Where to Eat: Le Refuge des Fondus in Paris, France

When most people think of Paris, they think of decadence and elegance. Between the high fashion and timeless landmarks, there’s a reason the City of Love has this reputation. It’s also known for its cuisine, which can basically be described in one word – indulgence. Chocolate, croissants, croque-monsieur, and of course, plenty of cheese. While there are many places you can dine with the quintessential Parisian elegance, sometimes you just want to stuff your face with melted cheese and not want to put your pinky up while doing so. Hence, I give you Le Refuge des Fondus.

Location and Atmosphere

Located in the Clignancourt area near the Sacré-Cœur cathedral, Le Refuge des Fondus (17 Rue des Trois Freres, 75018, Paris, France) is exactly what it sounds like – a mecca for fondue lovers. The food alone is enough to make you want to write about this place in your diary, but it’s the charm and grit of the restaurant that really make it memorable.  The entire restaurant fits about 40 people, all of whom are seated family-style at two large tables running up and down each wall of the restaurant. You will certainly get to know your neighbors well!  The wait staff has the typical French frostiness and make no efforts to hide it, but hey, what can you expect? It's Paris!

Food and Drinks

With no menus in sight, we were suggested to order “two meats and two cheeses.” Next, we were asked one simple question – red or white? The mix of the language barrier and the crazy atmosphere of the restaurant left us a little confused, and we were certainly shocked when they returned with eight baby bottles filled with wine! Given that space is limited, it actually makes sense from a logistical standpoint – no spillage.

Once the fondues arrived, we were grateful for the waiter’s forcefulness in ordering for us, for he knew exactly what we needed. The cheese fondue was something that will live in my dreams for the rest of eternity. For the meats, we were given a pot of hot oils and bite size pieces of steak to cook in it. The combination of the flavors in the oil and the homemade sauces on the side was to die for.


With its simplistic menu and undeniable charm, it’s no wonder that there’s a line out the door to get in (get there early!). If you find yourself in Paris and in need of some laughter and cheese, make the trip to this restaurant. You will not regret it!

Insider Tip: Try to avoid wearing 5-inch heels, because the people sitting on the benches against the wall are instructed to climb over the table to get to their seat. So, yes, when the waiter reaches out his hand to help you do so, he’s quite serious.

- Abby Rasweiler 

How to Tackle Mallorca, Spain in 18 Hours

Each time I mention to someone new that I am studying abroad in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, I am met with the same response – “How can you get any studying done in a place like that?” While my typical response is to laugh it off and launch into an anecdote about the trials and tribulations of the Spanish university system, I must admit these people do have a point. Palma, the capital city of Mallorca, is a vacationers dream, boasting everything from perfect weather and untouched beaches to mountain hikes and delicious food.

As much as I would love to argue that you need a lifetime to understand what the island has to offer, beggars cannot be choosers, and visitors are often on a tight schedule.  So, in the interest of making the most of a short time on the island, here is the best way to tackle Mallorca in 18 hours!

The Cathedral

As one of the largest cathedrals in all of Europe, you couldn’t miss this one even if you tried. The massive church rests atop the old city and looks out over the Mediterranean. As spectacular as it is from the outside, the inside is really breathtaking. Avoid the ticket lines and get in for free by attending one of the daily masses. Upon arrival, simply ask the guards what time the next mass is scheduled for.

Las Ramblas and Passeig del Borne

Walking down these picturesque streets will have you falling in love with Palma in seconds. With towering trees overhead and flower markets flanking each side, it’s easy to feel like you’ve somehow ended up on a movie set.

Plaza España, Plaza Major, and Plaza de Cort

One thing that any Spanish city has an abundance of is plazas. Get lost in the winding streets and you will undoubtedly find yourself in one of these unique centers of the city. Each plaza has its own personality and its own offerings (shopping, restaurants, museums), making it worth it to find as many as you can.

Rent a Bike

Palma is filled with bike shops where you can rent a ride for the day for as little as 5 Euros. This is one of the best ways to move about the city, specifically to see the coastline. You can easily ride along Passeo Maritimo to see the ocean, and continue down to the outskirts of the city for some tapas right along the water. On the other end, you can ride all the way to the Porto Pi shopping center and stop at the Museo Histórico Militar de San Carlos for magnificent views.

Hop on a Bus

Whether it be the public bus or the hop-on-hop-off tourist edition, buses are often one of the best ways to get around the city easily and inexpensively. Take the public EMT bus line 3 to Cala Mayor or a little farther to Illetes – both gorgeous beaches to spend the day a little outside the city.

Grab Lunch

Mallorca is famous for its food, and the capital is filled with restaurants for everything from a quick tapa to a luxuriously long comida.  My recommendations are:

            Tapas - Casa Gallega, Tast, Bar Bosch

            Coffee Stop - La Molienda, Tudurí

            DinnerNemos, Arrocería Sa Cranca

No matter how long you are there, Mallorca is enchanting. Embrace the tranquila lifestyle, relax, and enjoy your trip.

- Abby Rasweiler