Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend en famille (Europe '11 - #3)

On Sunday after the boys had a sleepover, we all met again in another Parisian park on the other side of town. After Le Bois de Boulogne (and le Jardin d'Acclimatation) that both lie in the Western sections of Paris, we chose the other great "lung" of the French capital: Le Bois de Vincennes.

An old hunting preserve for the French kings, Le Bois de Vincennes, named after the eponymous town sitting to the East of downtown Paris, was made into a public park by Napoleon III in the mid-19th century. More than three times the size of New York's Central Park, Le Bois de Vincennes boasts a medieval castle (one of the largest and best preserved in Europe,) a horse-racing track, a velodrome, an arboretum, four lakes, and miles and miles of trails.

Château de Vincennes, moat and dungeon

The dungeon (1337-1373) is Europe's highest fortified medieval building
Les Boys and Jules on the drawbridge

While I was a college student in Paris (my family lived in Vincennes then,) I was lucky to walk past this beautiful building every morning on my way to the subway. Being surrounded by history (monuments, statues, street names) is one of my favorite things about living in France.

The castle was not our final destination on Sunday. We headed for a popular part of the Bois de Vincennes (Vincennes forest): Le Parc Floral de Paris - Paris' Botanical Garden.

I must mention now that over the last two days, the weather has warmed up dramatically in Paris, and peaked at 98 F on Monday afternoon. This means that following a long, cold and wet winter, these Seattleites have skipped spring altogether and jumped into tropical weather. What to do, then, in this big congested city? The answer is: Head for parks and gardens and look for shade!

Hot, hot, hot!

When we arrived at the Parc Floral, we realized many Parisians (and a few tourists) had been similarly inspired. 

Caution: French line!
Inside, parched families were laying around in the Botanical Garden's grassy areas. This peaceful, relaxing scene was only interrupted by the laughter of little children.

There was no point in running around too much but there was one activity Junior had been dying to try: The "Accro-branche" course. Move over zip lines! Accro-branche has been gaining in popularity in France over the last few years and the Paris Botanical Garden has recently introduced a fun 3-level tree-top adventure course for kids. Accro-branche is physical and requires good coordination, observation skills, and balance. Everyone wears a harness while doing it. Junior loved it and did not mind the heat, way up there in the canopy of the old trees.

Little monkeys having fun!

One last zip-line!

Accro-branche is one activity that is as fun to do as it is to watch! We have heard of another great course in Southern France and are planning to try it on our way down to Spain. 

Late afternoon, our group enjoyed refreshing ice-creams and sodas at one of the Botanical Garden's cafés. We bid "au revoir" to Le Brother and Jules then our family headed to my mother-in-law's place where Junior will be staying for the next two days. He and Mutti get along famously and always spend quality time together during our Parisian visits.

Mutti and Junior

What this means is that Le Husband and I will be child-less in Paris for awhile. Ah, the possibilities!

We started on a high note when we had dinner on the renowned Ile de Jatte once celebrated by impressionist painters. The small island sits in the middle of the Seine river and straddles two elegant neighborhoods West of Paris. 

Georges Seurat "Summer Sunday on Island de la Grande Jatte" (1884-1886)

We stopped by the famous local restaurant "Café de la Jatte." A lifetime ago, we toasted our upcoming move to the United States there with friends. The restaurant changed ownership recently and serves delicious Italian cuisine. It was still hot outside by 7:00pm but my Insalata Italiana (Italian salad) was fresh and tasty, the ideal complement to the refined yet relaxed atmosphere on the terrace.

Bon appétit et à bientôt!

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  1. What a wonderful mix of child and adult time! Bonne continuation!!

  2. Merci Charley! We are trying to make the most of our time in the French capital as always. Last December, we had to deal with snow... now, we are dealing with extreme heat. Ha! ;-)

  3. Great walk... Happy holidays !!!
    Enjoy your visit in Paris !


  4. I've read all your latest travel posts with great pleasure. I'm glad that you're having such a great time with your family, and taking all the best from the summer. For me, as a reader, it's a special treat at a time of working in my studio.

  5. The Italian salad looks like heaven!

  6. another great day another great post...i love jr.'s style avec le chapeau and his daring sense of adventure...something i am sure his parents have helped him develop over the years...i hope he NEVER EVER loses that spirit or great sense of the travel tales...cannot wait for the next chapter.

  7. Olga-- Merci. I was in your beautiful city briefly when we flew to London a few days ago. All I saw was the airport, unfortunately. Have fun in your studio!
    Sandy-- You are right. That salad was to die for and I am pretty sure I could have it every day for a week and not get tired of it! ;-) Thanks for visiting.
    g-- Merci, g. I will pass on your compliments to Junior. He can be a stylish one, that boy (it must be the French genes, eh? ;-)

  8. Delightful post - beautiful pix. Alec is quite the dapper young Frenchman avec chapeau, bien sur! He is aging before your eyes! Enjoy it all while he is young. I look forward to your next post.

  9. Merci Chérie. I had to insist for him to take off the Fedora hat as he was about to start "playing in the trees!" ;-)

  10. Toujours un plaisir de vous lire, Vero - Mutti


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle