20 Rad Things to do/explore/eat in Paris (with kids!)

Bonjour,

My sweet friend Karilyn who is a travel blogger at No Back Home, asked me to share my top twenty things to do in Paris with kids. Firstly, I’d like to dissuade the notion that traveling with kids can be a bummer. Non! If you are planning for a horrible time, you will end up miserable but prep yourself in advance for those unexpected meltdowns and keep these tips up your sleeve and you’ll be asking yourself why didn’t we travel with our kids sooner?

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We got Liv’s first passport when she was three, now she is nine, she has traveled to twelve countries, far more than Antz and I travelled by her age! So, let me help you make your traveling with kids blues fade away by following my guide to Paris.

I don’t travel anywhere without these must-haves:

  • Multi-function backpack – I cannot walk around all day with a purse. It never works for me, I carry too much stuff and I love to be hands-free so I carry this Goodordering backpack/tote. This has been my go-to travel bag for two years now. It has padded straps so it doesn’t hurt my shoulders and I love the extra pockets in the front to hold tickets and extra camera batteries. I use the side pockets for my water bottle and umbrella which you will read more about below. Invest in a reliable travel bag! I’ve seen too many Mom’s struggling with bulky diaper bags and flimsy purses.

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  • Anti-bacterial Wipes – Always handy with kids, I’m not a germaphobe but public spaces can be gross, so it’s always wise to have these on you for wiping ice cream filled faces.
  • A scarf – I have used a scarf as a picnic blanket in the park, to wrap my hair up on a windy day and covered myself up when visiting a church out of respect. I have this lightweight one from J.Crew.
  • Water bottle – There are lovely public water fountains all over Paris. Having a water bottle is essential to surviving a long day in Paris with kids.
  • Cell phone chargers – I have one for each of us because we play Pokemon Go, the Flash Invaders app and taking photos quickly drains our battery power. This one works great. Bonus: If you are an Invader fan, check out my Instagram stories.
  • Kids Headphones – If you are planning a long road trip, these are a necessity! Now that Liv is older, she prefers to listen to her own music and we can crank our old people tunes without any side-eyes from her. Plus I rather use my own headphones during guided tours than use the cheap ones they give you. Liv uses these.

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  • Snacks! – This one is a must-have for kids. Liv gets cranky when she’s hungry and Parisian restaurants close from 3pm – 7pm so I always have apples, nuts or granola in my backpack.
  • Small, travel size umbrella – I strongly recommend bringing an umbrella, even during the summer, the sky has been known to suddenly start pouring and it’s so frequent you will be happier you had it than not.
  • Backpack for your little one – I always let Liv pack a bag with her camera, a few books for long rides, her special lip gloss, a few small toys and her phone and charger. It makes her feel like she’s a big kid having her own things to bring when we travel. She has a Fjallraven Kanken backpack which was expensive but she’s had it for going on five years now.
  • I bought Liv her own instant camera and it has been a game changer for our trips. She loves playing photographer and it helps keep her busy when we are at museums or art galleries when she would normally run wild.
  • A retractable selfie stick – This one may be controversial. I really hate seeing these sticks all over touristy landmarks however, too many times I have ended up with no family photos or blurry, horrible photos taken by a stranger so I have given in to the selfie stick peer-pressure. This one is strongly recommended by my friend Kelly, who used it during her three month sabbatical while traveling solo. It has a built-in tripod and a remote. Just be aware most popular museums do no allow tripods or selfie-sticks.

Please keep in mind, you must say “Bonjour” when entering a business, to the bus driver or before speaking to any Parisian, not speaking first is considered rude. It’s always a good habit to teach your little ones how to say Hello, Goodbye and Thank you in the language of the country you are traveling to.

Okay, now that you are all prepped and ready to go, here’s the first stop.

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    1. Metro station
      (any Metro station)

      You may think walking is the best way to get around Paris but the city is huge and little feet get tired fast. If you pop into any Metro station you can buy a book of 10 tickets (called a carnet) which can be used on the trains and buses. I prefer taking a bus around the city so you can sitesee and enjoy a relaxing ride to your destination. The French public transportation is very easy to navigate and convenient. They even have the arrival times posted on most bus stops. Believe me, you will be doing plenty of walking later.

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    2. Jardin des Tuileries
      Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris

      This is the Parisian equivalent to Central Park, located near the Louvre museum. Here you will find something for all ages. Playgrounds and sculptures are scattered throughout the impeccably manicured tree lined paths. During the summer and winter months there is a fun fair with games and carnival rides. You will find a carousel, snack stands, a puppet theater and my daughter’s favorite, the trampolines! They cost a few euros for 15 minutes of jumping so make sure you have cash on you.

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      The museum de l’Orangerie is located in the south end of the garden which houses the impressive Claude Monet Water Lilies.

