Christmas in Paris 2013

Christmas in Paris with our children and grandchildren…. a perfect way to celebrate Christmas. Our family arrived in Paris December 23rd. They requested we not let them go to sleep on day one, so we took them to La Défense Christmas Market. The pink orb tree was a popular photo opportunity.

pink trees

Christmas Eve was rainy and overcast. We slept a little late and got out in the rain about noon. We headed to Montmarte to visit the Sacre Coeur and the fabric stores in the area.

Christmas Day was very quiet. We slept in, enjoyed a family breakfast and opened gifts. Dinner included roti poulet, roasted vegetables, green beans, and fig tart.  If you want to try baking a fig tart click here.  If you can’t find figs (or don’t like figs) I think apricots or pears would work just as well. This was so tasty we made it twice!

dinner

Ginny's fig tart

The rest of the week flew by….. The children went to Versailles, Saint Chappelle, Notre Dame, The Louvre, Conciergerie, and surrounding sites. We did enjoy visiting Les Invaildes and The Army Museum with them as we had seen the other sites many times. The boys loved the guns and body armor.

One extra special highlight was a trip to Disneyland Paris. It was a great day but really, really cold. We had no idea it would be as cold as it was but we dealt with the wet, bitter temperatures and totally enjoyed the day. We decided the Happiest Place on Earth was also the Coldest Place on Earth!

family at disney

 

disney garland

avery the wizard

Avery the Wizard!

meeting minnie

meeting minnie2

minnie

Benji took this picture!

New Year’s Eve was another quiet day around here. Everyone was worn out and needed down time.

January 1st was not only the New Year; it was also Benjamin’s 11th birthday.  We celebrated with a late lunch at Café du Marche, a trip to the Eiffel Tower, a ride on the Carousel, and a walk through the Trocadero Christmas Market.

birthday lunch

benji on the horseHappy Birthday, Benjamin!

The rest of our days were filled with sightseeing, shopping and family time. It was a very satisfying and unique holiday for all of us.

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Packed and ready to go home.

 

Will I Ever Catch Up? I doubt it!

Train to Belgium

A few weeks ago we took the train to Belgium to visit our friends Kathy and Robert Ludwigs. Kathy always provides a “tourist program” for us…and they are always fun.

First on the Brussels agenda was hot chocolate at the King of Spain restaurant. Then we wandered through the Christmas Market that was in the middle of old town.  It was chilly but not too cold.hot chocolate2

We saw this vendor demonstrating his story puppets. There was a class of young students (and teachers) who really enjoyed his show!

puppets

The carousel was a piece of art work. It looked like Jules Verne, Star Wars and all sorts of fantastical creatures all rolled into one huge carousel. Kathy thought it might scare a young child…and it might!

fantasy merry go round

ship

Kathy had promised Robert H. raclette for dinner. I’m sorry we did not take a picture of it because it was tasty and fun. Have you ever eaten raclette? Kathy and Robert Ludwigs introduced us to raclette a few years ago. We call it entertainment food because you cook it at the table on a small grill. A little bit like fondue but it is with potatoes, meat,cheese,pickles, onions and a grill. Let us know if you want to try it and we will invite you over for dinner.

Friday we took the train to Antwerp so we could visit the Red Star Line Museum.

red star line

This museum is new, having just opened in September.  It is the antithesis of Ellis Island, NYC.  The Red Star Line Museum takes you on a journey as if you were an emigrant leaving your home and traveling to the New World. It is very well documented and the displays are wonderful. I wish there had been more English translations for us but we managed without them.  They even had an electronic database where you could look up your ancestors to see if they traveled on a Red Star Line ship.

Do you remember seeing this Flash Mob from Antwerp? It was filmed in this train station. It is such a beautiful station with great glass windows and fancy trim work.

antwerp train station

We made a quick stop at the Chocolate Line Kitchen to look and get warm.

choclate nurse

Saturday found us enjoying a lazy morning  and then heading to Brussels to visit the Tram Museum in the afternoon. We saw trams from horse drawn days all the way to today’s modern trams. After touring the museum we rode an antique tram on some of the older tracks in town. There were a lot of tram enthusiasts on the tram….sort of like our model railroad clubs at home, but these men were tram buffs. It reminded us of the saying, “Boys and Their Toys.”

horse drawn tram

tram car

black and white tram

tram master

One very important highlight of our trip was getting to meet Niklas, Kathy and Robert’s grandson. Niklas and his parents stopped by for a few minutes on their way home from a visit with Saint Nicholas. Niklas will become a big brother in February. Kathy and Robert are thrilled!

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Sunday was the last day of our visit.  We loaded the car and drove into town to peruse the flea market and antique stalls. We all enjoyed looking but did not find anything we “had to have.”  Lunch was a rustic quiche and a light beer. We ate in a restaurant that overlooked the flea market. The entire roof was glass which helped keep us warm.  We figured it would be miserable in the summer.

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group photo

We returned home to Paris tired and happy. Not too tired though, as we got up bright and early Monday morning and took the train to Strasbourg, France to visit MORE Christmas Markets.  There are about 12-15 markets in the Old Town. The crowds were not too bad but it was still very busy. We did a lot of looking. I think all we bought was a few Christmas ornaments. I would love to return to Strasbourg in the spring time of the year. It is a gorgeous city. Another reason to visit in the spring…it was FREEZING in December!

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Our children and grandchildren arrived in Paris December 23rd to spend Christmas with us. That will have to be another post.