Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas in Paris Part 1

Hello folks,

Let's get down to it.  A few months ago, Priscilla (Thomas's sister) and her husband Trevor graciously allowed us to invite ourselves to visit them in Paris over Christmas.  Since we wouldn't be traveling back to the US for the holiday, it was a nice time to spend with family and exciting for us, as we'd never been to France.  A lady in their church, the Protestant Evangelical Church of La Garenne-Colombes (Trevor is the pastor), offered to let us stay in her apartment, just a ten minute walk from where Trevor and Priscilla live.

We left Amman on Friday, Dec. 21st at 8am.  Since our flight was international, we were at the airport two hours early and woke up to get ready at 4:30am.  It was a long day!  A minor hiccup at the airport involved me not realizing that the vendors at the gate wouldn't be open so early, so one of the workers offered to go back behind security to get me some water.  I was still very sick with a super-strength chest cold and definitely needed the two large bottles he brought back.

Benjamin was pretty good on the five hour flight.  We had the middle and aisle seats on our Royal Jordanian flight.  We had a humorous moment when I opened Ben's water bottle and the difference in pressure made it spurt all over.  I think the spray hit the guy sitting in front of me, but since he and his female companion had leaned their seats back as far as they could go (very inconvenient when you have a child sitting on your lap) I wasn't too worried about it.  I made a mental note to unscrew the lid before flipping the spout on the return flight.

We landed in Paris CDG on schedule, but waited a while for bags.  Naturally, an item was lost: the car seat.  Thankfully they delivered it the next day, but it was still frustrating.  Priscilla and Trevor picked us up and drove us to Colombes, a suburb of Paris.  They took us to our "borrowed" apartment, courtesy of Valerie, a very sweet Northern Irish lady.  We got settled a bit and hung out while Benjamin took a nap.  Priscilla and Trevor brought food over and we had a laid-back evening.

Saturday morning we met Valerie, she left that afternoon to go home for Christmas so we had the apartment to ourselves for a week.  After chatting a bit, we walked over to Priscilla and Trevor's apartment, which was pretty near.  It was great fun to be out and about, walking around France and really feeling that we were in Europe.  It's such a different landscape from Amman, and had the trappings of civilization we had forgotten about, such as well marked pedestrian crossings at intersections and nice sidewalks, everything accessible by stroller.

We visited and hung out at their place for a while, then took Benjamin back for his nap.  Later in the afternoon we took the train then the metro downtown and walked around.  We passed Notre Dame and got some pictures, despite gray and rainy conditions.  We took a break around 5pm and got coffee at a cool place, La Caféothèque.  It was much bigger than it looked on the outside, and had different levels and tons of rooms.  It was a great place to get out of the rain and get a hot drink. 

Rachel, Priscilla, Trevor and Benjamin

Thanks to Janelle for loaning us the stroller cover!  It was used a ton.

Excuse my hair, the new cut + humidity = gross.

Sunday we went to church, Priscilla took us on the 20 minute walk from Valerie's apartment into the next town.  The service is all in French, so we didn't know what was happening, but it was fun to see what a normal Sunday is like for Priscilla and Trevor.  They had a church potluck lunch afterward, so we sat with some English speakers and had a good time, until Benjamin got fussy and we made a hasty exit.  We all rested for a while since Thomas and I were both still sick.  Late afternoon we took a walk along the Seine in Nanterre, where there's a park.  We ate an early dinner (6pm) at Courtepaille, a chain restaurant that was very good.  We celebrated Trevor's birthday and Benjamin got a sweet present, a white squirrel with a Santa hat, that the restaurant was giving to all the kids.  Very cute.

The hair strikes again!  I really need to learn Photoshop to get rid of this junk.

Monday Trevor dropped us off at La Defense, the business district of Paris.  We saw the Grande Arche and a big Christmas market outside a gigantic mall.  We caught the metro into Paris and walked the Avenue des Champs-Élysées after checking out the Arc de Triomphe.  After all the shops and the busy part, they had a Christmas market with stalls on both sides of the road, where there typically isn't anything.  Thomas and I got ham and cheese sandwiches from a stall, and they were amazing.  

Benjamin asleep in the stroller.  He hated wearing that hat.

At the Place de la Concorde, where executions by guillotine happened.

View of Pont Alexandre III.

I'm chewing my sandwich, sorry for the weird expression.

What a view!

We'd hoped for a boat tour, but no luck.  Maybe next time!

Benjamin was pretty good for our marathon marching sessions, despite the cold.

We passed under the Eiffel Tower and meant to catch a boat tour, but the river was too high.  We found a little Greek restaurant on a side street to get coffee and sit for a while.  We passed a bakery and Priscilla sweetly got me a pain au chocolat, which I then accidentally dropped crossing a street.  She got me another one, and it was delicious.  France does pastries right.  That evening Priscilla made dinner at Valerie's and we watched "The Princess Bride".  I hadn't seen it in ages, and it was lots of fun.  

It was a great Christmas Eve, not the same as being home in Aiken and eating at Jade of China and going to the church service at New Covenant, but since we're only away for a couple years it was great to have a little change of pace and be with family at the same time.  

Part 2 coming soon!



  1. Thanks, Rachel! I just need to apologize for being the eyesore in your first few photographs. I don't know what possessed me to wear that old purple jacket with a red scarf. I guess the rain was getting to me, so I just went for the "driest" option available. Maybe you'll have to use some photoshop tools...;). Love the post, though! You're helping Trevor and me remember what happened! It was SOOOOO fun, and can't wait to see you guys again! We keep saying "tunnel" in honor of Ben. Give him a big hug and kiss from us!

    1. Hey Priscilla,
      You're so crazy, you look great! I think my hair is taking over the world in these pictures, so you don't need to worry about it. :-) Benjamin's been talking about the train and the metro, so he remembers a little. We hope y'all can come visit us soon! It was really great seeing you. Thanks for being our tour guides!