Saturday, July 30, 2005


I remember that my mother always had Paul Masson Rose in our refrigerator. She would drink it throughout the year. It was her drink with dinner. I had an occasional taste and liked it enough. That was more than 20 years ago.

Years have gone by with no mention of Rose. It's always "white or red" with dinner. But a few weeks ago when I walked into the wine chain store Nicolas, I asked them for a bottle of wine to bring to a girlfriend's house. Imagine my surprise when a light Rose was recommended. I gave monsieur a look. Rose? I'm forever making faux pas in Paris (hey my mother drank Paul Masson Rose, 'nuff said) and I didn't want to bring a bottle of wine that would be looked down upon. The vendeur assured me that Rose has begun a new life.

Shortly after that experience, I began to see Rose all over the place -- in stores, at friend's houses, at restaurants... while it has always been a perfectly acceptable summer drink in France, it's now the new summer drink... light and refreshing and not too expensive.

What about where you live? Has Rose truly made a comeback?

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:10 AM



Friday, July 29, 2005


After spending the night in Amboise we planned to head home to Paris. We thought it would be fun to stop at a couple of chateaux along the way. We visited Chaumont and then Blois.

Chaumont was a real treat because we'd never been there before. The only thing I knew about Chaumont chateau was that it was the place that Catherine de Medici banished the mistress of her husband, Henry II, once he died. The mistress, Diane de Poitiers, made her home, while King Henry II was alive, the beautiful Chateau Chenonceau.

Ever since I'd heard the story of Diane being kicked out of Chenonceau and forced to live in Chaumont Chateau I've felt sorry for her. Not anymore! The Chateau is lovely. It is another amazing chateaux to visit in the Loire Valley.

After walking through the Chateau, we visited the stables. My husband noted they were the best maintained stables we've seen. The Chateau also has lovely gardens to walk through. In fact, as you take a tour through the Chateau, nearly every room is filled with faux flowers -- mostly orchids.

After Chaumont we decided to stop in Blois for a snack. We walked to the Chateau hoping to take a picture of the famous stairwell. However, they have hung up banners to prevent such picture taking without paying the price of admission. While we were standing there my son asked if he could check whether there was a medallion machine. I told him yes and the next thing I know he is in the Chateau court. While he was there we told him to take a picture. Here is his picture. Pas Mal!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:55 PM



Thursday, July 28, 2005


We left Brittany and started toward Paris. We made a last stop in the Loire Valley before reaching our final destination.

We decided to spend the night in Amboise. It is the location of one of the most interesting chateaux -- Chateau Amboise. Amboise is owned by the Fondation Saint Louis, which is run by the Count of Paris, who ensures the conservation of this historic building.

Leonardo da Vinci travelled to France in 1516 to enter the service of King Francis I at Amboise Chateau. He spent his last years down the street from the Amboise Chateau at Clos Luce. He died at Clos Luce on in 1519. Many of da Vinci's paintings were made while in France and can be found at the Louvre.

Here is one side of Amboise Chateau and the street that goes through the town. The church on the Chateau grounds is the Saint Hubert chapel which holds the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci.

Usually, when we stay at a hotel in France it is the Novotel. They are located outside of the city center, so you'd really need a car, but they are a family friendly hotel chain. You can always find a room for a family of four, which is often difficult here! Our hotel in Amboise promised a view of the chateau. Here is my family playing mini golf on the hotel lawn with Amboise Chateau in the background.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
3:44 PM



Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Last Minute Always Arrives

Yes, the movers have been here for the last two days packing up all our stuff, and today is Move Day. I finally took the time to throw bag after bag out of broken toys and other unused items. We also brought a few bags of things to a local church that collects items for the poor.

We slept in our apartment for the last time last night, surrounded by mountains of boxes. While the move has gone smoothly overall, there have been a few problems and we've learned a few lessons.

