Paris on the half shell: Two great places for oysters
The temperature has fallen, signaling the end of our Indian summer. The sun shines on, but your breath is visible in the crisp fall air. This sort of weather is perfect for many things: crunching leaves underfoot in the Tuileries, sipping hot chocolate at Angelina's, and slurping raw oysters while sitting on the hood of a car.
If that last one doesn't seem obvious, you haven't yet been to Le Baron Rouge. This lively bar à vins draws a crowd year-round with its friendly atmosphere and inexpensive wine. Weekends are packed with shoppers who have stopped in a visit to the Marché d'Aligre. But during oyster season (now through April), this place is positively bursting at the seams. Jubilant locals pack the sidewalk and street, balancing oysters in one hand and Muscadet in the other. Plastic crates become makeshift tables, and lidded bins become littered with glasses of wine. It is, in other words, a scene.
In cold weather like this I also love L'Écume St.-Honoré. Just steps away from some of the swankiest shopping in Paris, this simple fish shack can seem a little out of place. A working poissonnerie with just a few tables in the back, it becomes unexpectedly boisterous during the apéro hour. Manicured shoppers and suits spill out onto the sidewalk, tossing back bi-valves and licking their fingers.
Oysters are often associated with luxury and special occasions. They're a prime feature of the Paris brasseries, which serve them on silver platters in gleaming art déco surroundings. Nonetheless, my favorite oyster experiences remain rowdy and unrefined. Standing on the sidewalk and slurping shellfish is a decidedly Parisian experience. It's also easy on the wallet—a plate of six oysters with buttered rye and a crisp Muscadet will run you €11 ($14) at L'Écume St.-Honoré.
Le Baron Rouge 1 rue Théophile Roussel, 12th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-43-14-32
L'Écume St.-Honoré 6 rue du Marché-St.-Honoré, 1st arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-61-93-87
Mammoth Mountain already open for skiing
Ready or not, winter has hit eastern California. A weekend storm blanketed the Sierra Nevada with up to 18 inches of snow and inspired staff at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to open today—10 days ahead of schedule. The resort offers discounted early season lift tickets ($52 for adults, $39 for teens, $26 for kids and seniors) and a First Tracks package with lift tickets and accommodations from $99 per person per night. Good news for skiers in the L.A. area: Daily hour-long flights on Horizon Air between L.A. and Mammoth Airport begin on December 18 with introductory fares of $79 each way. Airport-hotel transfers are free for those staying at a Mammoth Mountain property. MORE SKIING COVERAGE - Ski Deals, With Lodging, From $125 - Whistler and Jackson Hole Go to New Heights
A few good links: Saving some cash in Boston, and more
A few travel stories that caught my eye this past week: Kentucky's Bourbon Trail This 225-mile tour of distilleries makes an "offbeat version of a day out in California's Napa Valley." [Lonely Planet] 50 of the World's Best Budget Hotels Chains from huge to tiny get attention here. [Telegraph, via Happy Hotelier] Historic Boston has great haunts, on the cheap Dedicated last month: a "string of parks and fountains" made possible by the Big Dig. [Boston Globe] Auf Wiedersehen, Tempelhof Berlin's Tempelhof Airport closes, but not without protests. [BBC] Nova Scotia's pre-Jurassic park Fossil-hunting in the Maritime Provinces [Christian Science Monitor] Redeem your Marriott loyalty points now The program will likely get stingier next year [Loyalty Traveler] The airline industry by the numbers The average U.S. low-cost carrier lost about a $1 after expenses every time they flew a passenger this year. Worldwide, the average airline lost $12 loss per passenger. [Foreign Policy]
San Francisco: The Good Hotel introduces the "philanthropy concierge"
What happened to the ordinary hotel concierge? Westin Hotels have "running concierges;" London's Milestone Hotel has a "pet concierge;" and the new 117-room Good Hotel in San Francisco is debuting the "philanthropy concierge." Living up to its name, the completely renovated hotel in the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood offers guests immediate access to local volunteer opportunities via a dedicated phone in the lobby. On the other end of the line, One Brick, a local non-profit, acts as a personal voluntourism guide, presenting a menu of opportunities for visitors to help the city during their stay. Guests can find a task that suits their interests, with options such as planting grass and flowers around the San Francisco Bay or sorting food with Feeding America. The management company Joie de Vivre also stocked the hotel with furniture constructed from reclaimed materials—including headboards made from 100 percent reclaimed wood, lamps made from recycled water bottles, and a table made from skateboards. Plus, with doubles from $89/night (including Wi-Fi access), it looks like the hotel is shaping up to be a pretty good deal. MORE ON BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN SAN FRANCISCO Fill out an online quiz at Joie de Vivre's website, and it'll suggest which one of its roughly 30 hotels may most closely match your personality. Curious about the neighborhood where any hotel is located? Then watch one of the site's professionally produced videos about local attractions. Want to make a friend of a fellow traveler? Then look through the profiles of other guests who have visited the hotel.
The Great Pumpkin of Halloween roundups
Happy Halloween! Before it's time to start ladling out—or getting sick from—too many Zip Poppers and Head Pops, here are a few seasonally appropriate links: Spooky Walking Tours [Budget Travel] Halloween-themed Hotel Deals [BT] Uncommon Lodging in Transylvania [BT] Frankenstein's castle offers Halloween chills [CNN] "No Trick or Treat" Posters Issued by Police Such as it is, Halloween is rowdy in the UK, and these posters are intended to help the anti-Halloween crowd keep their treats without the danger of tricks, such as having their house egged. [Exmouth Herald] World's Weirdest Hotels [BT] Wacky Festivals [BT] Underground Tours [BT] Theme Parks Celebrate Halloween [MSNBC] Find haunted prisons online for Halloween [Northwest Herald] Sleep with a Ghost This Halloween Haunted inns [Gadling] World's Best Costume Parties [Concierge] A Las Vegas Halloween, with spooks of all kinds "There's even a haunted casino for folks who don't find the real gambling halls scary." [Los Angeles Times] 13 Great Travel Horror Movies Alien (?!) yes, but no love for Hostel… [World Hum]
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