The Peach and the Pit: Tour de France in Numbers and Superlatives

There many reasons why I love my sister. (Yes, she’s technically Michael’s sister, but I believe when you luck out with great in-laws, you can just freely claim them as your own family.) One reason is that she shares the same enthusiasm I have at the end of a trip for reflecting back on the ups and downs. After an adventure with Dawn, we sit down over a meal and rehash the “peach and the pit” of the vacation. Each time we realize at some point that this exercise is really called the “peak and the pit,” but we inevitably decide that the peach and the pit sounds cuter anyway. We continue mentally narrowing down the experiences until each person arrives at one highlight and one lowlight of the trip that s/he shares with the group.

Last week, I began to recap our month-long road trip around France as seen through our various accommodations. This week is a different way of stepping back and taking a sweeping survey of the trip as a whole before examining each stop in sharp focus. (I warned you, I love reflection time!) Whether you’re more math-oriented like my hubby or a lover of language like me, I think both approaches give a sense of how this journey through France was an emotional release as we ran around the country with open arms, trying to embrace all that we could in our last month before moving back to the US.

Ready for the big picture of our Tour de France? 

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Canvas-Worthy Europe, 2014 edition

Last Wednesday I shared my round-up of my favorite photos taken in Paris in 2014. Now it’s time to see the year in review through a collection of my canvas-worthy contenders from our European travels outside of Paris. Here’s where I traveled to during the year!

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Simply Sara's Ultimate European Christmas Market Round-Up

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice...and am ready to reveal which European Christmas markets made the naughty or nice list. This by no means is a conclusive list of markets throughout Europe, but it’s my thoughts on 20 markets spanning 8 European countries. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown by country:

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4 Hours in Paris

Or eating morning pastries in Marrakech, doing laundry in Paris, and going to sleep in Zurich

Bon lundi!

Have you ever had a moment of disorientation while traveling? Like you wake up in a haze, expecting to be in your own bed, and then realize that you are hundreds of miles away from home?

This month, I had that happen to me - except I wasn’t dreaming.  Sometimes planning trips back-to-back can be messy, and when an already-booked vacation collided with a business trip for my husband, I found myself holding a boarding pass for Marrakech to Paris for the morning, and a train ticket from Paris to Zurich that very evening, with only 4 hours between.

We went from this, the famous market square of Djema el-Fna in Marrakesh...

As anyone who has traveled knows, walking in the door of your home after a long trip has a comforting feel -- knowing that after all that change, and possibly turbulence, you’re back to the familiar.  But when I walked in the door, knowing I was just passing through, it felt a bit like one of those dreams.

...to this, a Christmas market in Zurich with a magnificent tree decked out in Swarovski crystal ornaments.

So what did we do with 4 hours back in Paris? Entirely mundane things: laundry, a quick lunch, and a re-pack of our bags for another week of travel.  However, let’s have fun with this and imagine what you can do in Paris with only 4 hours to spare:

  • See an opera at Palais Garnier or Opera Bastille.
  • Indulge in a proper French dinner, all the way from apero to an espresso finish.
  • See 0.005% of the Louvre’s collection.
  • Take a cooking class and then savor the fruits of your hard work.
  • Walk straight across town from the Bois de Vincennes to Bois de Boulogne.  And still have an hour to spare for a break at a café to refuel and re-energize!
  • Take a boat ride from Bastille up the Canal St. Martin to Parc de la Villette, with 1.5 hours left to explore the park or visit the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie museum (huge interactive science museum with an Imax theater and Planetarium).
  • Wait in line for, and climb, the Eiffel Tower - then have a picnic on the Champs de Mars.
  • Enjoy 4 expertly made cocktails at Red House.
  • Ride a bike through Paris on a guided tour.
  • And last but not least, Michael’s contribution: Ride his favorite bus, the 30, between Trocadero and Pigalle continuously for the entire 4 hours.  You’ll pass through the Arc De Triomphe traffic circle 10 times!

What would you do with 4 hours in Paris?

An Alpine Escape

Bon lundi!

Hope everyone had a happy holiday and wishing you all a wonderful new year! 

The close of another year creates a natural opportunity to reflect on the past year, and this New Year's I find myself in Europe for the second time. It is bittersweet to not be near my family this time of year so I'm reminiscing about a lovely week I spent with my parents last year touring Switzerland. I am so thankful for the time I've spent in Paris and all the travels life has taken me. I am looking forward to sharing much more with you in the New Year! For this week, come back later to see more highlights of the year and get inspired to book some travel plans for 2014.

Bonne année et meilleurs voeux!

The Matterhorn as seen from Zermatt, Switzerland