paris, france.twenty-thirteen.day six

Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Three cheers for Emi and for what M is calling the secret magic Parisen elixir. Now that I’ve taken it he says I’m one of them. I say – thank you Emi for pointing me in the right direction for meds, for the super attentive help you’ve been from my first inquiry on AirBnB, for “the book”, for ngr, for being willing to bring me meds from your personal supply if I couldn’t get out, and for your offer to extend our stay. Nous vous aimons! Merci!!

Day 6 (Saturday): was a shopping day YAY! We decided to get out of the city a little and check out what we thought was going to be an antique type shopping village in Bercy, but it wasn’t . Cute old stone warehouses had been transformed into little stores/galleries and restaurants. We walked through a really nice photography gallery (inspired), had lunch in a microbrewery (The Frog) and the pub food didn’t disappoint. The shops didn’t really have what I was hoping for – and I’m not even sure what it was I was hoping for. You see I have this idea of shopping in a flea market and finding a great pair of earrings, or a bag that I can’t live without. Then when we stopped in a vintage shop while we were in Marais, it was all I could do to get out of it. The smell of other people’s things all together in a small dusty store gives me the heebee-geebee’s! So maybe it’s the idea of shopping in an artsy market, or the idea of just getting a good deal – because we know where the splurging happens (LV, and that visit is bound to happen).

We left Bercy, it was fun, and cute and we weren’t too disappointed, everything we see is something we didn’t know about before, so it’s all good! Next stop was Village St. Paul in Marais. Is anyone picking up a theme? We’ve gravitated to Marais, and Ils st Louis more than anywhere else in the city. Getting there from the flat takes us along the Seine, through the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed (I’ve been in this tunnel more than I’d like to think about and it’s sad every time), past the Place de Concorde and the giant Ferris wheel that every big city seems to have now (come on SF, where’s our wheel?). The architecture is mind-blowingly beautiful. I could ride past Musee d’Orsay all day long and never get tired. The Louvre is blocks long – 4 maybe 5 blocks, I should count next time. It’s enormous and beautifully detailed on the outside. I can’t wait to get to the inside and only scratch the surface.

Village St Paul was everything I had read. Artsy. Shops open, shops closed, artisans working on their craft right there in the shop, and shop keepers on the phone too busy to be bothered to assist with questions. I loved it! We found a few baubles, M made his mark with a banister (his story to tell), and we headed straight to Berthillion for ice cream as a reward!

I have surprised myself – I really haven’t done much shopping, and as far as food I’ve been good with one meal a day. One really outstanding meal. 🙂

Dinner was at Spring (in the 1st arr.), and it was fantastic! Prix-Fixe dinner, six courses, wines paired, all we had to do was eat. Heaven.

Got in some shopping, some walking, and some delicious food, I should sleep like a baby – right? That part hasn’t worked itself out yet. I’m awake most nights until 4-5am while M is sleeping 10+ hours (grr). I’m not exactly tired, so when I crash – watch out.

bon nuit!

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Best ice cream in Paris

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paris, france.twenty-thirteen.day two

It’s Christmas as I write this, my favorite day of the year. Family, food, and celebrating the birth of Christ. This is the first Christmas I’ve spent outside the US, away from family and friends, and my kids. LOVE you guys and I miss you!

Day two in Paris continued seamlessly from day one for me due to my inability to sleep. The nine hour time difference and a huge wind storm threw me off completely. Wheee! Good times with sleep deprived nat!!

We started off with a quick shopping trip with the locals preparing for their Christmas Eve dinner. A market (or alley with tons of small specialty shops) for breakfast in our first French cafe, and my first use of the language to order deux baguettes et deux expresso. Merci!

We picked up a roasted chicken and potatoes, some fruit, fromage, and deux bottles of vin! M was so smart to think ahead and make sure we had food for later in the day since shops/restaurants were all preparing to close early. After dropping off the food back at the flat we headed to Notre Dame, and Ils St. Louis.

The rain was a big part of our day, but being a native of Seattle, it was welcome and almost comforting. The cathedrals Notre Dame was everything I had imagined. historic, cold, dark, full of symbolism and mystery. It was crowded, but not overbearing. People from all over the world sat for mass, and quietly, politely and respectfully toured the church. The arches, buttresses, gargoyles, and stained glass was breathtaking. I stood in awe of the work that went into building the structure, and how much love it has taken to maintain it for centuries.

I am not Catholic, so a lot of the symbolism was lost on me, but I can appreciate those who practice and live by the things I saw. I did partake in a candle lighting for the first time. In the last 8 weeks my family has been blessed with two new babies (baby Harrison and baby Parker – you are the next generation and we love you!) , and we’ve also been hit with the cancer diagnosis of one my very young cousins. He is strong, like his father, and he is loved by all of us. He and my cousin and his wife have been on my mind this entire trip – and when I saw the prayer book I knew I had to record a request for prayer for him, his family and all of us during this time. his cancer is treatable, and I know he will beat this!

After Notre Dame we walked to one of two bridges in Paris where you and your true love can profess your love in writing on a padlock, lock it to the bridge and toss the key into the river. The only way to break your vow of love is to find the key and remove the lock. One bridge is for lovers, and the other is for commitment. Guess which one has the most locks!

