We spent more time in France than any of the other countries combined. That may not be a statistical certainty, but it sure seems probable.
Before we dropped off Stormie in Belgium, we dipped into France again (again, again, again). We re-visited Le Hourdel exactly six months after we spent Christmas in the quiet seaside town. What had changed in six months on the road? Not much. Life on the road suits and and we have taken to it like myself at a poutine festival.
After Le Hourdel we just meandered down country roads, got lost a few times, and partook in all of our favourite French activities: the markets, the baguettes, the boxed wine, the culture and the history. We also discovered a new species of animal that we didn’t know existed: the endangered white peacock. (it is not endangered)
(completely out of chronicalogical order) we then bolted to Belgium and the Netherlands, dropped off Stormie for her long voyage home, and went to Paris.
We stayed up in the 11th, which was an arrondissement we’d not spent much time in. I loved the gritty, real life vibe of the area. Were we to live in Paris, let’s be real we’re not living in the 7th; we are living with the real people who have jobs and where we would get to smell the neighbours making dinner and arguing through the alley windows. (People in the 7th do not ‘make dinner’, and certainly not dinner with ‘aromas’.) We Air bnb’d a little apartment and went full blown tourist pretending to be a local. It was amazing.
Henley was so excited to see what she has taken to calling the ‘Pierce-um’ tower, and the look on her face when she saw it for the first time will stay with me forever. I cannot overuse the word magical. It was magical. I go unabashedly against the trademark insouciance of Parisians and I am always excited about the Eiffel Tower.
With the van safely (we hoped) sailing across the sea, we set off for some serious tourist-ing in the City of Lights. We did all the art:
We did all the museums:
And we did all the churches:
And, separated from our travelling kitchen, we also did the universe’s answer to the always available and always affordable food: the ubiquitous donair and classic french crepe. Polar opposites though they may be, they are always there for me and always cheap. French food is great. Donairs and crepes are also great, 1/10th the price, and also picnic friendly.
I discovered that I have two relatives buried in Monmartre, the painters Carle and Horace Vernet. Monmartre has always been one of my favourite places to wander around but until this trip I was unaware of the family connection. Shame on me.
And then we did all the other things. All the other things that consisted of walking around the city, lounging in parks, going to cafes, and hanging out being in love with Paris. Paris, with your eight-year-olds who are cooler than me (and know it), your waiters smoking on the street, your sidewalk cafes, your Metro, parks, your air kisses, and your pride. I love you.
After almost two weeks in Paris that was it-our almost seven months in Europe was over. We were almost out of money, almost running out of time, and definitely not ready to leave. Everyone likes to toss around the old, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”, which is actually of no comfort at all. Of course we are forever and profoundly impacted by our time of happiness and togetherness in Europe. But, I would actually like to be on vacation forever and going back to reality is not appealing. I am eating my feelings and dreaming of overseas.