Touring Country Stores in Stowe, Vermont with Mom

Mom and I Shopping in Vermont

Since 1895: Shaw’s General Store

Vermont Country Road

Mom at Stowe Mercantile

My how I’ve been blessed with being back East this fall. The weather has been glorious throughout upstate New York and New England. (I think it has actually been pretty beautiful along the whole East Coast with the exception of down south.) We’ve been experiencing true Indian summer weather–East Indian, in fact, with some days hitting temps as high as 90 degrees!

The annual autumnal festival of colors with regard to leaf peeping has started late this year. (The abundance of jewel-toned mums, however, rates among one of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. I we don’t have such a display in Colorado.) A brilliant kaleidoscope of fall colors is just now emerging in many parts of the Northeast.

Designer Mum

Magnificent Mums

This fall is not likely to rank among the most spectacular, since many of the maple trees have been stricken with a fungus that has made their foliage look blah. Plus, we have not yet had enough chilly nights to force the color to change into eye-popping hues of red, orange and gold. But isn’t fall always beautiful? I think so. For me, it has already been memorable.

Brick-Toned Beauty Before the Leaves Even Change

Ready for Winter at Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm

That’s because two weeks ago mom and I headed out for a road trip to Vermont. It was just a two-night stay, however, we packed a lot in. My mother and I have always traveled a good amount together but this was the first real getaway of its kind in two years. There’s no doubt that as you grow older, home offers greater appeal and traveling seems like more of a chore.

Still, mom rose to the occasion and off to Vermont we went. We beat the path that we had tamped down–heading northeast out Route 7 from Troy, New York–for many years throughout our lives. This time, however, we were venturing far beyond our usual destinations of Bennington, Arlington and Manchester, Vermont. This time we were headed way up. Three-and-a-half-hours up.

“I always wanted to go to Stowe,” mom told me as I navigated the sinewy roads of the Green Mountain state, by then dashing along Route 100 past Rutland. (Yes, mom thought I was going too fast around the innumerable bends in the road.)

Pumpkin Potpourri at Cold Hollow Cider Mill

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

“Yes, I wanted your father to take us all there on a ski trip.”

“Wow, that’s the first time I’ve heard that,” I said. I remember the very first time I skied. I had a terrible time. It was so cold and the equipment felt so heavy. But I remember the lodge and the whole ambiance. I just loved the cozy scene in Vermont. I think it was during a New Year’s holiday. I think I was about five–is that right, mom?”

Stowe and Skiing Go Together Like Rolling Hills and Vermont

And so we prattled on, trading thoughts and memories about what we loved so much about Vermont.

Salt and Pepper Shakers from Stowe Mercantile

In truth, most of our mother/daughter escapes to Vermont revolved around day trips. We’d leave early in the day, enjoy the scenic drive, have lunch in a country inn and then poke about in quaint shops. We’d return with the car loaded with goods and goodies, a mostly made-in-Vermont haul that we’d have to sneak in to keep out of sight from “the boys” and my father (six fellas in all). It was female bonding at its best. Sure, we’d share cider and syrup with them but many of our treasures were stashed away in order to avoid looking like spendthrifts.

In truth, we didn’t buy a whole lot, mostly wool sweaters, candles and knickknacks. It was how and where we bought everything that had the most significance for mom and me. It was out of these forays to Vermont country stores that my love for shopping and touring in authentic places was born. So many of these bastions of tradition and charm spoke to me, so much so that I could hardly tolerate shopping and browsing in department stores or other big, impersonal retail outlets the rest of the time.

Little did I know that these excursions would plant the seeds for me to found Chic Promenade, a Paris shopping service where I organized visits behind-the-scenes at the big names as well as tours to the off-the-beaten-path boutiques of the French capital. I later went on to write three guidebooks on Paris and one on the French provinces. (Read about The Riches of Paris: A Shopping and Touring Guide and The Riches of France: A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces as well as my travel memoir, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France at Maribeth’s Books.)

