Remember that game? It was popular with kids who also liked the phrase, “Stop hitting yourself.”

Well, calling the school holidays HOLIDAYS is kind of like that – the exact opposite, and sometimes painful.

But this time we had mum come to visit, ie. I did less housework but more sightseeing and it was mostly painful to our feet.

Luuk and I took advantage rather deftly and went away for the weekend the day after she arrived. Mum’s a trooper. In fact, within an hour of her arrival she was being schooled in French by Louis. The kids have a skill for giving adults books in languages they don’t speak. I just make up stories that match the pictures of the dutch ones.

Anyway, so Mum’s visited us in Paris a few times before, but this time we were both feeling a bit more determined to see some of the sights she’s missed in the past. Rather than hang around Antony with the kids. With the dregs of jet lag still doing their nasty thing, we started with something little: Saint Sulpice –

saint sulpice



The kids took a lot of photographs, which turns out is a great way to keep them entertained while we look at stained glass and frescoes. But we still didn’t stay long.

autumn on the seine

And then on Wednesday we upped our game and did the Louvre.

kids at the louvre

I’ve only been once before, and this time we covered a lot of ground. The Richelieu wing, which we didn’t even go in last time, was great. The kids respond really well to the sculptures… when they’re not running around and getting in trouble with the security guards.

Elena at the Louvre

After that we needed a lazy day, and Thursday is market day in Antony, so we did that too. The kids enjoyed having Gran around.

cricket in franceGran and Louis playing cricket.

morning tea with gran




Morning tea at the park.

On the weekend we drove out to Giverny, to visit Monet’s gardens.

elena at monet's gardensElena and the water lilies.

louis and gran and giverny Louis and Gran, talking about the flowers.

louis running around at monet's garden

Of course, the good thing about gardens is that the kids can run around. Not so much in the house, so we did a quick dash through that.

And then drove off to find a picnic spot. Luuk had done his research (of course) and found a chateau we could visit nearby – a proper ruined castle type thing rather than just a fancy house.

chateau gaillard

elena and the sheep, near Les Andeleys

No picnic spot is complete without some wandering sheep for the kids to watch.

elena at chateau gaillardElena climbing around the ruins of Chateau Gaillard.

We were all exhausted after that so stopped in Les Andeleys for a coffee before driving home.

Mum powered-on, the next day, and did Versailles, while the rest of us lazed about. I had writers’ group. The kids napped.

I got a babysitter for for the Monday, so that Mum and I could do some stuff in Paris without dragging the kids about. We started at Montmartre and went on a bit of a walking tour, of our own design, going past the cemetary, the moulin rouge and the moulin… ah, the other one… and then up to the art market. We walked down the steps from Sacre Coeur and then went to the fabric shops.

Holy cow, the fabric shops! Even I shopped up large, and I don’t even sew (but someone’s getting material for christmas).

We grabbed lunch and then found our way to the Marais and only got a little lost on our way to Victor Hugo’s house.

maison de victor hugo!That’s me, outside Victor Hugo’s house. The plaque is very faded but there it is!

We wandered around, looking for yummies for Luuk’s birthday and any cute shops we fancied. Stumbled across a couple of thrift stores that would make certain people I know salivate. Floors and floors of cramped motley messes of clothes and accessories… I tried to take photos but they all look awful. And we didn’t end up buying anything. I’ll have to go back another day, when I have more time and energy.

One last gem we found before we headed home – this old cloister.

art in a cloister, in the maraisWhich was hosting a random but cool art exhibition.

Mum packed in a few more Paris sights but me and the kids saved our energy for the Salon du Chocolat.

paris in chocolat

Elena, enjoying the Salon du Chocolat

It was chocolate tasting to the n’th. Holy cow. Mum quickly started saying no thanks. I held out a little longer. The kids didn’t say no at all, not once. My best efforts to get them to eat something-anything-else was a waffle.

Then Mum had to head back to NZ and that left only a day or two of holidays.

not-spider cookies

We made a meagre attempt at pirate costumes and spider cookies for halloween.

More chocolate? Well, yes, actually. We ate so much chocolate at the Salon du Chocolat that we didn’t feel like chocolate and seriously under-shopped! Who’d have thought?

So it wasn’t a HOLIDAY of the restful and rejuvenating kind, but it was great. Visitors give us a great injection of make-the-most-while-you’re-in-paris, that is just not maintainable most of the time.

That said, this weekend we’re going away to do something restful AND uniquely-french: staying at a country house in the Loire with some Brits!