Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 35: Dispatch From Paris

 Mysterious and beautiful leaf art hanging from winter trees in the Bois de Vincennes

I am writing from Paris this week, where we're staying with Emily and Quinn. Jos is in London performing his one-man show and directing a slapstick routine for a comedy festival. Emily leaves tomorrow to join him, so we'll stay on to take care of Quinn and have a bit more Paris fun.

We spent the weekend working on some projects for Emily and having a few family outings. We went together to Le Bal, which is a brand new museum and restaurant. One of Emily's best friends is the owner and cook. Anna has a daughter almost the exact same age as Quinn. We have wanted to eat there since the grand opening in September and we finally got our chance.
The museum itself is small and lovely. It specializes in documentary photos and movies. All four of us enjoyed the current exhibition which was called Five Strange Family Albums. Even Quinn could really enjoy the movies which were quite surrealistic.

Quinn watches a movie of a brother and sister playing a frenetic game of ping pong

The best part was the restaurant, however, which has already been receiving effusive reviews for it's good honest food. The menu is simple with an emphasis on fresh seasonal ingredients. To start we shared a pumpkin soup that was out of this world, an incredible green bean salad with egg and roasted shallots, and some smoked eel. I had never tried eel, which always sounded disgusting to me, but in fact it is quite delicious. For a main course Emily had mackerel, Rick faux filet, and I lamb. Desserts also had to be shared as none of us could decide. With some help from our server we settled on an amazing walnut tart and a pot of decadent chocolate.


Sunday dawned bright and sunny. We had planned to go to IKEA in order to get some furniture to organize Quinn's ever expanding collection of toys, but the morning seemed far too lovely to waste indoors. We decided to take a detour first to the Bois de Vincennes, one of the two largest parks in Paris.

Map of the Bois de Vincennes

As we walked to pick up our car at the garage, the sun was shinning brightly. Unfortunately, by the time we reached our destination winter had reappeared. Clouds covered the sun and the temperature went from cold to frigid. Still, we enjoyed our visit to a small section of the Vincennes called Le Parc Floral.

Obviously we were seeing the park at its most bleak, and one could only imagine what it would be like in spring and summer. It has parts where there are literally acres of irises, rhododendrons and numerous other flowering plants and bulbs. Our destination was the children's play structures (one of the largest play areas for children I have ever seen). Along the way, as the park is truly enormous, we passed lots of other interesting corners.

There is a Japanesse garden which even in winter is green and attractive.

The terrain is varied with lots of nice hills or steps to climb and expansive vistas out over the park.

The number and variety of climbing structures for children was truly impressive. Quinn tested them all, generally preferring the slides.

On the way back to the car we passed a beautiful little lake with a flock of sea gulls playing at dive bombing above the surface of the water.

We didn't explore the castle of Vincennes which is older than the Louvre and was once residence for the kings of France. We definitely will need to return in better weather.

Castle of Vincennes


We did eventually make it to IKEA, though that is another, less noteworthy story.

At IKEA waiting for our furniture to be delivered


  1. Bonjour Nancy,
    Quinn est un petite garason beau! Did I get that right??
    Looks like you enjoyed some wonderful family time. Love the leaf art photo and sweet pic's of Quinn.
    Be sure to bring us along when you visit Vincennes!

    Janet xox

  2. I saw lots of familiar pictures here. I spent a part of my childhood not very far from Vincennes and it was our playground. My sister still lives there and her two sons could have met Quninn !

  3. Ah Nancy, you are whetting my appetite. Today we booked our flight and now we can look seriously for accommodation.