Archive | Paris

Our 6 Favorite Picture Books about Paris

becca-garber-favorite-picture-books-paris In honor of our trip to Paris one year ago, I decided to share with you a few of our favorite picture books that take place in Paris!

We already love and own two classic picture books about Paris — Madeline and Mirette on the High Wire. These will always be my first loves, and they rise above any others as enduring classics. Do you know and love them as well?

These new favorites pictured above, though, all come from this extensive list that my friend Becca shared with me a few months ago. I found most of them at my local library. Some weren’t that great, in my opinion, like this one — I just can’t love this character, try as I might, and the book was a headache to read aloud.

But these six are our new favorites. They, along with Madeline and Mirette, are the crème de la crème, as they say!

*****

EVERYBODY BONJOURS

by Leslie Kimmelman

A cheerful book without many words, this is great for teaching children how to say hello in French. A young girl travels throughout Paris — to a patisserie, a soccer game, the Eiffel Tower — and everyone says “bonjour!” wherever she goes. Helpful for teaching children — and adults! — that greeting with a bonjour is essential before any interaction in France. I wish I’d read this before we visited.

*****

ANATOLE

Eve Titus

“Anatole is a most honorable mouse.” This beautifully illustrated Caldecott Honor book is the story of a mouse who decides to earn food for his family in an honest way, so he sneaks into a cheese factory, tastes all the cheeses, and leaves little notes on them indicating “good,” “not so good,” “needs orange peel,” and so on. The cheesemakers love his advice, but they cannot imagine who this connoisseur could be…

*****

LET’S GO, HUGO!

Angela Dominguez

This is a sweet and simple book, and not super Parisian, but Lena really enjoyed it, so I’m putting it on the list. Hugo is a dapper bird who loves his city, but he only loves it from the ground — because he refuses to fly. Then he meets a lovely little bird named Lulu who convinces him to spread his wings. How long can he keep her on the ground? Will he ever learn to fly?

*****

THE INCREDIBLE PAINTING OF FELIX CLOUSSEAU

Jon Agee

Once again, I was not as big a fan, but Lena requested it over and over, so what do I know?! Felix Clousseau is an odd old painter, and no one paid him any mind — until his paintings come alive and volcanoes start erupting and ducks start quacking in them. This is all a nuisance, and his paintings are confiscated. All except one. Will that painting save the crown and make Clousseau a hero? I’ll give you one guess. ;)

*****

ADELE & SIMON

Barbara McClintock

Adele and Simon are a brother and sister walking home from school in Paris who see their friends and the sights of Paris along the way. Simon, however, has his hands full of books and crayons and binoculars, and he can’t seem to keep track of them. He loses something on every page! Can you find them for him? The illustrations are beautiful, and both Lena and I loved this book. I also recommend Adele & Simon in America.

*****

THIS IS PARIS

Miroslav Sasek

What a wonderful book! If you are planning a trip to Paris, this is essential reading — and it would make a charming gift for an adult, too. The author writes the book to you, the reader, with wonderful pictures of everything you will see and do in Paris. The illustrations are gorgeous, the writing is tongue-in-cheek, and the whole book is fresh and delightful, even though it was written in the 1960s. Check out the rest of Sasek’s travel series as well.

*****

Now, even as I put together this post I came across more picture books set in Paris that I haven’t even heard of yet. We even have one in our house right now — The Tooth Mouse — that takes place in Notre Dame and is just wonderful.

Do you have any favorite picture books that are set in Paris? We’d love to hear!

15 :: in good reads, Paris

Giveaway of the Book “Paris Letters” AND a Letter from Paris! {closed}

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I loved reading all your enthusiastic comments on yesterday’s post about the memoir “Paris Letters.” So many of you mentioned you’d like to read the book, and so… your wish is my commnd!

As I was writing yesterday’s post, I decided to send the author Janice an email to see if she’d be interested in collaborating on a giveaway. I mentioned I like reviewing books on my blog and linked to this post, just so she could get a little taste of Making Room.

