This past weekend, my husband and I decided to put aside some of the ongoing organizational and health-related items on our to-do list and enjoy the great autumn weather in Paris instead. We started it with a Saturday morning soccer tournament for our oldest son. Our four year old isn't all that interested in sitting through four hours of soccer, so I kept him home with me while my husband accompanied our eldest to his first tournament ever! They came out with one win, one loss, and two ties, and my son scored a goal!
As summer comes to a close next week and the kids head back to school, I find myself simultaneously trying to tie up all the loose ends from summer while preparing for the new school year. I was a high school teacher for over a decade, and September always feels like a new beginning for me, even though I'm no longer heading back to the classroom when my kids do. I've already purchased to insane number of items on my seven year old's back to school list and ordered some much needed back to school clothes for them, so at lease there's that!
Welcome to July! I feel as though I have neglected this space over the past few weeks, and I apologize. It was all for a good reason though, as I spent the last week attending the Paris Writers' Workshop at UNESCO! The Paris Writers' Workshop (or PWW as I will refer to it from here on) is a six day writing workshop in which attendees enroll to participate in classes geared specifically to one type of writing. This year there were classes in novel writing, short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry.
There are many articles about the dangers of over-scheduling children and how a lack of free time to play can be damaging to children. Children need time to run around with their friends and explore the world at their own pace, not be bogged down by hours of homework or an extra-curricular activity every night of the week. On the other hand, getting children involved in sports or music can be beneficial to their academic achievement, social development, and overall health. So how much is too much?
he river Seine is rising, rising, rising, and experts say the worst is yet to come. May was the rainiest month on record in France since the record was set in the late 1800s, and the rivers that flow into the Seine had already burst their banks and flooded towns north of Paris. Earlier this year, a massive flood simulation exercise was undertaken in the city as preparation for the next big flood event. see, the Seine has a big flood about once every hundred years, and the last big one was in 1910, when much of the city lay under water. Hopefully things won't get that bad this time around, but with more rain forecast, anything could happen.
I'm saying goodbye to the rainiest May on record in France, with of course, more rain. Last spring the weather was gorgeous and sunny from March onward, with some but not much rain. In fact, the level of the Seine was quite low last summer. Not this year. We have had rain most days this month, including several thunderstorms, which aren't very common in Paris.
My husband and I are huge tennis fans, and one of the things we love most about living in Paris is the chance to attend one of the Grand Slams, the French Open. Of course, no one in Paris calls it that. Here it's strictly referred to as Roland Garros. Calling it anything else immediately gives away your tourist status, regardless of how great your French may be. The tennis grounds of Roland Garros are located on the outskirts of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, about a 15 minute walk from our apartment.
The kids went back to school this week after their two week spring break. They typically get two weeks off every 6-8 weeks, which means breaks in October, December, February, and April. It may seem like a lot of time off, but it's a great way for both students and teachers to take a breather, get caught up, and start again refreshed. It also affords us a chance to travel more frequently. However, despite just returning from a two week break, students in Paris are only back to school for three days before heading into a four day weekend.
My mom flew to Paris from Canada a few weeks ago to be here when my son went in for his tonsillectomy. She wanted to be here for help and support, and also to make sure everything went well at the hospital. We decided to keep her arrival from the kids a surprise, and she showed up with me the afternoon she got here to pick the kids up from school. They were surprised and excited, and my three year old just kept glancing over at her and giggling all the way home from school.
Last week, my 7 year-old son had his tonsils removed at the American Hospital of Paris. It's a private, non-profit hospital just outside of Paris, and we chose it because that's where the specialist he had been seeing has hospital privileges. Although it's not officially part of the French health care system, it is regulated and has a great reputation.
Tomorrow my son goes in for surgery to get his tonsils removed. A routine enough surgery, and one that I had done as a child. The difference between his surgery and mine though is that he is having his surgery done in Paris, France. I think you really feel as though you live somewhere when you start undergoing major medical procedures in that country!
One thing I love about living in Paris is that spring arrives early compared to when it typically shows up in Canada. While I've been watching the trees start to blossom, my family has been keeping me up to date on the late snowfalls they've been experiencing in Toronto. Even when there's not snow in April, the weather typically stays chilly with a few warm days until the end of April, sometimes later.
Paris has a reputation for being a very expensive city to visit, but I believe that you don't have to break the bank to enjoy much of what the city has to offer. Much of the charm of Paris is on display for anyone to see, and many museums and attractions are free at least some of the time. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but is a great start towards enjoying the city without shelling out a fortune. You may be surprised at all the FREE things there are to see and do in Paris!
Easter is a special time for my family, and although this is the second Easter we've spent away from extended family, they're always in our hearts and minds. Since the opportunity to spend the holiday surrounded by extended family isn't possible, my husband and I try to make it as special as we can in our own way.
It's been a year today since we moved into our current apartment in Paris, and I'm happy to say that it finally feels like home! Does it sound surprising that it took this long? It surprises me a bit too!
