Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Few Photos...Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Weekend in October & 
Jardin des Plantes, Paris

It's the weekend - actually the beginning of Toussaint break for my kids.  We are hoping for a nice break weather-wise - hopefully step away from the rain and wind of the past few weeks.  It's time for some sunshine!  The kids are excited to have the next 2 weeks off (yes, my US friends, I did say 2 weeks - The French school calendar is made up of several 2 week breaks).  It's actually nice to have a bit of a break from school - we are planning to hang out around here for the first week and then we are headed North with some friends.

So in hoping for some sunshine...I wanted to share some photos from the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.  When I was up there earlier this month, I had the luxury of enjoying a nice walk around this park.

Even though it was early October, there were still plenty of flowers in bloom.  So welcoming and colorful.  I can only imagine how vibrant and beautiful it looks in the Spring and Summer.

The Museum of Natural History is located on the property, along with many tree-lined walking paths, restaurants a great playground and even a small zoo.  I can see why this part is often a site used for many photo shoots and enjoyed by lots of people.

Would love to bring the kids to this park - the museum, the zoo and of course a playground - so many fun things to do!

I love the expressions on these statues....

 The Museum of Natural History...

 The setting sun gave a beautiful reflection into the windows of the greenhouses.

The gazebo, a great place to sit and look out on the park.  I can also see whey Parisians and tourists alike and get lost in their thoughts in this park - it's a perfect place to walk around and relax.

So off on break we go....looking forward to doing more exploring and adventuring....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Montpellier - Bloggerfeast and Weekend

Blogapalooza 3 - and A Weekend in Montpellier

Since I started this blog last Winter, I have been opened up to the whole new world of blogging.  I had always heard about people who blog, but in truth I didn't pay much attention to it as I was working full time and had the 3 kids and husband to also take care of...I barely found time in my day to do all of  that.

My blog has become a wonderful network to meet other expat bloggers and other people who write about all kinds of things, life, family, love, crafts, cooking, photography - you name it, there is a blog out there.  So I was extremely honored to be included in an invitation from some expat bloggers in Southern France to join a luncheon in Montpellier.  This luncheon was organized by Aidan of Conjugating Irregular Verbs and Sara - from Sara in Le Petit Village.  I jumped at the invitation - thought it would be fun to meet face to face with other bloggers and share in our combined experiences.

Some of these bloggers have been doing blogs for years, others are new to blogging like me, some people have been in France or abroad for several years, others new arrivals, some Americans, some Canadians and other foreigners.  But the main thing we all had in common was living in France and having the perspective of being a foreigner in a foreign land.   So at 7 am on that Saturday morning, my oldest daughter and I took a 4 hour train ride to Montpellier.  It was an early morning - but I was so excited to meet these other women!  It was also nice to spend a special mother/oldest daughter weekend.  (we don't get to do this too often).

We all met at a wonderful restaurant - Chez Boris in Montpellier.  There was 16 of us -   bloggers, 2 husbands and 2 children (including my oldest daughter and Aidan's daughter who have become email pals through their mother's blogs).  The English flowed non-stop that whole afternoon.  I'm sure we were also loud at times....we even had an older woman wander over and ask who we were?  I'm sure from an on-looker point of view,  it looked bizarre to see people being formally introduced and then jumping right into an English conversation like we best friends who hadn't seen each other in years.  It certainly felt like that - the common ground of being an expat is a very strong bond.  We started and noon and closed the restaurant at almost 4 pm on that day.  It was so great to meet so many interesting people - made some nice new friends - and connected with others that I have emailing back and forth with for the past few months.

The restaurant's specialty was beef and it had some very interesting decor.  The chalkboard walls were extremely interesting and even my daughter & Aidan's enjoyed leaving their mark.  Lots of us enjoyed photographing not just the event but the interior also.