Ils St Loius is the original Paris. Where it all began, and it was delightful! We had an amazing lunch at Mon Ami (no reservation, I just liked the name so we went in)- and I was forced (gently) to use my French. The restaurant was small so everyone got a kick out of my apprehension, and then success. Oh Parisians, you are so charming!! We walked the island, peeked in on preparations for a holiday performance in one of the oldest stone theaters I’ve ever seen, then taxi’d home. We ate a very late dinner, celebrated Christmas nine hours before our family and friends, and I forced myself to stay awake until midnight. Day three should be much better as far as jet lag goes!

have I said it yet?? I LOVE Paris!!

xo- n&m

paris, france, twenty thirteen

I made it. We made it. This years vacation took many turns, and was going to be expensive no matter how we sliced it because we wanted to take advantage of the time A and S give us for Christmas and New Years Day. There was the mention of Tahoe early on, and a winter train trip through Southern Europe (backpacking like we are 20yr olds), and then there was a family house in Whistler, Canada. I worked on the Whistler house and found out that we started that idea waaaay too late. so M knowing how much I love France (and that due to my fall in Vegas and subsequent shoulder surgery – my previous NatGeo trip had been cancelled) threw Paris in the mix- and I was sold. No more options. I had to figure out how to break it to the family without feeling too horribly guilty.
We were going to Paris -10 days. Spending Christmas and New Years in one of the most amazing cities in the world. A city I’ve wanted to visit since my first day in French class with Miss. Annamarie Lee. Miss. Lee taught us in a way that France came alive for me. We cooked French meals, learned and performed French plays, and had French names. She allowed no English in her class and I loved her for that. 7th through 12th grade I studied French, I then took 3-4 quarters in college, and have even taken classes outside of college to keep it alive in my brain.

The trip planning was actually really easy. Once we knew our days, I ventured over to Airbnb to see what was available. (First time Airbnb user – highly recommend it). I actually never looked at hotels, no particular reason, I just didn’t think about it. For 10 days in one place, a hotel can be the most expensive part of your trip – so we wanted something more spacious with laundry and a kitchen, and that’s exactly what we found in the Passey neighborhood very close to the Eifelle Tower. That was another thing, I had no idea what part of the city was a good part, if we’d need a car, or if we were going to be central enough to everything we wanted to see. After the first apartment came back as unavailable, I crossed my fingers that the second one we liked would work – and it did. Emi has been our point of contact, taking care of our reservation and she has been amazing. Whenever I had a question she was quick to respond, she’s very helpful, and provided lots of tips on things to see and do. Side note: She is friends with the owner of the flat who has recently moved to San Francisco to open a French bakery not far from our house. How small is this world!!?!

So with a flat booked, I watched airline prices closely, and I did all I could to avoid a 20+hr trip with 1-2 layovers. I think we ended up doing okay with an 11hr direct flight from SFO for a little over $1k each (remember we are traveling over the holidays) cha ching!
Flight was easy, did a last minute upgrade to economy plus for the legroom, and had to pay for a single piece of extra luggage – and Mr M’s overweight bag. Huuuhmmph. Not MY overweight bag – HIS. so we have a game plan for handling that coming home, and we’ll be working on it while we’re here.

Highlights/lowlights from Day 1:

It was Comedy Central getting our luggage. M says its on the #2 luggage thing, and we waited and waited and waited, nothing came to carousel #2. People were hanging about but none of them I recognized. I asked if it could be at a different carousel and he said, no – they said #2. LOL. So we waited some more, and I finally got up and walked to carousel #3… and low and behold who’s luggage was the only luggage spinning around the carousel all lonely! I swear you have to allow your man to do his thing for only so long – then you just have to step in and get shit done!!

Next was transportation. We were given two options for metro/train (over an hour and a half), and were accosted by multiple taxi drivers (legal and illegal), but we had done some pre work and understood that Uber (our favorite car service) was available in Paris, and it works exactly the same way as in the states. (If you don’t know about Uber – check it out!!) so we called (or we tried to call) cell service, wifi, data roaming – augh!! Finally got a pick up ordered, and our very French speaking driver calls to find out where to pick us up. Well, we don’t know this airport. Signs are in French and some English, and we don’t know where taxis pick up!!! With the help of a shady taxi hustler, we figured out that we were on the wrong level – so another call to the driver and he says 5 mins – meet on departures. We say door 32, he says okay and then calls back to say door 22, and calls again to say door 24. We are shlepping 6 bags between us (one HEAVY as marked by United airlines) but we finally make it to him, and the ride is as Uberliscois as it is at home. He was quiet, allowed us to take in what we are seeing from the airport into the city, and he pointed out major attractions as we passed them.

Next, check in at our flat! We arrived at 11:30am, and Emi was in N France with her family for the holidays, so the housekeeper Christina (who speaks no English) was meeting us, but she was going to be late -12:15 ish. 6 bags, tired, hungry and tired we made our way to the “American Mall” across the street from the flat to maybe find a bite to eat. No such luck, but there’s a Gap, an H&M, and Starbucks! Seriously, did we just fly 11hrs to hear Rihanna on the mall speakers? Come on!! At noon, we walked over and were welcomed into the cutest apartment ever I want to LIVE here forever! We spoke with Emi on the phone and Christina showed us around a bit and she was gone. We had the place to ourselves, luggage put away, and the neighborhood to explore for food!

A short walk around we found lots of cute boutiques, beautiful old world, super classy, nouveau riche architecture, a few pharmacies (just in case), and about four blocks away, we turned the corner and there she was in all her beautiful glory!! The Eiffel Tower!! Stunning, breathtaking, and so beautiful. I had to get closer, so we walked towards the bridge over the river Seine and even closer until we were nearly underneath. We snapped some photos, and some selfies and started our walk to find food before M was going to evaporate into thin air due to hunger. LOL

After lunch, there was a nap (shouldn’t have taken mid day because I’m up now tying this in the wee hours), and another jaunt out for dinner at local restaurant. Everyone has been so accommodating our minimal French – AND they laugh at their minimal English so it works out. One more stop to see the tower lit up at night and a nice walk home on the quiet cobble stone streets of Paris. I’m really here!! And I can’t believe it!!!

Wake up M – it’s time to start day 2!!

-xo
natalie

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