One of the fun things that I do here is work as a private French teacher for ex-pats.  Lucky me I have the coolest students who like to go on outings to practice their vocabulary!

A few weeks ago we learned about des animaux and a group of us set out to the Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes to practice naming animals.  It had been so long since I’d been to a zoo that I’d forgotten how fun they can be!  Highlights included two apes kissing, seeing raccoons in captivity, the hedgehog exhibit, and hanging out with four teenage boys all afternoon.  They keep me young.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

One of the greatest parts of having finished my Masters and waiting around Paris till The Husband finishes his is having lots of free time!  While I am teaching private French lessons so we have a steady income, with our visas as Non-EU citizens we are only allowed to work 20 hours a week.  Meaning now that I don’t have classes and homework and a thesis hanging over my head, I get to truly enjoy living here again and try to get to see everything on my list before we leave (which is coming up sooner than either of us would like to acknowledge….).

It had been almost a year since I had last been to Père Lachaise, one of my favorite spots in the city, so I met up with a friend who is here from New York for a few months and her two children to do some exploring.  It was nice to show one of my favorite spots to someone who had never seen it and recapture some of the original magic that makes me love Père Lachaise so much.  Bonus: this time there didn’t happen to be a stoned man hanging out on Jim Morrison’s grave, so thats always a plus!

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As I look back on these photos, I am reminded of how lucky we are to be living out a dream, even if our plans don’t always work out as we imagined them.  It’s particularly hard to be away from family and friends when we are having a hard time, as we have been lately.  But places like this and the friends that we have made here make it easier to get through the hard spots in life.

I’m grateful for every opportunity we’ve had while we’ve been here, especially the ones like visiting le Mont Saint-Michel, a place so gorgeous it took my breath away and strengthened my belief that there is a greater plan and purpose here on this earth.  We’re trying to make the most of our last two months here with more trips like this one (amidst the problem of finding out where we’re going to in the states, haha) and lots of long walks along the Seine.  That means lots of good pictures coming up!  But for now, enjoy the rest of the Mont Saint-Michel, or the time that we spent exploring the tiny paths through the tiers of houses on the island.  This was definitely one of the most incredible trips that we have taken this time in Paris.

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

Of course we had to check out the gardens of the Mont Saint-Michel.  Lucky for us you’re kind of forced to head out that way — the gift shop leads out into them and we couldn’t have been happier!

Somehow, we magically got the perfect day at the Mont Saint-Michel.  I’m not sure how that happened, but if you guys ever go I hope you get a day as awesome as ours was!  I’ve been missing it lately.  We’ve had kind of the worst month ever, so looking back on this pictures (when we’ve had the time) has helped to make this month better!

I’m going to miss things like this when we move back to America.

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-MichelLe Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

Le Mont Saint-Michel


Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

 

 

Only one more Mont Saint-Michel post to go, and then we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled Paris-centric posts!

One of the things that most impressed us most about le Mont Saint-Michel was the sheer size of the structure.  Granted, it wasn’t that big originally and only achieved such size through many add ons, but still, a monument of that size is impressive!

MK, The Husband and I spent about 3 hours in the actual abbey itself before heading outside to the extensive grounds and then exploring the island itself.  By our extremely exact and scientific calculations, we only saw maybe 20% of the abbey in all of that time.  Impressive, non?  We did, however, make sure to entirely explore every nook and cranny that was available to us, just to make sue we got the entire experience, you know?

Our favorite part?  When we were in the monks mess hall and The Husband started quietly whistling to see what the acoustics where like.  I mean, the monks had to chant in there sometime, right?  So we knew that had to be amazing!  Anyways, we were all alone in this enormous room except for one lady reading at one of the monks tables.  As soon as Andrew started whistling she looked up and shushed him!  We couldn’t believe it — we didn’t see anyone else the whole time we were there, but the one time we saw someone she got upset because we tested out the acoustics!  Let me tell you, they were great!

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

The Husband absolutely reverted to being a kiddo while we were at le Mont Saint-Michel.  It made MK and I laugh to see him running from place to place, touching everything and trying to explore every nook and cranny.  He’s been so stressed with school and waiting to find out where we’re going that taking some time to enjoy himself was much needed.

It’s funny seeing a glimpse of what The Husband was like as a child and what our children will someday be like.  He was ecstatic over all the things he could touch and pull on, and was sorely tempted to pull the bell pull to ring the bells of Le Mont Saint-Michel.  Lucky for us, he reigned in his excitement so we could finish seeing the rest of the abby.  Totally worth it in my opinion.

Apparently our Mont Saint-Michel experience wasn’t typical — its usually more like the line 13 than completely empty like we had it.  My advice?  Definitely hit up le Mont Saint-Michel in January!  We practically had the whole place to ourselves!

Stay tuned for even more of the bajillion pictures we took while there.

