merci shop

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I’ve teamed up with GapKids to share some of my favorite spots to visit with children in Paris, and the next stop on the (#littlecityguides) tour is Merci! Situated in the Marais (one of my favorite neighborhoods), you enter the shop through a beautiful courtyard, where their cherry red, vintage Fiat happily greets you. Henry + Marie lit up over the fun little car, giggling + “beep-beeping” their way around, putting on quite an entertaining show for customers. We were so lucky to have such gorgeous (sunny) weather during our trip, but with a chill still in the air, light coats were needed. What’s more perfect for Paris than a classic trench? It was one of the first pieces I packed, along with Henry’s handsome jean jacket.

 

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After the fun in the courtyard, we had all worked up an appetite for the delicious food that awaited us inside. Merci happens to have not one, but three cafés – each featuring different decor + food. I always find myself in the Used Book Café, and I was so eager to introduce the kids to my favorite treat there – the soft-boiled eggs. Lined with over 10,000 colorful used books, you could easily spend hours there, curled up with a (new-to-you) book, hot tea, and a delicious scone. That’s not going to happen if you’re a parent of course (ha), but your experience can be enjoyable nonetheless. They are welcoming to children and families, and our server was very kind + attentive. To my delight, the kids really loved their first experience with soft-boiled eggs, and after a brief tutorial, handled (and ate) them like pros – a toddler miracle!

 

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Here are their outfit details…Marie is wearing the classic trench (check out the adorable new print one), along with the 1969 black legging jeans. We bought her shiny red shoes that morning – such a happy coincidence!  Henry is wearing the denim jacket + 1969 black wash skinny jeans, along with shoes we bought that morning (at one of my favorite children’s boutiques). Many thanks to GapKids for outfitting Henry + Marie and letting us share our adventures…merci mille fois!

 

Merci | 111 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris

trois

typography-tattoo

 

This is not a traditional Mother’s Day post. This is the story behind my most recent tattoo. A tattoo that represents many things to me, including my identity, my love story and…my children. The number three (trois, in French) has always been significant in my life, but only became evident to me when I met my husband. Suddenly, it was like the pieces of my own personal puzzle were finally coming together. Fast forward (three) years, and I was pregnant with twins. My body became a sanctuary for two human beings to grow and thrive in. Three of us, as oneWhile we no longer share my body, my beautiful children, Henry et Marie, will always be a part of me, until the day I die. I still have a hard time comprehending the concept, the reality, the gift–three years later. Yes…as luck? would have it, this happens to be my third Mother’s Day.

happy mother’s day

calligraphy by neither snow | inked by mike ski | photography by ashley ludaescher

french is beautiful

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“Ajoutez deux lettres à Paris: c’est le paradis. | Add two letters to Paris and it’s paradis(e).

Jules Renard

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My apologies for the brief break in this series, but I’ve been in Paris. Hashtag sorry, not sorry. I mean, this view – does it get any better than golden hour in Paris?! Pour moi, NON. My love for France, for Paris, for the culture, and the language, goes WAY back. The French language brings me happiness–hearing it, speaking it, learning it. I’m proud to say my French has improved, and it was evident to me (and a few others) while in Paris. I’m so thankful for my tutor Carrie Anne – her French for Paris program was the perfect refresher before our trip. From la politesse (manners) to le métro, she covers all the basics with audio, written, and video components. She even incorporated a bonus lesson for traveling with kids – more on how we benefited from that soon! For those of you looking to dive deeper into French, check out her three month course that starts June 6th. French is Beautiful Level 1 (which I’ve completed) opens for registration this weekend and is 30% off thru may 15! If you’ve been considering it but haven’t made a move, now’s the time. To quote Carrie Anne – “move learning French from a list in your head to a place in your heart”. Now, when I miss it, I escape to my lessons.

* french is beautiful is a regular series – browse the archives here *

jardin des plantes

jardin-des-plantes-with-kids

jardin-des-plantes-kids

 

The Jardin des Plantes is a magical place, and seeing it for the first time with my family was extra special. It’s a fairly formal garden (as many French ones are), so we were inspired to dress up for the occasion, with the help of GapKids. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with them to share some of my favorite spots to visit with children in Paris, over the next few weeks. They’ll be traveling around the globe this summer with the cutest little ones – follow along each week as they highlight a new destination (#littlecityguides). Today, I hope to transport you to the “garden of Paris”…le sigh.

