Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Paris in the Spring

After two days in Versailles and a morning spent touring the new Paris temple, we were only left with a few hours to spend in my favorite city. 

The train from Versailles and finding luggage lockers to store our bags ate up almost half of that time. Getting lunch took up another hour... which only left us about an hour before we had to head to the airport. It was better than nothing, but much less than I wanted!

Our lunch was pretty worth it, though. We did some research beforehand and decided to try out a place called Breakfast in America. The owner, an American who lives in Paris, didn't like that the only American food available in France was fast food (and not even the good kind, just the McDonald's kind). He decided to open an American breakfast restaurant. I guess it's done pretty well, because now they have 3 locations!

My pancakes and maple syrup tasted just like home! It was delicious! It's funny how you start to crave things when you can't have things. I've never found thick American pancakes in France. You can find maple syrup if you really try, but at our grocery store its 9 euros for a TINY bottle. It was also fun to have an American waiter, because waiters in Paris are usually not the most friendly of people ;)

I noticed on the map that the restaurant was near some of Paris' covered shopping galleries. I hadn't been inside one since my study abroad a long time ago, so after lunch we google mapped it over to Galerie Vivienne. Pretty!

It's been bothering me for a while that I've never made it to Paroisse Saint-Eustache, a church in central Paris (just outside of the entrance to Les Halles). I don't know how I missed it before, but now I can check it off my list. 

For the rest of our short time in the city, I decided to just wander and hope we didn't get too lost. Wandering in Paris usually ends up being worth your time.

We eventually ended up in the Tuileries Gardens.

Ending up there worked out perfectly because there was a direct metro line to the train station! From there it was off to Orly airport and we were back in the south of France after just an hour flight. Me and David both feel like weekends seem longer when you pack so much in! We were only in Paris/Versailles from Saturday noon-Monday night, but it didn't feel like that. 

David will need to go to Paris for his green card interview once his American immigration process progresses. Of course, I'm planning on piggy backing onto that trip and squeezing out all the time I can in "my" city.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A French wedding fête and a Swiss sightseeing day

Remember when we got married? It's been 8 months now!! Well... back in September, David's parents were the only members of his family that were able to make it to our wedding in the U.S. 

His aunt and uncle offered to host a belated French wedding party for us so they could celebrate too- and it happened last week! They live very close to the Swiss border, so we also used the weekend as an excuse to explore Switzerland. We planned the party to coincide with my family's Europe trip so they could meet more of David's family too. And also have an excuse to explore Switzerland.

I hadn't seen my family for about 4 months, so it was great to reunite!!!

We were all tired from traveling- they obviously had jet lag, and due to me and David's delayed flight, we hadn't gotten to bed until 2am the night before. Not to mention both my mom's and Jenna's suitcases were lost!! But we still persevered and got in some fun sightseeing before the party.

With the whole crew (our parents, his aunt and uncle, my sister and brother-in-law), we walked around downtown Geneva and stopped in 2 small Swiss towns along the lake.




It almost all went off without a hitch, besides the small dent in the rental car that happened as my dad got used to tiny European streets :)  He had to assure David's family that in 38 years of driving in the U.S. he'd never done something like that before. Gotta keep up the reputation.

They prepared a huge feast for the party! There was so much good food that even two picky eaters like David and myself were fully satisfied. In all, about 20 people were there. We watched a slideshow of our wedding pictures and had fun speaking an interesting mix of French and English together. I was surprised at the hidden talent English skills of some of David's family! Apparently their English only comes out when they're among people who literally speak not one word of French :)

A highlight for me was watching my family be subjected to the cheek kiss greeting for the first time in their lives. It's added fun because some people in the family do 3 and some do 2... so you never know who will lean in for a 3rd when you're pulling away! It was comforting to not be the only awkward American in the room who didn't know what they were doing.

I think French people are better at partying than Americans. The meal had several courses and the desserts (yes, that's plural) didn't come out until past 11pm. It was a great night, but we (at least me and my family) were falling into bed when it was over! We're so thankful to David's family for giving/finding us places to stay, taking us sightseeing, cooking so much good food and throwing a fun party! 

On the off chance that one of them reads this I should probably translate...

Ma famille et moi sommes tous très reconnaissants pour tous que vous avez fait pour nous- pour nous avoir hébergé/trouvé un hôtel, pour toute la bonne nourriture que vous avez cuisiné, pour nous avoir fait visiter la Suisse, et pour organiser une super fête!

