About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.


Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

Paris for Foodies: Our Top Ten List for Authentic French Cuisine

June 29, 2014 by  

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If you’re a foodie and well, I’ve definitely become one over the years, Paris is a godsend since it’s nearly impossible to find a bad meal even in the more touristy areas. We’ve written quite a bit about food in Paris, including great places to get coffee, chocolate, the best creperies and so on. Here’s the latest short list from a more recent trip. Enjoy and be sure to take notes for your next trip to this romantically delicious gem.

Le Marche des Efants Rouge in the Marais. Along Rue de Beauce, this is a classic French restaurant, small, quaint and perfect for a casual night out. The food is great as is the service but if you want upscale, fine dining and dark romance, go for one of our other picks below.  The closest metro is Temple.

L’Eclaire de Genie in the Marais. Think candy, pasta, incredible pastries and creative craquettes and sweets. The closest metro is Saint Paul. 

Les Bougresses is also located in the Marais on 6 Rue de Jarente with the closet metro also being either Saint Paul or Temple.  This place is incredibly authentic at its core and has long wooden tables which is perfect for a small group share. It’s located in the Marais in a quaint part of Paris and is a must visit if you’re spending time in this part of the city.

Like I said, traditional French food and authentic at its core. I love the old world style to this place.

L’Escargot on Rue Montogueil. A must try – classic, traditional French, historical, old and has been around since the 1800s.

Le Christine on 1 rue Christine. I love this restaurant and have been several times. Located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, between Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, they also offer cooking classes in addition to lunch and dinner. At the classes, you can learn all the secrets of their head chef or just simply perfect on revenue of the card or on one of your personnelles. The closest Metro is between St. Michel and Odeon Metro stops.

Restaurant Le Coupe Gorge is on rue de la Coutellerie. This place is adorably quaint, with old fashioned rustic wooden tables upstairs. You almost feel as if you’re in someone’s old house and that someone’s grandmother is about to bring you homemade soup and chicken any minute as the candles make the room dim and romantic in a very basic and spartan kind of way. It’s not in the main tourist district so feels more out of the way however is still a relatively close walking distance to Notre Dame. Check out the rare duck breast with sliced potatoes and pepper sauce. The desserts are pretty great also.

L’Atelier de L’Eclair — think eclairs and desserts. Yum! If you have a sweet tooth, head to Sentier metro stop and walk. 

Solyles is all about chicken, but chicken served in the noble way — just the oysters and if you know anything about chicken, you know what I mean. They call it a “new concept.” It’s so unusual, it’s worth checking out. It is located on 74, rue Damrémont and the closest metro is Lamarck Culaincourt.

Chez Ramulaud is located on 269 rue du Faubourg St-Antoine and is another amazing French classic. The restaurant itself is retro and peaceful at the same time. Think old world again, but with a bit of a brasserie style thrown in. The menu is like many classic French restaurants, on an old fashioned chalkboard. Think chicken, coddled eggs, soups, terrines, mushrooms and exquisite desserts.

Pied de Cochon in Les Halles. See our separate individual write-up/review on the restaurant from this June.  Authentic, historical, classic – try the oysters on the half shell, the fish and any of the soups. They also serve traditional meat dishes which are worth trying depending on how hungry you are. The presentation is also lovely – think more authentic and traditional in a large but classic brasserie style than romantic but the food and service is great and the place is a known Parisian institution. The closest metro is Les Halles or St. Michel.

Classico Argentino in the Marais. Okay, this one doesn’t necessarily qualify for traditional French cuisine but it’s a great experience for old fashioned meat lovers who are also foodies so we decided to add it to the list. The closest metro is Filles du Calvaire.

Also check out the Wine Museum on 5 Square Charles Dickens / Rue des Eaux, which is the actual cellar of the former abbey of Passy in the 16th arr, so you’ll be surrounded by medieval architecture. The closest metro stop is Passy. They’re fairly well known so it may be worth calling ahead and booking in case it’s difficult to get in. It is relatively close to the Eiffel Tower right in the heart of Paris and awaits you with its 15th Century vaulted cellars. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 6. 

Be sure to see our top Paris creperie write-up (where to go for the best crepes in Paris) as well as our take on the top Paris restaurants from previous trips.

Head to Rue du Monparnasse for the Best Creperies in Paris

June 27, 2014 by  

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Welcome to Rue du Montparnasse in Paris’ 14th Arrondisement, the street of some of the best creperies in Paris. What many visitors to Paris may not realize is where the best of the best crepes originate and where they’re most well known — that’d be Brittany in the northwest region of France.