1) Dispose of your car prior to one week before leaving. We didn't sell the car. This happened when we left the US as well. Our friend is going to try to sell the car when people come back from "les grandes vacances."
2) France created Bureaucracy, but the US is a willing student -- don't bring wine back to the US. We received a number of lovely going away gifts. One wonderful gift was a case of Bordeaux wine. Our moving company has given us a lot of grief because of US customs procedures about bringing the case back. The moving company had a three week notice rule so that customs procedures are met. Well, our friends didn't give us a three week notice about the gift. What are we to do? That question took up a lot of time and energy over the last few days.

I was feeling a bit down about the move and the problems that we've had when I went to the park yesterday with the kids. My son met a little boy the other day who spoke English. I called him over and asked where he was from. It turns out his parents are from Columbia, he was born in Mexico, he was living in Brazil, he's here in Paris for a month before his family moves to India. He is 7.

The boy had such a nice time playing with some English speaking kids (he attended an International school) that the mother asked when we were coming back to the park. We told her we'd be in the park Tuesday. The child met us at the park yesterday. He came with a babysitter and the boy's 5 year old sister.

The little girl has autism as well as some other concerns. The babysitter, who has studied autism, never sat down. The girl kept picking up leaves and putting them in her mouth. She would run off, sometimes near the street. That's when I realized my "problems" were small indeed.

For those of you who continue to read the blog, thank you. The move has been exhausting and I'm sorry I haven't written back to your comments. If you do have specific questions, please email me at my gmail account.

For now, I still have pictures and stories I want to talk about on this blog, so I will continue it for some time. I have a few posts already written and my sister will publish them for me, but I will be out of internet access before our return to the US.

Once I have figured out my next steps, I'll let you know. I've received several suggestions -- A Day in Washington, a Book, a rest from it all -- all sound good! Thank you for being there. I do appreciate your comments and read them all with interest.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:22 AM



Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Harry Potter

During the week I spent in Brittany with my girlfriend's family, her oldest son was reading the 5th Harry Potter book. He took it with him everywhere, talked about the characters, and made up games, like a version of Quidditch in the swimming pool.

Once we left the family, my son had a sudden strong interest in Harry Potter and asked that we buy him the book to read. I'd read (and he read at school) the first book to him in English, so we bought the second book for him to read in French. It was funny that he read the first set up chapter and had lots of questions about what was going to happen or why did such and such happen. We had to tell him that the rest of the book would explain it all and that was the fun of reading. I think (hope!) a little light popped on.

He carried the book around everywhere, just like his friend. He reads a few pages everyday. There is nothing like an older kid so interested in reading a book to make it interesting for a younger child.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:36 AM



Monday, July 25, 2005

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Lance arrived in Paris yesterday in full form. As usual, we were waiting on "our" spot on the Champs Elysees to see him pass a few times around the Arc de Triomphe before whisking by the finish line. It was his record-breaking 7th win of the famous race.

The bicyclists pass so fast it really is all a blur. You could hear a lot of people asking "was that guy in yellow Lance?" It seemed most people were there to show their support for Lance.

The weather wasn't great yesterday. There was rain most of the day. My husband said we should leave later than usual because there probably would be less people out on such a dismal day. Well, I think there were more people on the Champs Elysees yesterday than any other year. It was packed, but my husband brought a small ladder so we were able to see them up close and personal. I took pictures, but since we are in the process of packing up, I'll add them later.

There were so many people speaking English on the Champs Elysees yesterday! I wonder what will happen next year when the Americans don't have Lance to root for anymore ... Not so many Texas flags, but I did see a couple of shirts and caps with "Don't Mess with Texas!" This year there were also a number of little signs saying "Lance Fan." It was by far the most commercial Tour de France. This year many of the teams had booths to sell their logo on shirts, key chains, bike gloves... and they were doing a good business. And we provided some of that business. We bought our son an overly expensive racing jersey to go with the overly expensive Paris Saint Germain football jersey we bought him for his birthday. He does treasure them, though. It seemed that nearly every other person on the Champs Elysees was carrying a shopping bag of the "Tour de France."

