After a few false starts it appears that the springtime is finally upon us. As the temperature soars into the high twenties I’ve been taking full advantage of the lovely warmth and sunshine. The wonderchild and I have resumed our daily promenades throughout the city and enjoying the beautiful vistas of the Buttes Chaumont. Bonus exercise for me and a bonus nap for Nate – win/win for all.
I do so love this time of year. Having the windows open and letting all the fresh pollution into the apartment. Hopefully, my recently replenished jardinières and the newly leaved trees outside will negate some of that. It’s also time for the annual cleansing of the apartment, as I desperately try to declutter our increasingly full living quarters. Why do children need so much stuff??? I swear he has more possessions that my beloved husband and I combined.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…actually it was mostly the worst. Our sojourn, off to my favourite alpine retreat, got off to a rather rocky start, let me tell you. I’d been looking forward to our early-summer getaway to the family apartment in the French Alps, where I would have both my husband and mother-in-law on hand to help me wrangle our beloved bouncing baby beast. Consequently allowing me to have time to relax and catch up on my writing. Alas, it was not to be.
Upon arrival we discovered the weather was decidedly chillier than anticipated and that the heating for the building had been turned off in anticipation of the usually warmer season. Added to this, the cold water had been switched off while the pipes were being replaced, so that we had as much scalding hot water as we liked but nothing else. This meant that the toilet needed to be manually filled to flush – like peasants we were – and showering was nigh on impossible – I’m not a fan of baths…except for the ones with the blood of virgins, but that’s far too fiddly to organise in the Alps.
Granted these were somewhat minor inconveniences but then my darling mother-in-law managed to throw out her back and retreated back home again for treatment. And to add insult to injury the indoor icerink was closed and I would be denied my Disney Ice Princess playtime.
Fuck the French are annoying!
What should’ve been a fun adventure – our five-month-old’s first time in a pool – was spoiled through what can only be described as a ridiculous adherence to regulation. Just as we were about to enter the paddling pool for infants, an over-zealous employee of the Palais des Sport accosted us and forbade me from entering the pool, due to my inappropriate swimming attire.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, dear reader. ‘Oh, Jimi. What scandalously skimpy swimwear were you about to traumatise the children with?’ Well, that was far from the case let me tell you.
The problem was that my swimmers were not revealing enough. I kid you not. Instead of Speedos, I was wearing rather short swimming trunks, which weren’t skin-tight but could in no way could be considered baggy board shorts – the French have real issue with them for some reason. Then she demanded I change before entering the water. I know the French are fashion conscious but this was really a tad overboard. What made matters all the more confusing, was that I’ve found that the French tend to err on the side of prudishness in regards to the public exposure of one’s body.
Well, I’m currently zipping through the air at a breakneck place, headed to our final destination of the summer – Chicago – where I shall post this missive once re-establishing contact with my beloved internet. Unfortunately, we were subject to yet another travel delay – I do believe we’ve somehow mortally offended the travel gods this year – although, thankfully only three hours this time.
Anyways, it gave me the opportunity to get thoroughly tipsy on champagne in the Air France lounge and put me in the mood to write about our recent time slumming it in the French Alps. Now, I’ve oft spoken/written/bragged about my love of this place – it is truly one of my favourite places in the world. The landscape is beautiful and I can usually bronze myself to a healthy mountain glow in the summer, not to mention that the fresh mountain air tends to have a wonderful effect upon my creative juices. Indeed, the only thing missing is a beach…slightly hard to manage in the mountains.
The week got off to a slightly rocky start, however, as I’d anticipated a lovely spot of rest and relaxation after our partying in Barcelona, only to discover on arrival that we were to be in charge of our rambunctious – and possibly demonically possessed – nephews, for the first two days. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that following a sleep-deprived night I wasn’t particularly in the best of states to entertain children. Mercifully, my husband and his mother took up the brunt of the work and I only had to deal with a few energetic kicks to the body before they left me in relative peace.
Unfortunately, dear readers, I have some distressing news. That’s right, the party is officially over. After traipsing about the Continent for the past several weeks – gleefully defiling cities and their inhabitants – I’m prepared to admit defeat and declare this birthday well and truly celebrated.
Some may say – my husband among them – that deciding to have four separate celebrations in four countries was a tad excessive and more than a little greedy, but then again moderation has never been my strong suit. And, quite frankly, anything that helps me momentarily forget about what the ravages of time have already done to my good self, let alone what’s to come, is well worth the effort.
