Archive for the ‘the world abroad (uber vay-cay!)’ Category

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!

Doing some hard drive tidying up and I realized that I have a folder of LaV+Kel Paris pictures circa October 2019 that deserve a place in the Little Black Journal archives!  This post will be light on narrative, but I always find words fall short in capturing this city’s magic, anyway…

Our apartment was my favorite yet and had the sweetest hobbit windows with a view of the Seine.

First things first…crepes!

And wine.

There’s always something magic to be found when wandering Paris at night, like this light show in an old Marais cathedral.

And a surprise parade!

Day 2 opened with cafe cremes and a stroll through the Galeries Lafayette.

Rooftop views…

And a quick pop into Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, just a few blocks away.

Lunch on the steps of the Opera Garnier.

And another quick church tour, because you can’t walk past the Eglise Madeleine and not go in.

Aimless wanderings took us to the Petit Palais.

And then a late-afternoon climb to the top of the Tour Saint-Jacques.

So many stairs, but so worth the view!

Riverfront bubbly while we rested our weary feet.

And then more strolling, with stops for an udon noodle dinner, petits choux for dessert, and a final round of vino.

Requisite nighttime stop at the Musee du Louvre!

Day 3 kicked off at Saint-Chapelle, which I haven’t been to for years and years.  As glowing as ever!

Coffee on Rue Cler.

And a picnic at the Tour Eiffel.

Seine wandering and a rest at the Tuileries.

And then we were back at the sweet the little courtyard in front of our apartment, where we sipped espresso and watched old men play bocce.

An afternoon at the immersive Van Gogh exhibit.

Drinks, dinner, sleep!

Day 4 was rainy – streets were wet, cafes were quiet.

I walked through the misty gardens at the Musee Rodin and then took refuge indoors.

LaV and I had lunch at a Marais cafe before hitting our favorite neighborhood shops.

And then had pre-dinner appetizers (patisserie-style) at the apartment.

Rain cleared in the evening and we had the prettiest twilight walk through the 6th.

Drinks on Rue Saint-Andres des Arts.

And french onion soup / steak frites at our “usual table” at Boucherie Rouliere!

We always consider for a split second taking the Metro back to the apartment, but then muster the energy to walk.  We never regret it.

I was up early on our final morning for a sunrise walk through the city, so that I had ample time to say adieu…

LaV and I met up at Saint-Sulpice to perch on those iconic wooden chairs for a few minutes and soak in the sacredness of the dimly lit church.  I murmured a little prayer of gratitude – this city fills me with wonder each and every time like no other place I’ve ever known.

And that was a wrap…  Paris, I don’t know when we’ll meet again, but I’m waiting with bated breath.

And suddenly, we were waking up to our last full day in Paris!  I made my usual five-step walk from the bed to the balcony and bid the city Good Morning.

We laced up our sneakers and set out for a full day of city-soaking.  We started in Montmartre on Rue des Martyrs, on a mission for the neighborhood’s best croissants.  We found them at Farine & O, which was hands-down Lav’s and my favorite boulangerie of the several we visited.  Buttery and puffy and flaky and buttery.  And gosh, so buttery!

The streets of Montmartre hold such a beautiful mix of bright (or dark) murals and renegade wall art.

And then, you round a corner and find yourself on a rue lined with pristinely Parisian buildings.

Oh, to be the child that sits on the back of this bike and cruises around Paris with mom or dad.  LUCKY.

We followed the crowds to Sacre Couer and hung out for a moment on the jam-packed terrace overlooking the city.

And then made our descent, in search of lunch and a quiet place to sit.

We Metro-ed back toward Ile de la Cite, grabbed a couple of savory crepes with a couple of cups of vin chaud, and sat on a bench near Notre Dame to savor the good life.

We wandered through the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, a monument built in honor of the 200,000 French people that were deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Our feet started to feel their usual wear in mid-afternoon, so we headed back toward the apartment.  We passed this kid-filled plaza on the way and paused for minute to watch them play – I missed Juliette somethin’ fierce.

And so we stopped at Pierre Herme and loaded up on macarons for the little ones.  Mama’s coming home with treats, Jules!

