Tag Archives: Paris France

Paris Hacks: See the City Of Lights For Free…By Bike!

As a former New York City resident, I normally default to the metro for free transportation. This trip I discovered the super handy Vélib’ bike system which opened my world to a whole new way of seeing the city of lights!

With bike stands stationed within mere blocks of each other all around the city, you can easily plot a course to just about any destination within Paris…and, did I mention it’s FREE?!

For the first 30 minutes of every ride you will pay absolutely nothing.  (CAUTION: you will see a holding fee of $150 on your credit card in case your bike is inconveniently stolen, but if you turn the bike back into a station, the hold is instantly removed).

Signing up

To start your biking journey, you can sign up online or at any Vélib’ station. You can also visit the Paris render-vous office reception desk to pick-up a plastic Vélib’ bike card.

?: @velib /IG

Taking out a bike

If you have a plastic Vélib’ card, just tap it to the bike stand and remove your bike. However, if you sign up at the kiosk or online there are a series of steps you’ll be required to walk through at the bike stand. The steps are not extremely easy to figure out (took me about 30 minutes!)  so, I’ll walk through them here for clarification:

  1. Enter your code (10 digit number emailed to you or on your printed receipt)
  2. Put in your 4 digit passcode (the code you were asked to create)
  3. Validate that you understand the bike is your responsibility
  4. Select which bike you want to take out (you will need to put in the number for the bike stand you want, then hit “V” for “Validate)
  5. Once prompted on the screen, go to the bike and press the silver button on the adjacent stand
  6. Pull with all your might!! (Some of the bikes tend to get stuck and if you can’t get it out, you’ll have to go back to the kiosk and start all over again!)

Please Note: Inspect your bike to make sure EVERYTHING is functioning before you peddle off– missing gears and a basket full of bird poo is entirely possible!

We got a 7 Euro pass and took the bikes everywhere from the new restaurants I was dying to try to the sculpture garden at the Rodin!

Biking Directions:

Velib has a good app that will help you find the closest station, but you might need to employ another app for turn-by-turn directions. We tried a few local apps, but none were as effective as Google Maps biking directions (if you find something else, please let me know, I’m happy to try it!)

Bring your own gear:

Now that you’re feeling like a local, jaunting around on your Velib bike, plan ahead to visit farmers’ markets in preparation for picnics or wine nights by the Seine!

?: @velib / IG

I personally NEVER travel without my Brita filtered water bottle. I’ve found that it’s challenging to get copious amount of water when traveling which you will definitely need if you’re biking in the August heat!



If you’re like me, no meal in Paris is complete without some delicious French wine! But, I FORGOT my wine opener (rookie move)!! Though you can easily procure a new one from a local G20 or Franprix grocery store, it might be a good idea to pack a easy to carry lightweight picnic basket equipped with glasses, wine opener and a blanket!

With bread and cheese in tow, you’re ready to see Paris for FREE!

Copycat Kitchen: Madame Monsieur Caneles

What is it about Paris that is so incredibly mesmerizing? So many people travel to Paris daring themselves not to get swept away by the Midnight in Paris of it all, but many fail and the breathtaking beauty of the age old city of lights claims another bleeding heart. I am no different– I have been enchanted by Paris. But, not because of the lantern lit cobble stone by night or the sultry accordian players on each corner by day, it’s the pastries that have enchanted me!

After my heavenly Parisian culinary voyage is complete and I return to Los Angeles, I must…MUST satisfy my cravings for the subtly sweet edible art creations experienced on my travels, but where? What is Los Angeles could hold even a flicker of a torch to the delectable delights in Paris?

Enter, Madame Monsieur.

A quaint cafe in Downtown Los Angeles specializing in truffle ladened sandwiches and artisan treats, Madame Monseiur has no shortage of delicious dishes, like this incredible Croque Monseiur with Black Truffle.

I fell in love with French pâtisseries all over again with these spongy, chewy pastries called Caneles.

Often ordained with jams or flavored centers, this canele recipe is the first of many “copycat” recipes I will be trying my hand at this year in honor of the delicious treats I try all over the world…so, here it is…caneles with a lavender glaze.

Bon Appétit! 



Canales with Lavender Glaze:

Cook time: 20 minutes
Rest time: 24 hours

For Caneles (makes about 12 – 15):*
2 cups milk
3 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
100g flour
200g sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup rum

For Lavender Cream:*
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms


To Make the Caneles:

Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Watch this carefully as it boils over very quickly and creates a mess. Remove from heat and set aside. In the meantime, mix the flour and sugar in a separate bowl. When the milk mixture has cooled enough, combine it in the blender with the flour mixture, eggs and rum. Refrigerate the batter in a sealed container for at least 24 hours and up to 7 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven at 480F. Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a stir as it might have separated. Pour into the molds, filling them almost to the top. Put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, then (without opening the oven door) lower the heat to 400F and bake for another 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and unmold onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before eating. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to a week.

To Make the Lavender Cream:
Bring cream, honey, and lavender blossoms just to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and let steep, covered, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids, and chill lavender cream, covered, until cold.

*Recipe for caneles adapted from a blog on Lemon Almond; Lavender Cream adapted from Epicurious.

Blog article written by Erica Mountain