This summer, I'm focused on channeling my inner flâneur (my favorite French word that directly translates to "lounger" and is essentially a fancy way to describe someone wandering around without a care in the world). The vibe is basically "French Riviera in the '60s" meets my current Instagram feed: a morning spent reading a paperback in the sun at a café, which rolls into an afternoon lazing on a huge rock at the beach with miscellaneous friends who have film cameras in their basket bags, which transitions into an evening that involves chilled bottles of rosé and me wearing a sundress over my bikini with a pair of espadrilles. You get the idea.
If the bougainvillea-wrapped hotels and colorful umbrella-lined beaches in your feed have you seriously considering deleting Instagram, I instead encourage you to harness all that travel envy and re-create the vibe a little closer to home. Our friends at Le Méridien Hotels very much get it, so much so that many of their U.S. hotels are undergoing a total Au Soleil takeover this summer in order to prove that the flâneur spirit of savoring the good life "under the sun" doesn't have to require a passport or even a beach. So if the South of France, the Amalfi Coast, or [insert dream vacation spot here] isn't on the agenda, just tap into the Riviera vibe in these secretly chic city destinations a little closer to home.
DO: The midwest may not be the first U.S. region you'd compare to Europe—until you think about Chicago's thriving art scene and verdant parks. Pack sunscreen, your favorite vintage board game, and all baguette sandwich essentials for a perfect picnic situation. Feel free to pretend the Bean is the Eiffel Tower; we're not here to judge.
PACK: For a day in the park, replace your summer sandals with the European sunny day shoe of choice: classic espadrilles (bonus points go to those wearing this comfortable Soludos pair featuring a cute French phrase). By the way, don't worry about your rosé or brie getting warm—this insulated cooler tote has you covered.
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
STAY: Le Méridien Delfina
DO: When you tire from all that lounging by the hotel pool why not lounge some more at the beach (just a quick bike ride thanks to the hotel's complimentary Priority Bicycles program)? While we can't promise that the water will be quite as blue or as warm as the Adriatic Sea, we can promise an equally good time and an excuse to use #beachplease on your post-vacation Instagram pic.
PACK: Keep both your beauty routine and wardrobe simple; all you'll really need for a day by the water is a little bronzed glow on your cheeks and a bikini anyway. Just be prepared to dry off and head straight to dinner somewhere fabulous where seafood (and a glass of Prosecco) is most definitely the thing to order.
DO: Colorado may be known for its über-green landscapes filled with bikers and hikers come summertime, but we prefer more relaxing outdoor activities. Enter: breweries, which are to Denver as vineyards are to Italy, so be sure to lounge in the gardens of at least a few during your stay. The live music and beautiful views will immediately put you in vacation mode, so be sure your OOO is set.
PACK: The weather is known for going from super sunny to breezy quite quickly, so pack a face mist for the daytime in that sporty shoulder bag, and keep a cool denim jacket on hand for when you lose track of time. Oh, and if you pack a deck of cards, you'll definitely be the MVP of your friend group.
STAY: Le Méridien Versailles
DO: Montréal is as close to Europe as you can get without actually taking a flight over the Atlantic Ocean (the main language there is French, after all). Embrace your inner flâneur by doing as much lounging around as possible, which ideally involves sitting at a café listening to jazz and people-watching until lunch bleeds straight into dinner.
PACK: A breezy dress, a mini bag that fits only a disposable camera, and a French girl–approved red lipstick are your must-pack items here.
DO: Nearly every European town has some form of an open-air market or food hall, and Atlanta's is catching on quickly. The vendors at Ponce City Market offer endless options, including a wine-tasting room. Take your goodies up to the roof to enjoy the full experience.
PACK: Practicality is key. Sneakers are the comfortable shoe of choice for a long day spent walking around the market, and that tote is essential for carrying fresh cheeses, produce, and breads. Fruit-themed earrings and lip balm complete the foodie vibe of the outing.