Now, I must admit that I have a grand affection for Barcelona and it has long been one of my favourite cities. Indeed, I still dream of spending an entire summer there one year, although with our current plans that shall have to remain a very long-term goal. Opportunely, I organised the trip to coincide with the Circuit festival – otherwise known as gayapolooza – to ensure that we could partake in the maximum amount of gaiety, which we dutifully did.
So, in the wake of yet another festive season I lay here bloated, sluggish and not sure whether or not I’ll ever to be able to move again; all the while cursing the deadly combination of my mother-in-law’s cooking and my complete lack of self-control. Speaking of my belle-mère, I am now, more than ever, absolutely certain she is trying to kill me and turn me into foie gras. How else do you explain her insistence on three bouts of raclette during the same week?!? I’m pretty sure my blood is 90% cheese at this point.
This year we had three family Christmas affairs – two in the Alps and one in Lyon – as we tried to work around people’s schedules, with each one containing a multitude of presents and gluttony galore. Despite my better judgement – and the pleas of my increasingly constrictive waistbands – I partook in quite a lot of festive cheer…although nothing that a strict diet of near starvation and practically living at the gym can’t fix.
As usual, I started off the week rather valiantly, only having one serving of each course and skipping the cheese plate entirely, but as the days wore on my resistance began to falter. Thoughts of ‘It’s Christmas!’ and ‘Surely one more can’t hurt?’ saw my consumption slowly increase until I couldn’t find the drive to say ‘no’ to any serving at all. In my defence, I took to hiking, ice-skating and the occasional gym session to try and counteract the veritable avalanche of Christmas calories. There is, however, only so much one can possibly burn off in a day.
If I hear one more person proclaim that climate change is a leftist hoax designed to attack big business and the fossil fuel industry I may very well snap. I’ve ranted about this subject before but the situation has become more dire of late and I’ve found myself smack bang in the middle of an environmental nightmare. Forget about rising sea levels and animal extinction – where’s my snow?!?
We’re currently up in the French Alps, to celebrate the commercialism of Christmas, at what is supposed to be a rather cold and snowy time of the year. Indeed, every other time I’ve voyaged up here in December the place has been blanketed in a magical whiteness, with the whole winter wonderland ambiance in full force. This year, however, it may as well be autumn, given the practically pleasant weather – we were even eating outside in t-shirts yesterday. Crazy, I tell you!
The winters have been getting progressively milder here and it’s worrying for a number of reasons, particularly in terms of tourism. The village council is doing their best to combat the possible lack of revenue by turning the local Palais du Sport into a veritable water park to give people more things to do – apart from eat cheese and drink wine. Granted, there’s still another month until the coldest time of the year where the snow should once again be falling, but if not, things will be very desperate indeed.
The holidays are over and the Parisians have flooded back into the city, recharged, refreshed and ready to throw themselves back into the daily grind. Understandably, the first week back is usually taken up with discussions of everyone’s respective vacations and by the second week the summer glow has faded and they are already counting the days to their next break. For my part, I’ve been hard at work coming up with a whole new slew of saucy stories – in between the obligatory bouts of cuddle time with my furry co-workers.
Well I’m freshly back from the last of my summer holidays – excluding my upcoming two month sojourn in Australia – after spending a week in the Alps at the marvellous Megève with my beloved husband, his mother and our dear friend Ella.
It’s always a delight to get away from Paris and to a place where cars actually stop at the pedestrian crossings instead of trying to run you down and where people warmly greet passing strangers with a friendly ‘bonjour’ instead of avoiding eye contact and pretending you don’t exist. Of course, all that polite cheerfulness does get a little creepy after a while and it’s good to return back to the familiar indifference of Paris as well.
Once again my mother-in-law did her best to kill us with cheese, potatoes and wine – two raclettes in the same week was pure evil on her part. Breakfast was always light enough but the food got heavier as the day went on – as did I – and as the week progressed it started to sap my will to exercise or even move. I did try to fight back, however, and valiantly vanquish the mountain of calories with daily hikes, swimming and ice skating but there’s only so much one can do.
I have often written about how much I enjoy my trips up to Megève in the French Alps and Le Pain et La Pâtisserie is one of the many reasons why. There are many fine bakeries in this picturesque mountain getaway but this is the one I find myself returning to day after day on my stays there – usually to the detriment of my waistline. In fact, it was my mother-in-law who first introduced me to this little gem, as she’s been a faithful customer for quite some years.
The staff is always friendly and welcoming, and if you can’t wait until you get home to sample your purchases there’s a handy bench outside so you can happily munch away while looking at the marvellous mountains in the distance.
This purveyor of pastries is handily located in the centre of town and has a wonderful array of sweet and savoury treats to tempt even the most diet conscious among you. Sadly, they seem to have stopped their range of savoury macarons…mmm blue cheese.