    3. Jardin du Luxembourg
      6eme arrondissement
      Closes at 4:30 pm during the winter months

      This is another popular park, it’s massive and lovely. There’s so much to see here you can easily spend a whole afternoon there! The most fun thing for kids is renting a sailboat and spending 30 minutes playing captain of the sea. Don’t worry, I am referring to a small toy boat and you get a stick to launch it into a lake. Each boat has a different country flag so be sure to choose one that you can tell you little one about.

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      Liv chose Mexico which is where her Grandmother Maria was born. There are pony rides, ice cream vendors and stunning gardens, please be aware, you cannot walk on the grass here and you will get whistled at by security if you do!

    4. Try the snails at Cafe Charlot
      38 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
      7 am – 2 am

      I know, your kids are probably like mine and will only eat buttered pasta or chicken fingers but I dare you to test their taste buds by ordering escargot at this trendy cafe in the Marais. Our kid refused to try them until we moved here, then she discovered all her French friends ate them, now she loves them. It is open all day, everyday (which is rare) and the waiters are very friendly towards Americans. I tend to opt for an early dinner so we are dining before the restaurant gets too busy and there isn’t much room for drama. Plus I like to get the best table for photos, of course. Be sure to grab a seat inside if you don’t want to be near the smokers and order a Saint Germain cocktail like the cool Parisians do.

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    5. Cité des sciences et de l’industrie/City of Science & Industry
      30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris

      If your kid is a science geek like mine, this place is for them. There is a science museum, exploratorium, IMAX movie theater and VR experience. The entire area is perfect for kids with a park, boat rides on the canals and a small carnival. Try to go during the week so it’s less crowded.

    6. See the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night!
      Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris

      It is a no-brainer if you come to Paris you must see the incredible Tour Eiffel! Yet, I don’t want you to miss the nightly sparkle of the tower. There are always large crowds at the tower and the adjacent Trocadero but much less in the evening. Please note, you can no longer go underneath the tower without going through a long security check line so plan to be there ahead of time. The tower sparkles from sunset every hour until 1 am, it’s magical.

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    7. Princess Crepe
      3 Rue des Ecouffes, 75004 Paris

      What is better than a Parisian crepe? A Harajuku/Japanese crepe! This tiny place is nestled in the Marais and often has a line of people outside. Try the cheesecake and strawberries crepe, you’ll love it. Definitely Olivia approved.

    8. Disneyland Paris
      Boulevard de Parc, 77700 Coupvray

      Liv insisted I add the happiest place on Earth to this list. I will say, I adore Disneyland and it is much less crowded than the one in California. We take the RER A train from Chatelet/Les Halles station which takes about an hour to arrive at the Disneyland station. They have most of the same rides as the US Disneyland but with a European flair. Jack Sparrow charmingly speaks French on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. There is a Queen of Hearts labyrinth maze. I have heard they even have a pineapple whip (similar to Dole Whip) but it’s only available during the summer. The lines are much shorter and there is a seperate Walt Disney Studios park that is very cool.

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    9. Montmartre Village/the majestic Sacre-Coeur Basilica
      1 Parvis du Sacré-Cœur, 75018 Paris

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      Montmartre is arguably the most well-known quarter in Paris. Kids will enjoy taking the funicular up the hill. If you look to the right of the church, you will see a small fence at the bottom of the stairs, you can take this fun photo (slightly tilted) so it looks like the houses are sinking.

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      Then walk around the street to your left past the funicular, at the corner you will catch a glance of the Eiffel Tower. Keeping walking up the hill and you will arrive in Montmartre village. There you can buy tickets for a ride on the Petit Train de Montmartre which will take you on a tour of the area. I highly recommend it.

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      Skip the souvenir shops in the village and walk towards square Jehan Rictus to check out the Mur des Je’taime (Wall of I love you).

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      Afterwards, you can have an unusual dinner experience at…

    10. Le Refuge des Fondus
      17 Rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris
      Opens at 7pm (no reservations)

      Due to a heavy wine glass tax, this tiny restaurant now serves all drinks in baby bottles. There are two items on the menu; fondue and meat all served with skewers. This place is a total tourist trap that no locals would ever be seen in, but it is such a blast! The table seating is family style so people have to climb over the tables to be seated along the benches. The staff are notoriously mean and rude but I was somehow able to win ours over. He gifted us with a few baby bottles to take as souvenirs.

    11. Angelina
      226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
      10 am – 6 pm

      This place is a major tourist attraction but it is worth the wait. Located across the street from Jardin des Tuileries, it is a bakery that specializes in its signature, decadent, hot chocolate. I was so surprised to find out they also have white hot chocolate which is equally good, and I want some now!