When Lance was announced the winner, the American National anthem played. Last year I saw a lot of people walking with their hand on their heart. Not so this year. However, I saw many, many more people with the American flag -- usually draped over their shoulders. I haven't seen so many flags since September 11.

In the end, the cyclists, with their teams, come around for a final lap and wave to the crowds. When the final team, Discovery Channel, took their lap they played Sheryl Crowe's "Soak up the Sun." Lance's loyal lieutenant George Hincapie from the Discovery Team held a huge American Flag that swung in the air as the team passed slowly by. The only disappointment was that Lance was absolutely surrounded by photographers and other hanger-ons. Nevertheless, the crowd went crazy. It was sunny when Lance cycled by his last and final time on the Champs Elysees around 7pm. I'm so glad I stayed in Paris to watch his last win.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:53 AM



Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pointe du Raz

Our hotel, the Hotel de la Baie de Trepasses, was located on one of the most Western points of continental France. My husband, who had made the reservation based on the picture he saw of the hotel on a website, started getting worried that his expectations wouldn't get met as we drover further and further. However, as we neared our final destination and came around a corner and finally laid eyes on our hotel we were not disappointed!

The Hotel is right on the beach. The beach itself, was flat and sandy with these magnificent cliffs on either side: pointe du raz and pointe du van. The hotel has the most amazing location!

The walk toward the cliffs of pointe du raz. You could also take a free shuttle or pay for the horse and carriage ride (in yellow on the other road).

We spent one day checking out the Pointes. Here is the Pointe du Raz. We sat, on a safe spot, for quite a while looking out at the cliffs and Phare de la Veille, the light house on the last small island. We ended up buying a poster of the Phare de la Veille to bring home with us. The children we happy because they could "buy" a medallion here.

I could have stayed there for hours. The seagulls were floating over our heads. Notice the crazy people walking on the cliff. See the red dot?

Because everyone enjoyed our walk to the Pointe du Raz so much, we decided to drive out to the Pointe du Van afterward. This cliff is not so much a "Pointe," at least anymore. It is a rounded area and you follow a path. The views are beautiful and it is well with your time for a visit. Before we took off for our walk, we read the sign below. I thought it was amusing.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
8:37 PM



Saturday, July 23, 2005

Pont Aven

Pont Aven was a surprise on our trip toward western Brittany. I'd never heard anything about the town, but as we were driving down the highway we saw some interesting signs about this town and we were on vacation -- and what are vacations for if you can't just stop when something or someplace looks interesting?

Apparently, since 1888, Pont Aven has been renowned as an international artists' colony. Pont Aven's best know artist in residence was Paul Gauguin. I believe this is Gauguin's bust in the center of town.

We parked the car and walked around town for a little while. It is such a charming town -- pots of flowers hang from a wooden bridge. Here is a picture I took from the bridge.

There are little stores lined along the main streets where you can buy local art. There are also many stores selling the famous Galettes de Pont Aven, delicious, rich and very buttery cookies. I was afraid they might charge us for all the "free" samples my daughter kept taking. We bought a few boxes to take back to the US.

I walked a bit more through the town while the kids played in the town park with their father. It was a nice break from our drive.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:33 PM



Friday, July 22, 2005

Carnac Revisited

On our last evening in Port Crouesty, my friend's husband and my husband drove from Paris to meet us in Brittany. My girlfriend and her family left the next day to start the trip back to Paris. We decided to spend a few more days enjoying Brittany. We left our apartment and started driving toward our hotel in the western tip of Brittany.

My husband decided he really wanted to see Carnac so we stopped by there again. They are quite a spectacular site. I like my pictures here, but unfortunately they don't give you a sense of how the stones are all lined up from east to west. In Carnac, there are many fields of standing stones or menhirs in the area. In the summer you are not allowed to walk through the fields because of the large number of visitors.

The picture below is the most famous field because the stones are so large.

