Quiet, Again

Clean sheets are on the bed, the rug is vacuumed, floors are swept, laundry is running and, unfortunately for my guests that just left, the sun is out strong and bright this morning.

I was teary-eyed as I walked away from Jody at the airport this morning.  Not because I will miss her over the next few months (which I will) but because it reminded me of my good life and my good fortune to have a life filled with friendships that mean so much to me.  And what a joy it was to share a glimpse of my Parisian life with two friends over the last eleven days.  Most of you would be bored to death reading through all the details of our escapades, but I will share what I think are some highlights:

Yesterday Jody’s Paris research brought us to a hole-in-the-wall wine cave tucked in the back of a wine shop.  Tom, Jody and I spent almost the entire afternoon there enjoying wine, cheese, bread, foie gras, terrine.  Can’t describe it.  Won’t even try.  But it was a gem.

Julie’s desire to hit many museums was a benefit for me, too.  I was able to add a few new places to my list such as the Pantheon where people like Victor Hugo and the Curie’s are interred, as well as the Musee Cluny which wasn’t on my list of things I needed to do in Paris but I’m glad I did.

I was shushed in the catacombs.  We weren’t in the sacred part yet!  But it was cool and so interesting to see the results of the respectfulness that was given to over six million people’s remains when they were moved to these underground caves, tunnels and quarries.

We had a behind-the-scenes tour of a bakery (with young handsome baker man) and Jody and I joined in couple school organized tours, one to a university bibliotheque (library) with a very enthusiastic guide that would have spent two hours talking about the lobby if she didn’t have time constraints and another to an old, classic brasserie with a truly French gentleman that kept his words to a minimum.

Julie found some great art at a flea market one Saturday morning.  It was a huge maze of vendors and I’m sure you could find some treasures if you really knew what you were looking for.

We all had some time to stroll through one of our neighborhood markets on Saturday morning.  And they saw way more grocery stores and fruit/vegetable markets than they probably ever needed to see.  That is my life.

We had lots of views from above the city…Eiffel Tower on Jody’s first day (it kept her awake), Montparnasse Tour and Sacre Cœur.  We didn’t make it up to the bell towers of Notre Dame or the Arc de Triomphe but felt they had plenty of lofty perspectives.

The macaron challenge!  Almost every day of Jody’s visit we had a macaron to sample and compare.  Laduree, the premier macaron boutique of Paris didn’t fare so well in comparison to the more personalized Gerard Mulot as well as the macaron from our bakery tour.  We even tried two macarons from McCafe! Those tasted a bit like a bad Bit-o-Honey and since macarons really aren’t supposed to be chewy, that’s not a compliment.  My favorite was the Noix de coco from Gerard Mulot (and if you remember, this is where I had my behind-the-scenes tour back in January so I know they are fresh).

We also sampled many, many chocolates and sometimes the more simple, the better.  Although the chocolate bar with the chocolate mousse inside was quite scrumptious.

We shopped and shopped and found treasures for family members.  I hope they are happy when their mothers and wives return with goodies from France!

Jody and I didn’t set out to do this but, in the end, we had a bit of a hot chocolate challenge going on as well.  Our favorite?  A hot chocolate served in a glass similar to a stemless wine glass with maybe a couple inches of hot chocolate topped with a layer of frothed milk.  We watched him make the entire thing by hand in a cafe we just stumbled upon.  I love that.

We were inside Notre Dame, which is always spectacular, and stopped outside with every other person in Paris when they rang the new bells last Saturday night.  Jody found new meaning in “going along with the crowd” as we were literally swept into a path we did not intend on taking.

BUT, that path led us to Berthillon ice cream, followed by crepes for some and gyros and fries for others.

They got to meet some of the kids’ friends as well as some of mine and enjoyed watching me get kissed on the street by one of my friends’ French husbands.  Just not something that happens when you’re dropping your kids off at Northside. 🙂

Jody was able to celebrate Palm Sunday with us as the kids sang in the choir and we all processed from the Seine to the Cathedral singing with our palms.  I fall in love with this church every Sunday.  I can’t even think about what my last Sunday will be like when we leave.

