Quel Voyage!

I’ve repeated all of the reasons why this trip was a mistake to myself over and over; it was expensive, it was the wrong time, Hannah is too young to ‘get it’ …

But having weighed everything, this trip was a BARGAIN for the amount of self enlightenment that Hannah and I have both experienced.

The trip wasn’t perfect – what is? [Gallic shrug] – but, as I’m fond of saying in my classes;

Life is NOT about perfection.
Life is about dealing with the imperfections
as gracefully as possible.

And we did.

There were the inevitable meltdowns that happen whenever anyone travels with anyone else – especially in another country. But when all is said and done, I can’t think of anything big that I’d change if I had this trip to do over again, and I’m so glad we took the trip with Amy and Ellie!!

Of course, we picked the week when the dollar was as weak as possible, an as a result we spent a LOT more money on food, shopping and other sundries than we thought we would. But life is what it is, and perhaps in some ways it was an exceptional way to experience France not so much as tourists, but as folks who had a reason to count every euro carefully.

We couldn’t have paid for better weather. We lucked out royally, especially with our bike tour on Sunday. We saw Paris in the sun, in the drizzle, and caught our first whiff of Autumn-leaf eau de parfume as we walked along the Seine on Tuesday. Could life be better?

This wasn’t the gastronomic adventure that last summer’s trip was – mostly because I didn’t have the hosts that I had last year (Phil and Kris are amazing at picking restaurants!) But we didn’t have a bad meal all week – everything tasted amazing – from the simplest noisette cafe and croissant, to the more complex salads or desserts. Everything we put in our mouths made us give a tiny moan of pleasure – now THAT’s a Parisian sentiment…

Guilty Pleasure
Last night Hannah and I snuck out to KFC and got wings for her and 3 pieces for me. We ran home and crammed them into our mouths so fast we experienced a grease rush. Then, just because we felt bad, we ran out to McDonalds and got MORE wings and a fish sandwich for me, rushed back to the hotel and scarfed that down, too.

It was our last night, we’d skipped dinner to go to a lovely tea room in the 13th Arrondisement (see below) and it was our guilty American moment. And an incredibly fun one.

Slathering nutella on bananas and clementines in our room was a memorable guilty pleasure, too!

Most Special Connection
On our last night Hannah and I split off from Amy and Ellie so we could each have our final evening with our respective daughters. Han and I headed to L’Oisive The, where I’d read that there was a Wednesday night knitting group. The tea was absolutely amazing, some of the best I’ve ever had (and you KNOW how I adore tea!)

But even better than the tea, the tiny cakes and fruit (green apples for Hannah, she was in heaven!) Yes, even better than the amazing chocolate cake and the petite scoops of glacé was the company.

There were about 8 of us, knitting and chatting (en Anglaise) and having a wonderful time. I love to visit knitting groups when I’m in a new town, and this was a spectacular way to end our time in Paris. This little taste of intimate Paris, like the tiny bit of ice cream, left me wanting more – I’ll definitely be back!

I’m tempted to say, Je ne regrette rien!, but that wouldn’t be true. I wish we’d gone to Versailles, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. I wish I’d packed my ipod, but I forgot it. I wish I had more comfortable shoes (my legs and knees are in dreadful pain) and I wish I would have packed half as much as I did.

I wish I would have purchased $500 in euros last Summer.

I wish I had my REAL glasses with me. They arrived from the Marriott in Portland while I was gone.

I wish we’d been able to use our credit cards (apparently North American cards don’t work) in the Velib stations so we could have rented bikes to scoot around the city of light.

I wish the trip hadn’t coincided with Jan’s turn for the worse, and I cannot wait to see her this next week.

(or, rather, a healthy dose self respect…)
I’m most proud of actually SPEAKING French – being understood and doing more than just getting by in many instances. My French is, quite honestly, terrible. But having the chance to use it, to try, to be brave with it was priceless – and SO important for Hannah to see! I feel that now she has a grasp on what a gift a second language can be – and I hope it will make her own French studies go a bit easier than my continuous start-and-stop romance with le longue Française.

I heartily recommend the following business that we visited in Paris, these MADE our trip as p
leasant and wonderful as it was!

  • Bike Around Tours (we had an absolute BLAST! Thank you, Chris!)
  • L’Hotel Tiquitonne (they have no website, probably why they’re such a bargain… You must call & be prepared to speak FRENCH to make a reservation)
  • Breizh Cafe (wonderful, wonderful crepes. Make reservations!)
  • Frog & Rosbif (their wifi was iffy, but their beer was AMAZING!)
  • La Drogerie (lovely ribbons, trims, etc – I wasn’t terribly excited about the yarns…)
  • L’Oisive The (wonderful tea, and LOVELY atmosphere!)
  • Coquelicot (I carried a dozen Madelines home with me from this jewel in Montmartre!)
  • rue Montorgueil (the whole damn street, I kees you… And it’s near Hotel Tiquitonne…)

And now it’s 5:30 in the morning Paris time, I’ve been home for an hour (caught the tail end of the debate) and handed out the tea, tiny glowing Eiffel Tower and food chopper to the boys. Time for bed. I’m sure I’ll think of more to write about later…

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