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Two Favorite Paris Restaurants: Le Vaudeville and Julien

Le Vaudeville Terrace

Le Vaudeville Terrace

Le Vaudeville au Soir

Le Vaudeville au Soir

The Barman at Julien

The Barman at Julien

Art Nouveau Splendor at Julien

Art Nouveau Splendor at Julien

Last week there was a NYT piece circulating on the internet about how Paris’s high-end restaurants are experiencing a bit of une crise. Some blamed the aftermath of the Paris attacks while others blatantly stated that there’s no need to blow your budget on a fancy-schmancy night out when there are so many wonderful meals to be enjoyed at a host of other restaurants, brasseries, bistrots and cafés in the French capital. Clearly, it doesn’t have to be all about whether un resto has a star or not.

This social media conversation prompted me to think about two of my favorite Paris restaurants: Le Vaudeville and Julien. These landmark establishments rank as what the French would call une valeur sûre, or a sure value. Indeed, when you dine–for lunch or dinner–at either of them you know you’re going to delight in a fine meal in a lively setting served with aplomb. The décor of each ranks among the most historic of Paris and a moment passed here will dazzle both your eyes and spirit. It’s no wonder these long-established restaurants are considered institutions in a city that boasts some of the finest dining experiences in the whole world.

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Luxurious Telluride Stay and Travel Planning to France at a Discount

Mountain Lodge Telluride

Mountain Lodge Telluride

Icicle View

Icicle View

Yay! It’s KOTO fundraising again. This is when you can snatch up all kinds of great deals on hotel stays, restaurants and other travel perks. I applaud the generosity of so many that donate alluring premiums to our community radio station during this time. Thank you also to those of you that bid on them. It makes the fundraising for Telluride’s homegrown radio so much more fun.

Summer at Mountain Lodge Tellu

Summer at Mountain Lodge Telluride

Chef Bud Serving Up the Smores at Mountain Lodge Telluride

Chef Bud Serving Up the Smores at Mountain Lodge Telluride

Mountain Lodge Telluride, one of my favorite properties in our beautiful mountain destination, has once again stepped up and donated a two-night stay in one of their handsome condos. Valued at $1,000., these superlative accommodations come replete with a king-sized bed, leather pull-out sofa bed, fully-equipped kitchen, gas fireplace, balcony and all the amenities that come with a stay at an elegant mountain lodge. (There are even robes in the closet–a rarity these days–which you can use to pad over to the outdoor heated pool and hot tubs.)

Ski in/ski out in the winter, hike in/hike out in the summer–no matter the season, you’ll enjoy the convenience and breath-taking views of Mountain Lodge’s location.

Situated in the main lodge, The View Bar & Grill has become a favorite for locals and visitors alike due to its excellent food and fun, heartwarming ambiance. They haven’t let their success go to their heads either because they still offer one of the best price/quality relationships on their food and drink around. Read my story Chef Bud Creates an Elevated Dining Experience at Mountain Lodge Telluride.

I’m setting the opening bid at $250. for this two-night stay with all proceeds going to KOTO. Contact me ASAP to make a bid or a pledge. I will close out the auction Friday, March 11.

My Travel Memoir

My Travel Memoir

Pondering a trip to France? If so, my Travel Planning Consultation might be a good fit for you. After having lived in Paris eleven years and written four guidebooks on shopping and touring in France (three on Paris and one on the French provinces) as well as a travel memoir that leads you over hill and dale in this glorious country, I do know how to help you plan your travels to this top destination.

For a $40. donation to KOTO, I will chat with you for an hour about your trip planning to France. Valued at $70., this premium also includes a copy of A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, my travel memoir that will also inspire you to explore some of the most scenic regions of France along with the City of Light. For this, too, please contact me ASAP.

Voilà! That’s all folks. Thank you in advance for supporting KOTO community radio in Telluride. I hope you will find the opportunity to tune into Travel Fun, my talk show on travel, which airs every other Thursday at 6:30pm MST. You can tune into it at KOTO.org and also listen to some interviews that I’ve posted as podcasts here.