The traditionally prepared crepe is made with buckwheat flour (ble noir) and can be had as a meal, or a dessert. One of my traditions when I first land in Paris, is to find the closest creperie to my hotel and order one to go and it’s almost always the same one – ham with mushrooms (and onions or spinach if they happen to have either on hand). Most creperies are shocked when I say leave out the cheese since cheese is the core ingredient in any savory crepe.

The neighborhood of Montparnasse is full of creperies because the Gare Montparnasse is the train station that services Brittany and many of the inhabitants of that region, have settled in Montparnasse.

The top notch crêperie along this charming street and the one with the longest queues, is the traditionally decorated Le Petit Josselin Creperie, where the speciality is the Couple – two layers of galette with the filling in the middle. Josselin is known to be one of the best on the street although I found that many of the others are equally as good. Note that they’re not open on Mondays and they only take cash.

The sweet Crêpe de Froment is also incredible, which comes in three varieties: classic (honey and lemon or wonderful caramel beurre salé); flambéed with calvados; or a fantasy creation oozing with chocolate, banana, ice cream and whipped cream. The best way to have a savory crepe here is with bowls of their classic cider — go for the brut which is far better than the sweet.

Inside, you feel like you could be in Brittany, the decor is so traditional.

Le Petit Josselin Creperie

59 Rue du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, France
+33 1 43 22 91 81

Metro: Edgar Quinet or Montparnasse-Bienvenue (Vavin is also relatively closeby) 

Creperie Saint-Malo

Also located in the bustling district of la Bastille, right down the road from Le Petit Josselin on rue du Montparnasse is Creperie Saint-Malo.  The creperie has brick walls, an old wheel on the wall and is dimly lit. It’s simply adorable and offers a number of savory and sweet creperie offerings. You can sit outside at one of their dainty tables or inside at one of their classic wooden tables.

Crêperie du Pont-Aven

At the Crêperie du Pont-Aven, with its attractive red interior dating back to 1920, try the Gwazenn crêpe comes with scallops, mushrooms and cream; and the Pont-Aven which is filled with salmon, leeks and cream. They also offer eel variations and the Gwazenn crêpe, which comes with scallops, mushrooms and cream.

Plougastel Creperie has been around since 1972 and has a very romantic ambiance compared to many of the other restaurants on the street. The pancake Plougastel is one of the first Breton pancake of Paris. Today, it has preserved the philosophy that its exception: the ingredients are carefully prepared home in respect of the Breton tradition. Savour local specialties accompany Val de Rance cider. 

All of the above creperies are located on the same block as Le Petit Josselin. A couple other creperies in other parts of Paris worth noting include the Breizh Cafe in the heart of the Marais and La Creperie Bretonne Fleuri near Bastille.

BREIZH CAFE

109 Rue Vielle du Temple
3rd Arrondisement
Metro: St-Sebastien Froissart

LA CREPERIE BRETONNE FLEURI
67, rue de Charonne
11th Arrondisement
Metro: Charonne, Ledru Rollin or Bastille

Also be sure to see our top Paris restaurants review write-up, which is a fairly extensive look at the best Paris restaurants.

 

Magellan GPS RoadMate Boasts EasyTouch Screens + Android OS Support

June 26, 2014 by  

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There’s nothing easier than taking a road trip with a GPS system which can do all the work for you. I’ve been checking out the Magellan RoadMate Automotive PND GPS system, which features EasyTouch Screens and now supports the Android OS.

The RoadMate Personal Navigation Device (PND) units also include traffic and lifetime maps for a more powerful navigation experience. The EasyTouch screens react to even the softest of finger touches, which is a nice feature given how unresponsive my last GPS unit was to the “touch.” 

It comes equipped with many premium features such as landmark guidance, PhantomALERT, junction view, and free lifetime traffic alerts and map updates. All of this data helps drivers when they’re on long road trips make critical driving decisions and get to where they want to go quickly and efficiently. 

In addition to the built-in PND/GPS technology and DVR (Digital Video Recorder) capabilities of the dashcam, the newer units out can also handle a wireless back-up camera. The RoadMate 6230T-LM can display either where they are headed on the PND map, or what the live camera feed(s) immediately ahead or behind them are showing.

DVR capabilities of the dashcam allow important events during the drive to be recorded.  The video is automatically locked when an impact from an accident is detected. When the memory card is full, the automatic looping function replaces the oldest video file.

The unit also features 120-degree wide-angle viewing for a detailed look at the road. A G-Sensor detects and records any sudden motion or speed changes. As soon as any sharp braking, rapid acceleration, excessive cornering, or sudden impact occurs, the dashcam’s DVR kicks in, recording what is taking place.

