Get your French on for Bastille Day
You don't necessarily have to board a transatlantic flight to get your Francophile fix for Bastille Day.
July 14, France's Independence Day, has become just as much of an excuse for us to indulge in all things French — baguettes and brie, champagne and wine, Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf, anyone? — on this side of the pond as it has in France.
In fact, the French government is encouraging it with the launch this year of Destination France Day, a new annual tradition aimed at positioning Bastille Day as a worldwide event to celebrate France as a travel destination. For its kick-off year, parties are being hosted in Paris, New York and Shanghai, with guests in New York encouraged to wear something blue, those in Paris wearing white and in Shanghai, red (in honor of the French flag).
The soirée bleue in New York will feature a blue-themed fashion show and live musical performances at the Hudson Terrace. The soirée blanche in Paris will take place at a private apartment with views of the Eiffel Tower and the Bastille Day fireworks. And, in Shanghai at the House of Roosevelt, the soirée rouge will feature a French-themed photo exhibit and performances. For more information about Desination France Day, contact the French Government Tourist Office.
But there are other ways to celebrate your inner monsieur or mademoiselle closer to home. Bastille Day has become an annual custom in many cities across the U.S. There is the Bastille Day Los Angeles Festival on July 17, and Bastille Day on 60th Street in New York on July 10. Chicagoans celebrate with a Bastille Day 5K & 8K Run, Walk and Block Party.
In New Orleans, the city's historic French Quarter is abuzz with events for Bastille Day, including a Bastille Day music event and the 2nd Annual French Market Waiters Race. Brooklyn, N.Y. has an annual petanque tournament (similar to bocce ball) and street festival hosted by local restaurant Bar Tabac, which takes place on July 10 on Smith Street.
The Alliance Francaise is a non-profit organization that promotes the French language and culture with chapters across the country. Check to see if your local Alliance Francaise chapter is hosting a party or event near you.
And if you want a replica of the real thing, why not head to Paris Las Vegas? Or, perhaps pack up the car and head north to the French-speaking Canadian cities of Montreal or Quebec City. Or, if all this talk of France has inspired you, try your luck with Air France's late summer sale. Pourquoi pas?
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The Budget Travel Convert...Reporting from Greece
Hobart Fowlkes, our "Budget Travel Convert," is a high–end jetsetter by trade, budget globetrotter by choice. He reports regularly on the best (and most affordable) experiences and hotels around the world. Today he updates us on a recent trip to Athens and Mykonos where he spent time admiring the Parthenon in Athens and watching the sun set, cocktail in hand, in Mykonos. See photos from my trip to Greece FIRST STOP, ATHENS... I arrived in Athens mid–morning on a nonstop flight from JFK. I had slept the whole way, but nevertheless when I got to my insanely cheap hotel on Euripidou St. in Plaka (the old part of town at the bottom of the Acropolis), I was ready to hit the hay for a few hours. If you haven't been to Athens before, beware—official Athenian taxis will only charge you a flat fare of EUR35 ($50) to the center of town, so do NOT fall for any sneaky tricksters who might try to take you for anything more. I was in Athens for just 24 hours before I headed out to Mykonos. On my one full day in the city, I meandered through the vast park that leads to the giant stone plateau which was once the site of the holiest temples in the Greek world (for the life of me I can't remember the name of the park). From up there you can enjoy amazing panoramic views of Athens all the way to the port of Pireaus and the Aegean Sea. Descending back into the narrow streets of Plaka I made frequent stops for iced cappucino frappés and my favorite Greek invention of yogurt with walnuts and honey! Oh those Greeks can work wonders with honey! Where I stayed: I checked into Hotel Euripides, which is a very bare bones property with 62 rooms—I had air conditioning, a TV, and a little balcony overlooking a restaurant called O Telis that serves only pork chops (more on this in a bit). 79 Euripidou Street, 011/30-210-3212301-2, evripideshotel.gr How much I paid: My double room cost $83 per night. Why I recommend it: The hotel is simple, but the neighborhood it's in is very charming and quaint (filled with cute shops and restaurants). Unfortunately, Euripidou Street, where the hotel is located, is like one big, seedy strip that bisects Plaka. But on a positive note it's covered with the most amazing graffiti I have ever seen! My favorite part of the hotel is the roof terrace, where complimentary breakfast is served daily from 7 to 10AM. The meal consists of the usual continental spread, but all I really needed was a cup of strong coffee and the corner table that has the best view of the Parthenon in town. But back to the restaurant across the street that serves only pork chops. That was definitely a highlight for me. Since they serve only pork chops and have been in business for more than 30 years they have had plenty of time to perfect the preparation of said chops. So awesome are their pork chops that Neil Armstrong (YES, the astronaut) ate there once in 1997 and sat in exactly the chair where I sat! How do I know that?? Well, first of all my waiter told me so upon discovering my nationality and seating me at that table. Thinking me to be incredulous, he dug out a folder filled with yellowed newspaper clippings from Athenian dailies in the late 1990's to prove the point. Knowing that the very tush that once wiggled out of the Apollo 11 onto the face of the moon, had actually once warmed the very plastic chair into which was nestled my very own tush was enough to make those already delicious pork chops sublime. O Telis, 86 Evripidou, Koumoundourou Square, Athens, 011/30-210-324-2775, dinner from $15 (including a greek salad, pork chop, and a bottle of water) THEN, ON TO MYKONOS... Next up was Mykonos. With my budget in mind, I opted to travel via ferry boat even though there are regular flights to Mykonos. Just steps from the Hotel Euripides there is a subway that takes you directly to Piraeus where the ferries depart. There are high speed ferries ($172 one way) and there are regular ferries ($100 one way). I chose the high speed ferry on the Aegean Pelagos line. The total trip took about four hours. Ferries.gr Upon arriving in the town of Chora in Mykonos, I was met by a man from the hotel that I had chosen for myself: The Hotel Petasos. That was a good thing too because it's very easy to get lost in Chora (apparently it was deliberately designed as a labyrinth in an effort to confuse and perplex pirates who might invade). Where I stayed: The 18 room Petasos Town hotel in Chora. How much I paid: My room was $139 per night. 011/30-22890-22608, petasos.gr Why I recommend it: Not only is the hotel very clean and charming, it is in a perfect location, just steps from the center of the port of Chora. Petasos Beach, which is the sister property, is located on a beach about a 20 minutes drive in a shuttle bus. It's a bit tonier than the town one, but the good news is that as a guest of the Town hotel you are free to use all of the facilities at the beach property. I could have spent all of my time at the Petasos Beachproperty, but I found myself a lot more comfortable renting a car (EUR30/day) from a nice man about 100 meters up the street from Petasos Town Hotel, just opposite another awesome property called the Rochari Hotel. With a car you are free to explore the island and discover all of the various beaches,each of which has its own unique personality. 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