Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vive La France!

Jardin du Luxembourg
Another amazing weekend getaway with Jaap and this time we returned to Paris. I had to pinch myself several times because I thought I was living in a dream world. I still can't get over how close we live to Paris and how close the Netherlands is to so many places and countries. I kept  turning to Jaap saying, "Is this my life? Where am I? This is amazing!" 

I LOVE France. I love French people, French food, the French way of life, the fact that everybody is running around the city with baguettes in their hand, the beautiful gardens, the architecture...everything! Paris is amazing.
The last time we went to Paris was with my parents, aunts, and uncles. 8 people and two nights. It was nuts, but fun. This time around we took the relaxed, "let's pretend we're Parisians" approach to the city. Long walks, bike riding, a museum, and of course amazing French cuisine.  
Two weeks ago was another holiday in the Netherlands, so we planned a long weekend trip. Yay! It's so easy to get to Paris by train, since it's only 3 hours away. But, the tickets were ridiculously expensive, so we decided to drive instead. It's not much longer by car, only 4 hours, and since I can drive stick now I drove the first half. Yay for me! I feel like I'm 16 all over again learning to drive a car. 
We spent Thursday afternoon at Jardin du Luxembourg. A beautiful park near the Sorbonne. Beautiful gardens, flowers, fountains, and statues. Lots of families and children playing in the various playgrounds. Tons of people sitting out and reading and lots of French people making out and showing ridiculous displays of public affection, everywhere. I love French people.
Since we were close by we walked over to the Pantheon. We were too late to go inside so we walked around the corner to another church and decided to go see the Eiffel Tower. It was still too early for dinner and the weather was beautiful, so we weren't ready to head indoors. 
What a sight to see. It's like the Empire State or Chrysler building. You never get tired of looking at it. The architecture is stunning. This time we went to go see it up close along the water. 

And of course, every long walk must come with a koffiepauze at some point. Although this time we went for a rosé wine instead. Lekker! We enjoyed a couple of glasses before heading out somewhere on the other side of the city for dinner.
Day two started on an adventurous note. We decided to rent bikes and see what Paris is like above ground, rather than traveling with the Metro all day. Paris has a public bike system where anyone can easily rent bikes from 30 minutes to hours at a time. Finding a bike stand with available bikes that weren't broken took us some time and included some confused phones calls with the customer service rep. In retrospect it's quite funny, but at the time Jaap and I were not laughing and trying hard not to get mad at each other. After everything was resolved, we were off. I felt so French! 

I would have never done something like this before living in the Netherlands. Surprisingly, I felt comfortable cruising through the city with our bikes. I think it's because bike riding has become such a big part of my life now, so I'm really used to it. I was preparing myself for the worst since many of the streets have no bike lanes and in most places outside of the Netherlands people could care less about bike riders. But in the end, I thought it was quite nice and didn't feel nervous at all. The great thing is that scooters aren't allowed on bike lanes. (Something I wish the Dutch would pick up on). Jaap was such a great navigator. Reading a map and bike riding at the same time is not an easy feat, but since he's Dutch, I knew he could handle it. 
I'm sure you have heard of Père Lachaise, one of the most famous cemeteries in Paris and probably the world. Most people go there to see Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde, among others. We planned to take the 'dead composers' tour through Père Lachaise. We liked to stop by a composer's grave and pay tribute by singing a few bars of one of their famous works. We sang a little William Tell and Carmen to honor Rossini and Bizet. We still saw Jim Morrison, but Edith was a little too far on the other side. Here are some photos of our walk through the cemetery. It's a beautiful place to visit in Paris. 
Jim Morrison
Back on the bikes, we headed to our next stop for lunch at a delicious crêperie. More about this on a later post. But for now, au revoir!


  1. It looks like you had a wonderful time en Paris! Please tell me you had a banana & chocolate (or Nutella) crepe, my FAVE!!

    I like your blog. I'm married to a Dutchman and we are planning on moving to NL sometime in 2012 so I like reading about your journey and imagining what mine will be like :)


  2. Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, we did not have a chocolate or banana crêpe. There were so many to choose from!

    Good luck with transitioning to Dutch life! It's a great place to live. :)