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Paris, France -- Paris: City of Lights, City of Love, fine food, wine, and cheese; and which has long been an inspiration for artists, novelists, and composers. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world and home to the world’s most renowned museums – not to mention, the Eiffel Tower and popular entertainment venues.
Do you ever have as much time in Paris as you desire? And each time you visit, you wish you’d discovered more. Rosemary Flannery and Madison King, two ex-pats, now longtime Parisians, can help make the time you have more valuable and memorable. They’re part of the team of luxury tour service American Concierge, which custom designs itineraries for one, two, a group, a family. The word “concierge” is important here, because they personally guide you during your visit – arranging pickups, dinner reservations, entry fees (so there's never waiting in line), tickets for opera [don’t miss the tour of the breathtaking splendor of the Palais Garnier Opera (with the box reserved for the Phantom!) and cabaret spectaculars.Tours are quite flexible because you create them. The list is endless. Of course, it all comes at a price – and while not bargain-basement you have to weigh the convienence of have experts arrange everything for you.
Some choices to consider: a French cooking lesson, cheese tasting and full lunch in a private home, jazz clubs, cruises on the Seine, even visits outside the city, say to Versailles. Among areas, you might not wander into is Saint Martin, where you’ll find plays in stunning Rocco theatres from the 1850s, triumph archways that welcomed legions in eras past, and the modestly-priced four-star Art Deco restaurant Julien.
Paris is home to some of the most exciting cabaret spectaculars in the world:the Moulin Rouge in the cheeky Latin Quarter, the Lido de Paris right on the Champs Élysées, the Crazy Horse on Rue George V right in the middle of it all, and, the oldest and least expensive of cabarets, Paradis Latin, on the Left Bank, built on a charter from Napoleon and by Eiffel, near the Pantheon, where the show’s as wild as the food and champagne’re excellent. Mademoiselle Flannery, Monsieur King, and resident concierges will escort you by Metro, taxi, or private car. The concierges also know choice locations for petit déjeuner (breakfast) with fresh pastries, croissants, teas, hot chocolate, and decadent chocolate and macaroons. Their experience enhances your Paris experience – and, considering the personal service American Concierge offers, rates are affordable.
A popular tour is the three-hour Nightlights, an evening ride, perhaps with Monsieur King, who’ll sweep you through Paris in a late model sedan, luxury van, or vintage auto for stops at the Trocadero for a glittering light spectacular of the Eiffel Tower, down the Champs-Élysées past the Grand Palais, hopping out at the majestic Arc de Triomphe, then on to the Latin Quarter, Sorbonne, and monuments such as the Pantheon, and on across the Île de la Cité to the doors of Notre Dame; and, finally, across the Pont-Neuf to one of the City’s highest points and famed Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre. If you're passionate about the arts and books, Mademoiselle Flannery has a memorable tour of museums -- not only the grandeur of the Pompidou, D'Orsay, and Louvre but also prized private collections at the Jacquemart-André, Marmottan-Monet, Nissim de Camondo, and Louis Vuitton Foundation Musees – not to mention Rodin masterworks in Les Tuileries on the way to the Musee de l’Orangerie [home of Monet’s “Water Lilies"].
“As anyone who has visited Paris knows,” states Ms. Flannery, “it’s easy to fall in love with its culture, beauty, and the way of life in diverse communities. As we guide visitors, our goal at American Concierge is to make you feel at home and share our love of the City in a way that will make you never forget it.”
American Concierge is the brainchild of partners Sharon Carr, who splits time between New York and Paris, and Ivan Zatkovich. The Paris-based chief operating officer is Guy Didier, former president of Paramount Pictures, France.
For more information on dozens of tours, pricing, and personal blogs by the company’s ex-pats, call (866) To-Paris (867-2747) or visit www.AmericanConcierge.com.
Peru may be too far for a day trip, but Greenwichites can find Peruvian treasures right here in Connecticut. Round Hill Alpacas, some 100 miles away in Coventry, is home to 26 of these Andean camelids whose fiber makes silky, luxurious wool.
Meeting the source of your sweater is more exciting than it sounds. Alpacas are gentle, personable souls, as a visit to Round Hill farm quickly bears out. They’re not like their llama cousins, who can easily get peevish and aggressive. Alpacas let you come close and pet their long necks. Just be careful not to aim for the tops of their heads. Their sweet, long-lashed eyes give them great peripheral vision, but what these animals don’t see can alarm them and test their indulgence.
The farm’s owners, Randy and Cindy Hall (above and below), got into the alpaca business some seven years ago. Their vision? To found an inclusive farmstead living experience especially for individuals with developmental disabilities, such as their autistic son. The nonprofit they've founded and are developing is called the Creative Living Community of Connecticut. Alpacas are as curious about you as you are about them. If only New Yorkers were as friendly and trusting.
These social herd animals are happy to nosh treats right out of your palm. Just ask Noah Blum what it feels like. The 2½-year-old resident of Providence, Rhode Island will describe the tickle of the alpacas' rubbery upper gums and the soft nudge of their fur-covered lips. Noah is pictured below with his mom, Alessandra, and Randy Hall.
Two weeks ago Round Hill welcomed a new member of the herd. Born during the Olympics in Brazil, he was named Rio. Fun fact: the gestation period for alpacas is 11 1/2 months.
Noah and Rio say Olá. Guess where Noah was born? As chance would have it, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! Noah's father, Joey, facilitates the encounter.
With names like Popcorn, Kahlúa and Pebbles, alpacas are a chromatic delight. The herd at Round Hill sport earthy tones from creamy eggshell and rosy grey to tawny russet and smokey charcoal.
Why hasn’t Hollywood come out with a major animation starring alpacas?
Maybe because they’re so adorably cartoon-like as is, it’d almost be redundant.
Not everyone is chill. Rusty, the Alpha male of the herd, gets his own enclosure. For good reason. Otherwise Macho Man and second-in-command Simon would go at it, and things could get ugly. To defend his privileged notch in the pecking order, a free-to-mingle Rusty would engage in spitting and fighting if not worse.
A hyper-cautious Rusty takes his time in approaching, but with Randy's coaxing he takes some grassy snacks. Note the erect ears. That's his short code for, "We're cool." Now look again at the photo above and see how Rusty's spear-shaped ears are cocked back, ready for action if need be. The positioning of his tail and head also speaks volumes. Alpacas are famous for communicating by humming, but their body language gets across important cues to keep life safe and ordered.
To top off our visit, we followed Cindy, Randy and two alpacas to the F.A.R.E Market in the nearby town of Willimantic, CT. After lunch (no hay pellets for us, thanks), we stocked up on socks and, of course, souvenirs!
This Halloween everyone is going to be on the hunt for a good haunt, but if only there was a national association that could help you pick where to spend your All Hallow’s Eve. Well apparently the Haunted Attraction Association (yes, that’s a thing) has certified 14 haunts across the country as official “Top Haunted Attractions.”
To learn more, go to: http://hauntedattractionassociation.com/
Do you like obsessing over different fandoms? Do you like immersing yourself in the little details that make up your favorite movies or games? Maybe boards games are your thing? Are you desperate to enjoy your last shred of freedom while the summer is on its way out? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be a nerd looking for fun places and events in New York City. Lucky for you, so am I.
When being a nerd, one may feel like the only way to enjoy their obsessions or meet their peers is to go to various conventions. The only problem with that is what do you do if there is no convention or if you cant afford a convention? Well, in NYC there is an abundance of affordable nerd events to whet your whistle.
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