While we were on Belle Isle en Mer, we walked through the Fort Vauban musuem. The museum had an exposition on stone alignments. Here is a diagram of how the huge rocks were placed into the ground. I thought it was interesting.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:29 PM



Thursday, July 21, 2005

Port Crouesty

We spent the week in an apartment at the Port Crouesty in southern Brittany. It's on the peninsula or presqu'ile de Rhuys. The apartment had a pool where the kids spent most of their late afternoons and evenings. A short stroll from the apartment was a boardwalk where you could find crepe, pizza and seafood restaurants, ice cream vendors and lots of clothing stores. Since my friend and I were without our husbands but with our two children, the apartment was a good location because the kids could always find someone to play with in the apartment complex.

My son and his Paris friend. His friend will be moving back home this summer -- to Dublin. The second picture is my daughter, who allowed her cousin a taste of her granita drink, intently watching to make sure too much is not taken.

From my apartment I watched the sun set most evenings. However, I took this picture while walking on the boardwalk after dinner one night.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:22 PM



Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Road Trip

My sister drove our families from Montpellier toward Brittany, but it was far away and we decided to make a two day trip of it. Although we were on one of the major highways in France, the scenery was often spectacular.

About an hour after we started our trip we passed the double walled fortress city of Carcassonne. Since it's so close to my sister's place, we've been there often. It's a great place to spend the day, however, you should be prepared that it is very commercial -- there are little stores selling souvenirs everywhere. In 1997, Carcassonne was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List and it is well worth a visit. I took a picture from the highway rest stop.... I think it looks majestic even from far away.

The fields that we passed along our route were also a feast for the eyes, especially the bright yellow sunflowers. Provence may have the beautiful lavender fields, but I never got tired of looking at the sunflowers of southwest France. It made the trip toward Brittany pass much faster.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:54 PM



Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Home Again

We arrived back home late this afternoon. We'd been gone for two weeks and there is nothing like walking back into your own home, opening your own refrigerator, eating exactly what you want (poulet roti).... and boy am I looking forward to sleeping in my own bed with my husband!

I will write about the trip in the next few days, but I'll start with the beginning of my trip.... to visit my sister in her home near Montpellier. As I mentioned, we spent our days laying at her pool (she knit, of course). Here is a picture of the back of her home, taken from the pool....

I thought it was wonderful that my sister can put out a "bread bag" on her door knob before 9am and the local bakery will put the bread or baguette of the day in the bag. This day we got some version of a sesame baguette. We nearly ate the whole thing for breakfast... it was just that good and fresh. You just don't get that kind of service in Paris!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:22 PM



Monday, July 18, 2005


Another previously written post while I'm out of town.....

There are many pretty and beautiful things in France. In my opinion, the Gien company makes the most beautiful earthenware. The company was started by an Englishman, Thomas Hall, in 1821. Mr. Hall wanted to bring the English skill of making earthenware to France.

Today Gien is one of the top producers of fine earthenware in France. The colors in the Gien earthenware are bright and beautiful. The styles are often inspired from France and Europe from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Plates that were ordered with a family crest or family inital. They cover one wall of the Gien store in the 8th -- the bigger of the two Paris stores.

Many friends have travelled to Gien, France, where the factory store is located. Gien is located about 150 km south of Paris. If you want to buy Gien, have the time to take the trip outside of Paris, and don't mind second hand goods... it is the place to get a good price on the lovely earthenware.

Joli Paris. Wouldn't these make the most wonderful going away presents? I couldn't agree more! Now if I can just get that VAT tax back...

-- said Auntie M in Paris
3:09 PM



Sunday, July 17, 2005


The day arrived! My husband drove out to Brittany and we were reunited as a family this weekend. After three long months we can resume what normal families do -- laugh, talk, hug, argue and just enjoy each other. I knew it had been too long last week when my daughter asked why "Daddy doesn't want to live with us anymore?" Now we will leave my girlfriend and her family and drive around Brittany for a couple of days before leaving to return to Paris for our final week. How does the time pass so quickly?