    12. The Natural History Museum
      57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris

      Every town has one and Paris is no exception. There is a fascinating exhibit of the kingdom of animals on the second floor of this vast museum. In another building is Liv’s favorite, gems and minerals. It reminds me of the Natural History museum in Los Angeles and is definitely worth spending the day. It is located in the garden of plants which is especially pretty during the spring. Make sure to stop at the Dodo Manège carousel which has animals that are sadly all now endangered or extinct. There is also a zoo within the jardin des plantes but I recommend the next zoo.

    13. Parc Zoologique de Paris
      Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris

      This zoo is located in the 12eme arrondissement on the outskirts of Paris in the enormous bois des Vincennes. I had low expectations for Parc Zoologique because in my opinion, there is no better zoo than the San Diego zoo, so I was delighted to see animals I have never seen in person before. LIKE A SLOTH! I could have stayed there all day watching this sweet guy move in slow motion. We went on a very hot day so we had to keep moving. Antz took a photo of a spider bigger than my hand but I won’t subject you to that nightmare. Kids will definitely love the animal feedings so be sure to check the schedule.

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    14. Choose your own Adventure
      Sports Saber League
      46 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010 Paris

      This one is perfect for days you are feeling burnt out on museums and crowds. We like to ask Liv if she could pick one thing to do, what would it be? She was asking about fencing for awhile but the classes were the same day and time as her ballet so I found a similar alternative, Star Wars LightSaber fencing. There is a beginners class on Saturdays and they provide you with a lightsaber if you didn’t pack yours. Antz and Liv did it for two hours and loved it. It’s nice to ask your kids what they want to do because you may find something you wouldn’t have thought to do.

    15. Sip mulled cider at the Christmas Market
      Tuileries Christmas Market
      Marche de Noel La Defense (the biggest one in Paris)

      There are several markets throughout Paris that are open during the holidays. I have only been to two, La Defense and Jardin des Tuileries, but there are several within the city. There are booths like a farmers market selling Christmas homemade goods, gifts and food. There are raclette booths which are huge wheels of gooey cheese that are melted and dripped onto bread. The market at the Tuileries has rides and an ice skating rink. It’s a must do if you are in Paris during the holidays. Mamma’s be sure to try the hot wine “vin chaud“, it’s mind-blowingly good.

    16. Eat dessert American style in Paris
      Rue d’Aboukir, 75002 Paris

      We love our neighborhood which has a delightful American expat community. We have gotten to know many of the kind business owners at Boneshaker Donuts, Jean Hwang Currant cookies and Stoney Clove Bakery. Please make sure to let them know that Elizabeth sent you there! You will find every type of cuisine on a stroll down the famous rue Montorgueil. We love picking up a kilo (a French pound) of cherries to snack on during the summer.

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    17. Musée des Arts et Métiers
      60 Rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris

      Super cool, off the beaten path, museum of technology and mechanics. Your kids will love the room full of antique trains, cars and machinery. This museum is never crowded and will captivate your child’s imagination. We have been twice and still haven’t seen everything it has to offer.

    18. Rougier et Plé (awesome art supply store)
      15 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris
      (there are several other locations)

      After all those visits to the art museums  your young artists must be feeling inspired, so I recommend stopping by this mega store to pick up a few art supplies. A small paint palette, a canvas and a brush is all you will need. Then head over to Île Saint-Louis (located on an island behind Notre Dame Cathedral) and spend an afternoon painting the dreamy Paris landscape along the Seine.

      Berthillon Glacier
      Rue Jean du Bellay, 75004 Paris

      Then stop by Berthillon for the best ice cream in town. Any of the brasseries on the corner of rue Jean du Bellay sells it. There is a fancy restaurant that sells it around the corner too.

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    19. Go on a bike ride along Canal Saint Martin
      (for older kiddos)

      Download the Uber app – If you click the bicycle icon it will show you on a map where the Jump by Uber bikes are located. You can’t miss them with their cool, bright red paint. Once you scan them with your phone, you are all set to hit the bike lanes that run along the trendy Canal Saint Martin. The bikes are electric so it’s a smooth and easy cruise while soaking in the beauty of the canals. There’s also a two hour boat cruise that will take you through the canals many locks.

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    20. Get Lost! – The best part of visiting Paris is wandering the cobblestone streets, you will always find something fun to do. There are so many photo booths (they make great souvenirs) and carousels scattered around the city. A few of my favorite kids stores to check out.

      Bonton
      Smallable
      Petit Pan
      Tartine et Chocolat
      Village JouéClub
      Shakespeare and Company (English bookstore)

      Bonus – Pre-Negotiate a deal with your kids for buying souvenirs

      I have to add this because I have been there and know what a downer it is when your kid sees a gift shop and the begging commences. I worked out two options for Liv which has saved me from many tantrums. She collects souvenir coins which are mostly found in churches and museums all over Europe. So far she has over 30 coins! They cost €2, and she knows she can have one so she doesn’t ask for everything in the shop. The second option is when she finds something she cannot resist (which is everytime) she can pay for it with her own money. This has been a great solution because she earns money by doing chores at home. She has learned to save and not do much impulse shopping.

