Paris sous la neige ❄️

According to my co-workers, Paris gets snow once every ten years so I didn’t have much hope of seeing any this year since they had about 10 centimeters last year. They had announced some flurries a couple days in December but they lasted about 5 minutes each and promptly melted afterwards.

The not-so-reliable weather people here again said that Paris and other parts of the country would received 3-5cm of snow (some up to 15cm, and even more in the mountains). I was pretty sceptical to say the least.

I woke up this morning about 45 minutes earlier since I had read it was supposed to start at 7am…nope, no snow before work. It finally started snowing at about 9am and it was beautiful big snow flakes flying around. Around 11:30am it was still snowing so I decided I’d take a bit of a walk during my lunch and take it all in. Luckily I had worn my Blundstones instead of my heels at work.

Jonathan came to meet me and we walked towards the Seine river and then by le Petit et Grand Palais, through a park and back at work. It’s a magical time in Paris when it snows; at least, if you don’t drive in the city or have to be anywhere in a hurry!

Advertisements

Grey January

I’ve been a little absent from my blog. It hasn’t been intentional but mostly because we’ve been staying pretty low key.

Our New Year’s Eve celebrations were spent at home watching the light show on les Champs Elysées sipping on champagne, which we enjoyed since crowds aren’t our thing. There has been more demonstrations on Saturdays which I’ve been hesitant to go out since they often gather around our neighbourhood.

I’m back to my normal routine though; work, workout, eat, sleep, repeat. I’d like to change that up a little since we only have a couple months or so left.

Since our return to Canada is coming up soon, I’ve also been planning that and also making plans for weekends in Paris or just outside Paris. We need to take full advantage of our time here, even if it’s grey and sometimes rainy.

I will do a separate post soon on our return home and all the emotions it brings with it but for now, I leave you with my morning coffee and croissant at our local café.

Happy Sunday 🙂

Christmas Day and everything in between

After I shifted my thoughts to enjoying Christmas in Paris and making the best of it, I wanted to get out and enjoy all of what Paris had to offer.

I had off of work December 24, 25 and 26 and although it was quiet for us, we managed to get out and enjoy this time of year and have some yummy foods.

We went for a walk Christmas Eve and enjoyed some more Christmas lights around our neighbourhood.

Once we got back, we had charcuterie, cheese and champagne that we had bought for the holidays. It was delicious and we’ll likely do something similar for New Year’s Eve as well.

We slept in on Christmas Day and once my family was awake in Canada, we FaceTimed so I could watch my nieces open their gifts which made my heart so happy! We also had a wonderful brunch with mimosas (because why not?!) and later our traditional Christmas supper with a walk and scooter ride around an empty Paris.

I still had Boxing Day off so we decided to go out and walk around because what better way to enjoy time off than to walk around a cool crisp Paris?!

We went over to a friend’s place for supper last night and actually talking about having to leave in 3 months is starting to hit me. Before that though, we’re going to keep enjoying ourselves and making the most of it!

Happiest but most of all, a healthy new year to you all! May 2019 be one of the best yet 🙂 cheers!

Noël à Paris

I feel like decorations for Christmas have been out in Paris for a long time now. Galeries Lafayette had their tree up at the end of October. For some reason though, I haven’t felt much in the Christmas spirit. It may be the lack of snow, Christmas music or my annual baking. Either way, it’s felt a little off and especially knowing I’ll be far from my family and friends makes it all that more difficult.

I’ve felt sorry for myself but then I also want to take advantage of our time here and enjoy all of what we can, so that’s what I’m focusing on.

We put up our Christmas tree and Jonathan was thrilled that he didn’t have to take out the saw and it didn’t make a mess!

We’ve strolled along les Champs Elysées and l’Avenue Montaigne to look at the brightly lit streets and store fronts.