-- said Auntie M in Paris
5:05 PM



Saturday, July 16, 2005

Belle Ile en Mer

On Bastille Day we took a ferry to Belle Ile en Mer. I believe it is the largest island (and there are many) off of the Brittany coast. It took an hour to get from port to port and the ride was perfect -- sun, warmth, sea, and breeze.

Belle Ile, pretty island, is as quaint and charming as the name implies. We arrived around noon and ate a crepe lunch (we've had a lot of crepes!) and then the six of us climbed to Citadelle Vauban. The original construction of this fort occured in 1549 . The fort was extended and reconstructed to form the Citadelle in the 1600s. In 1933, the Citdelle was listed as a National Monument.

After our climb we walked around the town and eventually came to rest in a nature reserve for an afternoon snack and to escape the sun. The kids were tired from the day and were actually quiet on the ride home. I just sat on the ferry with my head facing the sun and my hair blowing in the wind and thought about how happy I was to be there with my daughter sleeping on my lap.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
5:01 PM



Friday, July 15, 2005


A few years ago, the family walked a few blocks down the road to watch the 14th of July fireworks around the Tour Eiffel. I remember, my son was so excited by the fireworks that he was jumping up and down with joy the whole time. My daughter, however, was three at the time and was totally flipped out by the loud noises.

Last year, we did not stay in Paris because the Tour de France was passing by my sister's place that same week. So we spent the day with my sister and her family -- no fireworks in sight.

This year we got to see the local fireworks from the comfort of our place in Brittany. The fireworks exploded over the local port and the show was magnificient. The French do great fireworks -- lots of noise and color. Even though it was 11pm when the show started, my children stayed awake for a long time afterward -- it was as though they'd just eaten a bowl of sugar. As I was trying to sleep with the windows open since it was so hot, I heard many local musicians playing their music. One song seemed especially popular ..."Summertime" .... Summertime and the living is easy....

-- said Auntie M in Paris
1:57 PM



Thursday, July 14, 2005

George Sand - The Romantic Museum

A taste of Paris on Bastille Day. I wrote this post last week......

Last year it was the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Sand and there were a number of activities going on to celebrate in France. Because of all the discussion, I decided to read a biography of this French romantic writer.

Sand was an amazing woman and early feminist. Born in Paris with the name Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin and raised by her grandmother in Nohant. She married and bore two children -- a boy Maurice, and a girl Solange. She inherited Nohant in 1821.

Sand had an unhappy marriage and left Nohant and her family to return to Paris in 1831. She started writing for Le Figaro and became friends with many of the artists and writers of her day. She took on a series of high profile lovers. One of the first lovers is Jules Sandeau, with whom she writes a book, Rose and Blanche under the name Jules Sand (she supposedly took her pen name from shortening Sandeau).

Unfortunately for Sand, I believe she is best known for her lovers, most specifically, Chopin. However, she was successful in her own right. She wrote many popular novels, including Indiana, Lelia, Mauprat and Le Compagnon du Tour de France. She also wrote pieces for the theater, like Histoire de ma vie.

ANYWAY... what I wanted to write is that I finally got over to the Musee de la Vie Romantique/ Museum of the Romantic Life. This museum is located at the bottom of Montmartre (about 4 blocks from the Moulin Rouge) in the Scheffer-Renan mansion.

Dutch born painter Ary Scheffer lived here the first half of the 19th century. He received many artists and intellectual elites of his time in this mansion, including, George Sand, Delacroix, Chopin, Liszt, Rossini and Dickens. The mansion was left to the city of Paris by heirs of Scheffer and became a museum in 1987, housing memorabilia of George Sand.

Sand's arm and Chopin's hand. Isn't it romantic?

There is a lovely tea salon located in the garden area outside of the museum. I had to run back to pick up the children at school. If I had more time, I would definitely have joined the lucky people enjoying the sun and snacks.