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      A few years before we moved abroad I bought Liv a toy set of world landmarks from Michaels. I also bought these two books, Maps and This is the World, which are informative and beautifully illustrated, to research our trips. We now collect landmarks from most of the cities we have visited. They all are under 2 inches tall so they fit in her Maptote travel bag.

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Always have fun!

Lizzie


Elizabeth is a stay-at-home-Mom/blogger/tour guide offering custom walking tours of Paris at Mon Ami Paree. She is a francophile who is (slowly) learning French, adores traveling and documenting her colorful family’s adventures on her blog, Violently Happy

 

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Our last day in Cote d’azure

We spent the last few days day in Nice on a whirlwind of adventures. Everyday during our vacation, I tried to get photos of the beautiful landmarks in Nice. Yet, with so many tourists, “C’est impossible.” I finally decided to wake up at the crack of dawn (which is difficult for an insomniac like me) to get photos.

Our first stop was Le Negresco hotel. Of course, there were cars parked right in front of the entrance but it’s my unlucky curse. Even without the crowds, I couldn’t capture how beautiful the hotel is. I just love the architectural details.

How sweet was the bellhop? Our next stop was the fountain of the sun in Place Measséna.

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Even at 8 am, it was so hot I wanted to jump in the fountain. We drove over to Castle Hill park, a park on top of a mountain. Lucky for me they have an elevator. We stopped at the I love Nice sign for a cheesy family photo.

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We walked across the street to Castle Hill park. There is an elevator built right into the mountain.

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OMG! This view was everything.

We asked a couple to take our photo with the beautiful coastline of Nice and this is what they delivered. I took their photo and made sure to not get the morning shadow and I took several photos. They took three of the same exact shitty shot. *EYE ROLL*

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I don’t know what to say to describe how pissed I was. I am sure it was the extremely hot weather but we were all in a grumpy mood. Luckily, Antz broke the tension making fun of my attempt to rock a chic French scarf. He said I looked like Bret Micheals from Rock of Love and I couldn’t stop laughing.

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We set off to find the waterfall I heard about and after walking forever we realized we kept passing it.

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I feel like my entire day was an article of expectation vs what you get. We bought popsicles from a snack bar and took Liv to the playground.

We almost died from the sun! I couldn’t brighten these photos anymore.

The Castle of Nice (Chateau Hill) used to be a military citadel but it was destroyed in 1706. It is a must see spot to visit in Nice (just bring tons of water!)

Poor baby was dripping with sweat. We hurried back to our rental car which I had to return before noon. We took the tram to the Nice train station and then took another tram to Old Town so we could meet my friends for brunch.

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The couple that we house swapped with last March were in town for vacation. Her family is from Nice so we met at a friend’s cute restaurant and we met her brother and his family. I wish I took more photos of all of us but they food and conversation was so amazing, I totally forgot.

I am normally not a huge prosciutto fan, but it was sublime paired with the fresh cantaloup. Antz ordered mashed potatoes at the chef’s suggestion and I took a bite. Ummm, did I just taste the yummiest, creamiest mashed potatoes of my life? Just look at that fresh butter! I was falling in love with the south of France even though the sun was trying to melt us.

The place we had brunch is:

Marinette
13 Rue Colonna d’Istria
06300 Nice

After brunch, we took an Uber back to our rental and had to hit the beach for one last swim. We met two sweet ladies on vacation and chatted with them. They were a mother daughter duo and the daughter was on summer break from college in America. The funny thing about our conversation was they were both topless the whole time so it was pretty weird for us, but they were so chill about it, we just ignored the obvious awkwardness. Good thing I was wearing sunglasses.

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Antz had to start work that afternoon and Liv needed to relax and play video games on her Nintendo Switch. I took a quick nap. Later that evening I had to meet my friend Brandi for drinks one last time before we left.

The next morning we flew back to Paris. I know we will return to the south of France. I would love to visit more inland in the Aix-en-Provence area.

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Road Trip: Cannes

A visit to the south of France requires a visit to the most famous city, Cannes. The international film festival is held in May. It was a scenic hour drive from Nice.

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I admit, I thought the city would be pretentious and snobby but it was as charming as any of the cities in the south of France. There was more traffic than we had seen before and of course more luxury brand boutiques but after we parked Liv found an American style diner and we bought some ice cream.

We were so sunburned from laying out on the beach the day before, ouch! I was so happy to find my first and only Invader in Cannes.

Liv and I rode the ferris wheel. The city was practically empty.

I normally don’t like riding ferris wheels, but I felt brave and I prefer enclosed rides. The view was worth it.

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If I ever go to the Cannes Film Festival (because I totally am) I would like to stay at the Splendid hotel. Now I know the famous Eden-Roc hotel is where all the celebrities stay in Cannes but I feel burned that we were turned away at the gate when we tried to get a drink at the notorious bar. Turns out you can only visit the hotel grounds if you have a reservation and the guy at the gate said there was an opening in 11 months. Cool.

