Memories of France

Yes, I realize it’s been a long, long time. I’ve been living in a nebulous world of possibly moving across the country, possibly not for about 6 months now and it all seemed to (happily?) culminate in a multi-generational two week trip to France last month. I still have no idea if I’m staying or going, but I’ll say this: France is the cure for what ails you. Even if nothing ails you. I’ve been about 5 times now and while travel to anywhere resets my psychic clock, travel to France puts me in a mindset that no other place yet has. I feel at home in Britain and Ireland. I feel content and full of life in Italy. I feel rootless and wild while an American road trip. But France does something different to me. It throws me out of my comfort zone just enough to keep me on my toes (and rooting through my mental list of French vocabulary) but surrounds me in so much beauty and elegance that in the end all I want to do is stay and walk slowly through every place and eat ridiculous amounts of cheese.

Many countries value and incorporate beauty into daily life, and almost everyone does it more often and better than Americans, but while Italy and Spain do it in a visceral, passionate way, the French do it in a way that to me is more refined, more subtle. And, yes, sometimes practically invisible if you take the French distance too personally. Although I’ve never been to Japan, it in no way surprises me that French and Japanese chefs have such a connection and sense of mutual respect. They are both doing the same thing without (seemingly) even trying: bringing pleasure in the most basic and yet refined way possible. Am I exaggerating? Quite possibly. But truth be told, I have yet to experience a place where I am so deeply satisfied by what I eat, drink, and see. I’ll be posting more specifics in the future, but here’s some visual memories of my most recent journey.

Sunrise from our bedroom in Paris as taken by my 8-year-old.

Notre Dame and the Seine.

The 900 year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims.

Best sardine sandwich in the universe at Le Bocal, Reims.

Eiffel Tower at night over rooftops.

House built into the tuffeau in Amboise, Loire Valley.

The rooftops below medieval Loches.

Medieval architecture in Honfleur, Normandy.

Nearly infinite gravestones at the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy. Plus my thumb 😦

Monet’s lily pond in the charming, if touristy, Giverny.

Parisian Vacation Apartments

I’ve recently been planning a two week vacation to France for 5 people, including a child. The family is spending one week in Paris and after a brief discussion of hotels it became clear that an apartment rental is really the way to go. This is true for many places, but in Paris which can be notoriously expensive, renting an apartment can end up saving you money. And when families are traveling together, it’s a good idea to have a bit of space for everyone to move around and have a bit of privacy. Many apartment rentals do have a minimum stay requirement, especially during the high season, so read the fine print carefully. Now that I’ve looked at just about every apartment in Paris with a photo online, I can say that there’s an astonishing variety of options. There are many budget apartments and some truly luxurious spaces complete with full time butlers. I’ve chosen a few of my favorites, a couple from that elusive in-between category of apartments that are a step (or three) above the average but don’t cost an arm and a leg and then of course a couple that are probably a fantasy but too beautiful to omit.  If you are splitting the cost between two or three couples though, even the more costly ones can be a bargain compared to hotel rooms. Of course there’s no lobby bar, but you might just have to make do with a private balcony instead.

Canal Bohemia, 1oth Arrondissement. $625/week

Petit Pont, 5th Arrondissement. $2390/week

Our Home In Paris, 4th Arrondissement. $3250/week

Peony, 4th Arrondissement. $5250/week

Marais Penthouse, 3rd Arrondissement. $6000/week

George V Suite, 8th Arrondissement. $9000/week

Palais Royal, 1er Arrondissement. $10,000/week

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