Archive for November, 2023

This was it – our last full day!  It’s hard to believe that just six weeks ago we were waking up to a sunny morning in Paris – that view and that weather and those 10 am sleep-ins feel almost like a dream now…  That said, RISE AND SHINE, KIDDO!  Time to carpe diem.

We actually had very little on our set agenda for the day – we’d done our major sight-seeing and were looking forward to a day of wandering, park-sitting, and Coke-drinking.  First though, breakfast!

We ordered up a spread at Au Rocher de Cancale on Rue Montorgueil.  Croissants and an an omelet and orange juice and a cappuccino and tea and a side of baguette with jam, because it’s Paris.

Since we were in the neighborhood, we walked through Eglise Saint-Eustache – this is one of those cathedrals that seemed to perpetually be under construction during my previous times in Paris, so I’m not sure I’d ever been in before.

It was worth the pop-in.

We picked up some market fare and then Metro’d over to Jardin de Luxembourg for a picnic lunch.

This girl…the Metro was completely overwhelming to her on our first couple of days in the city.  She had a faulty ticket upon our arrival and had trouble with the turnstiles; it made her skittish about navigating transit.  But a few days in and she was breezing through the Metro tunnels, telling me when the next train would arrive and acting like she owned that platform.  Urban life ain’t got nothing on Juliette.

We parked ourselves at a couple of green chairs at the Jardin de Luxembourg and pulled out our sunglasses and books.

I’m going to refrain from calling this park “my favorite” because I have a tendency to over-use the words “my favorite” when speaking of all things Paris, but…IT’S THE BEST.

And…let’s eat!

We polished off our lunch and snapped a few photos in the gardens before setting off in search of gifts to take home to the family.

We picked up a handful of goodies for Shane and for my parents, who would be in Seattle when we arrived home, took a spin through Saint Sulpice, and then decided it was Happy Hour.

Cafe time!  I soaked it up.  Juliette told a friend of ours at dinner tonight about how much she liked just hanging out at the cafes in Paris and the friend remarked, “Wow!  Sounds so grown-up!”.  And it really was.  But also, it wasn’t?  We played cards and told silly stories and it still felt very sweet in a mother-kiddo kind of way.

We ambled back toward the Marais, opting to hang by the Seine for a bit on the way to watch the boats go by.  I can’t emphasize enough how luxurious it was to just stop and sit whenever we felt like it.

Pastel hour…

And then back to our tried-and-true Pizza Sant Antonio, for pasta and one last Spritz.  I know, we coulda shoulda woulda ventured out and tried something new, but there was something special about already feeling like we had “our place” after just a few days in the neighborhood.

I awoke with mixed emotions on Saturday.  Leaving this place always hurts, but we were both missing our guys something fierce and felt more than satisfied with the gifts Paris had lavished upon us.  We had time for one last walk through the Place des Vosges…

One last croissant…

And one last cafe visit, this time on Ile Saint Louis.

Properly carbed and caffeinated, we headed back to the apartment, me freeze-framing every last memory along the way.

And revoir Paris!  And maybe a bientot?  I don’t know…the jury is out on if and when Juliette and I will go back.  Right now I’m just eternally grateful for that dream of a week in my favorite place with my favorite girl.

And extra-super-duper-eternally grateful for the guy that made it all happen.  For Shane, who pushed us out the door when I wavered, who never spoke of the hard moments he had with Isaac that week, though I’m sure they existed.  Watching Juliette fly into his arms at SeaTac, my heart fluttered a bit.  He loves us both so damn much.

And Buddy!  Mama’s home.  I’ve got something to show you, in about eight years…

Wednesday was art day – Juliette and I decided that we’d visit just one big museum on our trip and when she asked me pick one, I quickly decided on the Pompidou, as I knew she’d like the modern vibe.  Plus, ok, it’s my fave.  First, though, breakfast!

Ah, the climb to the galleries through the glass-tubed escalators.  Such anticipation!

We wandered among the paintings and sculptures, pausing at whatever piqued Juliette’s interest.

And then at my old friends Dubuffet and Miro.

Rooftop views of Rue St. Martin…

And the descent.  Lunchtime!

We lunched in style at the Hotel du Louvre, lingering extra-long over our cold drinks to rest our museum-worn feet.

And since we were in the neighborhood…a quick pop over to the courtyard of the Palais Royale.