I ask the support of no one, neither to kill someone for me, gather a bouquet, correct a proof, nor to go with me to the theater. I go there on my own, as a man, by choice; and when I want flowers, I go on foot, by myself, to the Alps.
George Sand

-- said Auntie M in Paris
6:37 PM



Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Last night I had one of those perfect moments. My girlfriend and I took our families to Carnac during the day. In fact, the reason we chose a week in southern Brittany was to visit Carnac. Why? Carnac is like England's more famous Stonehenge. It's a bunch of rock alignments built between 5000 and 2000 B.C.

Carnac has nearly 4,000 standing stones or mehnirs oriented approximately East to West. Many believe that the menhirs are linked to fertility. Unfortunately, it was very hot and the kids didn't want to stay long. We did walk through Carnac and had an enjoyable crepe lunch. After Carnac we drove to one of the local beache, La Trinite sur Mer. The kids played in the sand and jumped in the cold water.

But the perfect night.... after we bought dinner on the way home... my girlfriend's son wanted to take a swim in the pool. I took a quick shower and joined all the kids poolside. Our group ended up being the alone at the pool at 9:30pm. The sun was setting a magnificient color of red. The sailboats in the harbor were peacefully swaying back and forth. The children were full swing into a made up game based on a game in Harry Potter -- some form of Quidditch. All four kids were playing together and it was just a peaceful, beautiful moment in time.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
10:04 AM



Monday, July 11, 2005

Southern Brittany

Wish I could download pictures because it is beautiful here. Additionally, the weather has been amazing -- if anything too hot. I am, however, surprised at just how cold the water is here in July. It reminds me of my summers swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. My girlfriend and I drove around a bit today, which was nice for us but the kids complained until they got out of the car and climbed on the rocks near the water and threw seaweed at each other.

We are staying on a "presqu' ile" or almost island -- a peninsula. It is just as charming and beautiful as I hoped. We woke up this morning to a very large market selling fruit, poulet roti, dresses, cheeses, and ceramics. My sister and I walked around before saying our goodbye. I won't see her again until she comes to visit me in the US. I 've spoken to her nearly everyday while I've lived in France and I know I will miss her a lot.

Please forgive any spelling errors or whatever else. It is no fun typing on the French keyboard and having no spell check to rely on!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
2:15 PM



Saturday, July 09, 2005

Going North

Today I leave my sister`s wonderful oasis she calls home. The sisters and our three children are heading to Brittany. She`ll stay for a couple of days and then leave to visit some friends in the area. In Brittany, I am meeting up with a Parisian friend and her kids. We`ve rented a couple of apartments right on the beach. Wish me warm weather and little rain (Brittany is notorious for it`s rainstorms). I`ll take pictures but won`t be able to post until them until I get back to Paris.

Happy Birthday to my Godson and nephew.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:52 AM



Friday, July 08, 2005


The weather has been a bit cooler here than Paris, but warm enough to enjoy swimming in the pool. Yesterday, the pool water temperature registered 78 degrees!

It`s very relaxing here at my sister`s place. Here is our "schedule."

Wake up, have toast for breakfast, read a summer novel or magazine depending on my mood, play in the pool, eat lunch, play in pool, have an ice cream snack, play in the pool, have dinner and prepare for bed. That is what I call a relaxing vacation. Must go now... I think it`s nearly pool time!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:25 AM



Thursday, July 07, 2005


For a while now if you mentioned the 2012 Olympics it was assumed that Paris would win the bid. There has been an Olympic fever all year in Paris and we got wrapped up into it as well. London, sure it had a small chance ... and Madrid, Moscow and New York were never mentioned. I was waiting anxiously yesterday for the news.

I took an early TGV train from Paris to Sete and called my sister along the way to ask if the decision was announced. Once we unpacked her car and the kids ran inside to put on their bathing suits, my sister called down to say that London won the bid. I was immensly disappointed for France. For the money that they spent for the bid, for the hopes the city had. But I also kept thinking what someone once asked me ... Why does Paris, one of the most tourist ridden cities in the world, need the Olympics?