We walked across the street to a little park and found a cute brocantes (antique sale).

I was super tempted into buying a Louis Vuitton travel case that was a bargain for €600 but luckily, she only took cash and I realized, I had nothing that valuable to travel with such an expensive bag.

Maybe one day.

Cannes was lovely but also just a normal French town. I have always associated it with such A-list celebrity, even the public bathrooms were just a fancy port-a-potty.

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On the lovely drive back to Nice, Liv asked if we could stop and ride one of the beach bikes. Antz was exhausted so I took one for the team and rode in the blazing heat with Liv and Lulu. The things I do for my kid.

It was actually very fun, it would have been perfect if it wasn’t so darn hot. We rode the breezy coastline for an hour while Antz napped in the car with the air conditioner on.

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We couldn’t find a restaurant open to have dinner so I ordered my delicious Mediterranean pasta again from the place in Old Town Nice.

Cannes was a lovely day trip. I would only stay overnight if I chartered a yacht, we didn’t find much to do if you aren’t doing some serious shopping.

Places in Paris: Pink Mamma

You guys, I have been on a hunt for really good pizza in Paris. I know I won’t find any deep dish, extra cheesy and greasy pepperoni like my beloved Round Table Pizza so I needed to compromise with a decent Italian pizza. I heard about a beautiful restaurant called Pink Mamma in Pigalle, a popular spot on Instagram so we headed out on a late Saturday afternoon. We took the bus to Pigalle which took longer than we expected so we arrive a little after 7pm (just after opening). I was surprised to find a long line ahead of us. Then I realized there were no reservations so when we made it inside the hostess told us to return at dix, Liv translated to us that she meant come back at TEN PM!! Holy Cow, there was no way I was going to wait three hours to eat. We were starving. Since we were already there I decided to hang out and take photos of the four story gorgeous interior. The decor is different on every floor and I tried to capture what my eyes saw however, it was awkward taking photos of strangers eating so I had to be discreet about it. Luckily, the light was at golden hour so Antz took these incredible photos of me feeling like an Italian Goddess. I never looked so fancy riding a public bus before.

 

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The four story staircase was bananas. It was like being inside of an art gallery. We spent a lot of time checking out the paintings.

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Was hoping to snag this table on the top floor but it was reserved for a party of five.

 

I mean, could I ask for better light. My kind hubby was playing paparazzi while the diners were looking at me like I was an alien. Whatever, I was feeling myself!

 

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Liv and I headed to the loo, which was in the basement.

 

I have never seen a meatlocker look so chic. I mean, I was looking for a mirror and instead we got a view of all of the meat.

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Just as we were about to leave, the hostess saw we were still there and she said if we wanted to eat now, she could get us a table. I was disappointed that we couldn’t dine on the top floor (which looked like the best spot) however, we were so hungry we happily took whatever we could get.

 

I didn’t have any high expectations for the food (I have been so disappointed by food in Paris before) so I was pleasantly surprised by the menu. I hadn’t had any delicious bruschetta since our goodbye dinner with Leslie and Stephen last February at my favorite Colombo’s Italian restaurant in Eagle Rock. I do wish they used balsamic vinegar but I really liked the fresh apricot that was added in place of tomatos, very rustic. Antz ordered a steak and potatoes dish that he loved and Liv had kids pasta. I had pretty yummy pizza. I enjoyed it but I not a big fan of the burnt thin crust, Margherita style pizza. Sorry, I still miss American food terribly. The good news was our bill was reasonable for such a fancy place. Around €60 with wine.

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So, Pink Mamma definitely lived up to all the hype. Be sure to go well before they open to get a good table. We ended up walking around lower Pigalle neighborhood after our meal and popped into the trendy Hotel Amour for dessert on their patio. The weather was lovely, Antz and I shared a delightful strawberry tart. Liv had ice cream. Then we took an Uber home.

 

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Pink Mamma
6:45 – 11 pm
20bis Rue de Douai
75009 Paris

Hotel Amour
8 Rue de Navarin
75009 Paris

The coolest restaurant in Iceland

My friend Christina gave me a list of recommendations for our trip. I was skeptical when she suggested visiting a tomato farm. Antz, Liv and I are not big fans of tomatoes but I knew if Christina says it’s good, it’s worth a visit. I called a couple of weeks in advance to make a reservation but my bad luck Liz curse struck again. The afternoon I wanted to go turned out to be the only day of the year they were closed for maintenance. I had to adjust our itinerary  to make a reservation. Luckily, we got the last available spot of the day!

