Parc de Sceaux

As you know, France practically shuts down in August. All the Parisians are gone, all off on 2, 3, or 4-week vacations. Even Berthillon, the ice cream shop on Ile St. Louis – i.e. the tourist center of the city – closes in August. The only people left in Paris in August are tourists… and me, getting pitying stares from those dashing to and from exotic locations.

September, however, is essentially a second New Year’s. La rentrée, or the return, marks the restart of school, work, and life as we know it. It also marks the start of “autumn” whether it feels like it outside or not. I’ve been giggling for a week watching people dressed in dark colors, fall boots, and actual coats while it’s still hitting 75* out. Parisians don’t dress for weather, they dress for ideas. La rentrée means fall, so we dress for fall.

It may be September and la rentrée may be in full swing, but I like to hold onto summer as long as I can.

Parc de Sceaux

All that to say, as part of our Do More Stuff mission, Frenchman and I recently have been making a point to find places in and around Paris to explore on the weekends. While we used to pick new parks and places to visit pretty regularly, we had gotten a bit lazy since moving to Saint Germain en Laye and hadn’t gone on many adventures in a while.

This summer, we decided to get back to it. One of our earliest Fun Things was, of course, Disneyland Paris for my 30th birthday. Next we wanted to go to Fontainebleau, the magnificent castle and massive forest, but we needed to take the time to prepare and plan our day, so as not to get lost in the woods and miss limited train service, etc.

So instead, Frenchman had the lovely idea to go to the Parc de Sceaux. Conveniently on the RER B, one sunny Sunday we took a ride through Paris and out to the town of Sceaux to visit the gorgeous chateau gardens.

parc_de_sceaux_chateau

A Walk in the Park (de Sceaux)

Just south of Paris, the Parc de Sceaux features a beautiful chateau and (the real destination) gorgeous gardens that are essentially like Versailles in miniature. In fact, the gardens were designed by the same landscape architect, André Le Nôtre.

We got off the RER in Sceaux and wandered through the town, making a stop at a boulangerie for sandwiches to carry to the park. We wandered through the side gardens surrounding the small chateau, because there are two, apparently, purchased for castle guests to stay in, until we found a nice bench with an excellent view for our lunch:

parc_de_sceaux_gardens

Once finished, we made our way through the grounds to explore as much of it as possible. We strolled up around the (main) chateau, down the center alley to the edge overlooking the full length of the grand canal. Then we adventured through the woods and down along the canal, following it as it takes a left turn and around to a big fountain overlooked by massive hunting statues. There is, apparently, also a massive waterfall, but it was not running when we visited.

We decided to look for a place to sit a while, but we were definitely not the only ones with this idea. The park was absolutely chock full of families and couples, having picnics or birthday parties or just lounging in the grass. It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed a little break half-dozing in the summer heat. We eventually moved on, and finished our tour around the rest of the grounds, taking a detour through the woods, before making our way back through Sceaux to the train station.

It was a simple, peaceful day, and I loved it. We visited a lot of parks when I first moved to Paris, waking up on a Saturday and deciding to pick a garden or park in the city to check out and the wander home. This little lazy summer excursion was a nice reminder of exactly that type of activity. Parc de Sceaux: highly recommended.

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A weekend in Marseille

This year, for Round 3 of Parents in Paris, we needed to find a new destination.

The first year, we stuck around Paris because there was plenty to see for my Dad’s first time in France and of course there was that little business of my wedding. The second year, we covered a few more of Paris’ Greatest Hits including a visit to Versailles, and then hit the road up to Normandy for a tour of the north’s amazing WWII history.

For this trip, we decided to head south, to Provence.

marseille_oldport_boats Continue reading

Disneyland Paris

I had long joked that for my impending 30th birthday, I wanted to gather a bunch of my friends and go to Disneyland. I thought, what’s more ridiculous and silly than for a bunch of adults to go to Disney? And while it did start as a joke, over time, I really came to love the idea 1) because it is silly to celebrate your 30th birthday in a children’s theme park, and 2) because I love Disney and why the hell not.

So when my 30th actually rolled around, Frenchman and I thought… let’s do it!

disney_paris_euro Continue reading

Cabourg

Cabourg is my new favorite place and the future location of my (imaginary) vacation home.

This summer, with the weather suddenly gorgeous, hot and sunny, Frenchman and I were itching to get out of Paris for a weekend. Train ticket prices, however, had other ideas. Everywhere we tried to go, the prices were exorbitant, or if we could swing the train costs, there wasn’t a hotel or airb&b to be found. I had pretty much given up, but Frenchman, who this past spring started his own business and is therefore home by himself all day every day, was not ready to let the idea go.

Finally, we had a stroke of genius, in two parts. First, the destination: Cabourg. Second: the time. A beach town in Normandy just west of Deauville, Cabourg offers all the charm and beachiness and none of the overpriced drama of it’s neighbor. And if we left Thursday night, we could get both a hotel room and train tickets for cheap and already be on-location bright and early the next morning for the beach, beating the weekend rush. It was perfect! Tickets bought, Friday off requested. Continue reading

Catching up: A year in bullets

It was about this time last year that I unceremoniously and without warning just…. stopped posting. I got a little burned out and was feeling generally uncreative, so the blog took a backseat to enjoying my summer and digging into job hunting.

Now that I’ve resurrected the blog, I thought I’d give you a quick recap of what’s been going on in the last 12 months (backdating slightly to include July): Continue reading

A weekend in Munich

I’m back! I took a bit of an impromptu break from blogging over the summer, but now I’m back and have plenty of things to tell you about! Better late than never…


One of the biggest perks of living in Paris is the proximity to – and ability to visit – tons of interesting places across Europe. It’s a perk that I haven’t taken advantage of nearly enough. So when I found myself with a bit of spare time, summer weather, and a German friend repeatedly asking me when I might visit, I finally went for it!

A long weekend in Munich, Germany

I have long been interested in visiting Germany, especially Munich and Bavaria, for all its castles and beer and schnitzel and beer… Frenchman, on the other hand, doesn’t like beer and is generally less drawn to destinations in his own backyard. He prefers his vacations to be long, super far, and more exotic than one little border away. I, however, remain resolutely American in my obsession with all things European.

So while he was busy with work and time-consuming side projects, I hopped a flight to visit my friend Franzi, who has been suggesting I come to Munich ever since we finished grad school (where we met) 6 years ago. Continue reading

Oh, hello. Remember me?

I know, I know. It’s been forever.

And I’m sure you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat, near tears, just waiting for the next post from l’Américaine.

Well, here it is. So sit back, worry no more, your favorite expat has finally gotten her sh*t together enough to write you a story about what’s been happening… more or less.

But let me tell you, it’s been a busy few weeks (or months? I don’t know how long its been since I wrote anything). I started a job and got busy and got tired from all the French being spoken at and around me all day every day. I took a whirlwind trip home to Boston and back in the span of what felt like 2 days (it was 4). I did lots of wedding planning and preparation for September, and move/house planning. And then every day les français at work ask me when I’m going on vacation and I have to sadly say I’m not, really (as they leave for 2 week trips to Sri Lanka and Norway, lamenting how short it is). Continue reading