I'm writing you with a full stomach and a contented heart because we've just spent a week in Bretagne (Brittany in English). Bretagne is on France's northwestern coast below Normandy, and it's a popular vacation destination for Parisians who want get out of the city. It's an area with Celtic culture that can be seen in the age-old erected menhirs and dolmens--great Stonehenge-like monoliths that you might recall from Asterix comic books. We didn't see those rocks, though we enjoyed hiking among similar ones with my distant relatives. Actually, I should say my probable relatives--we haven't proved we're related, but genealogy suggests we are and we share a variation of my maiden name. I enjoyed staying with this retired couple ten years ago, and this past week my husband and children got to join me in experiencing their amazing hospitality.
Our two-week stay in Paris flew by--probably because we did so much more than I expected. We could have easily enjoyed staying longer if our budget and schedule allowed it, but we have French friends to visit as well, so I'm now writing you from the lovely stone home of my distant relatives in Bretagne. But before I jump too far ahead, here's where we went and what we did in Paris, starting with the most family-friendly and descending to the least family-friendly, in my opinion:
As a passionate Francophile, I'm thrilled that my family's stay in Paris this month coincided with Bastille Day. (The French always call it Le 14 juillet, but the day is in memory of the storming of the Bastille in 1789.) my husband and I had heard about the military parade on the Champs-Elysées and the unforgettable fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, but we didn't know exactly where to go for the best views or how to escape the crowd afterwards. Here's what we learned:Read More
The top tourist sites in Paris are its museums and monuments, but Le Jardin des Plantes is an excellent choice for families looking for a peaceful, educational, and fun destination within walking distance from Notre Dame de Paris. (I suggest taking the Metro, though, if you have little ones in tow.) This garden is France's main botanical garden, and it houses a zoo, a carousel, an amazing animal display (La Grand Gallerie de l'Evolution), and several other museums focused on natural history.
Many people might not consider taking their children to France's museums but even young children can appreciate the Louvre's incredible treasures in its opulent palace setting. You can pique your child's interest with the Louvre's own interactive site for children or printing out their treasure hunts for families (select parcours-jeux on their family page).
On the first Sunday of the month, many museums in France offer free admission. We'd planned to take advantage of this offer to visit the Louvre (the world's most visited museum), but instead we went the following day, thinking that it would be less crowded if most people had come the day before. Perhaps this was true, but in summer there are such hoards of tourists that any dip in attendance was imperceptible! You can try to avoid the crowds by arriving early or when the Louvre is open very late on Wednesdays or Fridays. (Kids under 18 enter free everyday.)
Bonjour les amis! We're in Paris! This is my first trip back to France in eight years, and It's great to be able to share this city with my husband and children. (He and I were last in France when I was two months pregnant with our first child.) I hope to write more frequently about our experiences here, so Intentional Mama will be more of a travel blog for a while, d'accord? Here's how we're adjusting, and what we've learned the hard way:Read More
Halló from Iceland! We're in Reykjavic on a five-day stopover before we continue on to France. Did you know you can stopover in Iceland for free when flying Iceland Air to or from Europe? This is our first time doing so, and we've had an amazing experience. We exchanged homes with an Icelandic family through HomeExchange.com and staying in their home has been one of the best blessings of our stay. We've also had a chance to visit one of our former exchange students and her family, so we've truly had a great time! In case you get a chance to visit here or know someone who will, here are our tips for a great family vacation in Iceland:Read More
In preparation for our trip to France (we leave next week!), I’ve been re-reading Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik’s essays on five years of living in France with his wife and young son. It’s a perfect read now, because in the weeks before I leave for France I always develop a small undercurrent of fear—fear that perhaps France won’t be the same.Read More