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Homeward Bound

50 insider travel secrets from expats in Westport.

Having an insider’s edge makes the difference between a good trip and a loved-it-so-much-I’m-blogging-about-it vacation of a lifetime. To ensure you fall into the latter category, we enlisted well-traveled names in our community to provide local flavor on where to eat, drink, sleep, shop and play around the globe. They know what you want, because they live here too. These born-abroad travel advisers dole out savvy advice. It’s truly the best of both worlds. Here are their top picks.

Jane Green's Guide to London

Ask best-selling British author Jane Green which side of the Atlantic she’s partial to and you’ll elicit a Mona Lisa smile...with the slightest English smirk. “Despite being a naturalized American, my sensibilities, and accent apparently, are still quintessentially British,” says Green, a Compo Beach resident and author of this spring’s hot novel, Another Piece of My Heart, her thirteenth to date. “I love London’s history, its buzz, its café culture, and its parks,” she says. “I still miss wandering around the villages where I grew up; London being, for those of us who grew up there, a series of villages strung together.”

1. Favorite Restaurant
“I used to be terribly intimidated by The Ivy, a lovely old restaurant that is packed with agents, movie stars, celebrities and theater folk, but the older I’ve grown, the less I care. It is cozy and clubby and the best place for people-watching, as long as you pretend you’re not looking. The steak tartare makes me salivate.”; the-ivy.co.uk

2. Bon-Vivant Bar
“David Collins just refurbished the Connaught with friends. It is famed for its vintage and exclusive champagnes, so I’ll order a glass of vintage Dom Perignon.”; the-connaught.co.uk

3. Tea Time
“London’s most iconic and luxurious hotel is Claridge’s. I was married there and my soft spot remains, and the tea is wonderful: proper scones with clotted cream and jam, cucumber sandwiches and Lapsang Souchong tea.”; claridges.co.uk

4 . Drama Do’s
“Be sure to catch a play at the Old Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or Shakespeare in the Park at Regent’s Park if you’re there in summer.” oldvictheatre.com; shakespearesglobe.com; openairtheatre.org

5. Shopper’s Heaven
“I’ll be in London in June and cannot wait to go to Boxpark in Shoreditch. It’s a pop-up mall made out of reconstituted shipping containers! I always go to Alfie’s for antiques, particularly jewelry, which is my obsession. I could lose myself for hours in there, and you can still find bargains—it’s where the locals go.” boxpark.co.uk; alfiesantiques.com

6. Top Secret Tip
“An organization called Secret Cinema puts on classic films in secret locations. Register by e-mail and receive clues about the film, and even directions about what to wear. You won’t know what you are seeing until you get there.” secretcinema.org

7. Weekend Hits
“On Sunday, go to the Columbia Road Flower Market. You know you are near when everyone walking towards you is carrying the most beautiful blooms. Borough Market gives you the most extraordinary sensory experience with food—artisanal food stalls and things you won’t find anywhere else.” columbiaroad.info; boroughmarket.org.uk

8.  Must Try
“Early on in your trip, ride on the London Eye, the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel, to get an idea of the size of the city.”; londoneye.com

9. Museum Musing
“The Tate Modern has a wonderful collection. Be sure to finagle your way into the member’s café to see the views.” tate.org.uk/modern

10. Haute Hotel
“I always stay at The Charlotte Street Hotel. It’s very small, very plush, with a bustling brasserie attached. It has a living room filled with squishy sofas and beautiful art, with an honor bar that immediately makes you feel as if you are a welcome guest in a good friend’s wonderful country home.” firmdale.co

Emilie Roy's Guide to Paris

It is très difficile to venture to the City of Light and not inhabit some form of the tourist cliché (they did invent the word, non?). But to Chef Emilie Roy, Westport’s answer to a younger, Burgundy-bred Barefoot Contessa (sign up for a class or private catering through emiliefrenchchef.com), that is just what makes Paris so pleasurable. “I’ll share a secret,” Roy says, conspiratorially. “I wish I could get married again in the U.S., just so I could go to Paris for my honeymoon and visit as a tourist.” But that doesn’t mean she advocates getting taken for a ride. “Paris is a big city with a lot of overpriced hotels and restaurants catering to tourists,” she says. “You have to talk to a local to know where to go.”

1. Favorite Restaurant
“You must go to Le Macéo. Choose the seasonal menu and ask the oenologue (wine specialist) to choose the wine. And remember, no tip!” maceorestaurant.com

2. Best Bistros
“I like L’Absinthe for drinks and an appetizer. Order a Chartreusito (a mojito with chartreuse) and Ravioles de Royans (fried ravioli with cheese and herbs). Le Tabarin is a small, cozy bistro with live jazz on Tuesday nights. Order the souris d’agneau confite (slow-cooked leg of lamb) with a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet.” restaurantabsinthe.com; letabarin.fr

3. Local Cafe
“I love the literary, Art Deco atmosphere of Café de Flore, which has hosted most of the French intellectuals during the postwar years. I order a cappuccino and croissant at 10 a.m. on the terrace, or a glass of Champagne at 7 p.m. It is the only tourist café where Parisians go.” cafedeflore.fr

4. Bakery Bets
“The original Ladurée on 16 Rue Royale is my favorite place for desserts, especially macaroons. Unfortunately, you always need to wait in the line (which might be fun as a tourist, but not as a Parisian!). Poilâne has the best bread and for homemade hot chocolate,I recommend Angelina.” poilane.fr; laduree.fr; angelina-paris.fr

5. Chic Shopping
“Colette is known as the best Paris concept store, with only unique clothing from big and up-and-coming designers. There is also a cool Water Bar inside. Next door is Barbara Rihl for handbags...she is married to the famous Haute Couture pastry chef Pierre Hermé.” colette.fr; barbararihl.com

6. Night Life 411
“A fun nightclub for the sophisticated crowd is Le Montana 28...just make sure you are dressed up.” Rue Saint Benoît.

7. Haute Hotel
“I adore L’Hôtel du Petit Moulin. Its bedrooms are decorated by Christian Lacroix.” paris-hotel-petitmoulin.com

8. Getting Around
“Never rent a car within Paris. Get a day pass at one of Paris’s many self-service bike-shares stations (known as Vélib) and ride to the Eiffel Tower, Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. Drop off your bike and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Seine.” en.velib.paris.fr (bike rental); tour-eiffel.fr; louvre.fr; notredamedeparis.fr; bateaux-mouches.fr (boat cruise)

9. Daytripping
“If you can get away for a day or two, go by train or car to Burgundy for amazing wine. I love Le Château de Savigny-lès-Beaune and Le Château de Meursault. Or go to Möet et Chandon in Reims for a Champagne tasting day. If it is summer and you can get away for longer, my favorite place is Corsica, an island in the South of France." Le Château de Savigny-les-Beaune (in the town of Savigny les Beaune, 21400), Le Chateau de Meursault (in the town of Meursault, 21190). moet.com; visit-corsica.com/en

10. Chef Haunts
“The best places to buy copper pans, an essential tool for the home cook, are E. Dehillerin and Mora 13, which are close together.” e-dehillerin.fr; mora.fr

For the complete list pick up our May/June 2012 issue on stands now!