Bon Jour from France!
After years of being a long-distance, hard-core Francophile, I’m discovering if my love affair was valid.
My family and I are on a journey that I’ve been dreaming of for years. Five weeks, ten stops, and four countries will awaken new desires, form new loves and broaden our thoughts and minds.
I’m so glad I get to take you along with me. Each of you have truly been in my thoughts along this trip. I’ve wondered what you’d like to see. I’ve thought about what special items I can find to offer as prizes to some of you. I’ve thought about those of you who’d like to take a trip like this and what information I could share to help you make travel plans. I’ve wondered, what will entertain you, what will awaken a sleeping travel bug and what will give you fuel for your own dreams?
Our journey begins in Paris.
I think my family truly thought I’d fall to my knees and kiss the ground in a flood of tears as we arrived in Paris. I will admit to a few tears in the plane as it came into view, however the stress of knowing where to go and what to do once we arrived was forefront on my mind disembarking from the plane.
My theme for this trip has been, “Be brave Little Piglet!” So immediately I had to be brave and ask the question we ask so much here, “Excusez-moi, parlez-vos Anglais?” – “Do you speak English?” and I received the answer we’ve heard so much, “Un peu” – “A little.”
After asking once and then going back to ask again, we did find the bus. Shockingly, two other Americans were also waiting for the bus. They said their mom lived in my hometown; now THAT is a “small world” occurrence.
Before I precede, let me explain about my Piglet reference. Once at a writer’s conference I made the mistake of encouraging a stranger with that quote. She did not know that it was a FAMOUS quote by Owl made to Piglet in Winnie the Pooh’s Grand Adventure, she also said, “Are you calling me a pig!!!” I’m careful now when I use that quote.
Once at our apartment, we had our first of many experiences with the language barrier. We were about ready to sleep on the street when we finally figured out how to gain access to our apartment.
If you plan on visiting Paris, be prepared to walk! I knew I needed to be in shape for this trip. I began six months in advance and began walking and enjoying the Stairmaster. (not) I am thankful for the preparation I did as it enabled me to keep up with my family as we walked all over Paris and to climb the countless number of stairs that we climbed.
We visited all of the regular tourist destinations and they are all worth visiting. Our apartment was just off the circle where the Arc de Triomphe stands, so we saw that daily. We chose not to up in the Eifel tower but just to enjoy it from below. This was where the greatest number of people were. The crowds were overwhelming, as were the guys selling cheap trinkets every five feet, but I still highly recommend not missing this Paris icon. Ok, I cried when I saw the Eiffel tower also. It’s a surreal experience.
Seeing the renovation in process at Notre Dame was not sad as I assumed it would be, but instead it gave me hope for its future. The Paris landmark was covered in scaffolding and you could see the work in progress.
Some of our favorite events and sights were our Seine River dinner cruise. We especially loved after a scrumptious dinner, going up on the top of the boat and viewing Paris by twilight.
Emily would tell you that the Louvre was amazing. As our resident history and archeology buff she was in her happy place.
I loved going to the famous bookstore Shakespeare and Co. but was highly disappointed that they were closing, and I didn’t have time to find a book to purchase for myself. (I did get one for my granddaughter)
We enjoyed the sidewalk cafes and ate almost every meal at a different one. The food was amazing, even if at times we didn’t know what we were ordering. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the markets and individual shops – Boulangeries, patisseries and purchasing the yummiest fruit I’ve had in years.
Baguettes and fromage shops are everywhere and they are a mean trick to play on a gluten and dairy free girl. I did try a nibble of the bread and had no immediate consequences. I may try a little more when I’m not walking the streets of Paris.
Paris in the Rain
Paris is a beautiful city, but when it rains, it’s even more lovely. The water on the cobblestone streets shimmers and glows. Umbrellas were everywhere and a wet day was no reason for any Parisian to stay indoors. My favorite photo so far for the entire journey was an accident, It looks like a watercolor picture that ran.
My warnings for Paris are – Montmartre area is extremely crowded just below the Sacre’ Coeur with nothing but cheap tourist shops, however do see the cathedral and go up into the dome for an amazing view of Paris. I confess I stayed down, and I recommend skipping the endless spiral staircase for those with tight space issues.
There are rats in Paris. They freaked me out! While sitting in a sweet little park in the Latin quarter, two scurried near my feet. I confess, my feet shot up in the air and I may have looked like a crazy American. That rat had better have been rushing off to make a mean batch of ratatouille.
Paris is a beautiful city. The buildings and architecture were a delight for a girl with a French décor obsession. It’s a busy, thriving city, filled with thousands of years of history. It’s a destination worth dreaming about and one to add to your bucket-list.
With Paris checked off my list, I can say I am still a Francophile but I’m ready to head to the countryside where my heart truly lives.
Is the travel bug biting? Is France calling your name?
Be sure to enter my contest for “The Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Just comment on one of my blog posts during my journey, be subscribed to my blog and you will be entered to win. Enter multiple times with multiple comments.
I’m still searching for some wonderful French treats to bring home and add to the prize collection. So be sure you are subscribed and don’t miss out.
My daughters have also been blogging. They are funny, have an 18-year-old’s perspective and Anna is a great photographer. Be sure to check them out. Just click on The Traveling Twins.
I’m posting photos daily on Facebook and Instagram. Join me on each.
I’m excited to share some great news with you that I got before we left. My unpublished children’s book, “Will you Hear my Prayer,” won third place at the North Carolina Christian Writers Conference. I’m also very close to being finished with all of my edits for, “The Broken Crayon.” It won’t be published until next year, but we’re getting closer.
Be sure to leave a comment and be entered for a chance to win “The Most Beautiful Villages of France.”