Christmas 2018 has come and gone, and lots of good memories with it. The kids have had their first hit of something addictive — a tablet of their own. We had a fantastic Christmas dinner, although Papa went a little overboard with 3 geese for 4 adults. One year, he’ll learn.
The years are beginning to pass more quickly than Papa would prefer. It seems like we were just celebrating Juliette’s fifth birthday, and like that, it’s time to celebrate her sixth. She has grown up so much in the last year it’s hard to believe it’s the same little girl. She’s reading and writing, becoming more independent with a mind of her own.
She’s a little jealous that she hasn’t started losing her teeth yet (although it makes for nicer photos, Papa must admit), but I guarantee that by the time her seventh birthday rolls around she’ll be missing a few teeth and eating a lot of soup.
Against their better judgement, Maman and Papa went along with Juliette’s idea to invite over a dozen of her friends to celebrate her sixth birthday. Papa had been lulled into a false sense of security with the relatively well-behaved group of kids that came for Alexandre’s birthday a few months earlier, and naively forgot to consider that Juliette’s birthday is in December, so we are stuck inside the house. He also failed to appreciate just quite how loud a dozen 6-year old girls can be. There’s no other noise quite like the screams of young girls full of excitement and high on sugar.
After a treasure hunt, pinata and plenty of cake, Papa decided to resort to the only trick he knew to get the girls calmed down — a Disney film in the cinema downstairs. It worked like magic.
The feast of Saint Nicolas is pretty important here in France, and marks the main kick-off for the Christmas season. Each year, our village hosts activities for the children, including a coloring competition, a play, dancing, crepes and hot chocolate — capped off by the lighting of lanterns and the arrival of Saint Nicolas. The entire entourage of childrn and parents follow Saint Nicolas (and his donkey and Père Fouettard, on the lookout for any misbehaved children) from the top of the village to the town square at the bottom, where he hands out candy to all of the children.
We participate every year. This year had some of the best turnout in ages.
Another day, another birthday party. Same princess dress.
Time for Alexandre to graduate to a big-boy bed, quite an impressive one with a play area beneath (also good for sleep-overs) and jungle animal sheets. Not bad for a four-year old.
After five days, it was time for our visit to come to an end. Papa finally relented and we settled on a French bistro for lunch before our afternoon train back to Basel. It was a great visit, and by the end of their stay, the kids had really started to get used to the rhythm of the city: the Metro and busses, navigating the crowds, and taking in everything there was to see.
Still, it was good to be home.
After a very late night due to the noise of all of the Halloween revelers partying late into the early hours of the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast of croissants and headed out to see a couple more of the big sites, exploring the area along the Left Bank not far from where Maman and Papa used to live. This is a part of Paris that we know well and have many memories.
We jumped on the bus, a rare opportunity to escape the Metro and see life at street level, and headed down to Notre Dame, where we snapped a few of the mandatory tourist pictures for our album. The kids weren’t much interested in the cathedral (beyond recognizing it from several of their films), but they were impressed by the many pigeons. We wandered from Notre Dame to the Left Bank and ended up having lunch at Godjo, an old haunt from when we lived in Paris. We sat at traditional low tables in the basement, and the kids were really excited at the prospect of being able to eat with their hands.
From there, we battled rainy weather to make our way to the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle to see some of the exhibits and stay dry.
From there, it was back towards our apartment, where we decided to celebrate our final night by having another Indian at Dishny, where we had eaten on the first night we arrived. It was pretty amazing to watch our Indian waiter single-handedly manage a full 30-seat restaurant through two seatings flawlessly. Took our order by memory, served three other tables before putting in the order, got every detail right. Still had time to smile at the kids. That guy earned his tip.
Day three started out dry and sunny, if not particularly warm. On the schedule for today was a canal cruise through Paris, finally ending up at the Cite des Sciences et de L’lndustrie where we had some lunch and then visited the museum. The kids had a wonderful time, their only complaint being that the visit was too short. Tickets were strictly limited to 90 minutes, then we were unceremoniously herded out.
Dinner was at a tiny but fantastic Korean restaurant called Sobane, where the food really punched above its weight. We had a delicious meal and the kids absolutely loved the food, not only cleaning off their plates, but helping themselves to much of what was on Maman and Papa’s plates as well.
It was Halloween night, and the big excitement happened as we were leaving the restaurant the restaurant. Juliette spotted someone driving down the street in a mask, and she smiled and waved at him. He waved back… and ran right into the car in front of him. A man in a suit jumped out of the car in front, and proceeded to yell at the guy who had just run into him (still wearing his mask) while we did our best not to look like “contributing factors.” In the end, no damage was done and everyone drove off — but we had witnessed a real ‘Paris moment’ and had a good story for later!
When we got home, I asked Alexandre whether he liked Paris. His response: “J’aime Paris, mais je veux retourner à Ferrette.” (“I like Paris, but I want to go home to Ferrette.”)