A Day in the Life

You may be wondering how we’re actually doing here in Paris. Now that we’ve mastered the art of buying groceries and speaking enough French to get by, we’re settling in pretty well. So well, on a catch-up FaceTime with one of my Besties last night she asked how long we’ve been away. I confidently answered ”Seven weeks!” At least I was pretty sure its been seven weeks. She was less confident in my right-ness and consulted her calendar. ”Ummm no. You’ve been there for NINE weeks.” NINE WEEKS???? WHAT???? No freaking way. I can’t believe it. But the calendar doesn’t lie and neither does H. So here we are, 9 weeks into our World (Abbreviated due to Covid) Tour.

We miss other kids.

We’ve managed to visit 5 other countries and take 3 side trips within France, one of those to the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt but it still counts as a trip because we slept overnight and had to pack a bag. This week, the Big Kid’s BFF arrived from Canada so we’ll no doubt be up for more adventures (EuroDisney anyone?).

On the move

Monsieur is always up the earliest, often hours before the kids. He’ll head out for a swim at the public pool at Châtelet Les Halles, an amazing underground complex housing a major Metro transit hub, a shopping mall, a movie theatre, a library and a sprawling aquatic centre. All nestled underneath a vast open square and Saint Eustache Church. On his way home, he’ll stop at our local boulangerie for croissants and a baguette for breakfast. Then I play a game called, “I’m only going to have a small piece of the pain au chocolat, well maybe 2, ok fine I’ll eat the whole thing.”

Once we are appropriately caffeinated, we wake the slumbering enfants. After breakfast its time for school. By now there is far less resistance to school time as we had in the beginning, but there is still plenty of grumbling. School runs until about noon-ish and then we head out for the afternoon. We usually opt for lunch on the move since Cafe’s are an easy stop. Sometimes we’ll eat in cleaning out leftovers or a salad and some great baguette sandwiches from our local boulangerie. My current favorite salad I plan to recreate when we get home – quinoa, lettuce, cucumbers, quinoa, feta cheese, pomegranate seeds and mint. Yum! Paris is filled with lots of great food on the go options from Traiteurs, salad bars and other take-away places.

Afternoons are usually spent with a Museum reservation (check out my museum rundown below), a park hang out (French gardens are amazing and a nice leafy respite from the limestone jungle of Paris) or a guided tour (we love the tours guided by Emmanuel’s Hidden Gems.) But our favourite pastime is a good wander. Pick a direction, perhaps with a destination in mind, and just walk! We’re never disappointed because there’s always something fun to see, yummy to eat or interesting to experience.

Easter Monday stroll with the Little down to Palais Royale to photobomb all the influencers pretending to be Emily in Paris

We manage to get in an average of about 10,000 steps every day. Its easy to do when running errands and sightseeing are all rolled into one day. I would hate to drive in Paris. Its nice and compact so you can walk most places. The Metro is vast, reliable (unless they are on strike) and fast (5 minutes from the Arc de Triomphe to Les Halles on the RER – amazing! – look at it on a map. Its far!). Taxis are plentiful here but you can’t really hail them. You need to pick them up at a Taxi Stand, a hotel or you can call one via an App. G7 has been recommended. There are the Velibikes you can rent – but the administration to register the app is complicated and we have yet successfully been able to rent one. And then of course, there’s Uber.

Easter Sunday Family Dinner at Brach for delicious Mediterranean

For dinner, we sometimes eat in. Our little kitchen isn’t as equipped as we’re used to. Three burners, 3 pots and a tiny oven with one shelf. So we often buy a roast chicken from the butcher and cook some veggies on the side. Its a favourite around here and a welcome change from cafe fare. We’ve also successfully re-created our famous spaghetti bolognese, which reminds us of being home.

When we do go out, we have enjoyed experiencing all the various cuisines you can get in a big city. Vietnamese, Lebanese, Moroccan, lots of Italian and of course plenty of French! We’ve also found our local sushi place, which as Vancouverites is essential. I’m proud of my family as they’ve learned how to order en français.

”Je voudrais un coca-cola.”

”Je prends une soupe a l’oignon gratinée sans fromage, s’il vous plaît.”

“Monsieur, je suis allergique aux cajoux et aux pistaches.”