In Newsweek magazine last week, some French government official said that France wanted the 2012 Olympics in part because they wanted to build more sports facilities -- they wanted more of a focus on sports in France. I can understand that. As a relatively sports-oriented family we are often surpised how little sports play a part of children's lives here. My son, who played golf, soccer and basketball was a bit of an oddity to his friends who focused on piano playing, chess and theater. My experience has been that sports are an afterthought here -- certainly not something that goes hand-in-hand with education.

So, I'm sorry for Paris, but I wish London a wonderful 2012.

**After writing this post I found out about the bombings in London. My thoughts are with the people affected by this horrible and senseless terrorist attack. How can people hate so much?

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:47 AM


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

South of France

I went out the other night to see if I could take a picture of the Statue of Liberty with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I couldn't take the shot I thought I'd be able to.... but I was happy enough with this picture.

I'm heading down to visit my sister for a few days in the South of France. She has a daughter the same age as mine and the girls are so happy about spending some time together. My son is just happy his aunt has a pool.

I will try to post over the next two weeks, but it will not be daily.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
2:46 PM



Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Rodin Museum

This past weekend it was the first Sunday of the month. That means that many museums have no admission charge. My son had three play dates that day (after coming home from a Saturday sleep over, eating lunch and preparing to be picked up for another play date he says "how come you are such a nice mom when I'm not as nice to you?"). Who knew the child would be so happy when I'm farming him out to others?

So I had some time with my daughter. I asked if she'd be willing to go to a museum and she agreed. I'd been wanting to go to the Rodin museum for a while. I've been there a number of times, but the last time was two years ago, when I went with my friend Claudia when our children were three years old.

Mothers often take their children to this museum because there are many beautiful sculptures in the garden area and tucked behind some large hedges, is a sand pit where mothers can sit while children play. The best of two worlds... a place to be social and have some culture.

Rodin is a lovely museum inside -- there are 16 rooms of his works, including the famous... The Kiss and The Door of Hell. One room is dedicated to the work of Camille Claudel, his lover, student and muse. Additionally, there are paintings Rodin collected from Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet.

My daughter and I walked into the museum to see a few of Rodin's famous statues. My daughter actually asked me to tell the stories of the sculptures. For instance, she was very interested in La Cathedrale where two hands are touching.

I read the little card descriptions of each sculpture, but her interest quickly waned as we realized the museum was hot and stuffy. She wanted out. We did a quick tour and left to walk around the many sculptures outside.

There are many great pieces outside on display. One of the best known by Rodin is The Thinker.

We walked around the gardens and I showed her where she once played. Of course, she didn't remember the sand box at all. We stopped by the cafe in the garden for a couple of drinks. It was a very nice day.

This museum is good for a family. There are lots of interesting sculptures, a beautiful garden, a restaurant to grab a lunch... and a hidden area in the back where the kids and adults can relax.

My daughter with the Monument a Bastien-Lepage

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:40 AM



Monday, July 04, 2005

July 4

To celebrate July 4, I let my son invite a couple of his friends over tonight for a barbecue. Well it wasn't exactly a barbecue, but I did offer hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad for dinner. Actually, I invited a couple of my friends over too (both with children the same age as my children). They actually ate the potato salad. All the kids ate puree or mashed potatoes instead.

Three mothers and 8 kids. Needless to say it was a crazy evening but the kids had a wonderful time and got to say a final goodbye to some of their good friends. We leave on Wednesday to visit my sister in the south of France. Then my sister and I drive to Brittany where I'm meeting a friend. My friend and I rented a place for the week. By the time I get back to Paris in 10 days or so most of my friends and their kids will have left for their month-long vacation -- somewhere far from Paris. My kids seem to handling all these goodbyes better than I am....