We drove an hour and a half from Reykjavik to Friðheimar farm. The Ring Road is Iceland’s main road but it’s mostly a two lane road so they have this subtle reminder to not speed. Those cars are from an actual accident. The irony is I nearly had an accident trying to get a photo of this car wreck (just kidding, Antz took the photo). We passed this reminder several times while in Iceland which was helpful because I am usually a speed demon. I had to make a quick pitstop on the drive to snap this rad photo.

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I damn near lost my mind when I saw this sign. Björk actually translates to birch in Icelandic and there are birch trees everywhere. Too bad I didn’t see the real Björk.

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Antz had to convince me to not ask the owner if I could buy this flag to bring home to LA. Friðheimar is a working farm so during the summer months they put on a horse show. There are also ten hens that live on the property.
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I really didn’t understand what the hype was about a tomato farm but when we arrived it was impressive. The tomatoes are grown in a temperature controlled greenhouse so they grow year-round. The owners buy the cutest, fuzzy bumblebees from Belgium to aid with the fertilization of the plants. I think the key to making these tomatoes taste so good is the natural Icelandic geothermal water.

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Olivia was excited to cut her own fresh herbs to add to her food. When you arrive, you can check out the greenhouse and hit the all you can eat tomato soup bar. Everything has tomatoes, even the water! I tried my first blood Mary (sorry, I’ll stick to margaritas).

We met the owner Knútur, he was very kind and gave us a quick tour of the greenhouse. Liv was a little nervous around the bees but they are so fuzzy and cute.

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The food was amazing, I must have had three bowls of tomato soup. By the time my entree arrived, I was stuffed. The tomatoes were sweet and perfectly ripe. Not soft and mushy like  most restaurants in LA serve. The greenhouse was fascinating. We learned so much about horticulture. It wasn’t the smelly, traditional farm I envisioned.

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On the way out we stopped by the Little Tomato shop and taste-tested tomato preserves and jam.

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We bought a jar of green tomato jam and it’s still in our fridge at home!

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The Friðheimar Tomato Farm is a must-see/eat stop in Iceland. The staff is friendly and genuine and the food is exceptional. The owner takes pride in his farm and really connects with his customers. I wish that same warmness would happen in Los Angeles. Most restaurants are over-priced and I often feel like there is not a lot of quality put into the food and the waiters can be rude and pushy. Maybe I’m just over pretentious LA.

Friðheimar

Bláskógabyggð
IS-801 Selfoss
(+354) 486 8894
fridheimar@fridheimar.is

Open from noon – 4pm daily. I strongly recommend making a reservation.

Victoria, British Columbia

We have friends who recommended taking a day trip to Vancouver Island, so we spent our fourteenth wedding anniversary in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We sped across the Puget Sound on the Victoria Clipper. The ride was two hours but it felt like a few minutes because we were flying.

Victoria, Vancouver Island British Columbia is beautiful. It’s a shame it was so hot but being close to the sea gave us a nice breeze. Liv insisted we tour the city on a horse drawn carriage.

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We stopped so we could pick apples to feed to our horse.

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The Parliament buildings were fascinating.

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These guys were reenacting the history of Victoria in British accents.

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This is our favorite Misha Lulu dress which was a gift from Karen.

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Out of all the whale watching boats that went out that day, we were the only ones to head east and we saw a huge pod of orcas hunting for fish. We saw entire families and learned that the grandma was 80 years old! It was such an incredible moment seeing them jump out of the water but my camera was too slow to capture it.

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The seafood was fresh and the service was amazing. Our waitress was so excited to speak French with Olivia. I was delighted to discover the dollar has more value to the Canadian dollar so our anniversary meal was less than half then what I would pay in LA.

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My only complaint about Victoria is they don’t have Uber. We were lucky to find friendly taxi drivers and our last one gave us a quick tour of the city on our drive back to the boat. I was lucky enough to even catch some rare Pokemon *nerd alert*

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Victoria was so much fun and quaint town. I loved seeing the intricate totem poles, the grand Parliament building and the harbor were so picturesque. We would love to return and spend a weekend at the Empress hotel and have high tea.

Trejo’s Tacos

A new taco spot opened a few blocks from Olivia’s ballet class called Trejo’s Tacos. You may know Señor Danny Trejo as Machete or From Dusk Till Dawn but have you seen him as a chef? Me neither!

Danny Trejos tacos

Antz and I had lunch there this Sunday while Liv was at her ballet class. It was crowded but  I’m sure it wasn’t as busy as it usually is. They have valet parking available but we found street parking. Danny’s sweet face was everywhere.

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I love the outdoor open seating but don’t worry if it’s chilly, there are built-in heat lamps in the umbrellas.

Since the restaurant just opened that week, they were offering a limited menu and that meant no custom orders, so I had to deal with onions in my food (bleh, I am not a fan of raw onions!) However, I loved the fresh made guacamole with crushed pistachios as our appetizer. I also enjoyed the refreshing watermelon fresca.