15 Sep 2015, 4:08pm

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Welcome to A Tour of the Heart

Books are sold in bookstores and other non bookstore venues across the UNITED STATES. Please ask your bookseller for it if you cannot readily find it on the shelf. YOU CAN ALSO BUY IT AT AMAZON NOW as a paperback or as an eBook through kindle. On amazon, you may also read many reviews of A Tour of the Heart. Signed copies may be shipped to you by Alpen Schatz, my favorite European-styled boutique here in Telluride.

In the UNITED KINGDOM, you can find the paperback on AMAZON   and the eBook through kindle. It is also available on Amazon in other countries throughout the world–just look it up from your home base.

Like A Tour of the Heart on Facebook to keep up with news and to find out about free eBook giveaways.

Click here for news on upcoming events.

A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, part memoir, part love story, is a romantic ode to the most visited country in the world.

Told by a proudly-feminine and sophisticated travel writer, an expert in all things French, searching for harmony and true love with her super-cyclist boyfriend. A Tour of the Heart will keep you bien captivé through its many twists and turns.

A Tour of the Heart highlights the life of a travel writer, France, cycling, food and wine, the Tour de France and the joys and travails of traveling à deux. The freedom, the challenges, the ups and downs, the discoveries around every bend, pedaling the bucolic roads of France is an adventure—and so is their love…

“Maribeth is a first-rate tour guide.”

Associated Press

CONTENTS

Part One
Putting the Wheels in Motion
Shifting Gears
Storybook Alsace
Beautiful Burgundy
The Sun Doesn’t Always Shine in Provence
Navigating Languedoc-Roussillon
Living Large in the Southwest
Room with a View in Versailles and Not So Romantic Paris

Part Two

Prelude to the Tour
Alpine Adventures
Almost Solo in the Loire
Paris and a Triumphant Finish
Epilogue
Acknowledgements

Click here to read a story from THE TELLURIDE DAILY PLANET

Click here to read a story from TELLURIDE INSIDE AND OUT

Click here to read a story from THE SARATOGIAN

Click here to read Five Questions from The Troy Record

Click here to read a story from Telluride Magazine (go to p. 30 of their winter 2013 issue)

Click here to read a review from FRENCH VILLAGE DIARIES

Click here to read a review from FRANCE ON YOUR OWN (be sure to scroll down to The Bookshelf)

Click here to read a blog post from PARIS CENTRAL

Click here to read a blog post from FRENCH HEART

Click here to read a story from the Summit Daily News

Click here to read a story from the Vail Daily

Click here to see a highlight in The Post Star

Click here to see Maribeth’s appearance on Channel 9’s Colorado & Company, a popular morning show.

A Tour of the Heart was also featured in the September-October 2013 edition of ENTREE, an exclusive newsletter that features travel worldwide. Click here to download the September-October 2013 issue of ENTREE.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD EXCERPTS FROM A TOUR OF THE HEART

Please note that the below map is featured in the book, however, there will be more detailed maps of all the regions covered in A Tour of the Heart at www.atouroftheheart.com which will go live early 2013.

 


15 Sep 2015, 11:02am
Colorado Durango Four Corners Hotels & Lodging Mountain Living:
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Comments Off on Blue Lake Ranch: A Hidden Gem in Southwest Colorado

Blue Lake Ranch: A Hidden Gem in Southwest Colorado

Blue Lake Ranch

Blue Lake Ranch

The Iconic Sleeping Ute Mountain in Southwest Colorado

The Iconic Sleeping Ute Mountain in Southwest Colorado

I Love Sunflowers

I Love Sunflowers

I love living in southwest Colorado. Here in Telluride we’re in a high alpine world surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks, yet within an hour’s drive you find yourself in more arid, Western-looking landscapes sporting temperatures almost twenty degrees warmer. That’s a welcome relief this time of year when most people want to extend summer as much as possible.

Blue Lake Ranch

Blue Lake Ranch

About this time last year I discovered a wonderful guest ranch that I didn’t know existed: Blue Lake Ranch. And what a discovery it was!