 Merci Nicole, Antonino, Marcelle, and Xavier!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Versailles Gardens: also a love story

I'm behind! On everything! Including this blog. It's been a crazy week. My whole family was here, and we made it to 4 different countries in 10 days. We had a wonderful time in Switzerland, France, Monaco, and Italy. I'm so excited to write about our family vacation, but first it's time to play catch up and finish writing about our weekend trip to Versailles from a few weeks ago.

After spending Saturday inside the palace, thankfully the weather cooperated enough to let us spend Sunday enjoying the gardens. Despite this being my 8th time at Versailles, I'd never visited the gardens during the fountain show. The gardens are huge and full of fountains, but they are only turned on during spring and summer on specific days.

What a difference it makes! There was also classical music playing and some of the fountains were choreographed according to the music. It's already a magical place, but this really put it over the top.

I couldn't help myself. We've been married for 8 months now... I still don't think David's quite used to the fact that once in a while I dance in public and make him take pictures.

Before making our way around to see all of the fountains, our first stop was taking the trolley over to the Grand and Petit Trianons. The trianons are small mansions where the royal family could get away from their very public lives in Versailles. Anyone off the street who was dressed well enough could come inside the palace and try to get a glimpse of the king and queen. So you can imagine the appeal of being able to get away to a more private place.

#tbt at the Trianon in 2015 v. 2017!
Louis XVI gave the Petit Trianon to his wife Marie Antoinette, breaking the long-standing French king tradition of using it as a convenient place to stash their mistresses. Marie Antoinette-themed art and her monogram are all over this place <3

There are so many beautiful pavilions and statues around these gardens! Every time you turn a corner you know you'll come across something else like this.

Oh, Versailles. I don't think I could ever get tired of you. The palace itself is wonderful... but the gardens alone are 100% worth seeing. 

8 fingers for my 8th time at the palace!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Walk around Cannes with me!

I've tried this year to write a little bit more about my everyday life instead of only writing long travelogues about everywhere I visit. Of course, long travelogues filled with pictures are still my favorite thing to write, so that's not going away! 

Here's a look into what I do during a normal week.

There are usually 2 main things I do to get out of the apartment and amuse myself: hanging out on the beach with my book, or walking around downtown Cannes. 

We live in Cannes but not close enough to the downtown area to walk there. Well, I did one time when I was really bored- but it took a whole hour. Taking the train is pretty easy though! 1 euro and 4 minutes later, and you're right downtown.

If I'm in a sightseeing mood, I go to Le Suquet, the old part of town.

If I'm in a window-shopping mood, I go to the Croisette and stalk Chanel or other equally expensive store windows.

If I'm in a shopping mood (which I usually am) AND I have money to spend (which I usually don't), I go to Rue d'Antibes or Rue Meynadier. 

Rue d'Antibes comes very close to having every store I like in Europe and then some. It has TWO Zaras, so that's already a good start. 

These are the Zara KIDS clothes. So imagine how cute the grown-up clothes are.

If I need a shopping energy boost, I stop at Ladurée on Rue d'Antibes for a macaron (or two).

Mmmm tastes like Paris

But my favorite street in Cannes is Rue Meynadier! It is a narrow, pedestrian-only street. Cannes is not a historic city. It's easy to get spoiled in France visiting centuries-old places all the time. This is the street in Cannes that feels the oldest and "most European" to me, and that makes me happy.

So what can you find on the Rue Meynadier? A little bit of everything! 

Restaurants line about 1/3 of the street. The French LOVE to eat outside, so tables and chairs take up a lot of space on this narrow little road.

If you want typical Provence souvenirs, you can buy local fabrics or handmade soap and potpourri made from local flowers.

You might want to bring the potpourri along if you're planning on stopping inside the fromagerie :)

If you want hit up the beach later, there are a half-dozen stores selling swimsuits, flip flops, and other vacation wear.

The souvenir t-shirts are more glamorous than what you'd find in other cites. They look like something you could wear on a yacht. There are hundreds of yachts parked a few hundred yards away in the port, so that makes sense.

Cute shoes are pretty much a given on most French streets. 

Not pictured are the bakeries, a bookstore, a grocery store, 3 makeup stores, and several well-dressed old ladies wearing fur coats accompanied by their well-dressed little dogs. We've learned living here that most of the locals are rich old people. So we don't really fit in too well.

I didn't know much about Cannes before I moved here in October. It's a pretty small city, but I enjoy the glamour! This week it's the 70th annual Cannes film festival. I will be checking out the craziness and paparazzi downtown next week with my whole family in tow! We're flying to Geneva tonight to meet up with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. After a few days in Switzerland with David's family, they'll get a tour of our home turf here in Cannes.