We spent awhile at our sunny abode, snacking on the assortment of goodies we’d collected over the previous couple of days.  I challenge you to find a window better than this one!

This balcony was our happy place.

Lav and I split up for a bit to do some shopping in the Marais and then reconvened to head south and stroll the streets of St. Germain.

Our miles and miles of walking hit me like bag of bricks on Saturday afternoon, so we actually spent more time sitting than strolling – suddenly, I was beat.  But still, there are sights to be seen from a cafe terrace!

…or a quaint Brasserie!

We dined at Boucherie Rouliere that night, wanting to close out our trip with the French staples of onion soup and steak frites.  We came here last year as well and have declared it an official must-visit anytime we’re in Paris – the space is happy and bustling, the service is friendly, and the soup is extra-cheesy.

We took the circuitous route home, reveling in the joy of a packed terraces, bright lights, and a sidewalk quartet.

We rounded out the night with crepes from La Droguerie in the Marais.  NUTELLLLLLLA!

We happily discovered on Sunday morning that daylight savings had ended during the night, so we found ourselves with an extra hour before we had to head to the airport.  I set out with my camera before the sun had fully come up, wanting to enjoy a few quiet moments with the city.  My dear, dear city.

I thought about turning around at the Pompidou, but checked my watch and decided to just keep on trekking.

The Tuilieries was nearly deserted, leaving me free to snap endless photos of those quintessential green chairs.  I love those green chairs.


This was the point at which I decided I better book it back to the Marais.  Sights seen.

I met up with La Verne for one last croissant and coffee before heading back to the apartment to finish packing up.

And then it was time to squeeze back into that tiny elevator and bump our suitcases along the sidewalks to the RER.  Don’t let Lav’s friendly smile fool you – we were crying on the inside as we said goodbye to our sweet little street…

It was a long day of travel back to Seattle – we toasted to La Verne’s birthday with glasses of in-flight Prosecco somewhere over the Atlantic and watched three or four movies.  I was feeling some pretty serious post-Paris blues, but the moment Juliette’s and Shane’s faces came into view at the top of the airport escalator, all felt right again.  Paris will always be there, ready to welcome us back the next time those $500 flights show up in my inbox.  And it will be as magical as ever.

We were tempted to sleep in on on our kid-free vacation, but Paris is not a city for catching up on your Z’s.  Paris is a city for early-morning strolls to the Place des Vosges!

Lav and I knew we’d only have time for one museum during our visit, so we settled on the Pompidou for our art fix.  We grabbed a couple of croissants and coffees on Rue Montorguiel and then hopped in line to beat the crowds.

This place!  I had an annual pass to the Pompidou during my year abroad and would pop in every couple of weeks to visit Dubuffet and Matisse and Kandinsky.  This place is where I learned to love art.

GIACOMETTI.  I missed him.

Our energy waned a couple of hours into our visit, so we took a rest under a web of earbuds.   Quite serene, actually!

We grabbed lunch back in the Marais, and my warm Chevre-topped salad and glass of white wine left me ready to jam again.  Off we went to the Promenade Plantee!

This elevated walking path near Bastille offers up-high views of Parisian streets and then dips down to a series of tunnels and woods.  Much of the trail was new to me – it was fun to turn over a new French stone.

We hung out at the apartment for a bit before dinner and then struck back out for dinner at Le Rigmarole.  First though, a quick stop at Carette for salted caramel macarons.

And a quick stop at this little shop for earrings.  Being able to pop into any little store on any little whim felt like such a luxury.

We reveled in our two-hour, eight-course meal and then caught the Metro to Trocadero.  And…there she is!

Not a bad place to end the day.  Not bad at all.

It felt a bit extravagant to book another trip to Paris just one year after Lav’s and my 2017 romp through the City of Lights, but… Those killer IcelandAir deals!  That lovely Marais apartment!  Those two sweet dads that gladly offered to hang back with the kids!  I mean, we could hardly afford not to go.  And so off we went.  After a brief moment of flight-change / missed-flight panic, we were PARIS-BOUND!  With complimentary wine to boot!

It was a long but luxuriously quiet flight, with a short stop at London-Heathrow for a cup of coffee and a good stretch.  We landed in France on a Wednesday evening, bumped our suitcases the two blocks from the St. Paul Metro to our building on Rue du Trésor, squeezed into the tiniest elevator ever, and then opened our sixth-floor door to a charming one-bedroom with a balcony that dreams are made of.