Many restaurants close between lunch and dinner, so first reservations are not until 7pm. You can find cafes that offer Service Continu, which means the kitchen is open all day. But we’re often heading out to dinner about 7. We laugh as we usually sit down in an empty restaurant that is completely full by the time we leave, we can’t seem to shift dinnertime any later to join the crowds. We often finish dinner somewhere around 9-9:30 and wander home. After 10,000+ steps we’re pretty pooped.

The adventure/ joy of this trip is living in Paris like a local (sort of). Its fun and a bit scary navigating all the day to day things like finding a dry cleaner or sending a package home. I even managed a haircut and colour. I was terrified! The salon was recommended, but when I got there I realized its basically the Magicuts of France. Gahhhh, what have I done. Well, its Paris and while its a salon chain, its slightly more chic than Magicuts and the stylist was on his game.

The real secret here is that our school day far extends the two hours we spend each morning on math and reading and writing. We’re all learning so many things about daily life in another countries, cultures communities and countries. The amount of new experiences daily is sometimes overwhelming and often times exhilarating. This is the beauty of travel. We realize that while things may feel different, we’re all really just the same. We want the same things; safety, happiness, love. So our kids are learning along with us that different doesn’t equal weird. That we’re weird to the locals here if that’s the case. Its just different and different is exciting and fun and sometimes totally awesome. We can keep the secret between us that right now for the kids, school is happening 24-7!


When in Paris, the museums are plentiful. Best to book in advance, especially in Covid times and for many museums its necessary. It makes it much easier to navigate the line-ups. Expect security everywhere and be prepared to open your bag or put it through the x-ray machine. People come to Paris for the museums, so be prepared for line-ups and leave big bags at the hotel.

We’ve only scratched the surface but so far we can tell you that The Louvre is amazing, but you need days to see it all. You can get in and out quickly if all you want to see is the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa and Liberty Leading the People – they are all conveniently located in The Denon Wing (the one closest to The Seine). We’ve been lucky enough to buy a Membership, which makes it much easier to pop over and have a snoop around in small bite-sized sessions. Its very very big and there is plenty to see.

Little at The Louvre

Musee D’Orsay is stunning and may be more manageable if your stay in Paris is short. You can see many incredible works of art in an afternoon. We let the kids roam on there own at the Musee D’Orsay and the littlest came to find me and said ”MOM, come over here. There’s a superfamous painting!” Ahh yes my young Padawan, I have taught you well.

Musée D’Orsay

Another must do is The Rodin Museum. Its beautiful and best experienced on a sunny day, half of the exhibits live in the garden. Its also very small and manageable so you only need an hour or two to fully explore.

The Rodin Museum

While he was a bit of a mysogynistic dickhead, Picasso did make some incredible art. However, the Picasso Museum here in Paris was a bit of a letdown. The only highlight for me was an old film showing him working with pottery to make a vase into one of his ubiquitous birds. Otherwise, unless you’re a big fan of the man himself, this is more about him and less of his art.

Next stop for us will be L’Orangerie to see the Impressionists and trip to Versailles.


Did I ever tell you about that time we got arrested in Paris?

Well, not EXACTLY arrested. But detained by the National Police?

It was early on a Sunday morning. I can see you already nodding off, I know – who gets busted on a SUNDAY MORNING?

An example of a narrow Parisien street with the Little added for scale.

We were on our way to Charles De Gualle. We were packed into a minivan with a lovely, chatty driver that we met once before. We were catching up on all the things we had done since we last met and he was regaling us with stories of the various destinations and all the places we missed along the way. He was chatting so much and so animatedly he apparently did not notice that he was driving in a restricted bus lane.

As we rounded the corner around Madeleine Church, we heard the unique sound of the French siren. A constant drone here in Paris so not at all unusual. In fact this time however, the siren was coming from the police vehicle behind us.

After 2 attempts at stopping and restarting as the driver could not believe that in fact the siren was intended for him, he finally pulled over 3 blocks later. The police van pulling in behind us, clearly the siren was in fact intended for us.

Now, if you’ve been to Paris or even have seen it on TV, you may recall that the streets are narrow. Very narrow. We are now pulled over in a van, with a police van behind us on one of these very narrow streets. Monsieur and I are tucked in the very back row of the van with the kids ahead of us. The driver gets out of the van and meets with the not one, not two but five officers from the National Police force. A conversation begins and there is much gesticulating and arm waving and shrugging of shoulders.