Less than 24 hours later, she emailed me back, and what a lovely email! It put such a smile on my face that I thought I’d share the whole thing with you. She’s a kindred spirit with many of us, I think:

Hello Becca,

First off, I read the link you sent and was so delighted that you had reviewed those books. “That part was true”… picked it up at the library because the cover looked so dreamy. Couldn’t get past the second chapter. Ugh. And I was wondering about “I’m having so much fun here without you” so thanks for clearing that up.

Second, thanks for reading and taking a shining to Paris Letters. I am happy to provide a book. I’ll include the latest letter as well when I send the book. Just give me the winner’s address and I’ll make it happen. Autographed and everything. 

Third, you have a nice looking blog. Clean and pretty acre of cyberspace. 

Janice

Isn’t she nice?! I just want to sit down in Paris and share a café crème with her. And did you see that she’s going to send one of you a book and one of her beautiful hand painted letters from Paris? Autographed and addressed to you? What a wonderful gift!

Here are all the ways you can enter this giveaway:
  1.  Comment on this post. Tell me why you’d like to read this book, if you’d like!
  2. Follow me on Instagram.
  3. Sign up for my mailing list (see the SUBSCRIBE // CONNECT tab in the left sidebar).
  4. Share this giveaway on social media or with friends.

Giveaway closes next Friday, February 13. Take it away, everyone. Good luck and happy reading!

——–

UPDATE: And the winner, according to Random.org, is #26, Suzanne K. The winner has been emailed. Thanks for all your entries, everyone, and for such a generous giveaway, Janice!

61 :: in book reviews, giveaway, good reads, Paris

our romantic night away in Paris

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It was 8:30 pm. I shut the bedroom door behind my sleepy children, wishing them a quick trip to dreamland.

We were exhausted. That whole day we had walked, biked, and waited in interminable lines around Versailles, wrangling tiny children the entire time. My eyes met Elliott’s and we laughed wearily. Not exactly a great — or an early — start to a romantic getaway in Paris.

About 15 minutes later, we’d hastily packed a bag, and Elliott had made a reservation at a French restaurant near our hotel. “Their earliest opening was at 10pm, so I guess we’ll have time to make it!” After hugging Elliott’s parents goodnight, we stepped out into the darkening streets, hand-in-hand, willing ourselves to find new energy for this much-anticipated evening.

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By the time we stepped off the Metro and looked up at our beautiful hotel, I was finding a new spring in my step. We walked into the magnificent lobby, catching our breath at the marble table covered with a hundred orchid plants.

The receptionist at the desk welcomed us graciously, but I felt like she could see right through my grubby street clothes and knew I didn’t belong there. I have two sleeping babies two miles away, and I bought my jeans on clearance at H&M. She seemed as delighted to see us as the next guest, though, and I relaxed. After thanking us for using our free hotel stay at their hotel (smooth one, Elliott), she informed us she’d upgraded our room. Sweet!

Upstairs, we walked into a gorgeous gold-and-red room with soft jazz playing on the TV. A table was laid with chocolate dipped strawberries, and a bottle of champagne sat chilling in a silver bucket.

“What’s all this?!” I asked in astonishment as I picked up the card. “‘Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Garber, and thank you for celebrating your anniversary with us.’ But our anniversary was in January!”

“Oh,” Elliott said sheepishly, “they asked me if we were celebrating anything when I made the reservation, so I said our marriage. I mean… we’re always celebrating it, right?”

He popped the champagne cork and poured a glass for his smitten-all-over-again wife.

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After a few glasses of bubbly and a bit of sprucing, we stepped out into the Parisian night to find our restaurant. We’d decided to eat a real French meal, since our room was free and we have been eating mostly croissants since arriving in Paris. The little restaurant was tiny and cozy. Polite staff slipped about silently on the thick carpet, and the only English I heard came from a cheery Scotsman regaling his table with stories.

It was the first Michelin-starred restaurant we’d ever eaten in, and it was also the most expensive meal we’d ever shared; Elliott still won’t tell me how much it cost. I felt wildly out of place again, since I was wearing a dress from Liz Lange Maternity. I know, I know! I’m not pregnant and haven’t been for a year and a half, but it happened to be in my closet and was black and had probably the deepest neckline of anything I own, which is kind of what I was going for on a romantic evening out with my husband, so… if the dress fits…!

