Mom & Dad, Part 1

I was so excited for my mom and dad to visit this spring. So excited, in fact, that I somehow gave them the wrong dates for my spring break. Instead of coming for a week and a half during my two week break, they came for half a week during my break and a week while I was working. At first I was so disappointed in myself, but then I just blamed the French bureaucracy for the problem, let it go, and made the most of my time with them here!

Last time my parents flew into Paris, I was also working (as an assistant at the time). They had to haul all of their luggage to the hotel, where I met them later that day. This time, I was off, and met them directly at the Paris airport. We even spotted each other through the glass between the arrival hall and the baggage claim.

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Crazy eyes for everyone! (Also, take a look at those gums!)
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Mom and Dad on the train into Paris from the airport

We booked two night in Paris in order to do some sightseeing while they were here. The first day, we took it easy: lunch near our hotel (croques and onion soup) and an elevator ride up the Eiffel tower.

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We had been there during their last visit, but we had never all gone up together. My dad had fun taking photos from the top with his 40x zoom lens on his camera.

The next day was our big outing to Versailles. My mom had wanted to go for a while; we tried to go last time they were here but everyone was ultimately too tired at the end of our stay in Paris. Therefore, we prioritised the trip this time and headed out to Versailles the second day of our time in Paris.

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We had absolutely beautiful weather so the 30+ minute wait to get inside was not a problem for us. Plus, I had grabbed a pair of 5€ sunglasses at the ticket shop on our way to the entrance line. The château was definitely worth the trip, even with the crowd from spring holidays. Mom and I especially enjoyed the gardens, where we goofed around and Mom did her mom duty of telling teenagers to get down from the garden walls (I mean really, those kids could fall at any moment! So dangerous! That’s just my teacher voice, right?).

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Peekaboo!

Once back from Versailles, we rested for a bit before heading to a pub style restaurant for well-deserved beer and food.

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Like father, like daughter.

Our final day in Paris was really only a half day, since we were taking the train into Cassel later that afternoon. Both Mom and Dad wanted to see the Arc de Triomphe, so of we went for a stroll down the Champs Elysées.

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Can you believe we gave our camera to a stranger to take a picture? So 2000s. I’m pretty sure we were part of the 10% of tourists that didn’t have a selfie stick.

That afternoon, we headed to northern France. After a train from Paris to Arras (I think), another train from Arras to Hazebrouck, and a final train from Hazebrouck to Cassel, we had gone from giant city to tiny village.

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Mom, the Luggage Queen.

Overall, our time in Paris was just as nice as the first time around in 2012. We saw new things together, enjoyed lots of pastries and coffee, and just enjoyed being reunited. Thankfully, the weather was much warmer this time around, being in the 50s instead of the 30s.

I was especially excited to show them our new house in Cassel. In 2012, I was working 12 hours a week as a high school language assistant and living with three other girls in an apartment attached to the high school. Now, I’m a full time certified high school teacher, and M and I live together in a real house in an adorable village with a dog and a rabbit and a backyard. We even have a guest bedroom, where Mom and Dad got to stay for the week. Oh, how times have changed!

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my little French life

So much has been happening in my little corner of France that I am incredibly behind on blogging about it – I’ll take that as a good thing! I still haven’t written about Grant and Matt’s end to their trip, and I’ve just returned back to work after having spent a week with parents visiting me. There are lots of exciting updates, but for now, I’m going to tell you all about what has been happening in my little French life. How is work? How is food? How are the SNCF train strikes? Keep reading to find out. (I probably won’t talk about the SNCF train strikes though… thinking about it too much can probably lead to stomach ulcers.)

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grant & matt in france: part 3

Since our Germany trip had fallen through due to the strike, I decided to take the boys over to Amiens for a little day trip.

Grant, we’re just at the wrong station… I’m not leaving you here!

Usually I buy my train tickets with my French card and the self-serve ticket machines. I have my ticket within 30 seconds and I am good to go. With the boys, I had to use my American card to pay for their stuff, which meant waiting in line, buying three tickets instead of one, and well… spending a lot more time on tickets than I am used to. Needless to say, we were running for the train to go to Lille the day before, and today, it was no different. I bought the tickets at the window, and the man told me he couldn’t sell me the return tickets or else I would miss the train. So, the boys and I sprinted down the stairs, down the underground passage, and up the stairs to our train. We hopped on and I realized within five minutes that we were going the wrong direction – toward Lille instead of toward Amiens. Really?! I have lived in France for a total of nearly nine months, and I still can’t get this train thing down sometimes. I asked some elderly folks sitting next to us to confirm that we were on the wrong train, and I decided to get off at the next stop where we would wait twenty minutes until a train came back through the other way… aka… the right way!

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grant & matt in france: part 2

After spending the night at my apartment in Douai, I woke the boys up as early as possible (around 10:30AM… it was difficult!) so that we could profit from a full day in Lille. I thought that after their time in Paris they would really love this city, and I was right! Lille is so different from Paris: the architecture, the people, the atmosphere. So, we got on the train in Douai, Grant bumped his head while

Matt and Grant in front of the Chamber of Commerce and Opera house

attempting to fit his giantly tall body into the little French people seats and everyone giggled in an “Oh, cute American boy” kind of way, and we hopped off 20 minutes later in Lille.

We saw the Lille Opera building, which is conveniently located next to the Lille Chamber of Commerce building. They are both gorgeous and two of my favorite buildings in the city. Next I took the boys to an old little market that is between the Opera and the Main Square. They amused themselves for nearly half an hour, looking at the action figures, comics, and strange French books spread out along one wall. Unfortunately, most of the comics were actually in English rather than French so they weren’t any different from the ones that you would normally find in the states. I finally coaxed them away and we continued on.

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