As I pack for our return trip to Canada for Christmas and the New Year, it feels as though things have come full circle. This time last year my husband and I were packing to get ready for a year in France, only we didn't yet know that we would in fact be heading for Paris rather than Toulouse. A last minute job offer had us changing plans and cities, and meant we came to France in January on visitor's visas and had to return to Canada to get those visas changed to reflect our new status.
Moving to a new country offers up excitement and new experiences on a silver platter, and every day can seem like an adventure. Sometimes, though, it doesn't feel so exciting, just strange and unfamiliar. This can be especially true for children around the holidays or other special occasions, when they (and you) have a picture in their minds of how a particular holiday celebration should look and feel.
December is already in full swing and I still feel as though I'm sitting safely in November, with plenty of time to get everything finished for the holidays. Then I remember it's already almost the end of the first week of December and I begin to feel the pressure! Thankfully I managed to get my mom's birthday gift bought and mailed in time for her to receive it in Canada for her birthday yesterday, but I still have a lot to finish before Christmas.
Does it feel as though I've been ignoring you this month? I apologize for posting very little in November, but I was participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Essentially, it's a challenge to write 50 000 words of a brand new novel over the month of November. To win, you must successfully validate your word count by the end of the month. I am very excited to say that I made it to 50K words yesterday, and validated my word count this morning.
My neighbourhood in Paris was fairly far removed from the coordinated terror attacks of last night. In fact, had I not glanced down at an alert on my cell, I would have gone to bed without any idea of the terror unfolding across the city. Suicide bombers at the Stade de France, mass shootings at bars and restaurants, and a horrific hostage situation that resulted in over 100 dead. The number of wounded is staggering, and by all accounts it looks as though the number of dead will rise in the days to come.
Halloween is not as big in Paris as it is in North America, but we're still making the most of the celebrationshere. My boys enjoyed a Halloween party at their school yesterday (it's school holidays here in Paris, but the city runs a daycare program during the break) where they were able to dress up, make crafts, have a dance party, and enjoy treats.
Monday night I had the chance to meet up with some local Parisian gluten free bloggers, thanks to American blogger Erin Smith. While visiting Paris, Erin organized a get-together of the bloggers who helped her plan her trip to France by offering suggestions on where to eat safe gluten free food in the city. I have followed Erin on social media for a long time, so it was great to finally meet her in person! It was also fantastic to meet some bloggers who are local to Paris.
A few days ago I published a post about kid-friendly Halloween celebrations in Paris. Click HERE to read the post. However, if you have older kids or teens, or are looking to celebrate Halloween without kids, those options may not be top of your wishlist.
Not to worry, I've got you covered. From parties and music fests to Haunted Houses and scary movies, there's something for everyone in Paris this Halloween.
Halloween is kind of a big deal in my family. In Canada Halloween is celebrated across the country, and we spend a ton of effort decorating, carving pumpkins, and getting costumes ready for both kids and adults. Halloween night is spent trick or treating, where kids go door to door to ask for candy. Here in France, it's not a tradition that has really caught on. There is an awareness of the holiday, but trick or treating is pretty much non-existent in most towns.
Welcome to October! Autumn is a great season in Paris, when the weather is still fairly warm but the crowds are much smaller than during the hot summer months. The lines at major attractions are shorter and it's easier to snag a table at that popular cafe. If you've planned a trip to Paris this month, you're in luck, because there are plenty of great activities happening around the city this month. Here are 10 that I think are great!
Bread is a French staple. Bakeries are on almost every street corner, and the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked baguettes and croissants is impossible to escape. Unfortunately for those who are gluten free, most of those bakeries are off limits. The good news is that there are some great gluten free bakeries that offer great tasting, gluten free alternatives.
I have compiled a list below, and will be updating it regularly.
Since moving to Paris, I have received many requests for recommendations on where to find great gluten free places to eat in the city. I love getting these requests because it gives me a chance to send local businesses some new customers, but also to dispel the myth that it's difficult to eat gluten free in Paris.
This post will be updated regularly to keep it current, and suggestions for new places to add to the list are always welcome! I will also be writing a post on where to shop for gluten free foods in the city, and gluten free friendly hotels, so check for those soon! Click the title of each location to go directly to the website of each location.
Back to school is a pretty big deal everywhere, but it takes on a whole new level of meaning in France (and some other European countries) as it truly is the "return" to normal life in the country. Particularly in a large city like Paris, the change is astonishing.
A year ago today, we officially moved out of our home in Canada and got ready to embark on our journey overseas. At the time, we didn't have jobs lined up in France, so the plan was to travel for a few months, choose a place to settle, and then apply for 1 year visitor's visas for France. From there we planned to make some money and travel as much as possible. We paid down our debts, put some money in savings, and put some aside for travel.
Having my family here for two weeks still didn't feel long enough, but I was grateful that it wasn't just a rushed one week trip. We had enough time to have a few lazy days around the apartment, just catching up or exploring the neighbourhood. Still, I made sure that there were some incredible experiences for my niece before she went home.