And they fell in love with Monet’s waterlilies at Musee L’Orangerie (Julie went twice), the Musee D’Orsay is just a sight itself even without Van Gogh’s Starry Night and all the impressionist paintings.  And the Louvre.  They saw the highlights and a few extras.  When we were with Julie we spent time viewing Islamic art (gorgeous tile work) and on Jody’s day the extra time was spent in Napoleon III’s apartment.  And watching everyone take pictures with their finger on the top of I.M Pei’s Pyramid de Louvre.

Lest you think we didn’t eat enough, we did have time for a hidden Italian restaurant, a couple creperies, a modern-day gourmet pizza place, tart and quiche at home, lots of bread and, of course, a trip to my favorite French restaurant where we dined on pumpkin soup, beef bourguignon, creme brûlée and mousse de chocolat.  And wine and bread (but that’s a given, right?).

I think our family has become immune to the amount of walking we do.  That is, until a visitor says something like, “We’re walking there??”  Keep up, people!  Tom was not a big help as the pictures will show.

And then we just relaxed.  We shared books, stories about kids and families and parents, stories about jobs and houses and school functions.  They listened to my family bicker and laugh, wash dishes together, dine together, sleep in the same room together, study together and watch after each other, too.  It was just a glimpse of our life and I laugh when I think about what they may share with others when they return.  We are a family going about our daily lives and just so happy to share our home.

And now we rest and ready ourselves for the week ahead.  Ah, blue skies.  You’re calling me.



Not your run-of-the-mill department store…


A sunny day on the Champs-Elysees!


The first of many macarons!


The Eiffel Tower from our bridge at dusk.


From the bridge…


Am I yelling at someone atop the Tower??


At the top of the Eiffel Tower.


Trying to keep Jody awake her first day (the late lunch did not help!)


The adult lunch (photo by Elizabeth).


Jody looking for me upon arrival.


We ventured out to see the “sparkly” Eiffel Tower many times.


Soup after the flea market!


Warming up with our soup!


Julie buying her art.


Can’t get enough of the Rose Window.


Notre Dame.


They created many patterns in the catacombs.


Each section had a marker letting you know where these remains were from.


Close up in the catacombs.


After our bakery tour.


I love all the chocolates on display for Easter!


These are like works of art (and cost about as much).


Look at Jody; a true Parisian with her baguettes!


Moulin Rouge. Quite a neighborhood.


One of our favorite cafes.


Warm drinks on a colder day.


Our bakery owner.


Julie is personalizing a baguette.


Good job, Jody!


On tour.


Jody is an amazing photographer. It was fun to get this shot of her through the bakery trays.


Because sometimes you just need a picture of butter.


Jody’s caramel butter salt crepe and hot chocolate.


In the biblitheque.


Can you hear the bells ringing??


Tom and Jody “resting” from all the walking.


Resting again.


Found another spot to rest.


Now they have Julian resting.


At the Musee Rodin, Gates of Hell behind them, The Thinker ahead.


Elizabeth had the camera at the market. This the baguette version of Jenga.


At the market.


Between Tom as the photographer and the lighting…we had many laughs at an attempt for a photo.


Food for dinner on the brasserie tour.


The inside of the brasserie.

Categories: Kelley's Kilometers | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Quiet, Again

  1. Pat

    Would that be galleries Lafayette?

  2. Karen Hoffmeier

    Looks like you kept very busy with your friends. Bet they have lots of photos to share of their adventures. I always love the pictures. Everything always looks so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Colleen Hartman

    I’m so glad your friends got such a personal tour with such a great guide. We were there about this time of year when we were there in ’08. … Easter Sunday at Notre Dame. I know for sure that even though we had some nice meals included in the tour package, that we did not get the “real” French food. Love your pictures and Elizabeth’s Jenga photo. What vicarious fun I’m having with your details!Hugs.

  4. I can’t tell you how badly I just want to “drop everything” and take another sabbatical. I have this crazy love-hate relationship with your blogs. But don’t let that stop you from posting them…

  5. Linda

    Hi Kelley,
    Thanks for another beautiful blog and narrative. The photographs really make me feel that you are closer to home. Our family just returned from 3 days up north. There was 3 feet of snow in the U.P. We stayed in a log cabin without electricity or running water. It was an adventure that we want to repeat. Keep writing.

  6. Julie

    Loved the pictures. Wish I could come back for more, it was such an amazing adventure. Thanks again to my incredible host family and you as the best navigator in Paris!

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