Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christmas in Paris Part 4

Last one!

Thursday we took a bus to the metro and then to the Louvre.  We walked along the Tuileries Gardens and just made it to the museum when it started raining.  We went to the McDonald's inside for lunch, and it was packed.  (In our defense, evidently the French love McDo, as they call it, so it was part of acting "local".)  Trevor and Priscilla gave us tickets that skip you to the front of the line, which was a huge deal, since the line was super long. 

We knew that with Benjamin creeping up on naptime we wouldn't have a lot of time to linger, so we made straight for the Mona Lisa.  Naturally the crowd around it was substantial, so Thomas snapped a picture and we moved on.  There's so much to see, and it's such a gigantic place, you'd need a solid week to give it serious attention.  We went through just one wing, and didn't stand and pay serious attention to the vast majority of the art.  We saw a good bit in about two hours, considering it is extremely unfriendly to strollers.  (Tons of stairs, sporadic and unhelpful elevators.) 

The crowd in front of the Mona Lisa.

The Wedding at Cana by Veronese.

No idea who is pointing.

Winged Victory

Benjamin is asleep, I'm taking in all the art.


This guy has the most intense expression.  He creeps me out.

We met up with Priscilla and Trevor and walked back to Notre Dame, but the line to get inside was crazy long and standing outside in cold drizzle appealed to no one, so we moved on.  We walked along the Seine and passed some bridges.  One has lots of locks on it, people write their initials with their beloved's and supposedly that signifies their unending love.  They get removed from time to time, but then crop up again. 

We passed the Pompidou Center, but had neither time nor energy for another museum.  We headed back to Valerie's apartment and ate yummy Christmas leftovers and watched "Persuasion", another of Trevor's presents.  I love anything Austen, and sitting down after a long day of marching felt glorious.

Friday was more relaxed, Trevor drove us to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a town about 20 minutes away by car.  We went through lots of tunnels to get there, which was the highlight of the trip for Ben.  We walked through a nice park and up to the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which is older than Versailles.  After checking out the bookshop, we walked downtown.  If I could live there, I would, it's lovely and much less hectic than Paris.  

We walked through a toy store and a central open-air market.  We bought some pastries and camped out at a coffee shop for a bit.  Priscilla ordered me a pain Suisse, which was a revelation.  It's one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.  I need to return to France just for that.  Fully gorged on sugar and coffee, we went back home and rested.  That night we went to an Italian restaurant near Valerie's place, La Romanelle, for our last night in France.  Afterward Thomas and Trevor went to see "The Hobbit" in 3D, while Priscilla and I hung out at Valerie's.

Entering the park.  My hair is out of control.

Benjamin was excited to meet some goats.

Pretty park.


Formal garden.

Favorite picture, ever.

Priscilla, Trevor, Thomas and Benjamin.

Priscilla and Trevor in front of the gate where they got engaged.  Awww!

The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

The day we left, Saturday, we were able to relax a little.  We walked to Priscilla and Trevor's for breakfast and they surprised us with more delicious pastries (pain Suisse again!) and we chatted for a while.  We went back to the apartment and started packing.  Valerie's apartment really made the trip amazing, it was so great to have space to stretch out in, and be able to put Benjamin in the other bedroom.  She also let us use her washer, although I'm very spoiled with having a dryer, the stiffness of the line-dried clothes was startling.  And she didn't have a TV, which is shocking for such screen-loving people as Thomas and I are, but we did very well.  (We watched movies on the computer screen that Trevor brought over.)  

Trevor and Priscilla drove us to the airport Saturday afternoon, dropped us off about 2:45 for our 4:50pm flight back to Amman.  Checking in was smooth and we found a nice lounge area to wait in until we started boarding.  There was another family with a toddler boy sitting nearby, so he and Benjamin shared trucks and played a little.  We got the bulkhead row, which was amazing with Ben, I sat by the window and Thomas sat in the middle.  Benjamin really enjoyed looking out the window and seeing lights and clouds.  I had all his snacks ready, and his water bottle.  I forgot completely about the pressure thing, so flipped the top again and soaked myself.  Oh well, we had a good laugh.  Benjamin didn't fuss too much on the plane, even though we got back about 9:30pm Paris time, 11:30pm Amman time.  He fell asleep in the car on the ride home and went down again quickly in his crib.

We had such a great time, it was a really fun vacation.  It was awesome to be in Europe again and to see France for the first time.  It was especially great to hang out with Priscilla and Trevor every day and have them lead us around.  I think it might be tricky to do it without knowing the language but of course it could be done.  Traveling with a toddler though, I'm really grateful we had them to lead the way.  We did a lot of walking, much more than I've done in recent memory.  Since Amman is such a car-focused city it was a big change.  But Benjamin loved the different modes of transportation and still says "metro" and "train".  It's sad to leave behind the good, soft sandwich bread, but it's also nice to be home and back in the old routine again. 

We are so grateful to Priscilla and Trevor for putting up with us!  And to Valerie for allowing us the use of her lovely home.  Hopefully we can visit again before we leave Amman.

Thanks for reading!



  1. So what is a pain Suisse?

    1. Hey Jenny,

      Silly me, it's a large croissant-type pastry with a very soft interior and speckled with chocolate. So addictive! My mission in life is to find another one. :-)

      How are y'all doing? Planning a big party for Abigail's 2nd bday?? I can't believe they're so big!


  2. Hi there Rachel,
    Your hair was / is amazing ! I just wish I had half as much and such a lovely colour! I'm glad you had such a happy time in spite of the rain and cold weather. Let me know when you want to come back so I can arrange to go somewhere. Paris is such an amazing city; I've still not seen it all; there are so many historically and architecturally interesting places to see and explore - I'm still enjoying discovering them. Next time we'll have to go to an amazing restaurant called "Chez Chartier" (link : dates from the late 19th century. You can't book a table; just go along and queue up till a place becomes available - it's all part of the fun! You'd love it here at present: Epiphany is the traditional time for La Galette made of puff pastry with a frangipan filling and a little porcelain "fève" inside. The children hide under the table and the hostess asks them to say the name of the guest to whom she should serve each slice. Whoever gets the fève is the King / Queen and has to choose a partner who get to wear the paper crown. It was lovely to meet you; albeit briefly and I'm glad your cold and cough didn't prevent you enjoying your time here. Every best wish for 2013 ! Valerie

    1. Hi Valerie!
      Thanks so much for letting us take over your apartment, it was so generous of you. And I'm glad we got to overlap one day so we could meet you, even in our sickly state. We'd love to visit again but we don't want to put you out! Maybe we'll bunk with Trevor and Priscilla, or leave Benjamin with them. ;-)
      That restaurant sounds great! I feel like we saw a good bit, but not even close to a comprehensive view of Paris. But of course we still have lots of Amman to visit, so hopefully we can muster some of the energy we had over the vacation. If you'd like a home base anytime for traveling in the Middle East, we'd love to host you!
      Happy New Year!