Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Chateau de Fontainebleau

This past week the kids had a midwinter break, so I had a few days off work. We spent one morning out at the Chateau de Fontainebleau, about an hour from our house. Built by French royalty, with parts dating back to the 1100s, the palace houses Marie Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir, the Napoleon Museum and a lavish theater. Its formal gardens feature ornamental lakes and sculptures.

 This chapel was one of my favorite rooms with the beautiful glass and vaulted ceiling. 

Unfortunately it was freezing cold outside, so we didn't spend much time in the beautiful grounds behind the chateau except for a quick peek. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Paris in the Snow

Winter here is a mild affair. Rainy, dark, and cold are the words most often used to describe December through March, with snow being a tiny blip on our radar. It may snow once, but never sticks. Every few years though, we get a proper storm and freezing temps that bring more snow than usual and keep it around for a while. That happened this past week. 

We got a few flakes Monday afternoon, then Tuesday it continued for most of the day and was sticking to the ground by the afternoon. Wednesday morning we woke up to a winter wonderland and about 3-4in of snow in Paris, with more out in the suburbs. 
It was pretty magical. Everyone was taking pictures and playing outside, taking advantage of what might not happen again for years. 
However, it also caused a bit of chaos as Tuesday night there were more traffic jams and accidents around Paris than ever, and friends had to walk home in the snow for hours since trains were stuck. Luckily I didn't have any problems getting to and from work, just some small delays. 
Schools were still open this week, but many families took a snow day if it was tricky to get the kids to school (like Julia's cousins, who get to school by car). 

Both Julia and James have been a bit sick this week, so we didn't even go play in it ourselves, but it's still pretty to look at! 

It's gone now, but the temps are still hovering around freezing, so we are ready for spring! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Day Trip to Bordeaux

Every winter we have a managers retreat at my work with all the team from the US over here in France for a few days. We've travelled before to Morrocco and Avignon, France before to get away and plan for the year ahead. This year we stayed in Paris and had meetings in a nice big space, then went out to dinner all together a couple nights. We also had a team scavenger hunt in the Louvre (my team got 2nd!), and a formal dinner out where we got all dressed up. 
The highlight of the week was a surprise day trip to Bordeaux for wine tastings and a visit to the village of Saint-Emilion. I have never been to the Bordeaux region, but with the TGV (high speed train), you can get there in 2hrs. So we left Paris at 9:30am, went to two chateau wine tastings, visited the village, and returned to Paris at 8:00pm. An exhausting but fun day that I'll have to repeat when the weather is not so wet and cold.

Château Côte de Baleau
I learned all about how there are very strict rules to be able to put "Bordeaux" and "Saint Emilion" and "Product of France" on your wine bottle. Examples include: no using irrigation, must be bottled and stored on site, only using certain kinds of approved grapes. These rules vary from village to village within each region of France too. So it's all very tricky.

The 2012 and 2013

The beautiful church in Saint Emilion

Our second wine tasting at Chateau de Ferrand
This place was pretty cool and owned by the Baron Bich, who became famous for the Bic pens. Then he got into the wine making business as a hobby. 

The 16 cheeses on the plate at one of our dinners

Monday, January 29, 2018

New Year, New Church

With the new year, Paul started at his new position as pastor at the church in central Paris on rue de Sevres. The long name is "Eglise Evangelique Baptiste de Paris Centre" or the Evangelical Baptist Church of Central Paris, but they just call it "rue de Sevres" after the street it's on. 
This is the church Paul grew up in and attended up through seminary until he did a year of interning and started at the church in Bry. So his great grandfather (french grandma's father) started the church a long time ago, and his extended family still attends. 
The head pastor there retired at the end of 2017 after 30+ years at this church. The other head pastor is one of Paul's best friends whom he attended seminary with here in France. So they know each other very well and have worked together before. There is also another part time pastor (also named Paul). So our Paul only preaches about one Sunday a month, but may also "lead" the services as well as being in charge of other activities and bible studies during the week.

It's much larger than our previous church with over 100 members, and there are two services: one in the morning at 10:15am and another in the evening at 6:30pm with about 300 attending over the 2 services. Paul goes to both services, but the kids and I attend in the morning when they have kids activities like Sunday school. 

We've attended services every once in a while over the past few years when Paul has been invited to preach or there was a baptism or dedication of someone we knew. We also had our French wedding reception here back in 2012, so we already know a lot of the families. I've mostly met families with young kids so far as we spend the service in the kids area for now. 

We're mostly excited to see our friends and cousins more often now and for me there is a slightly bigger english speaking contingent here (even outside of Paul's family). It will take some getting used to our new routine since we can't walk to and from church anymore! 

Julia coloring with her friend Livia, daughter of the other pastor, also 4 years old.

James on the slide in the kids' room.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy Birthday James!

We now have a one year old! This past year has just flown by with two little ones, and I can hardly believe our little baby boy is already a year and learning to walk. We celebrated his birthday on Sunday when the whole family got together, and had some cupcakes and cake. He absolutely loved the cupcake and really enjoyed playing with his cousins. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Two Christmas'

We went to Paul's parents house for Christmas week as we've done every year the last few years. His siblings and their families were with the other side of their families and not here over Christmas, so we got to celebrate with them over New Year's weekend. Two Christmas' for us! 

Traditional escargot for Christmas Eve dinner, which is mostly just garlic butter, so I eat this one for sure. I skip the fois gras (duck or goose liver), pâté (spreadable cooked ground beef and fat with flavorings), and raw oysters, which are also traditionally on the table.

James is here with cousin Zoë, who is just 4 months younger. 

Cousin Mona, 5 months older, is closest in age to Julia. Her twin brother Soren is as well, but not pictured here...Julia is a bit bigger than both of them though!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Birthday Julia

Our big girl turned 4 this week and we started the celebrating last weekend when grandparents and cousins came over for a party. Julia helped me make her cake that morning, wanting pink frosting and all the sprinkles we could fit on top. It turned out great and it was fun to play with her cousins in the afternoon. Her big present was a doll house with accessories inside like a bed and wardrobe, a bath and shower, as well as different dolls and animals. It was a big hit! 

A month ago I was able to take her up the Eiffel Tower with my work since she'd been wanting to visit the top. We took the train in, just us girls, and went to the very top and then promptly came back down and headed home. :) So glad we have opportunities to do this sort of thing! 


 On her actual birthday, we started the day off with pancakes and gummy bears for breakfast. She had fun cutting her pancakes into hearts with a cookie cutter before eating them with honey on top (maple syrup is expensive here). 

We kept it low key that evening and started thinking about Christmas! 4 more days!