The price point is a sweet deal at under $200 however the Magellan RoadMate PND with DashCam has a MSRP of $229.99, and is available to consumers starting this past April. We plan to test out our unit in more depth in the coming weeks and months ahead as we have some road trips planned on both coasts this summer.

 

Jam Audio Wireless Speakers, Where Fun & Hip Colors Meet Convenience

June 20, 2014 by  

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The Jam Audio Speakers are a great line of speakers that are ideal for travelers. Unlike so many wireless speaker lines that simply offer white, black and gray, the Jam guys offer a wide range of speakers in fun, creative colors. They’re also convenient, and by convenient, I mean, they’re compact, easy to carry around and one is even waterproof so you can bring it in the shower or to the beach with you.

The Plus Bluetooth Speakers let you pair two for true stereo sound, allowing you to connect wirelessly, up to 30 feet away from your Bluetooth friendly device without the need for cords to tie you down. Battery life is decent also, with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that deliver up to six hours of wireless play before you need to charge them up again. They are $59.99 and come in a variety of really run colors, including purple, pink, blue, yellow and silver. I have them in purple and silver, silver ideal for putting somewhere in the living room or bedroom, purple, more fun for on-the-go or to use with kids.

At the same price point, Jam XT Extreme Wireless Bluetooth Speakers are ruggedized and tough enough to really go anywhere, another ideal match for the mobile warrior. The speakers are splash proof, water proof, and drop proof with a built-in carabiner for easy transport, making them a perfect add for your luggage. For adventure and music lovers, this speaker set is great for all your outdoors fun. They have a slightly more rugged look to them and come in five colors: orange, red, black, pink and blue.


 

 

A little water shouldn’t shut down your music or your podcasts. Wirelessly connect to the Jam Splash is their waterproof speaker, which is ideal for serious music lovers who want to “jam” in the shower, in the rain or on the beach. There’s a built-in microphone that lets you wirelessly take calls as well. The unit has eight hours of battery life, is priced at $79.99 and comes in blue and gray.

Note that I had a tricky time with pairing them in the beginning but after a quick tech support call, I was sorted out. Go to jamaudio.com for more and also check out their hip and very cool blog.

Le Marais for Architecture, Music, Culture & the Best Kosher Food

June 18, 2014 by  

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Le Marais (or The Marais in English) is one of my favorite places to meander through….only thing is that for the past decade, every trip to Paris has been in December for a conference I attend there every year. I just returned from a couple of weeks in this fabulous city, one of my favorites in Europe, and was able to spend time once again in the Marais but on warm nights at the beginning of summer, from late May through early June, a perfect time to be there. See some of my photos of the Marais from a December stroll which also include the Latin Quarter.

It has long been known as the aristocratic district, housing many of the outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance in Paris. Spread across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris on the Right Bank of the Seine, it’s a magical place to walk through anytime of year. The  name means  “swamp” which once upon a time, it was.

It is now one of the major shopping areas as well as boutiques, top end designers and cafes line its well preserved narrow streets. Amidst the shops, art galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars, you’ll find a collection of old Medieval and Renaissance architecture.

In 1240 the Order of the Temple built its fortified church just outside Paris’s walls, in the northern part of the Marais and you’ll still find churches and other religious institutions in the area including the des Blancs-Manteaux, de Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie and des Carmes-Billettes convents, as well as the church of Sainte-Catherine-du-Val-des-Écoliers.

I’ve read many a book on the Marais as well as seen movies set there, since it isn’t just known for its noble start. After the nobility started to move to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, the district became a popular and active commercial area, hosting one of Paris’ main Jewish communities. At the end of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th, the district around the rue des Rosiers, referred to as the “Pletzl“, welcomed many Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazi) who reinforced the district’s clothing specialization. But, during World War II the Jewish community was targeted by the Nazis who were occupying France. And, they were taken from there, and their homes given over to Germans and non-Jewish French. The rest is history and many a’ novel and movie were created from these historical stories.

The rue des Rosiers remains part of Paris’ Jewish heritage and bookshops specialize in Jewish books, and numerous restaurants and other outlets sell kosher food. I wrote about Jewish bakery Sacha Finkelsztayn in the Marais, which is one of my favorites.

If traveling to Paris, check out some of the Paris hotels we’ve covered in the past as well as in our hotels section on WBTW and for food/wine in Paris. See my reflective post on Paris before I jumped on a plane earlier to Paris in the winter of 2012.   Below is a great video I shot in the Marais in early June of this year of a trio playing classical music. They were lovely…..I didn’t want to leave.