If you recall, we are at this moment headed to Charles de Gaulle to catch a plane. So the anxiety is compounding as the tall (and very handsome) officer walks towards the side door of our van. Monsieur L’Officer (there is no way that is proper French but its my blog and I can do whatever I want) opens the van, looks at us blankly. My monsieur and I look at each other. We’re now a little worried that we’ll be implicated in the crime. Aiding and abetting driving in the bus lane is surely a criminal offence here in France. In a state of panic, my Monsieur blurts out ”English”. I’m trying to decide that if we run fast enough, could we make it to the doors of Madeleine and claim amnesty? A recovering Catholic, a Jew and two hybrid kids walk into a church…

Monsieur L’Officer looked somewhat panic-stricken by my Monsieur’s statement. ”Un moment” he said as he backed out of the van pulling out his cellphone. My brain went into overdrive rapidly translating “We didn’t do anything wrong. We just want to go to the airport.” But all I can thing about is that I’m trapped in the back row of this van and there isn’t a hope in hell that I can climb over the seat and make a break for it. I’m not going down with the driver!

Finally, Monsieur L’Officer returned and carefully began to read from his phone. ”You are all under arrest.” I mean he didn’t say that but that’s what I was imagining as he cleared his throat and started to speak. Why didn’t this blasted driver pull over in front of the Church when the police first started their pursuit? At least then we’d have had a fighting chance of escape! ”This vehicle has been immobilized. You must now continue your journey on foot.” said L’Officer.

Well, it wasn’t quite the arrest we were anticipating but since we were headed to the airport to catch a flight, the anxiety level was still on DefCon 1. ”Charles de Gaulle!” I blurted. I couldn’t remember how to say ”But we need to go to” in French. He looked at me blankly and said ”Metro?” And I stared back blankly and thought ”Dude, do we look like we can take the Metro with two kids and all these bags all the way to Charles de Gaulle?” but instead I started to really sweat and my French language skills opted for fight instead of flight at this point, THANK BILL GATES. However, please remember that I am Canadian and even though we were clearly not implicated in this crime of passion – it was a crime of passion because the driver was talking so passionately he didn’t even notice all the traffic infractions he was committing – we couldn’t just say “Merci” and move it along and decide our own transport options. Instead I needed to reconfirm with the Officer, “Nous pouvons appeler un Uber, monsieur? Si possible?” He looked at me like I was completely off my rocker, non Monsieur seulement Canadienne. He shrugged and turned back to the on-going conversation and negotiation that was taking place with our driver with the 4 other officers required for this take down.

Coming to our senses, we unloaded the bags onto the sidewalk and called an Uber. My monsieur is watching the app carefully following the progress of our new driver. Now if you recall from earlier in my tale, we are on a very narrow street with two vans now impeding the progress of everyone trying to pass by. Just as our Uber is beginning his final approach, a garbage truck pulls around the corner and begins his pick-up at every address along the rue. Well shit. Now my Monsieur is starting to fray. The police van needs to be moved, as does our immobilized vehicle and its clear that our Uber will not make it to us anytime soon if the garbage truck moves any closer. For an early Sunday morning, there is a hell of a lot of action on this tiny street. So out onto the road goes my Monsieur, conducting traffic until our Uber safely makes it through the obstacle course to us. We pile in with luggage and all. Happily we make our getaway at last. Not before I make a vow to always ensure easy escape from a vehicle and make note of the location of the Canadian Embassy… just in case.

Go With the Flow

I think THE most important rule of travel is being willing to go with the flow. Sometimes, a lot of times, plans change or things don’t work out. Being able to go with the flow will save you a lot of stress but it can also open the door to plenty of magic.

Chocolat chaud with the Lovely K!

Some of our best times in Paris are because we went with the flow. Back in 2014 we traveled here with the Shorties for the first time (back when they were both shorter than me). On our first day in the city of light, we wanted to make an early start of it. We couldn’t wait to see the sites. We woke up the Littles and plied them with croissant and made our way to the Eiffel Tower. Both of them groggy and jetlagged and underslept, we made it to the Tower just as the skies opened and it started to pour with rain. In those days you didn’t pre-book tickets online in advance but you could walk right under the tower. Trying to seek shelter from the downpour we were standing under the centre of the Tower, the line-up to buy tickets was long and the kids were in full meltdown mode. There was yelling, there were tears, there was drama. Just then I received a text from our friends J & K who were also in Paris. We were planning to meet them for lunch. The text said ”Text us when you’re done and we’ll meet you at the Cafe de Flore.” Guess what, we were done. We went straight to the taxi stand and piled the kids, the stroller, the diaper bag and our soggy butts into a taxi and went straight to the Cafe de Flore. Do not pass go, do not collect €200. The Eiffel Tower would wait 8 years until our kids had enough sleep to properly enjoy it.

