Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paris in the Spring

After being in Paris during some of the winter, words can't quite express how much I have been enjoying the Spring.  When the sun is shining it doesn't matter what we have planned to do, we make sure we are outside soaking in as many rays as possible.  Watching the new life and growth all around me has been incredible.  I don't think Spring has ever had as much meaning to me as it does this go around.  The backdrop had been so stark when we first arrived, but now it is full of color.  There are beautiful flowers everywhere!  There are flowers in the gardens around Paris, which you would expect; but they are also at playgrounds, along the sidewalks, and outside people's windows. We all love the flowers.  Liam and Amelie both point out flowers as we walk around town.  The way Liam pronounces flowers is super cute too (Fowerfs).
Liam smelling the flowers.
Amelie obviously smelling the flowers.
At a playground about a 8 minute walk from our house, "the circle park" as Amelie calls it, there are tons of dandelions and other wild flowers in the grass.  Amelie and Liam enjoy picking them and making little bouquets as they play.  To teach Liam not to pick the important flowers we have taught him to smell the flowers.  He will walk around flower beds sniffing. ;)

While Nancy, Bobby, and Amelie went into the Carnavalet Museum; I was able to sit and read on the bench above while Liam napped.  Perfect sunny afternoon enjoying a beautiful garden and some quiet.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Paris with Nanny

 We were fortunate to have Nanny (Bobby's mom) come to visit us in Paris.  We did SO many fun things while she was here.  She came at a perfect time as the weather is getting warmer and flowers are in full bloom.  We had fun seeing familiar sites with lots of greenery and color.  Below are a few of the highlights from our time together.
We took her on a walking tour of the Latin Quarter....our first stop is always Notre Dame.
The American Library hosted a walking tour of the 7th Arrondissement with favorite children's book such as Madeline, Eloise, and more.  It was fun stopping at places that were settings in the book. 
After the tour with the library, we enjoyed the sunshine by hanging out in the gardens and playgrounds surrounding the Eiffel Tower.  
After a full day, resting on the grass while waiting for the Eiffel Tower to light up and sparkle was the perfect end.  We were disappointed that the Tower never sparkled, but it was still pretty to see it lit up while watching the sun set.
The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is spectacular!

Can you believe how big Liam is getting?  Please tell me he still looks like a baby! ;)  Liam even enjoyed the view as he pointed out boats, trains, buses, and people playing soccer.

Amelie is doing a great job pointing out the big landmarks around town and as she sees them in books.
Behind us in the distance is Sacre Coure.
A picture from our day spent in the Marais District.
We did so many fun things from parks, markets, walking tours, churches, museums, picnics, and more. After looking at the pictures that we had taken, I realized that it is difficult to truly capture all that we are experiencing.  Whether that be because the feeling of the sun shining or the surrounding smells are not included or because funny and silly things our children do happen in a blink and then it's done often do not make it in the slideshow.  Whatever the reason, Bobby and I are not the picture enthusiasts we once were.  We just do not have our camera out like we did when we first arrived.  It was fun seeing Nanny take lots of pictures as she explored through Paris.  It inspired me to make sure as we are wrapping up our time in Paris, I try to photograph the things that will remind me most of our time here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

D'Orsay Museum

What was once a railway station built in 1898, now D'Orsay Museum houses French art dating from 1848 to 1915. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh (wiki page).  All museums in Paris are free the first Sunday of each month.  To save money we are saving certain museums for these free days.  The museums were crowded, but we were able to see everything easily.  We were even given a private tour of the elevator system within the museum by a staff member.  Bobby has a way with French people. :)

You cannot take pictures in the galleries,
but you are allowed to take pictures of the main floor from the cafe on the top floor.
From one of the clock windows, you can see the Seine River, a race in progress,
and the  Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in the far distance.
 To take full advantage of our free pass Sunday, we headed over the Louvre for our 3rd time.  The kids did amazing!  We were able to show off famous works to Morgan while also exploring new areas and seeing new things.

Enjoying time in the square outside of the Louvre before walking home.
Liam loves to follow his big sister every where.
Walking home in the Metro.

Eiffel Tower Sparkle

Having lived in Paris for 2 months and never seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, we decided it was time to make this happen.  We packed a picnic dinner of PB & Jelly (PB thanks to my mom as it is SUPER expensive here!).  Enjoying our picnic at the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower was a perfect choice.  The kids were able to play and we enjoyed the spectacular view.  We played while watching the sunset and the Eiffel Tower start to glow.  Once the sun sets, the Eiffel Tower will sparkle for around 10 minutes on the hour.  We all loved it!  It was well worth having the kids out past their bedtime to see.  We will have to do this again before we leave Paris.
Amelie and Liam playing in the sand at a playground. 
Watching the sunset.
Look at it sparkle!!!! 