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The line was long but moved quickly. You pay for your order and then find a seat. I have gotten used to family-style seating but picnic benches drive me nuts because I always hit my knees sitting down. (Oh how the tall suffer)

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We each had the fried jidori chicken lettuce wraps with chipotle cream and the beef brisket tacos. Both were excellent, full of flavor although I liked the fried jidori chicken best. We had to rush our meal since we only had an hour but we will definitely return for a longer visit and try new dishes. My biggest disappointment was I didn’t get to meet the man, Danny, himself. Proximo dia!

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Trejo’s Tacos
Mon thru Sun 11 am – 4 pm
1048 S La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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Before I go, I must profess my love for my new, rad skirt! I bought it from an African boutique and I adore it. I have wanted an African print outfit for years but I never found the right pattern. What drew me to it was the vibrant yellow and I was stoked to find it had pockets!! You know pockets are my fave. The best part is the length. I have yet to find a maxi skirt that was long enough and this guy practically drags on the ground. I love that I can dress it down with a simple top and sneakers. I hopped out of the car for this pic on the drive home because I was feeling SUPER that day.

A bientôt!

Grocery Shopping in the 10th arrondissement

Being a stay-at-home Mom means my job is buying the food, going to Target and keeping the house clean. It’s silly to think I’m some 1950s housewife slaving over a stove three times a day in an apron and heels but I do enjoy shopping and Antz doesn’t so it works for us. Back in Los Angeles, I would do my grocery shopping on Fridays which would take maybe an hour and I usually go to two stores. Vons *for cereal, bottled water, bread and condiments* and Fresh & Easy *for our meats, fish, produce, fruit and dairy* I buy enough for two weeks and load up my car. We rarely have to get anything during that time. It is like night and day here in Paris. So far we go shopping everyday. There are four different shops involved, étalage de fruits *fruit stall* patisserie *bread shop* le marché *the market* and le boucherie, *meat shop* all within 5 minutes walk. 

It rained most of yesterday so we headed out in the late afternoon when the sun came out to pick up our dinner.

So glad I packed her rain gear. Now you see why I had so much luggage?

I love visiting the fruit stand around the corner. There is a lovely Egyptian gentlemen who works there and he always gives Liv a free treat. His fruit looks fake but it’s so enticing. Back home, I would rush in an out and hardly ever have any contact with the staff so I would often stick to my list. Here, I have a conversation with the people *my terrible French seems to be working* and they remember us. I can ask questions about fruit and vegetables I’ve never tried before. They cut slices for me to sample and I never leave without half a kilo of cherise.

These look like we edited them but this is exactly how we took the picture, honestly the best fraise I have ever tasted

Another of my favorite shops is the meat shop. I find it funny that there are four shops directly across the street from each other with the exact same products and prices. We go to the one on our side of the street because the guys there are very sweet.

mouton tête anyone?

I have made a new friend at the bread shop. I’ve tried a few others in the area but her bread is the softest. I went hunting for a cake for Olivia’s birthday party and I was skeptical about the one she picked for me. I learned to stop judging things before I taste them because the tart was très savoureux! She tells me my French is improving everyday. 

I have to ask my friend’s name next time I go there
Liv has been requesting these chocolate umbrellas

Antz has been our chef *he figured out how to use the stove top* thus far. It’s hard to indulge in these meals without feeling gluttonous but all the walking and stair climbing has balanced out.

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petit dejuener
Those pommes de terre were spectactular

I am so grateful I have been given a second chance to discover the food of France. During our first trip I had a boorish American mentality so I mostly ate fast food and didn’t expand my horizons. This weekend we are going to Le Marché des Enfants Rouges *a popular farmers market* I can’t wait to try an authentic French meal. Oh, but of course the wine is superb!

A Bientot!

Le Dîner en Blanc Los Angeles 2013

 I woke up today thinking last night’s Le Dîner en Blanc was just a dream.
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Photo taken by Jennifer Young

I found out about Le Dîner en Blanc while browsing Pinterest about 2 years ago. Then I read this post by Jordan at Oh Happy Day. I made it one of my Life List goals to attend le Dîner en Blanc in Paris. Well, since I’m not going to Paris this year, I was excited to discover Los Angeles would be having their first annual diner so I registered on their site. I ended up not getting an invitation but I was able to sign up as a volunteer. This gave me membership *for free* and the opportunity to invite a few friends. It was difficult to set everything up but everything fell into place *despite shoegate*

Antz and I worked hard getting all the dinner items we would need and making my amazing headpiece and cute birdie boutonniere.

This headpiece was huge and HEAVY. I had a battery pack on there for the lights. We had to secure it with hundreds of bobby pins
Look how adorable Antz birdie boutonniere turned out. He made that top hat!

