Last week my sister Kim and I traveled to France for a once-in-a-lifetime sister's trip abroad. Our other sister Sarah is stationed in the city of Toulon for 3 years while her husband works with the French Navy in an exchange program. We left our 5 children at home with their Grandparents and Great-Grandparents and boarded the plane footloose and fancy-free. Now an 8 hour plane ride might seem like a drag to most people, but to us, it was a luxurious 8 hours of peace & quiet, snoozing, and getting to eat several
delicious palatable in-flight meals without anyone whining or stealing the dessert. They even give you free wine on international flights, which just made me feel extra special.
We spent 5 days touring around the coastal area where Sarah lives and enjoyed the fabulous markets, the bakeries, and the beautiful Mediterranean sea. We took a challenging bike ride on an island that I will never remember the name of and had a picnic on the beach. I tried as many kinds of pastries as was socially acceptable and we enjoyed a pace of life that was slow and easy. I loved getting to spend time with my niece and nephew and hear Lily speak in her perfectly fluent French. Did I mention how beautiful it is there? There are breathtaking views of the mountains and an ocean so blue it looks fake.
For our last 3 days we hopped on a train and headed to Paris which is a 4 hour ride from Toulon. I always pictured Paris being the size of New York City so I was overwhelmed at how enormous the city is. We tried walking it and then decided halfway through day 1 that we'd be a lot smarter by purchasing hop-on hop-off tour bus tickets. It was a good decision. We went all over and saw lots of cool things. My favorites were the Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower at night, Champs Elysses, and the Louvre (although we didn't actually go inside any of the museums, but it was massive and impressive from the outside). I was shocked by how expensive everything was and had to make multiple trips to the ATM as my money kept running out. I loved eating meals at little sidewalk cafes and people watching all the trendy Parisians who made my regret all of my clothing choices. The architecture is amazing and the old history of the city fascinating, but the best part of Paris was just having uninterrupted quality time with my sisters. We didn't have much of an agenda and we didn't have kids, and we just got to enjoy being together. There were lots of laughs and great memories made and that's what made the trip so fun. You should definitely go to Paris sometime if you get the chance. Its just an 8 hour plane ride away :)
Here are some memories of our time...
Gourmet olives for sale at the local market in Toulon
Dessert? Yes please! A selection of treats from the bakery
Shopping at a market in the cute town of Hyeres
Phil came home! Enjoying some French ice-cream
Look how beautiful this place is? This is that island we biked on
Our picnic on the beach
Getting ready to board the train for Paris
The Notre Dame
This chocolate mouse was the BEST, creamiest most delicious I've ever tasted
Our double-decker tour bus that saved our feet and gave us a great view of the city
The Hotel De Invalides and Napoleons tomb
Delicious dinner at a cafe by the Eiffel Tower
Sunset at the Eiffel tower just before we headed up to the top
The Arc De Triomphe
"The Thinker" statue by artist Rodin
Touring the beautiful gardens at the Rodin Museum
I loved these adorable flower shops that lined the streets in Paris
Yes, even Starbucks is big in Paris. We were thankful for their kind customer service and lovely bathrooms
The Louvre Museum, its just massive
We searched over an hour for this little Fallafel restaurant that supposedly had the best Fallafels around. It was worth it, they were so yummy.
On our last night we went to the base of the Eiffle tower to get a fresh crepe and watch the tower "sparkle" with thousands of glittering lights, which it does for the first 5 minutes of every hour.
This picture does not even almost capture the sparkling, but its the best I could get.
And a big thank you to my wonderful husband for managing work and the getting the kids where they needed to be every day while I was gone. You are the best! And thanks mom and dad and my sister-in-laws for watching and loving on my babies during the day. I owe you all big time!