Month: January 2016

Le Louroux

Just about a 20 minute drive from Loches is this little gem of a lagoon, in Le Louroux. We drove up there a couple weeks ago for the first time, thought we’d take a walk and enjoy the crisp fresh air. The kids always love being by the water, and even let me take a few pics of them. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to look my way, usually. After walking around the lagoon for a while, we went into town. I use that term very loosely! Not only is it an extremely tiny little town, but it was also a Sunday, so it was literally deserted. For those who don’t know, pretty well everything shuts down on Sundays in France. But we did happen upon this amazing abandoned prioress. The kids enjoyed peering around the ancient buildings and courtyard. Felt like something out of a fairy tale.

Saint-Malo

Our other main destination on our whirlwind weekend in Brittany was the port city of Saint-Malo. The intramural part of the city was of particular interest to me after reading the wonderful book “All the Light We Cannot See” last year. I highly recommend this book, I loved it. I found myself thinking about the main characters as I walked along the walls, wondering what it might have been like during the war. Saint-Malo was heavily bombed in WWII, and so much of the intramural part of the city (Les Intramuraux) has been rebuilt since then. It retains a lot of it’s charm, however, and was a fun part of town to wander around for the afternoon. We walked around the top of the walls surrounding Les Intramuraux, and wound around to look over la plage de mole, with it’s tidal swimming pool. The view up to Dinard was just beautiful, moody skies and the sun ready to dip below the horizon. This also happens to be where famed explorer Jacques Cartier set off on his voyages to Canada in …

Mont St-Michel

I have something to admit. I’ve alluded before to the fact that Derek is the brochure-reading-plaque-loving-in-depth-learner in this family when it comes to the majority of the historic places we’ve visited. But what I haven’t really mentioned is that I am almost at the other extreme. That isn’t to say that I don’t research the places we’re visiting before we go. I do! A lot. But my research is very much focused on the fun. Things like awesome shops (bonus points for paper or stationery shops), edgy design houses, super fun playgrounds, pretty beaches, best viewpoints, and fabulous coffee + breakfast + treats. Not to mention finding us a (hopefully great) apartment to stay in, located in just the right spot, which I do realize is very important. But, I often go into a trip without much more than the little tidbits I’ve gleaned from a really excellent instagram pic or a particularly in-depth blogger’s city guide. So, when we were coming to this part of Brittany, I knew that I wanted to see Dinard, because the beach!! hello!! and I knew I wanted to …

Brittany

Every year, my little family heads out on January 1st for a long walk on the beach. We’ve done this since the kids were tiny, and it’s such a great way to start the year off outside, by the sea, salty fresh air for a fresh start. Since we are living inland for the first time ever, we decided it would be a good time head to the coast. We decided on Brittany, found a great airbnb in Dinard available last minute, and off we went. In just a few hours’ drive we caught sight of the shockingly seafoam green waters of the Rance estuary. It surprises me each time we go to the atlantic coast in this area of France, just how vividly coloured the water is (it’s the same in Normandy). So different from the dark moody blues and greys we have in our part of the Pacific back home. After we arrived, we headed straight to Plage de l’Écluse, right in the heart of Dinard. The kids delighted in running around the smooth sand searching for …

Football

Pretty much every day, Oliver asks to go to the stade* to play soccer. He’s always been an athlete, and much to this soccer-playing-momma’s delight, he excels on the pitch. Oli still gets a little annoyed with me for saying soccer, even after six months in France. I just can’t get used to calling it foot. I digress. Here in Loches, Oli is playing more than ever. Even the rec teams at his level are pretty serious. Two 1-1/2 hour practices a week as well as a game, and they have to earn their spots on one of the three tiered teams each week based on their play at the practices and previous weekend’s game. The culture around the game here is really interesting, even at the local level. The whole town is excited and involved. Our men’s teams play every weekend at the Stade, and there is always a crowd. The concession will be in full swing, selling beer and wine, coffee and tea, and even vin chaud in the winter. As for the kids teams, their game day is almost …

Joyeux Noël

Celebrating Christmas in a different country was both super fun and rather odd. I suspect it was a combination of not being in the midst of the usual hustle and bustle of the holidays, paired with being away from our friends and (most of) our family, and the super mild weather, but it somehow didn’t quite feel like Christmas. Loches was all dressed up for the holidays, and we enjoyed seeing the excitement quietly build before the big day. Festive party food and drinks started to appear in the boulangeries and grocery stores. Escargots, foie gras, smoked fish, pre-made amuse-bouches and loads of sparkling wine. All the bars offered vin chaud to warm up your insides. The boulangeries were packed to the gills with special pastries and breads, bûches de noël, petits fours, and all sorts of delectable offerings. We may have over-indulged just a tiny bit! I admit, it was sort of freeing to feel completely quiet and relaxed in the weeks surrounding Christmas. I am not someone who usually gets too over-stressed about the holidays, but it always …

Paris

While my parents were visiting, Derek and I snuck off to Paris for a weekend alone. It was dreamy, festive and wonderful, and all those clichés. The weather was perfection — sunny and even a bit warm, there’s no way you might have guessed it was less than a week before Christmas. We walked and walked, went in many shops that we would have driven the children mad, stayed out late, ate dinner at a fantastic restaurant, watched the sunrise, wandered through beautiful parisienne shopping passages, went back to the d’Orsay, visited Versailles, sipped vin chaud at the eiffel tower, rented vélib bikes, and enjoyed an all-around fantastic weekend. And of course, as all parents do when they’re away from their children for any length of time, we talked about the kids! Here is a glimpse of our weekend in photographs. Au revoir, Paris. À la prochaine fois.