Since I was a leader, I was privy to find out the city the venue would be located but not the address. Anthony told me his guess was Rodeo Drive since it’s so iconic. I thought it would be at a park to accommodate such a large crowd, so I guessed either Greystone Mansion or Beverly Hills park. As always, Antz was right, we arrived right on time at Rodeo Drive which was blocked off to cars for the event. We had one of the best spots for the dinner right near the DJ booth and close to the center of everything. The moment we got off the bus, I met the founder of the event François Pasquier, his wife and his son Aymeric who came in from Paris and Montreal. They were so gracious and kind. François attempted to talk to me in broken English and I made a terrible attempt at French but we communicated best in Spanish. This again confirms how much I suck at French and that I must learn the language I want our child to become fluent in.

I love them, they were so sweet!
Aymeric is a sweetheart, he’s so cute!

We set up quickly and the dinner began. Our table was amazing, everyone looked great and the table settings were lovely. I was so happy my friends Warren & Kim and Jihan & Jennifer were able to be there with me. The band performing during dinner was rad! The singer had a beautiful voice and she covered Amy Winehouse and Portishead. We had a delightful meal, I drank too much wine and we all danced. The white mustaches turned out perfect for photos and we took tons of pictures, posed for tourists, guests and the media. I posed for so many cameras my neck was hurting. You can even catch a second of us on the ABC and CBS news. I had the time of my life. I met such wonderful people and we rocked out to a guy playing electric saxophone! I can’t wait to go next year and hopefully attend Le Dîner en Blanc in Paris soon. My incredibly talented friend Jennifer took these lovely photos.

I love how rad our mustaches turned out

Jihan, Jennifer, Me, Antz, Kim & Warren
Me & my hot date!
Our table

Since there were so many great pictures, I put together this slideshow that covers the evening. Enjoy!

The first annual Diner en Blanc Los Angeles
August 21, 2013
Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

 

My photo made it in the LA Times!

 

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The evening was magical! Merci Le Dîner en Blanc.

Fourth of July Weekend Wrap-up

Oh man, so much summer fun crammed into 4 days! Aimee came over to eat and we redneck-ed it in the backyard with booze
and watching Liv splash around in her pool. I got a little too much sun but it
was a good time.

MEAT!!!

Once again Highland Park did not disappoint as the fireworks capital of Los Angeles. It really sounded like bombs going off every second.

This is as crazy with fireworks as I get!

Mr Mailman brought me two much anticipated *as well as one unexpected* deliveries.

I ordered these guys back in May, they were totally worth the wait! Freshly Picked Moccasins
Liv’s Third year Shutterfly book arrived!

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Click here to view this photo book larger

Her book turned out lovely
Stephanie, Carlos & Sophie Bloom sent Liv a special birthday package of gifts. She was super stoked! Thanks guys!!

Friday we decided to have an impromptu picnic in the park and then check out the California Science Center

I love the Parisian vibe at Barnsdall Art Park
Liv challenged Daddy to a race
It was fun but my phone died so I didn’t get many photos. It was cool to see the Endeavour space shuttle in person.
Nerd Fact: Endeavour had 25 successful flight during it’s 19 years of service.
It’s like 50 times the size than it looked when it flew over our house last year

Antz took this rad shot

This photo of us came out pretty lame, it was bad lighting in there.
We bought Liv a space shuttle toy, we tried to teach her how to salute.

 I couldn’t resist stopping by the childhood house of Don Draper.

 I’ve seen it tons of times since it’s located on historic Carroll Street *one of my favorite places in LA*

Friday night we hung out with Story & Chris for pizza and homemade peach cobbler *which was perfection, Story*. They gave Antz the raddest birthday present, these adorable Adventure Time toys.

Chris acting a fool as usual

Saturday we went to our nephew & niece’s daughter’s *Cayce, Ann-Marissa & Chayanne* 1st birthday party. It was a super fun pool party.

Antz made this gift wrapping magic
The pool was AH-MAZ-ING!
So now I want an in-ground trampoline super bad
Lemme tell ya, this guy is a great workout!
Chayanne is such a sweetie pie!
Liv was swimming up a storm, she’s very comfortable in the pool.
Grandma Debra and the birthday girl
Grandpa Darwin signing her birthday puppy
I love this idea *I wrote on the puppy’s feet*
Liv was inseparable with her friend Jianna!
Everyone helped Chayanne open her presents
She’s on the verge of walking any day now
I tried to get a photo of the girls hugging but all I got was their golden curls. We’re going to plan a playdate soon.

Antz was sweet enough to watch Liv for me so I could go see This is the End with Story and Chris. It was hilarious and I spotted Joe Manganiello *Alcide* at the theater.

I’m always on celeb watch!

Sunday we took it easy, breakfast with Leslie & Stephen at Cindy’s.

Liv & Nina

This afternoon we stopped by Antz Mom’s to visit relatives who are in town.

We feel like we’ve seen everyone we know this weekend. So happy we have a week with no commitments to relax. How was your weekend?