round portico of a stone church Santa Maria dell Pace Rome

The Sibyls, Santa Maria della 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...

red door in stone facade Paris

45 rue des Archives

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?...

cobblestone street pastel houses and shutters Arles

A Day Trip to 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...

fountain Ferris wheel Louvre museum cloudy sky

Aligning Expectations

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...

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

A Winter Day in Rome

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...

Rue de Sevigne ©ruedevarenne.com

The Marais: An unexpected meeting

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...

Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid ©ruedevarenne.com

Chocolatería San Ginés

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...

wooden doors surrounded by stone arch

Welcome to Rue de Varenne

The Rue de Varenne is a beautiful street lined with hôtels particuliers built mainly in the 18th century. It’s long and, except for a slight curve at one point, quite straight, with few shops or cafés. Many of the mansions are now private schools, government ministries, or embassies. The French Prime Minister’s resides at number 57. It’s jarring to...

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