This Thanksgiving we traded turkey, stuffing, and mashies for wine, cheese, bread and surprisingly good pub food. Bucking tradition to travel this year seemed to be a trend if my friend’s Insta and Facebook feeds are any indication. Lots of people headed north, south, east, and west to celebrate sans pumpkin pie or a doze in front of a football game. We opted to spend a few days in Paris and London before heading down to the middle of France, where we are fortunate enough to have lots of family to spend time with and a house to stay in. Our house doesn’t have wifi or a tv so an extra bonus is that the kids actually have to talk to us! Woohoo! They pretend to be annoyed by it, but it seems to me like they might actually enjoy our company. I know–weird, right? Anyway, here are some highlights and recommendations from our latest family adventure.
First of all, fly Iceland Air. It’s usually the least expensive way to get to anywhere in Europe, they have nice new planes, and the Keflavik airport has cool Icelandic gear for sale, and really, really, really expensive but drinkable coffee. This was probably our 12th trip via Iceland, but all we’ve ever seen is the airport. We need to fix that because Iceland is pretty amazing (you can tell from the flyby and also the 20 infomercial “documentaries” available during your flight). Even the safety video is so beautiful it makes you want to stay.
We flew into Paris and stayed overnight with my husband’s cousin. This is the entryway to her apartment. I took a picture of this because I love the floor, and the doors, and also I just love that it’s in Paris.
But then you have to climb 4 flights of these stairs with all your bags because the elevator is only meant for really skinny French people with no luggage.
This is Martine- our welcome committee and the cutest dog in Paris. I am also convinced she can jump higher than any other dog anywhere. She’s like a circus dog. You can’t tell from this picture because she’s pretending to be calm, so you’ll just have to believe me.
Rue Montorgueil is my favorite street because there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from and if you’re wandering in the middle of the road half-dazed from lack of sleep you won’t get hit by a car because it’s pedestrians only.
We decided to combat our jet lag by walking from Les Halles to the Eiffel Tower – not a short stroll even on your best day, but you get to see lots of Paris landmarks, like the Louvre.
My kids were mortified that I took a picture of this statue because he’s naked but he looked about as tired as I was just then, so I felt like he was a kindred spirit.
The Musée du Quai Branly has an exterior living wall so you can experience something cool as you walk by even if you don’t have time to visit the museum itself.
You even get to see art, like this Olmec piece!
Everyone loves Paris in the springtime, but Fall is pretty great too.
The next morning we headed to the Garre Nord pretty early so we could catch our train to London. Yes, that is a bear with wings. The French are interesting.
We dumped our bags and headed out to explore London town. Wild food and festive aromatherapy- what more could you ask for?
So many pubs, so little time.
Rokit is the best vintage store in London. My daughter loved rummaging through the old t-shirts, shoes, coats and other goodies. I spent most of the time alternating between feeling like I’d found old friends and feeling depressed because vintage now means all things from the 80s. By default, I think that makes me vintage too. Sigh.
There’s always something to celebrate in London! Girl power! Also, cheese!
Lunch was in a pub. Isn’t this cute? Plus the pints were tasty. And the food was good. Yes, really. We were the first ones there because we were on Paris time (or Boston time?) and we were hungry!
Every time we visit a different city, or country, or really anywhere that’s not home there seems to be some sort of car show or exhibit happening. Even though my husband is a huge, huge fan of all things automotive he swears this is just a coincidence. But I’m not convinced because it happens every. single.time. Case in point- the Ferrari: Under The Skin exhibit opened at the Design Museum just days before we arrived. I wanted to go there anyway, and I did think this particular exhibit sounded pretty good, so win, win.
This is how Ferrari’s look before they become actual cars.
Ferraris really are beautiful…
I love race car driver helmets. I don’t know why, but I do. I also love race car drivers. Have you seen Rush? No? You should, and then you’ll love race car drivers too.
The rest of the museum is worth a look too. I mean, the building alone is an inspiration.
Designer, maker or user- which one are you?
Ah- the design love triangle. Can’t have one without the others…
Design is everywhere and influences everything. Think about that.
Life in a nutshell.
How lucky are you when a really great place like the Union Tavern is right across the street from your hotel? Dinner spot!
Haha- no! We didn’t stay at the Ritz but on our second day we met our friend Paul right outside because it was close to the tube station.
We didn’t even mean to, but we got to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace- or more accurately we got to see the backs of heads of tons of people watching the changing of the guards.
Eh, hello there Queen Elizabeth.
We spent some time on the South Bank of the Thames. Insider tip: get the Fast Pass for the London Eye and plan to explore a bit while you wait for your timeslot.
Blue sky and sunshine in London? Yes, it happens!
My daughter would not be happy if she saw this picture, but she’ll never know so…heh heh. Anyway, this was lunch at Wagamama. I have a hard and fast rule to never eat in a restaurant we can go to at home when we’re away, but everyone loves Wagamama, including me. Rules are meant to be broken anyway, right?
But then when we left Wagamama we saw this place – the British think of everything! Lunch in an igloo? We could have done that! But yet, I wonder how steamy it gets in there with 5 people breathing and eating and etc?
