Monday, July 5, 2010

Call Me a Metrosexual (France Trip Series)

We are just back from the family vacation of a lifetime - two weeks in France to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary. France because we spent time there as a family (my sister was born there). Also we are a family of foodies, many of us enjoy cycling, and heck what’s not to like about Paris in the springtime?

This first week was aboard an 80’ houseboat docked in the heart of Paris next to the Jarden des Tuileries. For the second week we (the kids and families) embarked on a cycling tour of four rivers in the western France - Le Cher, L’Indre, Le Vienne, the of course the Loire. Following are highlights of our week in Paris and yes, there is some cycling (albeit roadie) content included.

Risico is one of a couple dozen houseboats (converted river barges actually) on the Right Bank in the shadow of the Eiffel tower and the Musee D’Orsay. The boat is 80’ long with three cabins and is cozy for our party of seven, but you cannot beat the location. We are a five minute walk from the Louvre. We have a front row seat to watch the river traffic on the Seine.

Day two on Risico was June 21st - the summer solstice. This is the day that musicians traditionally come out and play in the streets of Paris for free. Music is everywhere in the city, including three barges down from us at a private party. Once night had fallen we made our way down to the festivities and innocently slipped “into” the party which was spilling onto the quay next to the barge and danced with the lights of the Eiffel Tower shimmering on the Seine as Paris danced and sang it’s way into the morning. The next morning I woke at 6:30, made my bed and some coffee and took them topside to watch the city wake up. Blue sky, a barge (actually 2 rafted) were doing a lazy 180 dgree turn to push slowly upstream. I watched an elevator slowly ascend the Eiffel Tower. And I was sitting here in my pajamas having breakfast. Unbelievable.

Later that morning Jeff and I scored at the Velib (see my post entitled “Making It All Work”) and the city was ours. We spend the day exploring Paris neighborhoods and wrap the evening up with another wonderful meal topside on Risico and a midnight romp with Katey and Jeff around the Grand Palais - notable due to Ruth in her PJs and the gendarmes in riot gear (no connection).

Thursday is spent at the Louvre and around Pompidou Center. Pompidou has some racy stuff on #4 but Sara survives OK. This is slowly becoming our favorite part of town, youngish crowd, vibrant street life, great food. After our traditional mid-afternoon coffee, we split up - the girls continue shopping while Jeff and I grab a couple of Velib bikes and go exploring. Nice dinner that evening near Bastille. Sara is so graceful and confident, and stylish with her silk scarf. She puts her arm in mine as we stroll home. I am the luckiest dad on the planet.

On our last full day in Paris Jeff and I are all over the Velib. We find a foodie heaven market near the Blue Marble. Incredible produce, seafood from the Mediterranean, exotic cheeses, fantastic wines, chocolate, baked goods. Endless cafes and brasseries filled with people sipping espresso or enjoying a cold beer. The streets are all cobblestone, very crooked and narrow, and limited to pedestrians and motorbikes. We stock up on provisions and then feast on the boat for our last night.

Soon we will have to say goodbye to Risico, wave Bon Voyage to Mom and Dad, and move on to our next adventure in the vineyards of Western France...

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