One cranky little at La Tour Eiffel on the first attempt in 2014

When we arrived at Cafe de Flore in the pouring rain, the very kind waiter took pity on us (French waiters are generally not rude, this is an apocryphal. If you do your best to try speaking French – a simple bonjour and merci goes a loooooong way – they will take very good care of you and Les Petits.) and helped us up the stairs to the awaiting J & K. Nestled into a cozy corner table with chocolat chaud and petits pots de confitures at the ready, les enfants were satisfied. The littlest even had an hour long nap on my lap. We drank coffee and talked and visited for hours that day. When it was time to go, the skies had cleared, the sun was out and we learned that experiencing a new city and culture is sometimes better left to these impromptu moments. It was a true French repas, we learned that meals should be savoured and enjoyed at a leisurely pace. We also learned that ”Never wake a sleeping baby” is NOT in fact an old wives tale.

Fast forward to 2022, and J & K are back in Paris and so are we! We decided to meet for dinner at Georges located on the top floor of the Georges Pompidou Centre . The restaurant isn’t anything to write home about, but it does have an incredible view of the city of Paris from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower and at night its spectacular, especially for the 10 minutes every hour that the Eiffel Tower puts on its sparkly show.

As is usually the case, we enjoyed plenty of great dinner conversation, laughs and party tricks courtesy of J. After a quick trip to the loo after dinner, we were surprised to come back to the table to find that the entire restaurant was now a dance club, hosting a corporate party. This was especially surprising as it was a Monday night! Well, the DJ was pumping so we decided to dance. And we danced and we danced and we danced. It felt like we crashed someone’s wedding. The host came by with a bottle of champagne, refilling our glasses as we cut a rug! I can’t even remember the last time I danced. The kids loved it, especially the The Little Kid; ”Mom, I can’t believe you brought us to a nightclub!” We got home around 1am and lets just say that home school started a little late the next day.

Party tricks at Georges with J!

Two of our funnest experiences in Paris were completely impromptu, lucky and spent with J & K. Feels like we found a bit of a recipe. Perhaps you can book J & K for your next trip to Paris?

Cafe hang-outs Photo by: James O’Mara


When we booked our trip to Copenhagen, we thought it might be cool to add another city on our way back to Paris. Mostly because I’m not a fan of packing and unpacking, we figure why not kill two birds with one suitcase (or in our case 4 suitcases). Monsieur and I traveled to Amsterdam in February 2020 just before Covid, sans kids. We thought it would be a great chance for us to return and take the kids with us. Copenhagen to Amsterdam is just an hour flight and then we could take the high speed Thalys train back to Paris. Easy!

Canal at Night

Amsterdam is Copenhagen times ten. The canals, the bikes, the people. Amazing. And not because you can legally buy marijuana on seemingly every corner. Did you know that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice? Another highly walkable city, it is incredibly picturesque as you cross bridges and stop for a beer canal side. We lucked out with the weather, warm summer like days were a treat as we walked for miles around the city.

Our first order of business was a boat tour on the canals. The canal network is amazing and really is a part of life in Amsterdam. This city has adapted to life on the water. Boats replace balconies and patios as we saw so many people enjoying picnic dinners on the canals. The old fishing boats converted into homes, the barges now playgrounds. Amazing to see all the life that happens here on the water.

The Little Kid on the Canal Cruise

Our Captain Mathias guided us through the canals with lots of great history and anecdotes about life in Amsterdam. Highly recommend this as an outing. The boat, Ivresse is very cute and one of the historic canal boats from the Netherlands. Definitely worth it!

It is possible that the laid back vibe of Amsterdam could be attributed to the marijuana. Pot was decriminalized here in the 70s and now you can easily buy it in one of the many coffee shops. Not to be confused with a cafe, a coffee shop is similar to the dispensaries we have in Canada. Tidy little shops with salesmen in bowties offer you the menu of the various marijuana varieties available. Pre-rolled joints are ready to go. Just don’t try and order coffee in the coffee shop, for that you have to go to the cafe.