Though our morning at the Pompidou had nearly art-ed us out, Juliette couldn’t say no when I asked if she wanted to visit the Galerie Dior to see the designer’s massive fashion exhibit.  I had her at the word “dresses”.

We walked from one display to the next, choosing our favorite gown from each grouping.  Juliette often chose the flowiest, most decorative pieces.  My girl’s got a flair for the fancy.

I was suddenly feeling a little schlumpy in my jeans and sneakers…

Whew…staircase of her dreams.

We were legitimately beat after Dior – the long hours on our feet and the visual overload of art-viewing had zapped us.  But we energy-boosted with pizza, Coke, and a Spritz.  Every time we stopped at a sidewalk cafe for a beverage break, I could feel our tanks refilling, heart icons lining up before my eyes like they do on video games when the hero wins extra lives.

And to top it off, hot chocolate from Carrette, which came with an obscene tower of freshly whipped cream.  This stuff was RICH.

But so, so yummy.

Seconds, Jules?  “Don’t mind if I do!”, she said.

It was a short walk to Place du Trocadero from Carrette and we found an open spot to sit and watch the sun go down on the Tour Eiffel.

Wait for it…

It’s happening…

There she is!  All lit up and looking fine.  We walked down to the river, snapped a few photos, and then crossed the bridge for a closer-up view.

We stayed long enough to watch the sparkle show that occurs on the hour, which made Juliette gasp, and then high-tailed it back to our apartment where we once again slept like babies.

Thursday we were up early, out the door at 10:00 sharp (early is relative in Paris!) to catch a train out to Versailles.  Quality coffee to-go is becoming more and more of a thing in Paris and I was glad I’d reserved us enough time to pop into White for a latte and a chai.

We made it to Versaille’s front doors right on schedule, thankful that we’d bought advance tickets and could skip the line that snaked through the courtyard.  We spent the first 30 minutes in the less-crowded wing of the palace, getting a feel for it all.  And it was all unlike anything Juliette had ever seen before.

Eventually we joined the mass of tourists making their way through the Hall of Mirrors.  Such grandeur!

After the 87th gold-leafed, crystal-chandaliered room, we felt like we’d maxed out on opulence and decided to head out to the gardens.

Sitting felt good.

I was surprised to see so many flowers still in bloom.  This was a different kind of decadence and it felt refreshing!

We wandered through a couple of gardens and then let our stomachs lead us back toward town for a market lunch.

We spent much of the afternoon back at the apartment, napping (me) and vegging (Juliette), feeling like we’d most certainly earned our rest.  We rallied before dinner and headed back out to do a little shopping in the Marais.  I took Juliette to Mushkane, my favorite little felted-good shop, where we picked out a couple of trinkets for home.

Then we popped into Matieres a Reflexion to admire their latest jewelry offerings.  Mama got a brand-new necklace!  Happy Birthday to me, one more time.

Shopping buzz…

And then a sugar buzz, from the salted caramel bird’s nest at Maison Aleph.

Ok, and then a Coke buzz at Little Cafe.

Every evening I thought, maybe I’ll pass on the Spritz tonight.  And every evening I remembered that it was summer in October IN PARIS.  Cheers!

We dined in Saint Germain on steak frites at L’Atelier Rouliere, one of mine and LaV’s tried-and-true favorites.  Juliette isn’t the hugest fan of steak, but she admitted that as far as beef goes, it was pretty good.  But the fries…she declared the fries were to die for, so the caliber of our meal wasn’t lost on her!  It was a glittery walk across the Seine back to our apartment.

Bonne nuit, Paris!  Only one more full day to go…

Tuesday!  Tuesday ended up being our big pack-it-in day – we hit a number of sights on our must-see list, knowing that we wanted to leave some open time at the end of the week to see where the wind blew us.  First up:  Montmartre.  Plus croissants.

Croissants with a soundtrack, no less!

I’ve been to this neighborhood several times but always end up getting a little lost, which I love, as there’s always a new discovery.  We wandered into the courtyard of le mur que je t’aime (the wall of I love you) and spent awhile hunting for the English “I Love You” among the 250 languages represented.  Never did find it!  But we felt the love, nonetheless.

Montmartre has the cute cafe scene down pat.

Reading break!  What a luxury to just stop and sit whenever we felt like it.

(Let’s be honest…Juliette sat, I took pics.)

I see PINK.  La Maison Rose is one of my orienting landmarks – I knew we were getting close to the hilltop.