The meal was like nothing we’d ever experienced before. For their tasting menu, they brought one tiny dish after another, each exquisitely presented, vibrantly flavorful, and paired with a select wine. There was foie gras soup drizzled with lime, melting Parmesan cheese sandwiched between paper-thin crackers, a quail’s egg with mango cream in place of the yolk, and ravioli made from thin strips of pineapple.

Slowly the restaurant cleared out, and at 1 am there was only one other group — a quiet table of French friends — still in the restaurant. We noticed them settle their bill, but then they stayed at their table, chatting and sipping wine until they saw we were finished. When we stood to go, they also rose and got their coats. I was touched by what I can only assume was a gesture of kindness. Since they were having a good time, they didn’t want us to be awkwardly left alone in the restaurant or to rush through our dessert. I hope I remember to do that sometime for a young couple out on the date of their lives.

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We woke on Easter Sunday morning, and I opened the curtains onto a perfect Parisian scene. We waffled between meeting our family at church for the Easter service or lingering at the hotel for a few more hours, eating a leisurely French breakfast at the cafe downstairs, and slowly exploring the neighborhood. We chose the former, which was very responsible of us, and our children’s radiant faces when they saw us made our hearts melt.

In retrospect, though, I wish we’d stayed for those few more hours. What we were enjoying was more than a romantic getaway in Paris; it was time with our very best friend. Friendship. Genuine, sweet friendship with the one person we love most in the world, the one we chose over all others and who chose us back!

While parenting small children, it’s easy to get lost in the rhythms and routines of everyday life, filled with blessings and bills and boo-boos. What we had for those few hours in Paris was uninterrupted time to just be us, Elliott and Becca, the young couple who fell in love in Boston, who skied on the weekends together, who sought out obscure ethnic restaurants, who got married in a snowstorm. We’re still those young people deep inside, plus the complexity and depth and beauty and humility of being parents of two children. When those little children grow up and move away, we want to still be best friends holding hands.

Remembering this — with champagne and strawberries if possible! — will help us keep reaching for each other in love and friendship as the years go by.

Do you agree? I’d love to hear stories of your getaways — romantic or disastrous or otherwise!

——–

See our other two getaways here and here!

11 :: in husband, Paris, thoughts

At last… Paris!

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It’s been a month now since we were in lovely Pah-ree, and I think that’s because every time I looked at the pictures I got so depressed. Paris was so much more beautiful in my memory! It was like a dream!

But in my mediocre photographs, it looked rather ordinary, and our children looked somewhat overwhelmed, and the parents and grandparents looked very grateful to be sitting down with whatever beverage was in front of them.

I suppose many things were true simultaneously: we were enthralled and we were exhausted, we were fascinated and we were fatigued, we were savoring and we were stressed. Such is traveling with little children. And traveling to a place like Paris — which is e-nor-mous — when you are trying to see as much as possible in four days, well… there’s sure to be a lot of bliss and a lot of blerg.

Anyway. I finally did edit the photos. I think these “few” — culled from hundreds — help it to look delightful again, and that’s how I’d like to remember it!

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Our babies will fit in the overhead luggage!
Also, first glimpses of Paris near the apartment we were sharing with Elliott’s parents.

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In the final 15 minutes of an exhausting day of travel from Sicily to Paris, Gil threw up on me in a taxi. We arrived at our apartment feeling like we’d traveled across the world instead of the continent. That night, Elliott and I left our sleeping children in his parents’ care and went on a walk through Paris at midnight. Oh, how we needed that walk. We saw Notre Dame (behind us in the b&w photo) and then wandered back along the Île Saint-Louis to Berthillon.

And then we ended up behind Natalie Portman to get our ice cream! Way to redeem yourself, Paris. Thank you.

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Pont des Amoureux (Love Lock Bridge) by Notre Dame the next morning.

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Grampa & Gil inside Notre Dame Cathedral.

