Monday, April 16, 2012

Kids Books that Made Me Love France - Even Before I Got There

In the early 50's, my aunt married a young French doctor and moved to Paris to become a French wife. I've always admired her ability to jump into everything and just go. The result of this marriage is that my only first cousins were from France (how exotic in the 60's and 70's in Maine) and that I didn't get to know this family until I stayed a summer with them at 10. But it also meant that I received exotic gifts occasionally. There were clothes and games all wrapped neatly in exquisite tissue papers and a gold sticker with the store's name on it.

I also received some pretty cool books. Here are my three favorites:

Paris by Miroslav Sasek, Copyright 1960 - mine is in French  but it's available in English. This is  a cool exploration of Paris, with a beatnik sort of style

Babar's French Lessons by Laurent de Brunhoff, Copyright 1960 - I used to pour over this book, wishing I could live this glamorous life that Babar lived and wishing I could speak French! As a Paris-obsessed mom, I have used this over the years to interest my kids in the language and culture. After all, who can resist these little Elephants!

 La Cuisine est Un Jeu d'enfants by Michael Oliver, Copyright 1963 - Cooking is Child's Play is also in French and contains recipes that every good, little French girl (and probably boy) should have known how to cook. I always loved the pictures and the book was useful to learn the language of cooking. Recipes take you through the courses of a proper French meal,  from Soups and Hors-d'oeuvres to desserts. The recipes include classics like onion soupe, Coq au Vin, Rabbit in Mustard sauce, and Creme a la Vanille (vanilla custard.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What to do with my family in Paris this summer?

I'm getting excited about my trip to Paris this summer. I've got the flight booked and the apartment deposit paid. I'm still deciding if we should use public transportation to our residence or just hire someone to meet us at the airport - which was so nice when we did it last time!

But I'm now starting to drive my family crazy with the question: What do you want to do on our Paris trip?? I'm not surprised with the blank stare my 11 year old gives me as she was 9 when we were there last and was more or less along for the ride. But I'm hoping to get her more involved with choosing the attractions in Paris to visit.

So far, the very preliminary list looks like this:

  1. The Eiffel Tower. It's usually not high on my list since the lines seem so overwhelming to me which puts the sky scraper Montparnasse at the top of my list for amazing views of Paris. But I've learned from RICK STEVES' PARIS 2012 that you can reserve tickets ahead of time and jump the line with no guilt, at least for the first two levels. Yea, so now I'm psyched. After all, I think it's been about 38 years since I've been up there.
  2. The Rodin Museum. Although I'd already thought it would be a good choice because it is small and has tangible things to see, my recent viewing of Midnight in Paris clinched it. I feel kind of silly that I'd never been there, especially since it was about a 15 min. walk from where I lived in the 7th arrondissement. It's also one of the listed sites from my beloved guide book  AROUND PARIS WITH KIDS - 3rd edition.
  3. Sainte-Chappelle. This is the just-right-sized chapel of King Louis IX. It was built in the early 13th century. Since Megan has a new-found love for this time period which matches my long-time love for it, this should be a great place to visit. Once again, I haven't been there in 38 years!
So, this is all I have so far. The thing I learned from my trip with my older daughter when she was 11 yrs old was that it is amazing to discover your favorite city from the eyes of someone else. Planning trips to Paris with children means recapturing your casual, fun, wandering, child-like nature and putting away the museum, historical, scheduled grown-up tourist that can overtake us when visiting such a significant city like Paris.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: Fodor's Around Paris With Kids - 3rd Edition

As you can imagine, I have many travel guide books for Paris. Two years ago, I bought AROUND PARIS WITH KIDS - 3rd edition (there is now a 4th edition) in anticipation of visiting Paris with my 15 and 9 year olds.

The book is short and sweet (and small) which makes it easy to read the whole thing completely and  easy to carry in your backpack once you get to Paris. AROUND PARIS WITH KIDS covers 68 things you can do with your kids that you both will enjoy. The list includes everything from the Eiffel Tower to the Rodin Museum to the Aquaboulevard!

What I especially appreciated was that with each item in the list, there were helpful hints on how to enjoy it best with your kids. It included hints about eating, making the most of your time, and things to keep in mind (like best times to visit with kids, the hours, rules, etc.)

I loved the parental humor in the book. I also really appreciated the good information about saving money, getting around and resources for more information.

My only criticism was the lack of pictures. With no pictures, it was hard for my kids to stay interested when I tried to get them excited and help plan our visit. But it's a small problem and if you have other guide books, you can easily cross reference or just do your parental best!

No matter how many times you've enjoyed Paris as an adult, it's a totally different experience when you look at if from your children's eyes! I found it exciting to "have the excuse" to see things that the adult me wouldn't have made time for.

We ended up having a great time, sadly missing so much due to our schedule. But I'm using this book now to help plan for my trip this summer with my, now, 11 yr old!

I definitely recommend AROUND PARIS WITH KIDS - 3rd edition!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Joyeux Pâques to my friends and family in France!

Just thinking of Easter. In 1993, my husband and I were in Paris just before Easter and were so impressed with the amazing window displays of molded Easter chocolates. We couldn't leave the city with out buying some small molds from E.Dehillerin.

Since these photos were taken pre-digital, I've spent all morning scanning the 35mm slides from the entire trip!