A Day in Madrid: El Rastro and La Latina neighborhood

archway steps street hill stone buildings

European open-air flea markets hold a special allure. They offer the tantalizing promise of discovery among objects once held dear and abandoned as families dissolved, tastes changed, or new technologies emerged. They illuminate the old ways and values of a culture; which, being from a young and often rootless country, we Americans often romanticize. I happened upon my first open-air flea market, El Rastro, years ago during my first trip to Madrid. The largest flea market in Spain and perhaps in all of Europe is held every Sunday and...

The Sibyls, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome

round portico of a stone church Santa Maria dell Pace Rome

Tucked between the Piazza Navona and via dei Coronari, in my favorite area of Rome, sit Santa Maria della Pace and the Chiostro del Bramante. After visiting these two gems, my slow travel itinerary would include meandering through the lanes, visiting antique shops on via dei Coronari, and enjoying lunch at an outdoor table while admiring Renaissance and Baroque architecture and watching locals go about their day. Italy is full of surprises and below is one of my most treasured memories of Rome. My father was a poet and...

Finding Satie in Paris

portico of 18th century Saint-Ephrem church Paris

On our second night in Paris, the piano concert program at Église Saint-Éphrem-le-Syriaque in the Latin Quarter included Satie, Chopin, and Beethoven. Almost exactly four years ago to the day, we’d attended our first classical concert in a Parisian church there, all six of Bach’s Cello Concertos, one of our most treasured memories. Filled with anticipation, we retraced our steps down Boulevard Saint-Germain and up the hill. Turning onto rue des Carmes, the brightly lit dome of the Pantheon beckoned. We easily found the church gate and walked into...

45 rue des Archives

red door in stone facade Parisfa

Unbeknownst to me, I was following in the footsteps of Eugene Atget yet again when this lovely red door at 45 rue des Archives caught my eye. I love the deep yet vibrant red lacquered door contrasted with the weathered stone archway and worn cobblestones. Where does this door lead? Who has walked by and through it over the years? I decided to learn more and discovered a rich and varied history that led me to current events in Paris. In the 13th century, the area now known as the...

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...

Happy Birthday, RUE DE VARENNE

view from window light iron scroll work autumn trees

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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