We freshened up a bit and then jetted right back out for dinner and drinks at my old fave Les Philosophes, which was just a few doors down from our apartment.

I’d read about a light show happening that evening at Notre Dame, so we wandered that way and found ourselves a little perch on a stretch of bridge to take in the action.  This old Dame really rolled out the welcome wagon for us!

We strolled back toward the Marais once the church went dark, stopping to gaze upon the glittery Seine…

and then grabbed a gelato and wandered a bit more, warding off our jet lag with that irresistible Paris buzz.

It felt so, so, so good to be back.

We were up at a respectably early hour on Thursday, ready to tick off the sights on our clipboard of fun.  The city was beckoning!

First, though, coffee and croissants.

We hopped on the Metro and headed toward Rue Monge, stopping briefly at a beautifully well-curated kids store for gifts for the littles.

We grabbed a couple of sandwiches and tarts from a sidewalk vendor and trekked toward Jardin du Luxembourg.

We walked by Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont on the way and popped in.  On a whim.  PARIS.  So much magic around every corner.

We eventually landed at Luxembourg, staked our claim at a couple of green chairs, and settled in to watch the kids with their sailboats while we happily carbo-loaded.

Fall seemed to be breathing one of its last, glorious gasps while we were there.

We wanted to catch the afternoon tour at the top of the Pantheon, so we walked back that way after lunch, again doing a quick church loop on our way.  Saint-Sulpice was such a dark and lovely contrast to Saint-Etienne-du-Mont.


And then, the Pantheon.  I had been inside this place several times but had never made my way to the top – bring on the stairs!

The first upstairs vantage point overlooked the patterned floor below…

And then we climbed some more, finally arriving at the outdoor balcony.  Hello, Eiffel!

I love Paris from up high – the city’s rooftops are just so distinctly…Parisian.

We made our descent and then did another quick-and-lovely driveby, this time at the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve across the street.  Can you imagine doing your homework in here?

By this point we’d logged six or seven miles on our Nikes.  I needed a cold beer.

And an espresso.

Once we’d recharged, we walked toward the Seine, stopping at Shakespeare and Co., the flower market, and Pont Notre Dame along the way.

We kicked back at the apartment for awhile before dinner, munching on the perfect little honey-laced birds’ nests we’d picked up at Maison Aleph.  When La Verne asked the man at the counter what the nests were made of, he replied in all seriousness, “the hair of angels”.  I don’t doubt it.

We weren’t able to snag a table at the little cafe we’d been eyeing for dinner, so instead we settled on the best fallafel ever from L’As du Fallafel.  I ate a lot of these sandwiches during my year in Paris.  They are just as good as I remember them.

We ate at the plaza at Hotel de Ville, harissa running down our fingers, and then wiped our hands and walked west to the Louvre.  I know I use the word “magic” a lot in these Paris posts, but I mean…TA-DAAAA!

Lav and I both ranked this evening as one of the biggest highlights of our trip.  We were two of only a handful of people in the courtyard that night – the quiet air and the glowing moon and the brilliant lights were all so…enchanting (thanks, thesaurus!).

We closed out our eleven-mile walking tour with a drink at a neighborhood bar, leaning into that very happy, very tired feeling that comes with a day of sightseeing and a glass of Cotes du Rhone.  Bonne nuit, mes amis.

Shane and Jack headed out early on Sunday morning for their scheduled zipline tour through the jungle while LaV and I opted for a quieter sort of adventure, heading over to the beach with the kiddos for a day of playing in the ocean and sand.  First, though, breakfast, where Juliette gazed upon her coconut muffin with total adoration.

We staked out a couple of comfy chaise lounges at the beach and sat back while N and Juliette happily scooped and shoveled, collecting little bits of shell and rock which Juliette pretended to feed to the “baby” she had created from a mound of wet sand.  Jules would join me under my umbrella every few minutes, seeking a shady refuge as the sun blazed hotter and hotter, but she couldn’t ever bear to stay put for more than a couple of minutes.  While the sun and the surf and the fruity drinks left me feeling laid-back and lazy, this kid was totally energized by it all.

