Articles by Barbara Diggs
Of all the ultra-cool things about the German capital, Berlin, here’s what I think is coolest: You don’t actually have to be cool to partake of the hip scene. Sure, like anywhere, failing to have neon-blue hair or a withering stare may bar you from certain places. But generally, to experience some of the trendiest restaurants, bars, and clubs, you need only know how to find them…literally.
Sarah Towle never meant to become an entrepreneur. when her husband James’ job brought their family to Paris in 2004, she thought she’d enjoy kicking back in the City of Light for a while, then return to her career as a linguistics teacher. “At the time, his assignment was for two or three years, so I didn’t think it would derail my career completely, just put it on hold for a little while. Besides, who could say no to Paris?” Sarah says. “well, after about 18 months of being a trailing, non-working spouse and mother, I really couldn’t stand it anymore. Although Paris fascinated me, I missed having a professional identity.”
Unsurprisingly, Paris offers fashion mavens a clothes-shopping adventure like no other. Just passing the glitzy fashion houses like Chanel, Prada, and Dior on the Avenue Montaigne or Faubourg Saint-Honoré will make you feel as if you’ve tumbled inside the pages of Vogue. But if you don’t have $400 to blow on a napkin-sized scarf, you’re better off heading to the Marais neighborhood, where you can find classic Parisian chic at more affordable prices.
You think being in Paris is a heady experience? Try shopping in Paris. Almost every street has some irresistible shop, boutique, or market brimming with objects or edibles that practically howl your name. Deciding where to focus your search—and your dollars—can be a challenge. To help you, here’s a list of don’t-miss stores and districts.
Each summer, my husband and I perch ourselves on the house’s upper terrace and gaze out at the valley below. Shimmering there in the heat is Florence. It thrills us that beneath the haze lies a trove of Renaissance treasures: Michelangelo’s David… Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome… Botticelli’s Venus, standing tall and tranquil on her scalloped sea shell. In just 20 minutes we can be down there…
For many people, the word “Burgundy” usually brings to mind either a deep purple-red color or an excellent bottle of wine. Here’s what comes to my mind… Fairy-tale woods, winding trails, velvety-brown cattle sitting heavily in the grass, nipping at clover. Springtime hills draped in lemon-yellow blossoms…
- The “Sweetness of Doing Nothing” in the Hills of Florence
Posted on December 20, 2012 by Barbara Diggs
Forty years ago, long before Under the Tuscan Sun was a twinkle in Frances Mayes’ eye, my parents-in-law bought a 14th-century stone house on a woodsy Tuscan hillside just outside the city of Florence. The foundation of the house dates back to the Roman period and the jagged bits of stone wall found on the lower terrace, underlining a stretch of silver-hued olive trees, is Etruscan.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a best friend who lives in Paris? She could take you to the secret cafés and corners that locals love but the guidebooks miss. She could give you tips on dealing with surly French waiters, and boost your confidence as you test your high school French. She’d be someone to call if you get lost. And someone to laugh with over a glass of wine.
In Tuscany, it can seem nigh on impossible to find a worthy sightseeing destination where you’re not elbow-to-elbow with fellow travelers. That’s part of what makes Certaldo such a treat. The masses often whizz by this stunning hilltop town in Chianti in their rush to visit nearby Siena or San Gimignano.
The magnificent chateaux of France’s Loire Valley get the lion’s share of attention from tourists and guidebooks. But castle-lovers willing to slip off the beaten path will discover equally fascinating—and much less crowded—châteaux in the enchanting, woodsy region of the Puisaye, northern Burgundy.
“Ever since I was young I’ve always loved ancient Italian history and ruins. In fact, I was so drawn to Italian history that I remember seeking out Roman ruins on a trip to England,” says expat Cathy Powell. It’s only fitting, then, that Cathy eventually moved to Tuscania, a small town with deep Etruscan roots in the Lazio region of Italy.
I’m writing this on a stunning terrace café overlooking the Louvre. Later, I may stroll along the banks of the Seine or among the city’s elegant boulevards. Life in Paris is good. And it’s no surprise to me that so many expats are here enjoying a better quality of life… After all, I’m one of them.
I’m just outside of a tiny picturesque village in Burgundy, France. It’s only two hours away from the clamor of Paris, but it feels much farther. Here, I am surrounded by gentle curvy hills blanketed by golden blossoms and emerald-green grass. Behind me, the village, a cluster of stone houses and a 16th-century church, waits quietly. Before me, a thicket of pine trees lines the horizon.
As you climb the steep path rising through the pretty medieval village of Vézelay, in northern Burgundy, it’s easy to imagine the exhilaration long-ago pilgrims must have felt upon reaching the town’s summit and catching their ﬁrst full sight of the glorious Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine.
When Cat Beurnier launched her cupcake business in Paris in 2008, it never occurred to her that she might need to explain to Parisians the concept of a cupcake. But over and over she found herself answering the most basic questions about her treats: Are they candles? Are they table decorations? “Many people had no idea what they were looking at,” says Cat. “I worried then that my idea of having a cupcake business wouldn’t take off here.”
She needn’t have worried. Today, her online cupcake business, Sugar Daze, is known throughout the city as the premier source for custom-ordered authentic American cupcakes. Fifty percent of her customers are French, while the rest hail from Paris’s enormous expat community. Her clients have included major corporations such as Microsoft and Disney, as well as prominent French businesses.
- Escape the Rat Race and Enjoy a New Life in France
Posted on May 10, 2012 by Barbara Diggs
When I first moved from New York to Paris, France people told me all the time how lucky I was. I understand why everyone thought that. I worked as a lawyer for a prestigious firm and lived in a beautiful apartment a stone’s throw from the Louvre. I traveled all over Europe for business: I would be in five-star hotels in Milan one night and Frankfurt the next.
For most people, the idea of dinner in Paris likely conjures one of two images: an elegant restaurant where white-jacketed waiters glide about with silver- domed dishes, or a cozy bistro where a platter of steak frites is plunked down before you and the house red is as good as any you’ve tasted.
Bonsoir, bonsoir!” Sylvie sang out, kissing me on both cheeks before turning to my husband and doing the same.
She ushered us into her small, modern Parisian apartment, eyeing the bottle of champagne that we’d brought as a thank-you gift. “I’m glad you were able to come tonight.”
- “Why I Moved from California for a Better Quality of Life in Paris”
Posted on March 22, 2012 by Barbara Diggs
When Elizabeth Milovidov stood on the cobbles before the thousand-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral and wandered Paris’s narrow stone streets, soaking up the history and elegant architecture, she knew that her heart was lost. “I thought: I want to be a part of all this,” she says. “I knew I had to live here.”
Six years ago, I received a birthday present worth over $70,000. No, I’m not friends with Oprah. We had recently fallen in love with—and bought—a crumbling, pigeon-infested, 150-year old maison bourgeoise in northern Burgundy, France, only two hours away from our apartment in Paris.
I work in Paris, France with plenty of free time to explore this phenomenal city with my children, because of my career. As a copywriter, I work a few hours a day, three or four days per week, and I can think of no better place to live.
- Restore Your French Dream House and Save Thousands
Posted on December 20, 2011 by Barbara Diggs
Six years ago, I received a birthday present worth over $70,000. No, I’m not friends with Oprah. The gift came in the form of a book about restoring farms and village houses and it was a nod to the massive restoration project my husband and I were about to undertake.
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