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30 Apr 2015, 2:48pm
French Life Shopping:
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Comments Off on Mother’s Day Gift Ideas-2015

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas-2015

Lovely Lily of the Valley

Lovely Lily of the Valley

It’s almost May 1st, or May Day, a holiday widely celebrated in Europe. My favorite part of this fête nationale in France is the muguet, or lily of the valley, that delicate flower with droplets of blooms that resemble little white wedding bells. You can enjoy its fresh, redolent scent in Diorissimo, a signature fragrance of the House of Dior. Christian Dior’s favorite flower was, in fact, le muguet, one of the most beloved symbols of happiness in France. On le premier mai en France, most everything is closed, but you can still find all kinds of bouquets of muguet sold throughout–from street corners to flower shops.

Telluride Truffle Mother's Day Gift Box

Telluride Truffle Mother’s Day Gift Box

Telluride Truffle Spring Gift Box

Telluride Truffle Spring Gift Box

Ruth's Toffee

Ruth’s Toffee

Pink Champagne from Henri's Reserve

Pink Champagne from Henri’s Reserve

Voilà there’s one terrific gift idea for the lovely lady in your life for this Mother’s Day. Read about many more at my Online Shopping page. Many of the online boutiques I feature actually showcase European goods or goods of such fine quality that they could pass for European made. Telluride Truffle and Ruth’s Toffee are such examples and indeed the quality of their products rivals some of the delectable treats I’ve sampled from France’s top chocolatiers. What mom wouldn’t be thrilled to receive some sweets from these two Colorado-based confectioners! Pay close attention to the instructions on my Online Shopping page to receive a 10% discount on online orders from these two purveyors and all others highlighted on that page (and below).

Nothing says holiday like bubbly, especially when it’s champagne. Send mom a beautiful bottle of champagne rosé from Henri’s Reserve to celebrate her. I promise she’ll be tickled pink.

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Grateful for My Friends in France and Belgium

Laughing with Marie in a Paris Café

Laughing with Marie in a Paris Café

My Petit Dejeuner in that Café

My Petit Dejeuner in that Café

Toasting Life Chez Michèle et Loic

Toasting Life Chez Michèle et Loic

Zee Sunday Brunch Spread

Zee Sunday Brunch Spread

Pain, Vin et Fromage Chez Steph et Véronqiue

Pain, Vin et Fromage Chez Steph et Véronqiue

I’m big at counting my blessings year round. As challenging as life can be, I try as much as possible to pause and feel truly grateful for all that I have in my life.

There’s so much for which to be grateful, especially when it comes to love. There’s nothing like feeling love and appreciation. There’s nothing like feeling valued. There’s nothing like feeling your heart swell with love–day after day after day.

I was blessed with an outpouring of love during my recent trip to Europe when friends in France went out of their way to meet with me for coffee, organize special dinners, include me in on Sunday lunches and chat with me at great length over leisurely breakfasts and afternoon teas. My friends in Antwerp entertained me all weekend long. And throughout every encounter, I felt a connectedness with my European friends that made it feel as though I had just seen them the week before. (It had, in fact, been many years.)

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Highlights from My France Trip 2014

Steve and I Capping Off Our Last Night in France at Julien in Paris

Maribeth and Steve Do France: Capping Off Our Last Night in France at Julien in Paris

Oysters and Vin Blanc at Lake Hossegor:  One of Many Delightful Meals in France

Oysters and Vin Blanc at Lake Hossegor: One of Many Delightful Meals in France

Hossegor Surf at Sunrise

Hossegor Surf at Sunrise

Pâtisserie Française

Pâtisserie du Golfe in Hossegor

Biarritz at Night

Biarritz at Night

Glorious Contrasts:  Steve Headed Out to Surf at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz

Glorious Contrasts: Steve Headed Out to Surf at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz

Tapas at Bar Jean in Biarritz

Tapas and Wine at Bar Jean in Biarritz

How silly of me to think that I could work in a few blog posts while traveling through France during these past few weeks! Really.

That was my intention but I’m afraid I failed mercifully at the task. Instead, I was busy experiencing life in France rather than taking time to write about it sur place. Sure, I took tons of notes and I will be churning out stories from this trip–both here at my blog and in updates of my guidebooks–in the months to come. (I’m also doing a downloadable guide for A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, so the information will serve there, too.)

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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