Not the cruise we took… but it could be fun…

Amsterdam has some great museums. We made the Anne Frank House a priority on this trip. With only 2 days in the city, we decided this was the one thing we definitely needed to do with the kids. Its heart-wrenching to see, but as the Big Kid pointed out Anne must be happy as even though she died a tragic young death, she did fulfil her dream of becoming a famous writer. The house has been remarkably kept intact and to see the rooms where the Frank family hid from the Nazis is very powerful. I couldn’t help but look at our kids as we walked the tiny flights of stairs to the attic of the Annex and feel grateful for all we have.

While we didn’t make it there this time, we did love The Van Gogh Museum, the collection is vast and covers 3 full floors of the Museum. If you like Van Gogh, don’t miss it.

As Vancouver-ites, we are big fans of all types of Asian cuisine (Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian – North and South, Thai etc etc etc). We’re lucky in Vancouver to have so much amazing and varied foods just outside our door. In Europe, we’ve enjoyed the hunt for great Asian food and Amsterdam offers a great option with the Indonesian Rice Table, Rijsttafel. An amazing array of dishes; rice, curries, pickles etc. We had dinner at Long Pura and it was yummy. The servers were also very sweet and kind of adorable.

As with Copenhagen, we also loved checking out some of the cool antique and design focused shops. We were lucky enough to catch Mariska Meijers’ Amsterdam shop just before it closed (check out her online shop for some amazing colourful housewares and design!). We picked up some cool canvases and Delft ceramics. Super cool!

Amsterdam Centraal on a sunny day!

If you’re planning a European adventure, highly (see what I did there) recommend you make Amsterdam a priority. Its a very cool city and a nice change of pace from some of the other busier major European cities.

The very charming Amsterdam row houses.

You Say Its Your Birthday? Its My Birthday Too!

For his birthday, Monsieur had hoped for us to travel to Budapest.  However, we quickly realized that since Hungary shares a border with the Ukraine, it might be best to make some alternate arrangements and chose Copenhagen instead.

What a city!  We immediately fell in love with Copenhagen.  Flying from Paris was just under two hours.  Flying is still a kerfuffle, but Copenhagen isn’t train-able.  We spent three, sunny but cold days in Copenhagen at the Hotel Sanders.  Perfectly located just off Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square), we loved the central location and how easy it was to explore this compact and walkable city.

Nyhavn Canal

Copenhagen is a city of cycling, we marvelled at the lack of car traffic and loved strolling the network of pedestrian shopping streets. A nice change from Paris, we enjoyed the fresh Baltic sea air and general quiet. We arranged a walking tour via the hotel and were very glad we did. Our guide, Kersten is extremely knowledgeable and gave us plenty of information on the history of Copenhagen and Denmark. We especially enjoyed our stop at the Royal Palaces at Amalienborg in time for the changing of the guard. The very well liked Queen Margarethe II was in residence that day and it was interesting to hear about all the many Frederik’s and Christian’s who served as King over the centuries.

Changing of the guard at the Amalienborg Palace

The sense of Hygge (coziness in Danish and Norwegian) was apparent everywhere we went. The hospitable and welcoming people in the glow of warm candlelight, snuggled under cozy throw blankets made us feel at home. The Danes really know how to make you feel warmly welcomed.

Coziness at the Hotel Sanders

We felt this most of all when we enjoyed the best meal of our stay at the incredible Zahida.  A very cool Pakistani fusion place near the Kings Garden.  We arrived and Bobby the owner greeted us by name, showed us to our table and explained how the menu items were curated with recipes from his Grandmother.  YUM doesn’t cover it.  Delicious at every turn.  This was the second time on this trip that we met a beautiful human from Pakistan and we’re starting to think that the Universe may be trying to tell us something.  We had such a great time.  Outstanding food, great drinks, killer playlist and super fun and engaging staff hosting all the fun.  What a treat! PS they also have a very cool collection of art by young Pakistani artists, including some incredible Star Wars renditions done in Mughal designs available through Polly & Other Stories.

Birthday dinner for Monsieur at Zahida

Many people told us that we must visit Christiania while in Copenhagen. Located in a former military baracks along some of the remaining ramparts around Copenhagen, Christiania is a self proclaimed, independent region within the city. For lack of a better word, a commune. Non-commercial and certainly embracing hippie sensibilities, it was a cool place to see but felt a little awkward on a Monday morning with all the marijuana sellers rolling and selling joints from their crate stands. We took a quick spin around and made our way back to the EU through the gate.

Monsieur leaving Christiania

Copenhagen is an interesting European capitol with plenty of history and great architecture. But its the warm and wonderful people that we met that will bring us back to this great city hopefully before too long.