I’ve sang Christmas songs with a choir at the Official Residence which helped put everyone in the Christmas spirit 🎄

We visited a few Christmas markets in Paris. The one by l’hôtel de ville is quite small but they’re all artisans’ work which is lovely. The one next to Notre Dame is also small and full of artisans as well (I’d say there’s about 15 stalls there) but they would all make great gifts. Christmas balls, knives made in France, scarves, wood working along with cheese and saucissons.

When in Rome! In this case, when in Paris, do as the french so we’re planning on drinking champagne and eating all the cheese. Not a bad plan if I do say so myself!

When we were out last night, it seemed like people were slowing down and there was less people. Many people are heading out of the city to the countryside to be with family, or even out of the country. I will take it in stride and enjoy the “quiet”.

I am continuing my quest for all things Christmas and enjoying this year as much as I can. I will keep you all updated on what I come across

I do want to take this time to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and health and happiness for the new year, 2019. Joyeux Noël à vous tous!

In a blink of an eye

Things can change in the blink of an eye. As I write this on Sunday, I feel like “les gilets jaunes” movement has started fading but last Saturday I wasn’t too sure what to expect. On top of it all, after great memories in Strasbourg, a gunman went on a rampage and now a total of five people have died. It happened right behind the apartment where we were staying. We walked around there. It’s a little surreal.

We planned to stay in last Saturday and this Saturday because we didn’t want to risk running into any gilets jaunes. Last Saturday we saw about 200 of them walk through our street and police forces at the end of the evening looking for trouble makers. For the most part, it was pretty calm and orderly but we’re also not use to those kinds of things so we’d rather be safe then sorry.

The worst of it was the Saturday we had left to go to Strasbourg with Lori and even so, once we arrived Monday it was business as usual. Although, there are a lot of businesses that have their front windows boarded up (either because they’ve been broke or so they don’t get broken).

For the most part, if you stay away from the affected areas, you’re good to go but this movement has been a little unpredictable and it’s usually smack dab in the middle of our neighbourhood.

Today we decided to head out and walk around. I needed to get out of our apartment and do something. We took the metro to Bois de Boulogne and walked quite a bit. The name would make you think that it’s kind of like a forest but it’s not really. There are still lots of cars around so it wasn’t as peaceful as I thought it might be.

After that, we headed to La Défense. It was pretty quiet there today but it’s a very busy business district during the week. There’s also a Christmas market but that was too busy so we headed to les Champs Élysées to look at the lights.

Les Champs Elysées along with Avenue de Montaigne are lit with lights along the streets for the season.

It wasn’t anything very exciting but I was happy to get out and walk about Paris for a few hours. Now another week awaits me before a few days off for Christmas.

Lori’s visit to Paris

We were thrilled to have Lori visit Paris since it’s going to be our long term stay in France. We’ve created many memories here and we’ve been blessed to share it with family and friends who have visited us.

Paris in the winter can be rainy and dreary, especially when you get into work it’s still dark and you leave, it’s dark.

Jonathan had to be the entertainer as I had to work but we made the best of our time together once I got off work.

The first thing that comes to mind when you say winter in France; raclette! So that’s exactly what we did our first evening back in Paris. Le Quartier Latin is the best place to find an affordable place to have raclette.

If you haven’t had raclette, it’s delicious! I mean it’s melted cheese on potatoes and cured meats 🙂

After all that cheese, we walked some of the way back through Notre Dame.

The days went by super quickly and we enjoyed an evening walk around our neighbourhood and went up les Galeries Lafayette terrace to check out the sunset. We also did the Christmas market at the Tuilerie gardens but after Strasbourg, it didn’t even come close.

On her last night, while Jonathan made a delicious bœuf bourguignon, we headed out to see some of the Christmas lights on Les Champs Élysée and Avenue Montaigne before heading to the Eiffel Tower (and totally forgot to take picture at the Eiffel Tower).