 

Photo credit: Goodlifefrance.com. Video: Renee Blodgett.

ShaveMate Razors Load Shaving Cream Inside, Saving Luggage Space & Weight for Travelers

June 12, 2014 by  

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ShaveMate, Titan, Diva, all-in-one simplify your shaving, a godsend when you’re on the road. We recently tried out the ShaveMate razors, and here’s what we love:

  • The beautiful curves
  • Great style and design, in other words, not your ordinary razar
  • Nice, clean and smooth shave
  • Comes in black for men or a fun pink for women
  • 6 precision razors means a much closer shave
  • Flex-neck, making it easier to use
  • Shaving cream loaded inside – this is the unique thing we got excited about with the razor and the reason we thought it would be a great option for travelers. It comes loaded with a week (or possibly more depending on how much you use) of shaving cream, making it lighter and easier to carry on the road.
They also have a unique offering where you can save through becoming a member. You simply choose to become a Club ShaveMate Member by selecting one of their razor models — either Diva or Titan and select the quantity level. Pick 3, 6, or 12 month supply then create an account with your billing and shipping details. Then, their team ships you your 3, 6, or 12 month supply of complete 6 blade All-in-One ShaveMate Razors loaded with shaving cream inside. We thought it was a fun, creative idea.

July’s Colorful Gion Festival in Kyoto Japan

June 10, 2014 by  

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July is the perfect time to be emerged in Japanese culture. The Gion Festival takes place in Kyoto throughout the entire month and is one of the three largest festivals in Japan and is also part of the Yasaka Shrine. All throughout Japan, the festival is recognized for its beauty and size.

The summer festival apparently originated about 1,100 years ago, originally as a religious ceremony which was celebrated by the Japanese people who prayed to get rid of the bad plaque in hopes of appeasing the gods. There are 66 floats, symbolizing the number of provinces that were in Japan when the festival was first celebrated.
The main attraction of the festival takes place between the 16th and the 18th and is called the Yoiyama festival. At the festival, the floats are displaced and lit up with festive music called Gion-bayashi.

During Yoiyama, people visit each float and buy good luck charms called omamori, made from sass bamboo grass used to ward off evils. There are two types of floats used in the parade yama and hoko.  The hoko floats are enormous and up to 25 meters tall and weighing up to 12 tons with unique decorations representing specific Japanese themes.

The importance of the festival is tied in Japanese history. Even today, the festival continues the tradition of selecting a young boy do be the divine messenger. Every day there are various events where different music, dancing, and food are celebrated.

Photo credit: Japan-Guide.

 

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Dominates the Skies in October

June 6, 2014 by  

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For nine days straight at the beginning of October in Albuquerque New Mexico, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta dominates the scene in this high-desert city along the Rio Grande, drawing some 700 balloonists and more than 100,000 spectators.

Every morning, hundreds of brightly colored hot-air balloons lift off into the sky just as the first golden rays of sunlight spill over the purple peaks of the Sandia Mountains. Mariachi musicians greet spectators of all ages, who stare up at the sky as they warm their hands on a cup of hot cocoa or savor a breakfast burrito laced with New Mexico’s signature roasted red or green chiles.

What began in 1972 with 13 balloons taking off from a shopping mall parking lot has grown into the world’s largest hot-air balloon event—and one of the most widely photographed events on the globe. The festival is held at the custom-designed 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park, where visitors can browse the booths of food vendors, retailers and artists. In 2000, a record-breaking total of 1,000 balloons went aloft, though since then the number has been capped at 750.

A combination of geography and climate makes Albuquerque the ideal spot for ballooning. The winds in the Rio Grande Valley vary in direction according to altitude, creating a phenomenon called the “Albuquerque box,” which allows pilots to more easily return to their starting positions.

During the city-sponsored Balloon Fiesta, spectators can walk freely through the 78-acre launch field to get up-close views of the hot-air balloons and gas balloons. Mass ascensions take place in the mornings and are worth getting up well before dawn to see. At the evening Balloon Glow, the balloonists let their burners roar simultaneously, lighting up the clear night like gigantic lanterns.

Another festival favorite is the Special Shapes Rodeo, showcasing balloons shaped like animals, cartoon characters, stagecoaches and other forms. Spectators also can watch flying competitions and fireworks, listen to live music, and book their own balloon rides through a private vendor.

This year, the 43rd Balloon Fiesta will take place October 4-12, 2014 in Albuquerque! Truly one of the world’s most spectacular events, the Balloon Fiesta attracts balloonists from around the world.

Photo credits: Albuquerque.com and 1000 lonely places.

 

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