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

The best part about the Mont Saint-Michel is that I got in completely free.  Okay, so totally not the best part, but it was still pretty awesome.  I was free, MK was half price, and The Husband had to pay full price since he’s so olddddddd.  Right after paying, you leave the little hut and are greeted with the most splendiferous view (yes, it was so magical that I can’t even think of a real word to describe it).

You’re on the back of the island, looking out over the ocean from the top of the abbey.  Now, I grew up next to a huge body of water (re: Lake Michigan), and The Husband is from Florida so we’ve seen our share of sweeping beach views.  But, I have to say, this one was unlike any other view I had ever seen.  We were up so high that I felt like I could see forever, and it was hard to believe that this water we were looking at could take us all the way to America.  The tide going in and out around the island makes for an even more beautiful view from the island, for some reason.

And then we turned around.  We hadn’t even gone into the abbey yet and knew already that this was going to be our favorite place in France.  These pictures don’t do it justice — you need to go there yourselves!  These are all of the chapel at the very top of the Abbey,  which was just the beginning of our visit!
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel

The Husband and I are extremely lucky to be living in Paris, and throughout our stay here we’ve had the opportunity to travel to some pretty awesome places.  We’ve explored many of the suburbs of Paris, traveled to multiple Châteaux, visited Germany, Belgium, and England, as well as much of France that we had lived in before coming to Paris.  Lucky for us, MK was adamant about going to one of the places we hadn’t previously been but had always dreamed of going to, Le Mont Saint-Michel.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Le Mont Saint-Michel, its an old old old abbey right off the coast of Normandie.  It’s on a tiny island and is surrounded by sand and sometimes water (depending on the tide).  When you go there, you park your car on the main land and then take a bus to the front door of the city, and from then on you have to walk!

We were lucky because we went during peak off tourist season….  Basically, we had the whole place to ourselves minus a few Japanese tour groups, meaning that we spent about 4 hours exploring the actual abbey and about 3 exploring the little town on the island.  So, be prepared for a series of posts dedicated to this puppy.

Not going to lie, le Mont Saint-Michel was the most beautiful place I have ever been to.

Here are some photos from the walk up through the windy streets in the town — you wind back and forth until you get to the very top, where the abbey is located.  It’s pretty cool!

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Stay tuned for more photos from Le Mont Saint-Michel. I promise they get more beautiful as the day went along — for once it was sunny in Normandie!

The Husband hates when I’m in charge of planning our visitors schedules….  Something about me scheduling every moment of every day until they’re so tired that they can’t function???  Ludacris.

So, when MK got a tiny bit sick while she was here, The Husband jumped on the opportunity to laugh and blame it on me.  And now every once in a while, just to rub it in, he’ll say “Remember that one time you went so crazy with scheduling that you made MK sick?  Have you learned your lesson about vacation planning?”  Meanie….

Anyways, while MK was here she had a mixed bag of good and bad luck.  Like I said, she had awesome metro juju, especially for the line 13, and she was lucky enough to see the first few days of the sales, meaning that of course we had to hit up some normally extremely expensive shops that just for those few weeks count as mostly expensive shops.  Shown here:

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We also, of course, had to hit up the Catacombes, since MK is a nurse and loves dead things.  But don’t worry if she is ever your nurse, she usually doesn’t kill people and is quite good at her job!  Sadly, we went to visit one of my favorite museums here, the Musée Rodin, and the house was closed for restoration.  Awesome news, mainly because the inside was falling apart (I’ve done multiple photo essays for myself on photos of the cracks in the walls and foundation of that house….), but also sad news since then we only got to see the sculptures in the gardens, which were also partly closed for a party for the Indian Embassy that they would be having later that night.

Highlights included getting hit on by construction workers, one of said construction workers thinking I was Québécoise (at least its some kind of native speaker!), and finding a Thinker phone case for my ancient phone for €1 at the gift shop.  All in all, a win!  Oh, and don’t forget the delicious chocolate/almond/pistachio pastry we had at the end….

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Oh yeah, and of course we had to throw up the single ladies pose… Especially since neither of us are single ladies…. Such is life.

I love living in a city where you can easily walk from place to place on any given day, no public transportation needed.  Although that does have its drawbacks, like me having walked through almost every single pair of shoes that I own.  On the bright side, with us moving back to the states in a few months, the prospect of leaving some dead shoes behind is sounding better every day as I think of how I’m going to fit all of our stuff in four suitcases….

I can’t say that I have one particular favorite book, but The Phantom of the Opera has always been up there — I adore the book and the musical (but don’t even get me started on that mid 2000′s movie adaption.  Horrible.) and conveniently decided to reread it at the beginning of the year while I was on hold for some new books.  Lucky for me, MK was game to take the tour of the Opéra Garnier after a morning trip to the Musée d’Orsay.  I hadn’t taken the tour since I was here on study abroad in 2009 — its hard to forget how beautiful the inside of the opera is, but somehow I seem to have forgotten all the details that really make the place so pretty.  The Opéra Garnier is, hands down, one of the most beautiful places in Paris!

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