Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Put on your walking shoes! Car-free day in Paris this Sunday, September 27.

The Champs-Élysées will be completely car-free on Sunday, September 27, 2015. 

For the first time in recent history, motorized vehicles will be banned from many of the city's streets this Sunday. As Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced in March: “Paris will be completely transformed for a day. This is an opportunity for Parisians and tourists to enjoy the city without noise, pollution and therefore without stress.”

The most popular tourist spots will be fully dedicated to pedestrians, bicycles and scooters on Sunday, September 27, from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm. Areas without traffic will include the 1st, 2nd, 3th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and 11th arrondissements.

Events organizers Paris Sans Voiture have invited the public to plan giant picnics on the Champs-Elysées, street concerts, dance classes, treasure hunts and other activities that will enhance this unique car-free day in Paris.

Une Journée Sans Voiture ("Day Without a Car") is part of the city’s campaign against pollution and is in line with the European Mobility Week (Sept 16-22), as well as the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015.

September 27: Paris Day Without Car! Circulation is not advisable in the light green areas between 11:00am and 6:00pm. The speed limit will be restricted to 20 KM/H. Cars will be forbidden access to the dark green areas from 11:00am until 6:00pm. Exceptions will be made for public buses, health service vehicles, some tourist buses (Big Bus and Open Tour), taxis, and delivery and moving vans with prior approval. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mapping my favorite places in Paris (and the world) with Mapstr!

Works in Progress - screenshots of my Mapstr maps of Paris and Boston

I knew that it was going to take something really exciting to jolt me out of my blogger doldrums. Computer mishaps, traveling and pondering the expat's eternal question of "where next?" have kept me from blogging for the past month. It was getting to the point where I was tempted to hang an "out of business" sign on my blog.

Everything changed when I picked up a copy of 20 Minutes as I was running to catch the RER train bound for Orly airport last Friday. Buried at the back of the newspaper was an article about an app that's proving to be the answer to one of my biggest challenges.

Like most people who live in a large city, I have a really hard time keeping track of all the new restaurants I want to try and boutiques I would like to visit, not to mention all of my tried-and-true favorite places. Torn out pages from travel magazines and cocktail napkins covered with restaurant recommendations clutter my desk. When someone asks me to suggest a place for lunch, it usually takes me about 40 minutes to come up with a solid proposal because I don't want to go to just any old place. I want to go to the restaurant I read about in the Air France magazine a couple of months ago. But since I was jet-lagged when I unpacked my suitcase, I can't remember exactly where I put that stupid article. Grrrrrr.....

Now, thanks to Frenchman Sébastien Caron, I can store all of that information in one easily accessible place -- in an app on my iPhone. Mapstr enables users to create their own maps with color coded icons and to further classify them with tabs. My favorite restaurants have a heart icon while eateries that I've read about are marked with green "to try" tags. There are also a variety of icons to visually represent different services, such as a fork and knife for restaurants, a painting for museums and a shoe for favorite footwear boutiques.

The free mobile application, with its clean design and easy functionality, already has more than 60,000 users worldwide (only 40% are in France) and recently raised $800,000. Hailed by Grazia as "the smartest app of 2015" and GQ as "the app Google should have developed with Maps, to let users save all their favorites places", I predict that Mapstr will soon become a favorite of travelers.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of proposals for dinner ...

Wine, cheese and saucisson at Les Climats, one of my new favorite restaurants in Paris, or ...
Steak-frites at the tried-and-true Relais de l'Entrecote