We spent a few minutes wandering among the artist stalls at Place du Tertre, admiring the in-progress portraits.

And then, there she was…

Sacre Coeur is stunning and the view is beautiful, but holy crowds.  The plaza and stairs were packed to the gills, so Juliette and I decided not to linger and instead wandered down a lovely, quiet staircase.

Much better.

How many pictures do I really need of Juliette descending the stairs, you might ask?

A lot.

We did it!  We’d earned a beverage.

We grabbed a sidewalk table at 9eme Sauvage and ordered an Orangina and a cafe creme.  Both went nicely with the passion fruit tart we split.

We felt like we still had quite a few steps left in us, so we Metroed over to Pere Lachaise for a cemetery stroll.  Juliette asked, “A cemetery?  Are you sure?”  But once we got there, she understood the appeal.

I’ve walked these cobblestoned streets so many times – Pere Lachaise is in my Paris Top 5, particularly on an autumn day.  Juliette made a math game of calculating the ages on the gravestones, which in hindsight is a bit morbid, but it kept her walking!

Bench break.

Last look…our feet were gettin’ tired.

We popped into a market to grab cold drinks and apples and then opted to rest our feet on a boat!  We bought afternoon tickets for a Seine cruise and let the sights come to us.

This is such a good way to see the city, particularly when it’s hot and your feet hurt.

From the Bateaux Mouches dock, we walked toward the Champs Elysees, pausing every block or two to window shop for outrageously priced clothes and bags.

We wanted to catch at least one bird’s eye view of the city and I opted for the top of the Arc de Triomphe, since it had been almost 20 years since I climbed those stairs with Shane.

We climbed all 284 steps to the top, Juliette urging me on as I started to pant, and then…the payoff.

Paris rooftops at golden hour are so damn good.



Alright…pictures snapped.  Let’s eat!

We took the metro back to the Marais, did a little shopping at BHV (found some shorts!), and then scored a perfect table on the patio at Pizza Sant Antonio.  I’ve eaten a lot of slices here…

Top night.  Top moment, clinking my Aperol Spritz with her Sprite, remembering all the drinks I shared there with friends during my year abroad.  To be there again with my very best buddy!

When it’s 80 degrees at 9pm, you stop for gelato on the way back to the apartment.

Goodness, I knew my girl had a down-for-anything kind of sprit, but Tuesday it was apparent that she can HANG.  Should have bought her a double-scoop.

I’ve been smitten with all things Parisian since I first stepped out of the Metro station at Place de la Republique in 2003 and zig-zagged toward the tiny studio apartment that would be my study-abroad home that year.  Juliette has inherited my Francophile-ness by osmosis; she took up French lessons on DuoLingo of her own accord and has decorated her room with miniature Eiffel towers.  Shane and I said that we would take her there someday and show her the real thing.  Someday.  Once her brother could hang through the trans-Atlantic flight and sit calmly at a restaurant table for more than 45 seconds.  It would be a few years.


Shane all but pushed the two of us out the door, booking flights only for Juliette and me, assuring me that he was more than happy to stay home with Buddy.  I didn’t fight it and Juliette and I spent all summer looking forward to our big adventure.  Go-time arrived in October and we said our tearful goodbyes to Shane and Isaac, Juliette in particular having a real curbside sob – that girl loves her papa.  Once we stepped through the doors of the airport, though, we both flipped into travel mode, navigating passport check and security with determination.  We missed our guys already, but we were going to PARIS!

That determination waxed and waned over our 16-hour journey.  There were times when the inability to sleep comfortably on the plane was almost too much to bear and we whined with fatigue.  And then there were moments we sang the tagline to Taylor Swift’s “Cause we were in Paris”, then squealed with excitement.  There was a brief 30 minutes near Iceland when Juliette finally slept soundly and I stroked her hair, realizing how infrequent it is that she gets my undivided care anymore. 

We landed in Paris around noon and endured our hour-long RER ride into the city (standing, no less) and I about kissed the filthy floor of the Bastille Metro station, having completed our grand tour de transit.  Ah, that first climb out of the Metro tunnel – it’s a MOMENT.

We headed to the market where our apartment key was supposedly stored in a key locker, only to find the market closed, but our AirBnB host was responsive by text and met us at the front door to our building 10 minutes later.  Our apartment was tiny and sweet with fresh macarons and a bottle of rose on the table.  NOW we could relax!

