Rick Steves' Travel Blog

I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick

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Drinking on the job, I’m finishing up a great day in Normandy. My co-author Steve Smith and I spent the day double-teaming the D-Day beaches and then reviewing our favorite restaurants in Bayeux. Our end-of-the-day treat? Dropping by the most enticing restaurant and enjoying the edible and drinkable hospitality that’s so abundant in Normandy. Here’s a big tip: If you’re going to splurge on a nice dinner in France and want the very best value — do it in a small town rather than in Paris. In this video, you’ll see that the food’s gone, the bottle’s empty, but our little party keeps on going.

Here’s how we write up this place in our guidebook: La Rapière is a lovely wood-beamed eatery — calm and romantic — ideal for a refined meal and a rare-these-days cheese platter for your finale. Reservations are wise (€29-52 menus, closed Sun, 53 Rue St. Jean, tel. 03 31 21 05 45, www.larapiere.net, charming Linda).


This is Day 37 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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Normandy offers a peaceful contrast to Paris. I just had to share the way the day greeted me, a few minutes out of bed, in my cute little B&B in Honfleur. I’m here updating the France guidebook with co-author Steve Smith.  Here’s the listing for this place:

La Cour Ste. Catherine is an enchanting bed-and-breakfast run by the big-hearted Madame Giaglis (“call me Liliane”) and her husband, Monsieur Liliane (a.k.a. Antoine). Their six big, modern rooms — each with a separate sitting area — surround a perfectly Norman courtyard with a small terrace, fine plantings, and a cozy lounge area ideal for cool evenings (Db-€90, includes breakfast, Rue du Puits 74, tel. 02 31 89 42 40, www.coursaintecatherine.com).


This is Day 36 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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Wrapping up three carefree days in Paris, it occurred to me that many Americans are not traveling here because they think it’s dangerous or tense. While security is good — as it should be these days — I felt no tension here.

By the way, isn’t it true that if we overreact emotionally and illogically to the threat of terrorism, we are in effect “aiding and abetting the enemy?” People who overreact are unwittingly rewarding the terrorists, making them more powerful than they actually are. Today, Parisians have a new phrase for going out: “going to a terrace.” Back in November 2015, terrorists shot up a restaurant’s terrace, but the French refuse to cede that territory to the enemy. Bravo!

In this clip, I share my impromptu thoughts during rush hour at the St. Lazare train station as I’m on my way to the French countryside.


This is Day 35 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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One-stop shopping is not a priority on Paris’ delightful Rue Cler. My favorite neighborhood in Paris is essentially a traffic-free market street where locals enjoy the inconvenience of “many-stop shopping” when putting together their evening meals. It’s just a different way of living here in France. Pop with me into a Rue Cler wine shop for a peek at the scene and to meet “le wine chiller.”


This is Day 34 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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Montmartre is in many ways the Paris cliché — red and white checkered tablecloths, artists and easels filling petite squares, bohemian night spots. Imagine the storm of artistic creativity from 1870 to 1910 that put Paris’ little mountain on the map for most of us. I like to think of cities that hosted storms of artistic creativity: Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael all rubbing paint-stained elbows 500 years ago in Florence…or Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Haydn practicing their pianos late into the night in Vienna 200 years ago. And, just over a century ago, Montmartre was the gathering place for struggling artists whose canvases now sell for millions of dollars (Renoir, Degas, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Maurice Utrillo). It was a neighborhood where nonconformists and misfits would sit around drinking absinthe, wondering who their fathers were. And the museum that re-creates that age is tucked away on the far side of that hill overlooking the only vineyard in Paris. Here’s an excerpt from the write-up for the 2017 edition of our Rick Steves Paris guidebook:

The Montmartre Museum’s collection of paintings, posters, old photos, music, and memorabilia is split between two creaky 17th-century manor houses. You’ll see artifacts from the butte’s 2,000-year history: a headless St. Denis from the hill’s religious origins to photos of the gypsum quarries and flour-grinding windmills of the Industrial Age. Learn how Sacré-Cœur’s construction was an act of national penitence resulting from the Prussian invasion of 1870. And you’ll see the gorgeously lit studio of Maurice Utrillo looking as if he had just stepped out for coffee.

Utrillo grew up on Montmartre’s streets. He fought, broke street lamps, and haunted the cafés and bars, paying for drinks with yet-to-be-recognized masterpieces. His simple scenes of streets, squares, and cafés in a vaguely Impressionist style became popular with commoners and scholars alike. Utrillo’s mom, Suzanne Valadon, was a former trapeze performer and artist’s model who posed for Toulouse-Lautrec, slept with Renoir, studied under Degas, and went on to become a notable painter in her own right.


This is Day 33 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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So often we travelers only hang out in the historic old quarters of Europe’s great cities. Join me today in this little clip from my TV show to see the contemporary side of Paris. We’ll visit La Défense, a forest of skyscrapers nicknamed Paris’s “petit Manhattan.”

Watch my complete TV episode about life and art in Paris for free on our website.

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Old timers remember Les Halles as Paris’ gigantic central produce market. Demolished in the 1970s, it was replaced with an underground shopping mall. And for a generation it’s been a mess. But now the complex is being transformed into a modern underground shopping center and a huge city park all sitting atop a massive underground transportation hub. Here’s a peek at the latest (complete with my horrible French pronunciation):


This is Day 32 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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Brows are it! I’m in my favorite European city researching our Paris guidebook with co-author Steve Smith, and I’m feeling a bit amused by the très chic dimensions of this city. If you happily waited half an hour in line for “the cupcake to die for” when that was the craze, you’ll love the many new fads here in Paris. Here’s my favorite — the notion that my eyebrows need rearranging. But apart from that, I’m loving Paris.


This is Day 31 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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Rick Steves speaking

Along with kittens with soft whiskers and crisp apple strudel, one of my favorite things is giving travel talks. A few years ago I drove through America’s heartland, giving sold-out talks to large crowds of enthusiastic travelers. From towns high in the Rockies, through our country’s breadbasket, and into the Deep South, Rick Steves’ Road Trip USA was a huge success and lots of fun.

Since then, many have asked me to make stops in their cities. Well, I’ve listened. Next March, I’ll embark on Road Trip USA 2017. But rather than drive, I plan to fly in order to visit 10 cities in 10 days — and I’ll pick those 10 cities based on which organizations can gather the most travelers. Do you work with a library, university, performing arts center, or town hall that would like to host me for a travel lecture? If so, please email my publicist, Ashley Sytsma, at ashley@ricksteves.com, or call her at 425-608-4293.

Thanks for helping make my next Road Trip USA a hit.

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The Paris Ferris Wheel offers a 200-feet-high view of the City of Light from its location at the bottom of the Champs-Elysées. This transportable wheel (with 11,000 gallons of water in its footings for ballast) has traveled the world, and has a permanent-for-now home on the Place de la Concorde, next to the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre (open long hours daily, €12 for two slow revolutions). Ride with me to get a peek at the amazing view from the top.


This is Day 30 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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