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At the Rodin Museum with his Marmee.

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Picking out a treat at the museum’s pretty outdoor cafe.

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We spent a whole day at Versailles, where we loved the grounds (pictured above and below) and spent hours walking, picnicking, and biking around them.

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This bike ride around the gardens was one of the best things we did on the whole trip.

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On the R, goofing off with Lena in the elevator inside the palace because someone “weally, weally need to use da baffroom.” Real life with kids, even at Versailles.

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The Hall of Mirrors inside the palace. I have pointedly cut off the heads of the several hundred other tourists who were packed like sardines into the room with us.

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The kids rode not one but two! carousels by the Eiffel Tower one afternoon. Lucky ducks.

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Eiffel Tower by day and by night from Trocadero. So beautiful! Lena shrieked with glee when the sparkly lights came on around 9pm. As my mother-in-law said, we all felt the same way, but Lena was the one who expressed it. Magical!

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We visited Notre Dame every day. Lovely lady.

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We happened upon the Marche aux Fleurs unexpectedly and felt like we’d stepped into a painting. A perfumed, misty, sensational painting.

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Lena amused herself in line outside Saint Chapelle.

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Inside Saint Chapelle, more beautiful than I’d ever imagined.

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On our last night in Paris, we met up with my California cousins in a park between our apartments. The adults picnicked with baguettes, meats, cheeses, and wine in the grass, and the kids ran in ever-widening circles away from us and around the gardens and play equipment. A perfect, child-centric end to our stay.

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The park where we met up with my cousins. Let me just close by saying that I love almost everything about Paris, but the parks and playgrounds every few blocks stole the show. When the kids were cranky, when we all needed to rest our feet, when it was time to spread out a picnic and relax… well, there’s nothing like a Parisian park.

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Right, Gil?

——–

Have you ever been to Paris? What were your favorite things about the city? Not just museums, but unforgettable moments or memories?

13 :: in family, Paris, travel

portraits of my children in Paris {16/52}

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The 52 Project: a portrait of my children once a week + every week in 2014.

Lena: What a wonderful week we’ve had! Last Thursday we flew to Paris to meet up with my parents-in-law, and for the next four days we explored the streets, museums, cafes, and boulangeries to our heart’s content. Those of you who follow me on Instagram have seen some photos already, but I’ll be working on the best of them to share over the next week or so. In this photo, Lena is sitting in the children’s corner of Shakespeare and Co. enjoying books with another little visitor. I’ve wanted to visit this bookshop for years, and it was thrilling to finally wander through the book-filled rooms. It’s about as close to Midnight in Paris as you can get in real life.

Gil: We spent one day whole day visiting Versailles, where the magnificent gardens and musical fountains were our favorite part. I took this picture shortly after we arrived, worn out from long lines and ecstatic about green grass. This photo reminded me of one I took of Lena two years ago in Germany in the springtime. We love those buttercups!

——–

And now we’re home, sorting through piles of laundry, restocking the fridge, and helping children get caught up on sleep. I wondered if there would be a horrible post-vacation crash… you know, the one where you just want to go back to wherever the food was better or the surroundings were prettier or the responsibilities were lighter. That is a familiar sensation to me. At other periods in my life after I came home from vacation, I could barely lift my head off the pillow to start the day. Work or school or relationships or loneliness just felt too hard to face. I’m sure you have had times like that, too.

Well, the post-vacay low hasn’t hit me yet, although maybe it will as the routine gets a little less desperate and a little more… routine again. I’ve been realizing, though, that I have a daily life that I really love right now, and so the sweetness of Paris doesn’t feel as much like a sugar rush (and daily life doesn’t feel as much like a sugar crash) as it might if my everyday life or routine was hard to face every morning. I’m grateful for that. There’s a balance and a peace to my life right now, despite the Cheerios underfoot and dinner prep I should have started an hour ago…

How about you? Are you glad to wake up in the morning these days? Or are you looking forward to a time when you’ll feel more like that, such as after you graduate or after your kids are older?

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6 :: in 52 project, Paris, travel

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