We took a little cat nap, not allowing ourselves more than a 30-minute doze in an effort to save bedtime till 9pm, splashed a little cold water on our faces, and then headed out.  Our apartment was just a couple of blocks from Place des Vosges, one of my favorite squares in the city, so we joined the hundreds of other people catching those late-day October rays and stretched out on the grass for a bit.

She settled in quite nicely.

A short wander through the Marais landed us at the terrace of Les Philosophes, another old fave, and we promptly ordered a white wine and a Coke.

Welcome to cafe life, Kiddo!  It’s the best.

Recharged and raring to go, we paid our bill and set off toward the river in search of ice cream and sunset vibes.

Berthillon for the win!

We picked up a deck of cards from a tourist shop across from Notre Dame and spent the rest of our daylight minutes playing Rummy next to the Seine.  I’m not sure we even kept score – there’s no losing with this view.

Dusk…we’d done it!  We had earned a proper night’s sleep.  Time to head back.

We crashed hard Sunday night but our internal clocks roused us before dawn and we spent the wee hours of the morning tossing and turning while we sucked on melatonin gummies.  We both fell back into a deep sleep at sunrise and leaned into the luxury of a sleep-in (Mama missed you, Isaac!).  By 10am, though, we were ready to seize the day.  Time for breakfast!

We polished off our pancakes at Cafe de la Poste and then took the Metro over to Galeries Lafayette to enjoy the rooftop view and get the lay of the land.  Here in Seattle, Juliette and I do ninety percent of our shopping at Trader Joe’s and Target, so it was fun to be in a bona fide department store for a bit.

From the rooftop, we spotted the Opera and the Eiffel tower and plenty of bustle on the street down below.

I had planned on a walk through Montmartre after this, but I hit a wall as we were leaving the Galeries and asked Juliette if we could head back toward the apartment for a bit – I was fatigued and a bit nauseous and eager just to crawl back into bed.  She sweetly obliged, hopping back onto the Metro and giving me the only free seat on the train.  I collapsed on the bed and woke a couple of hours later to find her eating macarons and reading quietly in the window seat.

When she poured herself some water in a wine glass, I wondered…am I sure this kid is ten?  Did I miss a couple of years somewhere along the line?!

My nap did me a ton of good and I was ready to hit the streets again by mid-afternoon.  Call it jet-lag, I guess.  We hopped into our building’s teeny-tiny elevator and set back out.

I love that we walked through Place des Vosges on our way to so many of our destinations.  You know, no big deal…just passing through!

We walked the streets of Ile Saint Louis and I pulled Juliette through a wooden door in a non-descript facade.  She oohed and ahhed when the dark vestibule gave way to the bright interior of Eglise Saint Louis en Ile.  I love this church.

Back to the streets!

We walked to the Jardin des Plantes, surprised by how much was still blooming in October.

Bench break.  Prior to this trip, I told Juliette that we’d be walking a ton, but we’d never be far from a perfect place to sit and rest.

From there, we walked the couple of blocks to the Grande Mosquee de Paris and drank iced and tea and lemonade in their brightly tiled courtyard while munching on Moroccan treats.

We popped into L’Epee de Bois on our way to the Metro and each picked out a toy car for Isaac.  We really did miss that boy.

Though we’d just walked several miles, Juliette wasn’t too tired to surf the Metro on our way back to the Marais.  “No hands, Mama!”

Back on Rue de Rivoli we did a little shopping (given the 80-degree temps, Juliette wanted a pair of shorts!) and then we grabbed a terrace meal at La Cooperative.  These 5pm Cokes were clutch in seeing us through to bedtime.

These terrace chats were far and away the favorite part of my week.

Seeing the Louvre lit up at night was high on our list of must-sees, so we walked over there after dinner and whiled away the dusk hours with a stroll to the Tuileries and a game of cards.

The street lamps bloomed bright – it was happening!


We lingered till it was good and dark, satisfied that we’d soaked in the full effect.

We Metro’d back toward our apartment, strolling through the buzzy Marais and deciding we had enough left in us for just one more stop…

We grabbed dessert at Creperie Suzette and I treated myself to a Cote de Provence night cap – I mean, it was my birthday after all!

There’s no one I would have rather shared that tiny table with.  Juliette and I recapped the highlights of our day and I apologized that my little episode had derailed our morning and foiled our Montmartre agenda.  She wisely reminded me that there are no wrong plans in Paris – it had still been a very very good day.  Cheers to that, Kiddo.  And Bon Anniversaire to me!