Over the last two weeks I was fortunate to have two going away parties planned for me by my good friends. The first party included mostly my friends who have children that are friends with my kids. The second event, a coffee held at Angelina's, included my friends from my volunteer work with the Women of the American Church... a lovely group of women. Finally, the last picture was not a party for me, but rather a get together with the school moms that I would have lunch with from time to time. Each of these groups of women were integral to my happiness here in Paris. Thank you all for being a part of my life these last five years..... Jude, Louis, Leslie, Tina, Shelley, Pauline, Patti, Robyn, Sara and all the rest that made my time in Paris special.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:05 PM



Sunday, July 03, 2005

Les Grandes Vacances -- School is Out

French school officially ended for the kids last week. It was the start of les grandes vacances, the big vacation. The kids were so happy to be done with school -- pretty much like every other school age child. I was sad because it was the week of goodbyes.

I knew I was in trouble when I almost broke down in tears saying goodbye to the school secretary. When you got in trouble in school, you weren't sent to the principal, you were sent to the secretary. She was tough, firm, but had a kind heart. She had such pearls through the years! For instance, "this school is not a day care where you bring your child in when you feel like it." That was when my son wasn't feeling well in the morning and I brought him in during the lunch hour when he was feeling better. Another favorite... "if I can get in on time, surely you can too." It's not that she didn't have a point on most issues, it was always the delivery.

After school ended on Wednesday, our school (and our sister school in the neighborhood) offered an outing for the children on Thursday. Most of the boys from the class attended the outing called Forest Jump. Apparently, you go to this forest place not too far outside of Paris and the instructors put safety harnesses on you and then hook you to a pulley and you glide down on a rope from one tree to another. It's apparently a lot of fun according to my son.

Around 7pm on Thursday I drove over to the pick up spot about 5 miles away from my home. It was raining and traffic was backed up, but I got there on time. All the parents were waiting on a busy street for the bus to arrive. Once it arrived, the parents walked briskly to the bus door and kids started walking off. After this woman and I were waiting for 5 minutes or so, she starts a conversation with me.....

Her: Do we need to give the instructor our name to release our children from the bus?
Me: I'm not sure.
Her: I just didn't want to be like the French and push ahead to get my child.
Me: I can understand that. I hate the French cutting in thing.
Her: How long have you lived here?
Me: Five years and I haven't gotten used to it. How about you?
Her: 13 years!
Me: I guess some things you never get used to.

The rain stopped, but the traffic was still bad on the way back home. I had to drive around the Arc de Triomphe and it was very congested. I think I spent about 7 minutes inside the traffic circle in stop and go traffic just to get around 200 degrees of the circle. Since I had my ever ready camera next to me, I took a picture when I was stopped for a while. I can count 6 lanes of traffic on the left side of me and there were probably at least 6 lanes on the other side of me too. It's just the craziest traffic circle!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:23 PM



Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sun Bathers..

While in Bordeaux we went to the beach one day. Usually, when down in that part of France, we drive to Arcachon, a beautiful beach resort and well worth a visit. However, this time we drove to a lake nearby.

Every time we set foot on a beach in France I am always surprised to find topless women, often with their families, sunning on the beach. At the lake, I really think every woman there was topless (except my friend and me) and it didn't matter about body shape or size.

I've blurred this picture a bit, but here are two topless women friends just chatting in the water. I would definitely have felt self-conscious and at least walked in a bit further!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
8:30 PM



Friday, July 01, 2005

Tractor Ride

When our family first visited the vineyard two years ago, the grandfather pulled my husband aside and talked to him a little while. One thing he said that we think about often .... is that running a vineyard is the same as running a farm. "We are mere farmers" is the direct quote. Of course, you are talking about a real cash crop, but it is true, it's a farm just the same.

My son's best friend has been watching the farmers on his grandparents farm for a long time. For his 8th birthday, he asked for a ride on one of the big tractors. So while we were there this week, all the kids -- three first cousins and my two children -- each had a turn helping to drive a big tractor.

My daughter behind the wheel.

Needless to say, it was the highlight of their trip to Bordeaux. In fact, when my daughter got back to Paris, she immediately asked if she could send a card to the grandmother to tell her how much she liked the tractor ride (a first!).

My son driving the tractor in the field.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
10:24 PM