Morgan put this video together.  You will need to click on it below for it to play.  If you would like the sound on, you can click the mute button on the top.  It is a short video on a loop so don't be confused if you keep seeing the same thing over and over again. :)

Place des Vosges

Visiting Victor Hugo's apartment in Place des Vosges was a great experience.  Learning more about Victor Hugo's life as well as seeing where he lived from 1832 to 1848 was very interesting.  As teachers, we love seeing students learning in relevant ways.  How amazing an opportunity to live in Paris and learn on site of historical events?!  There was a group of elementary students quietly listening and totally engaged in what the teacher was saying about the apartment (or possibly Victor Hugo).  This is another of many times I wish I could understand French so I could be learning too! :)

Because there was no elevator access to his apartment, we had to leave the stroller in the gift shop.  This meant Liam was free.  Keeping Liam contained and quiet so that he wouldn't be a distraction to the children learning was a challenging feat.  He did fairly well with only shouting "Pop-pop" a couple of times.  He thought Victor Hugo looked like Pop-pop due to the beard.  Lately, any time Liam sees a man with a beard he shouts Pop-pop.

Victor Hugo's apartment was located in Place des Vosges.  The square was beautiful with fountains, trees, a statue, etc.  We learned that this square was the oldest planned square in Paris.  It is a true square (140 m × 140 m) and was built in the early 1600s.  There is a bronze statue of Louis XIII on a horse in the center of the square that was placed there in 1825 after the first one was melted down during the French Revolution.  In addition to the fountains and statue there are various pieces of playground equipment surrounding the square.  Amelie and Liam enjoyed being free to get out some energy!
The windows of Victor Hugo's Apartment.

Hôtel de Ville

The Walker's have been playing tour guide recently.  One of my college roommates, who is still one of my closest friends, came to visit us on her Spring Break.  During her stay we were able to repeat some of the things we have already seen before, but we also were able to see new things.  Since our children could not keep up the touristy schedule, Morgan and I were able to spend a couple days on our own.  I enjoyed being able to experience a side of Paris that having children does not afford.  For instance, we were able to sit and drink coffee on two different occasions.  Also, I was able to savor pieces of art instead of the fly-by I usually do while chasing a child.

The day Morgan left was the day that Nanny (Bobby's mom) arrived.  Bobby will also get the chance to go off exploring without toting his family along.  Tomorrow they are going museum hopping while the kids and I recoup from many days of walking and no naps. :)  Okay enough of the boring report, right?!  I am going to be posting some of the favorite places we have been to recently with pictures of course.

I have not always been interested in history, but being in Paris and seeing buildings from centuries ago makes me eager to learn the background.  I will try to share some of my limited knowledge on the places we have visited.

Hôtel de Ville is a metro stop that we use to go to Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter.  We have been to this square numerous times now.  Each time we exit the metro, Bobby and I gaze at the building with it's many statues and intricate details.  It's been fun to see the changes in the area since arriving to Paris in February.  When we first saw the square in the winter it was filled with an iceskating rink.  It is now completely open with fountains always on.  Amelie and Liam love running around in the wide open space.  People enjoy sitting around the perimeter of the square eating or hanging out now that the weather is getting nicer.

So, what was/is this building?  At first, I imagined this as a famous hotel bustling with activity of rich aristocrats.  Upon doing research I found out that hotel actually means a government building.  Hôtel de Ville houses the office of the Mayor of Paris.  This building was finished being built in 1628.  Over the years there have been numerous historical events in this building and square.  If you are interested in reading more check out the wiki page.

This is a Bazar located next to Hotel de Ville.
Liam saying "cheese."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Week in Pictures

The time has flown by since I blogged last!  Since I have not done a great job updating day to day, I decided to update you on what we've been doing through a video of pictures.   Enjoy below!
The major highlight of this past week was having a visit from Mimi and Poppy.  My dad is a senior class sponsor, and has been leading groups of students to Europe since I was a senior in high school.  This year they were in Paris for 2.5 days.  Since they couldn't leave the group, we joined up with the group of 50 and tagged along.  It was tiring keeping up with the group, but it was worth the effort to see them!  We were rushing around on the Metro going from place to place while the group rode on their Coach.  Since we don't have our cell phones activated we would have to search the crowds of people until we spotted each other.  Talk about playing Where's Waldo!

One of the funniest events was Bobby and I exiting the wrong Metro stop.  Little did we know that this particular Metro, Abbesses, was the deepest Metro in the city.  In order to get out you had to walk up a spiral staircase.  To help you get a little taste of our experience, watch the video below and imagine you are carrying up 2 sleeping children in strollers.  
Thankfully, a family helped us carry the strollers up the stairs and we were all exhausted at the end!

We also enjoyed the luxury of eating dinner in restaurants, which we have not done much of since we've arrived.  Although it was a whirlwind of a trip, we were so happy for the time to be able to spend with them.  We were sad to see them leave!