Here's  a list of everyone and links to their blogs:

Aidan - Conjugating Irregular Verbs
Kirsty - You had me at Bonjour
Nicola - Growing Berries
Karen - Little Sweet Spots
Julie - The Provence Post
Sarah - St. Bloggie de Riviere
Heather - Lost in Arles
Jennifer - Gustia
Abby - J'Adore Ma Vie
Meredith - Talking Story in Provence
Colleen - Life 2.1

This colorful cow seemed to fit right into the ambiance of the afternoon and I also think it speaks to the fun and liveliness of the city of Montpellier.  There just seems to be a great Southern vibe in that city.

The beautiful city of Montpellier - It's a university town, so thriving and full of life - but also a very interesting mix of history and modern architecture.  One can see old Roman aqueducts, walls and gates along with newer modern twists on Greek revival.  The Center of downtown is also abundant with  lovely stone and wrought iron buildings- but  this city seems to have spunk:  Palm trees and color all around the city....and wait until you see the tram cars! 

These are pictures walking along the Antigone area.  Our hotel was located in that direction - so when my daughter and I left the restaurant we headed through the polygone (wonderful downtown shopping mall) toward the Antigone.  These buildings are all modern with a Greek twist (hence the names).

After settling into our hotel, we headed back up into the center of town and Place de la Comedie.  The twilight lighting had a beautiful affect on the photos.  I just adore the style of buildings in this area.  The square was bustling with people all enjoying the warm temperatures and beautiful evening. We meandered around a bit, not really too hungry after such a long and delicious lunch.  Headed back into some smaller streets and finally settled on a creperie for a light supper.

Loved the lighting inside this shoe and dance store.

The next morning we awoke and enjoyed breakfast at our hotel.  A wonderful hearty buffet.  The breakfast buffet was opened unusually early this particular morning as the Montpellier Marathon was happening that day.  (We had seen a lot of the set up the night before).  This was definitely a huge event and apparently most hotels were booked full this particular weekend.  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and then slowly meandered back up into town to do some more exploring - I particularly wanted to see the historic district.  

One thing that we noticed right off was that they had shut down the tram in center downtown - so my original plan to tram from the hotel around to the historic district  (which is located on the opposite side of the city from the Antigone) was foiled by this event.  It just meant a fair amount of walking was going to be done this day.  The city is not huge, but it is built on the side of a hill.  Our hotel was down toward the bottom with the historic district toward the top.  

So after we made it around all the hustle and bustle of the marathon we headed up into the historic district.  They even have their own Arc de Triomphe in Montpellier.  

I just loved all the narrow streets, old street lamps and plants mixed into the alleyways.

A little bit of red......

The stone mixed with the wrought iron balconies was definitely the overall style of the city.  Sort of reminds me of New Orleans...just a guess but maybe New Orleans is inspired from this city....the mix of stone, wrought iron and whimsy...

More quaint streets...

We made it up to the Place Royale du Peyrou - on the other side of the arc de triomphe.  This is a beautiful park and lots of great things to look at...

I love how the monument reflects in the pool.

My daughter enjoyed the lookout -

Mountains in the distant...such a contrast to the rest of the city...

 Ruins of a Roman aqueduct...very fascinating.

So after our march around the city, we headed back to our hotel to get our luggage and then on to the train station for a late afternoon train back to Bordeaux.  The trams were still not working so we ended up rolling our luggage about a mile and a half to the train station  (good exercise...anyway).  

Of course, true to our luck, just as we arrived at the train station with about 45 minutes before our train - all the trams lines came back on...

Take a look at these colorful trams - each line has their own color and design!  They all seemed to intersect right in front of us at the train station.  For whatever reason, we were quite mesmerized with these unique trams.  

After that wonderful weekend, my daughter and I hopped on our train and headed home.  I have to say - first, I'm all ready for the next bloggerfeast or blogaplooza 4 and Montpellier was a wonderful city.  Thank you to Aidan and Sara for organizing such a fun lunch! The city  is so worth a visit.  Maybe someday we can get back there as a whole family - and even venture down to the Mediterranean Sea - it's apparently only about 15 - 20 minutes away!

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