Swimsuit, sunglasses, and a hat is hands-down my very favorite look on her…

And…she’s in.

Juliette would declare victory every time a wave crashed over her belly and she managed to stay on her feet.

Bring it on, sea!

The kids “baked” a special cake for La Verne and then sang Happy Birthday to her, insisting afterwards that we each take a bite.

In the late afternoons, the day’s fun-fest would catch up with Juliette and she’d succumb to the waves of sleepiness that lapped at her eyelids.  Sleepy-time is one of the very few chances I get to snuggle with my girl-on-the-go anymore.  I’ll take it.

We sun-setted at the beach once again on Sunday, this time seeing more grays and blues than oranges and pinks in the closed-in sky, but still, it was peaceful and lovely and we all got in the ocean for a salt water dip.  Any day that begins and ends at the beach is a good one.

Since the guys had given the zipline tour rave reviews and since we each had an “excursion” included with our resort package, La Verne and I channeled our inner daredevils and made our own trip out to the jungle on Monday morning.  It was an hour-long ride through small Mexican towns and up along remote mountain roads to the Canopy River outpost, where we were each strapped into a harness, handed a pulley, and told to fly like the wind.  And wowsers, we flew, zipping along the course at heights of 200 feet and speeds of 55 kilometers an hour.  Our guides were silly and fun-loving, but reassuring and encouraging as they sent us from one platform to the next.  La Verne and I toasted to our bravery with a couple of cold beers at the beautiful patio when it was all over, dizzy with pride and the sweet relief that comes with being on solid ground.

We rejoined our crew back at the beach, where we lunched on fish tacos and squeezed in a few minutes of ocean play before herding the kids back to the room for some quiet time.  Juliette’s freckles were a bit darker than when I’d kissed her goodbye few hours earlier!

The rest of the day was another haze of swimming and sunsets and mango tangos.  I had wondered if by our fourth day at the resort I’d be a little antsy, wanting to get out with Shane and Juliette and do the exploring and sight-seeing that’s such a big part of our typical vacations, but…NOPE.  The days of bouncing from pool to beach to pool to beach were just so blissfully easy, and it was abundantly clear that Juliette was perfectly content to swim that same stretch of pool and run that same stretch of beach over and over and over.

THIS IS THE LIFE, huh, kiddo?  (Don’t get too used to it, Jules!  Vacations will include sleeping on the ground and fetching our own water come summer.)

Juliette played an endless game of fetch with the ocean, tossing a stick into the waves and retrieving it from the time and again.


We put the kids to bed early on Monday night and settled on a room service dinner – the food was the one thing that had started to feel a bit “tired” at this point, but we got to eat in our pajamas and Cards Against Humanity made for some pretty enthusiastic bouts of laughter.

Tuesday was departure day, but our flight had been pushed back to the evening, which meant:  bonus beach time!  After chilaquiles and cappuccinos, we set up camp at the beach, happily resigned to flying home with a little sand in our hair.


Shane spotted a couple of iguanas near the pool and called the kids over to take a look.  They thought it was funny to see these two “hugging”.

We were told that our all-inclusive experience would end at 2:00, so Shane and Jack put in their request for one last round of gin and tonics at 1:55.

And then Juliette and I took one last dip in the pool.

…and then it was time to peel off our swimsuits and put on real clothes for the first time in five days.  NOOOOOOO!!!

You can see that none of us were quite ready to say adios.

It was a long trek home with multiple flight delays and we rolled up to our front door after midnight sleepy and stiff, but fully-dosed with Vitamin D.  And tequila.  Mission accomplished.

2017 has been pretty epic for us, vacation-wise.  We didn’t really set out to go quite so big this year, but gosh, when your brother asks if you want to join him and the family for a few days at a lovely house on the Hood Canal, or when flights to Paris drop to $500, or when your friends scout a deal at a beautiful all-inclusive Mexican resort, you seize the day.

So then, HOLA, MEXICO!

Our flight landed in Puerto Vallarta last Thursday evening and we wound our way through the hoards of eager cabbies to the friendly shuttle driver that awaited us curbside.  It was a quick drive to the resort, where we were ushered into the sparkling lobby and handed a round of margaritas before we’d even checked in.  This all-inclusive thing was looking promising!

