the paris pastry challenge

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Day 5 @ Rose Bakery

Oh là là!

Somewhere on vacation my friend challenged me to eat a pastry a day.

This is not a challenge one says no to. Especially not when in Paris with a pâtisserie on nearly every block.

And so we accepted. With gusto!

We went to the Ladurées, the Rose Bakeries, the Angelinas. We went to the hole in the walls. We went to the hidden gems down alleyways.

We treated ourselves – sometimes to near excess (day 5).

But mostly we enjoyed every single bite of every single pastry.

Day 1 & Day 2 (Angelina)

Day 3 (Rose Bakery) & Day 4 (Angelina @ Versailles)

Day 5 (Rose Bakery @ Bon Marché)

Days 6 – 8

le fin

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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Today we depart France and mark the close of our Summer 2013 family vacation in Europe.

As I reflect on the past 19 days, the words I wrote on May 10 and all my reasons for taking these two young travelers on their second European trip, I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s words:

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

I sought to expand their view of this world, of the people on this planet. I sought to give them a glimpse into life outside suburban San Francisco. I sought to show them how others live. I sought to show them history. I sought to make our own history.

I sought to show them why this Californian has fallen in love with Paris, in love with traveling. I sought to show them they are the two most important people in my life.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~ Miriam Beard

If their world is just a little flatter,

If they are a little more tolerant,

If they are inspired to learn a new language,

If they are, simply, inspired,

If they seek to understand,

If they understand that the best route between two points isn’t always the quickest,

If they know that God’s treasures are always at the end a long (2km!) walk and sometimes it’s turquoise,

If they see turquoise and remember kayaking,

If they have a passion for writing and sharing their experiences,

If they wake up one day and realize they have friends who span the globe, who speak different languages and who have differing cultures,

If they hear “Mona Lisa” and are instantly transported to an afternoon at the Louvre,

If they see 100 year old buildings in San Francisco and are reminded of the 1000 year old buildings in Paris,

If they are forgiving when Dad has to stop to have (some more) gelato,

If they made memories,

If they had fun,

then this was a fantastic summer vacation.

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” ~ Samuel Johnson

56 rue jacob

I missed the fourth of July and all the fireworks since I was at the beach in Corsica. So today my dad took me to 56 Rue Jacob, the spot where the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.

The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolutionary War between the United States of America and Great Britian.

Here I am standing where Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were 230 years ago!

Me, in front of 56 Rue Jacob (was Hotel d'York)

Me, in front of 56 Rue Jacob (was Hotel d’York)

corsica, by william




Ping pong!

My mom and dad signed me up for Mini Club Med. The first day was tennis and stuff and then we went to the pool and had a swimming test. It was really easy.

I met a new friend from Poland.

The next day I went kayaking then I went to my mom and dad. Then my dad and I went kayaking and then had lunch. Then my dad and I went kayaking again with my mom.

Every night they had funny plays. My favorite one was the slow motion races because the performers kept beating each other up and it was really funny (and in French!).

On our last day we walked to the front of the resort and the taxi was five minutes late. When we got the airport I was kind of upset because it was small. We had to walk to our plane. Our plane was Airbus A319.

We landed in Paris and took a train to our apartment. The train was packed! I was smooshed between a lot of strangers. Layli’s head was smooshed in some guy’s backpack.

corsica, by layli

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VA_29We went to Corsica and stayed in a place called Club Med.

I went to Mini Club everyday. I met a new friend, Olivia, from Sweden [the two were glued to the hip! ~ The Dad].

Here’s what my day looked like:

  • Wake up at 8:00am & get dressed
  • Eat breakfast. Usually crêpe pancakes or eggs. I loved it!
  • Check into Mini Club. Usually my dad would take me.
  • Go sailing or kayaking or play tennis or archery
  • Go to the pool
  • Take a break for lunch. Sometimes my dad would come get me so I could eat with my family.
  • Go back to the pool
  • Have a snack break
  • Do some “special event”. One day I made a sand castle!
  • Go back to my room so I could shower and rest and watch TV
  • Eat dinner

Every night there was a show after dinner. There would be dancing or singing.