Watercolor view of Big Ben and Parliment. Big Ben was under scaffolding, but still pretty.
I am in love with books. Like completely in love. So, it was really fantastic to discover Books Under the Bridge. A tiny piece of heaven.
Browsing is so much fun…
I also love old maps, and they had loads.
Say hello to Liam Flanagan. He’s living my son’s dream.
We were going to ride some city bikes, but we ran out of time. Good to know they’re here though.
The Brand Academy is definitely worth a stop- chock full of products made by emerging artists and designers. Good stuff!
All the colors.
If I weren’t a procrastinator by nature (and if I’d brought a bigger suitcase) I would have picked up some Christmas gifts…
Holiday market finds- love me some colorful lights.
Here’s Paul! We hadn’t seen him in eons- so it was great to spend the day with him, and get yelled at together by ornery baristas at Nero Coffee.
I actually hate Ferris Wheels and looking up at this extra, extra tall one felt really intimidating BUT…
You can’t skip the London Eye, so up we went!
And it’s so worth it! You get your own personal pod (well shared with like 10 other people) and you feel like you’re headed to outer space. The views are unparalleled.
Mid-flight selfie fail.
The group below us was having a champagne party. Dang it, we were one pod too early…
Here I am channeling Mary Tyler Moore.
And this is that unparalleled view I was telling you about.
That was fun!
Just walking around is a feast for the eyes, especially when the sky cooperates and gives you this.
You know there aren’t actually phones in these things anymore.
Here’s my pretty little London pic.
Buckingham Palace at sunset…
Shop goals! When I was in the business of flower making I dreamed of having a shop like this…
The kids wanted to know how many pubs we were going to visit. Answer: as many as we could fit in (which was 6 in two days). When in London…
Being in London near Christmas is extra great because this town takes it’s holidaying to the next level.
It was only November 19 but there were lights and festive decorations everywhere.
It made me feel a little anxious and inadequate actually because I know my own decorating won’t be done til approximately Dec 24th.
Dinner Sunday night was at The Wilmington. We opted for the traditional Roast. I can’t tell you how amazing the food was, you will just have to go and taste for yourself. Yorkshire Pudding and all the rest.
After London, we headed back to France. I think I’ll share some pics of that in a separate post because this one is getting kind of long, dontcha think? Stay tuned…
If you want to get away from it all for a while, I’ve got the place for you. Head on up to Manchester, Vermont where you can breathe deep and disconnect from everything. I felt lucky that I had minimal cell phone service and no wifi when I was there because it really forced me to enjoy the weekend for what it was- calming, peaceful and oh so far away from the noise and craziness of today’s world.
We started our Saturday with a quick run (well not quick exactly… so let’s just call it a run).
There were lots of roads like this. Naturally, we had to stop a lot (to take pictures you know– not for any other reason like being winded or anything like that- though I will point out that it’s very hilly in Vermont).
Hildene is worth a visit- we reserved some time mid-run to explore the grounds and drink in the breathtaking setting and amazing views.
Views like this.
Seeing this made me want to learn how to be a dairy farmer and open up a cheese shop.
For certain I’m romanticizing farm life, but how could you not–standing in this spot?
After the run we spent a lot of time drinking coffee and looking out at this. The golden glory of Fall.
Later we headed out for a hike in these ridiculously picturesque woods to work off some of the jitters that were a side effect of a long, lingering morning of coffee drinking.
I feel like a Thoreau quote would be appropriate here.
Like maybe: “ I took a walk in the woods, and came out taller than the trees“. I checked afterward, and I was still 5’2, so…maybe I did it wrong?
One of my favorite Thoreau quotes is “ It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see“. So don’t just think of these as trees, ok?
We made it to the falls. They were a little less impressive than we’d imagined.
But still, it’s always good to have a destination (and a turnaround point!)
This weekend was actually a book group field trip that we spontaneously decided to do one night after reading a book that was completely unrelated to Vermont or nature in any way. We were missing a bunch of ladies, which was too bad because they’re all pretty awesome and unique and special. I love spending time with women who inspire me.
After we made it out of the woods we stopped at this really fantastic bookstore ( Northshire) because we felt it was appropriate for a book club trip and also we needed books. Well, maybe we didn’t need the books, but we wanted them. Anything goes in Vermont.
Manchester has lots of buildings that look like they belong in Vermont.
See what I mean?
And shopping is very cute in Manchester.
Drinking wine and watching the sun sink behind the mountains was alright, I guess.
We went to Gringo Jacks for dinner and it was really good. Funny story: I’ve only been to Manchester one other time, maybe 13 or 14 years ago and I ate dinner here. There are other restaurants in Vermont, I think. But this one has tacos.
Also, it’s cozy and they serve really good margaritas.
On our way home Sunday we stopped at the Vermont Country Deli for the best dang sandwiches around.
They also have lots of other stuff.
Like maple syrup, for example.
Maple wine (um, ok).
Maple seltzer (I’m sensing a theme).
Maple candy. It was only after I left that I remembered my daughter loves these. I didn’t buy any. Oops.
Maple. Maple everything.
So that, in a nutshell, was my weekend escape to Vermont. It was super relaxing. I highly recommend it. Disconnecting is good. Very good indeed.