah. Located in the Marais, a neighborhood that had a Jewish community from medieval times, and from which many people were deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The museum and cultural center focuses on the French perspective of the Holocaust. The artist was Josef Breitenbach, a Jewish photographer from Munich who moved to Paris in 1934 to escape persecution. However, after Germany invaded France, he was sent to work camps as his German citizenship was revoked. One of the lucky, in 1941 he was able to emigrate...

Slow travel: A Nap in Paris

Slow travel: A nap in Paris ©ruedevarenne.com

Last summer, as we prepared for our fall trip to Paris, we decided to put the slow travel philosophy into practice. For the past couple of years, I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts about the slow living movement. It encompasses elements of mindfulness, inspiring you to be selective about how you spend your time, to take life at a more leisurely pace, and to focus on the present moment. Slow living leads to a less cluttered mind and feeling more connected to your life. A natural outgrowth, the slow travel movement encourages you to stay in one place for a while and get to know it, to do the things you really want to do, to leave space in your itinerary for serendipity, and to rest when you feel the need. Our plan was put to the test early on. After a lengthy, chaotic entry at Charles de Gaulle Airport, where it took an hour and a half to get through customs and collect our baggage, and then another hour to get our train tickets into...

Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid © 2018 ruedevarenne.com

Tucked in a pedestrian passage off of the Puerta del Sol and attached to Iglesia San Ginés, the Chocolatería San Ginés has served chocolate con churros since 1894. This interpretation may not be what many are used to, but the combination is divine. The hot chocolate is similar to a rich, dark pudding; rather than a beverage, it’s used as a dipping sauce for the long pieces of golden fried dough. The churros, an unembellished close relative of Mexican churros, are crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside, allowing the chocolate flavor to shine. Each time I’ve returned to Chocolatería San Ginés, it has lived up to my expectations. One particular visit to stands out though. Routed through Madrid on a business trip in January 2012, I was in town for only one evening. Even though I had to be up early the next morning, rather than order room service and watch television at my airport hotel, I took the short taxi ride into the city to enjoy a few of my favorite things...

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