The funniest was when this guy pretended to get his hand stuck in a DVD player. Everyone spoke French but it was funny anyways.

ps. My dad did boring stuff like read books. He read four books. How boring!

from ajaccio to cargèse

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“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.”1 ~ Antonio Machado

Road side dropoff

Here’s what it looks like when you get dropped off on the side of the road.

We followed our harrowing adventure to get to the ferry with an equally adventurous trip to get to Club Med.

Pro tip #1: There is no taxi stand at the ferry port in Ajaccio.

Pro tip #2: A taxi from Ajaccio to Cargèse is a lot of money, 120€. Take a bus.

Pro tip #3: The bus doesn’t actually take you to Club Med Cargèse. Close. But 2km, by some young travelers, is not “close“.

Here’s what it looks like when you’re walking 2km past horses and cows dragging luggage:

Pro tip #4: this was our pot of gold at the end of the 2km rainbow:

1. “Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.”

marseille, in 52 hours

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“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

For as many times as I’ve been to France, I’ve only been outside Paris once.

As we made our way to Corsica, we stopped for two nights in Marseille, in the south of France along the Mediterranean Sea, France’s second largest city.

We left Paris on a high speed train, the TGV, from Gare de Lyon and arrived mid-afternoon into Marseille. We spent the first half day walking around the Old Port of Marseille, Vieux-Port.

We fit in two boat tours and one hop-on/hop-off bus tour.

Our train

View of the old port


Château d’If

William has this to say:

In Marseille we went on two boat rides. I went in the front and it was so fun because the waves would push the boat up and it felt like you were flying!

The first boat went to a small island to see a small prison [Château d’If]. My dad said it reminded him of the Alcatraz of Marseille.

From the flyer we had in English:

In 1844, Alexandre Dumas published The Count of Monte Cristo which was an instant success. In the book, the hero, Edmond Dantès, is imprisoned on the island.

The second boat went almost to Corsica (or that’s what it felt like) and then came back [it was a tour of Les Calanques, “a ruggest coastal area interspersed with small fjord-like inlets”, around the coastline of Marseille].

The next day we went to a ferry boat to Ajaccio, Corsica. Getting to the boat was an adventure!

Someone told us to walk one way, then another man told us to walk back, then a lady told us to walk all the way back (at this point my mom was super mad).

My mom went to some taxis to ask them to just drive us and all of them said “no”. Then a security guy yelled at them and then we got a ride.

Here are some pictures we took:



“Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings.” ~ Hodding Carter

4 shoes in front of Sacré Cœur.

Montmartre. Sacré Cœur. Rue Foyatier.

Mountain of the martyr.

For two years this place has been on my “Paris To-Do” list.

For two years I’ve wanted to see where Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh worked. Where Le Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge were.

Monday I finally made it.

After a ridiculously fabulous breakfast at Ladurée and a Metro to Anvers, we walked up towards Sacré Cœur. It stood, at the top, beckoning in its travertine splendor.

Despite the overcast weather, the view from the top was incredible.

A view of Paris ~ a sea of buildings with Centre Georges Pompidou (mere meters from our apartment in Le Marais) in the distance on one side and La Tour Eiffel on the other.

William had this to say:

Eiffel Tower from Montmartre

Then we went to a church on a hill and went inside. It was much prettier than Notre Dame but still pretty dark [inside].

We ended the day with a stop at Mariage Frères for, perhaps, some of the best iced tea I’ve ever had. Violette French Summer Tea.

breakfast & locks


(On the way to breakfast at Ladurée, Layli finally got to see my favorite bridge in Paris. ~ The Dad)

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost

We went to this bridge that had a side with locks. You add them to the fence when you love somebody and you know you will never not love them.

This is  how it works:

  1. You buy a lock
  2. Write your names on it
  3. Put it somewhere nice
  4. “Lock up your love” by locking it on the fence
  5. Throw the key in the river so you never unlock your love

My mom and dad wanted to take pictures but I did not want to be in any of them at all.

William took a picture of my mom and dad. I was in the way of it and William took a picture of me with my face in my dad’s big belly! I did not like that one at all.

Would you like that picture if you were in it? I bet you would not like to be in a picture like that when you had your face in your dad’s big belly.