We ate dinner at the rooftop bar and then headed back to the room to get settled and tuck in the kids.  Juliette begged to take a dip in the pool that adjoined our back patio and I told her she could put her feet in the water for a minute while I unpacked a few things.  She stripped off her clothes and grabbed her swimsuit as I was rooting around for her pajamas – I protested for all of thirty seconds and then shrugged my shoulders in happy surrender.  We were on vacation!  It was 9 pm, but it was 80 degrees outside!  Go nuts, kiddo.  

And then…this.  (Funny how a four-year-old can occupy an entire King bed!)

We rolled out of bed to discover a beautiful breakfast buffet set up just steps from our back patio, so we headed down to pile up our plates and dine pool-side.

This celery-cactus-pineapple concoction became a morning staple (and Juliette’s daily dose of veggies).

Shane headed out for a morning bike tour after breakfast while Juliette and I hung back and laid low.

I got out for a jog along the beach before lunch, thrilled to discover that our resort sat on a miles-long stretch of wide open shore.

And then, having all gotten our exercise, there was nothing left to do but…lounge.

And drink.

And swim.

We wrapped ourselves in our towels around 4 pm and walked over to the beach to catch the sunset and feel the squish of sand between our toes.

Shane and Juliette assumed their typical beach stance, hands held while the waves broke at their feet.


Juliette was delighted to discover how much warmer the ocean water is down in Mexico.

There was a lovely pool perched just over the beach, so we took a quick dip to compare pool temp with ocean temp.

And then the skies got golden and the clouds got all purply-blue so we jetted back down the shore.  Juliette met up with a couple of girls that she had befriended at the pool earlier that day and chased the tide with them, running and splashing and giggling, adding a whole other layer of glow to the magic occurring on the horizon.

MEXICO!  You are so, so bueno.

We went back to the room to change out of our swimsuits and check on poor Nico, who had come down a terrible cold the day before.  Shane, Juliette and I ate dinner at the beach club and took our time meandering back to our room, reveling in the warm breeze and the glittery lights and the absence of any reason to hurry.  This. was. vacation.

La Verne and I kicked off Saturday with a beach jog, in preparation for a full day of all-inclusive gluttony.

Breakfast was chilaquiles and pancakes and mimosas and some of the sweetest, juiciest pineapple I’ve ever tasted.

Thankfully, N was on the mend and ready to romp, so all hopped in the pool after breakfast.

We spent much of the morning in the oversized hot tub, tucked into an idyllic little enclave off the main pool.

“Mango Tangos”:  the beverage of champions!

Juliette was a total fish, paddling up and down the pool in her little purple floaties.


We lunched pool-side, luring the kids out of the water with plates of burgers and fries.

And then, more swimming!  This girl was insatiable.

We all dozed in the afternoon and then strolled over to the beach for another sunset show.

I tell you, this Mexican tide was magnetic.

Gah!  She was just SO HAPPY.  It was just SO GOOD.

Juliette’s new buddy appeared on the scene just as we were heading for our lounge chairs, so Juliette about-faced and was back at it again, chasing waves and being chased.

I keep trying to put words to just how magical this particular sunset was, but I’m coming up short.  So I’m just gonna let these pictures speak for themselves…

Once the last hues of orange had faded to gray, we all walked back toward the lobby to watch the 7 pm tree lighting.  It felt a little strange, listening to a guy in a Santa hat belt out Jingle Bells while we sat around in tank tops and sipped champagne, but we rolled with it, certainly feeling merry through it all.

Each of the kids got to light a candle (flip a switch) for the lilies floating in the lobby fountain.  Juliette took great pride in her task, smiling shyly and placing her light just so when the MC called her name.

We cleaned up a bit and then walked back over the beach club for fajitas and cocktails and ice cream.

La Verne and I were on our way out with the kids when we turned around to find that the guys were missing.  This is where we found them (this bar serves cocktails to go!).

By the end of the day, we’d lost count of how many pools we’d swam in or how many margaritas we’d drank.  We only knew that we had lived large and laughed hard.

Up next: more swimming, more sand, and a little adventure!