Thanks to Lori for taking this picture of the two of us 🙂

Strasbourg – la Capitale de Noël

Strasbourg is self-proclaimed la Capitale de Noël after it was named the Best European Christmas market by European Best Destinations. A couple years ago it lost its title but it remains a beautiful city to discover and it’s the oldest Christmas markets in France (started in 1570).

The centre of the city is on an island and it’s also where the markets take place. During the Christmas season, it’s mostly pedestrian-only. Cars are permitted in some places during certain hours (you can see the coloured dots on the picture below; each bridge has different instructions for cars).

All of this information, we received after first arriving on the island and getting a map at the information chalet.

The map for the Christmas markets and Illuminations

The Airbnb we rented was in the middle of the island, close to Place Kléber and very convenient to visit all the markets.

The weather Saturday was great, a little chill and with some blue skies. Sunday started off rainy but cleared by mid afternoon. If you’re able to do the markets during the week, I definitely recommend it. There will be less people even though the markets close at 8pm. They close at 10pm on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday’s markets were very busy but by Sunday mid afternoon the crowds had thinned and we were able to go through much of the markets, stopping and seeing what they had to offer.

My favourite markets was at Place Broglie and place Benjamin Zix both for very different reasons.

A chalet at Place Benjamin Zix

Another chalet in front of the UNESCO site la Petite France building

The market at place Benjamin Zix was small but had lovely stuff; Christmas ornaments, decorations, nativity scenes, food and mulled wine. It was also close to la Petite France which made the scene magical.

The photos above are of the markets at Place Broglie which was the biggest Christmas market in Strasbourg so there was more of everything; ornaments, decorations, nativity scenes and lots of food and wine. There are also more people but we still enjoyed strolling along and checking out different stands.

The market at Place Kléber is worth a visit, mostly to see the Christmas tree. The chalets there seem mostly like charities which is a great idea to encourage to give back.

We visited all the markets and enjoyed them all, on Place Saint Thomas which had live music when we were there. Palais des Rohan market, although small, it’s close to the river and quaint.

The market on Place Gutenberg was dedicated to Finland this year. There were some chalets with wine and some artisan work.

The markets surrounding the cathedral were always busy so we walked through them but didn’t browse much. By Sunday evening once we went to see them as it was less busy, they had already started closing up.

The other highlight of the markets and the Christmas season are the lights. There are some everywhere on the island and they are beautiful. Pictures don’t do it justice but here’s a little taste of what you would see;

At la Place Kléber with Strasbourg Christmas tree (there’s also an ice rink)

A close up of the Christmas tree (the lights change colour)

A make shift Christmas tree on a building

Chandeliers hanging at every 40-50 feet on this street

More Christmas lights along the streets in Strasbourg

Beautiful light display over market chalets

Entering the city, more pretty lights

The cathedral lit up and the street leading up to it is also lit up with beautiful lights

I haven’t been to any other European Christmas markets but I would without a doubt recommend Strasbourg.

We enjoyed the food immensely and the prices were good (especially now that we’re paying Paris prices), we enjoyed some of the local cuisine which is highly influenced by Germany. Even if our accommodations were a little more expensive then what we wanted to pay, if you plan in advance you should be able to find something more affordable.

I would also suggest at least two full days to be able to fully discover the market and walk through them. If you can go during the week, I highly recommend it as well, it’ll be a little more easy going as you browse through the markets.

We came home with a couple souvenirs (Christmas themed, of course) including a small wooden Christmas tree since we’ll be sticking around Paris for the holidays this year.

I hope you all enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it and looking back at our weekend away!

Strasbourg in December

When Lori told me she was coming to visit in December, we thought we’d be gone from Paris but since that didn’t happen we decided to plan a weekend getaway. What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than Christmas lights, Christmas markets and all the mulled wine and market food in a beautiful city?!

We left Saturday morning on the train from Gare de l’Est in Paris and arrived in Strasbourg close to 1pm. The price of the train tickets at the beginning of November were already quite high so we ended up on the slow train. We also had a little trouble finding accomodation; the hotel prices are very expensive as one can imagine and many people put their apartment for rent during weekends on Airbnb but they go FAST! We ended up finding one right in the centre which was perfect (although a bit more expensive then what we wanted to pay).

We walked from the train station to the Airbnb. We met the owners and got the keys, dropped off our bags and went to find a quick lunch. The owners had given us suggestions and they did not disappoint 🙂 After our lunch, we decided to make our way to see la Petite France.

La Petite France is a UNESCO World Heritage site which was home to the city’s tanners, mill workers and fisherman in the Middle Ages. The buildings are cement and timber and are just so beautiful.

The centre of Strasbourg isn’t very big so we stumbled upon our first markets close to La Petite France. There weren’t that many (probably 10-15 chalets) but we took the time to check it out and actually came back a couple times. All of the stands are quite nice with beautiful pieces, or delicious food/mulled wine. We continued walking where there’s a covered bridge and got nice views of the canal, the mills and the cathedral in the background.

We visited the beautiful cathedral (I think I even prefer it over Notre Dame de Paris) and their were more chalets around the cathedral as well.

Strasbourg normally would be a beautiful city but add the Christmas markets and it’s really magical.

I will do a separate post about the markets with my tips and suggestions, I promise it’s worth it!

Family visit #2

I was able to get Monday off work and so we decided to do the Hop on, Hop off tour. It was a grey day but the sun showed up mid afternoon. It was a chilly day and we rode the bus all day long. Come 6pm we got off and had supper. The girls had been asking to see the Eiffel Tower at night so we brought them a little before 8pm so we could take pictures.

Tuesday I had to work but they had booked a private lesson at La Cuisine Paris and they loved it. They made tarts (lemon and chocolate) and they bragged about the chef and how much fun they had (I was a little jealous). They met me at work and we headed to the Eiffel Tower so we could take the Bateau mouche cruise along the Seine. It was a little chilly once the sun went down but we enjoyed it.

Wednesday was Disneyland Paris. I, again, was working but they had a good day. I decided to meet up with them even if the same day admission was 84€. I got there in time for the parade and the fireworks, and even got to do one ride. Unfortunately, most of the rides closed down after the parade.

I think the girls really enjoyed it although we have done Orlando and it’s a bigger park with a lot more attractions, Disneyland Paris is less busy with a good amount of things to do in one day.

Thursday after work I met up with them to take the RER to visit friends of the family. We stayed for a couple hours and headed back into the city so they could get ready for their flights the next day.

I saw them Friday morning for about an hour and walked them to the RER where Jonathan took over and brought them to the airport. It was a tearful goodbye but I know I’ll see them in four months. It was so nice to have them close by and actually spend time with them.

Genuinely happy to be together and spending this time together. I will cherish this time forever and I appreciate that they’ve come all this way to see us.

Family visit #1

My family arrived on the red eye Saturday, November 10 and I was jumping out of my skin excited. The airport reunion was exciting and seeing my nieces, mom and sister-in-law in the flesh was so heart warming. I was so happy to see them that words cannot explain.

After our reunion, we headed from Charles De Gaulle to Paris by RER which the girls enjoyed and had a quick lunch. My SIL hadn’t slept and my mom wanted a quick nap and the girls ‘weren’t tired’ so Jonathan and I took them to the Picasso museum.

I think they enjoyed the bright colours and strange paintings. The museum isn’t too long (good for young kids) and it was free for kids under 12 years old.

When we arrived back to the apartment, the littlest one had a nap but never got up until the next morning at 8am.

Sunday was a pretty rainy day so we took the girls to l’Aquarium de Paris which everyone enjoyed. The aquarium is at Trocadéro so we saw the Eiffel Tower first thing which the girls loved. We headed down to the aquarium and stayed a couple hours.

After that we headed to Galeries Lafayette so I could show them the Christmas tree, the windows and the terrace.

Our first full day was a success! Time spent with family is so precious 🙂