 

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Dating back to 1626, le Jardin is the main botanical garden in Paris, and you can find many children frolicking there on any given day. Most of Henry + Marie’s favorite places in Paris were – no surprise – open spaces where they could run free and explore. The Jardin des Plantes is expansive, with wide (sandy) paths and magical spots for children to discover. The blooms are most glorious in the spring, and we were so lucky to witness it. In addition to the gardens, there are four museums on the grounds, as well as the second oldest zoological garden in the world, initially founded to house animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles. You could easily make an entire day of your visit, but we opted for a sunset stroll.

 

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These two are constantly MELTING ME!! They hugged for a few minutes in front of this gorgeous bush – I’m just so thankful I managed to capture it…these moments are everything. It’s very hard (as a proud maman) not to post every single photo I took, but I’ll spare you the rest- I’m sure this much cuteness will more than suffice. By the way – Marie is wearing the plaid eyelet flutter dress + starry ballet flats, and Henry is rocking the linen-cotton shirt + dressy trousers. Many thanks to GapKids for outfitting Henry + Marie and letting us share our adventures…merci mille fois!

 

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Jardin des Plantes | 57 rue Cuvier 75005 Paris

our paris apartment

airbnb-paris-apartment

 

We’ve been back home in Philadelphia for a week now, and I’m still pinching myself. Did we really just manage a trip to Paris with our (2-year-old) twin toddlers?! YES, and I’m happy to report that even with the jet lag, meltdowns, and all the standard toddler idiosyncrasies, we all had an amazing time. International travel with kids (especially toddlers) can be intimidating, but finding comfortable and central accommodations made our experience so much easier. Before we even booked our flight, I began searching airbnb listings, and discovered this family-friendly gem in the 6th arrondissement. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the most beautiful (and famous) neighborhoods on the Left Bank, centrally located to most of the major sites, and some of the best Paris has to offer for children. Our apartment was what (Parisian) dreams are made of – the light, the floors, the marble, the period details…swoon. Seriously…was it all a dream? I’ll be honest, seeing these family photos of us in the apartment is emotional for me…we made such beautiful memories there.

 

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There are many benefits to renting, but a major one is the opportunity to live like a local – experiencing the culture fully. You are literally staying in someone’s home, so it’s – for the lack of a better term – homey. Having the ability to re-create familiar scenes are especially important when traveling with kids. For instance, we mostly cooked breakfast and dinner in our apartment, and dined out for lunch. It saved money, and kept the kids feeling as if our normal routine was (somewhat) in place. Having a washer/dryer was freeing, allowing us to be more carefree when it came to the kids getting messy, whether sliding along the rails of Canal St. Martin (yep that happened) or having their first taste of Berthillon. Some days we would return to the apartment for nap time…Henry + Marie loved their vibrant, light-filled bedroom. The owners have three girls, and their artwork basically wallpapers the (oval-shaped) room…M + H would lie in bed describing what they saw – “I see a funny face”, or “look, the Eiffel Tower”! Their comfort was paramount, and they felt it from the moment they laid eyes on the toys, art, and toddler-sized beds (insert a collective parental exhale).

 

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airbnb-kid-friendly

 

Even though we brought a few favorite toys from home, the apartment was filled with ample surprises + fun things (i.e., the horse collection inside the antique porcelain fireplace). So cool, right?! Of course, being situated a few steps away from an adorable toy shop didn’t hurt either. Our location was ideal, with charming cafés, both a metro and bus stop on our street, and a grocery store below us. We could quickly run downstairs for milk, diapers, or even take the kids to discover and learn…”ou est la banane?”. In the evenings, once the kids had settled into their sweet slumber, we could be found on our balcony, enjoying a glass of (amazingly good, amazingly inexpensive) French wine. We would discuss our day and make plans for the next, while watching the golden light stretch across the building facades, with the ever-present hum of the city beneath our feet. (My apologies for being overly poetic – Paris has that effect on me…le sigh.)

 

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henryandmommy

zig-zag-paris-guide

 

Most days we found ourselves heading out around 9 AM, and being centrally located meant we could either walk or, in the case of a more distant neighborhood, grab transportation. After much debate, we brought our stroller, and we’re so glad we did. Paris is a very walkable city, and most of the best experiences happen while leisurely wandering around. We were able to enjoy a crepe without wrangling kids, we had a place for purchases (99% of which was for the kids, ha), and we could accomplish more being mobile. Henry enjoyed playing tour guide, and chose the Luxembourg Gardens almost every time. Only a few blocks away, plenty of room to run, a playground, carousel, ponies, ice cream and sailboats…I can’t blame him. Each day was filled with memory making and new adventures – I’ll be sharing more here (and on instagram) soon!

Also, this girl…killing me.

 

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marie-in-paris

 

rent this apartment and/or get $25 off of your first stay with airbnb

 this post is sponsored by airbnb – they covered the cost of our apartment for our stay.

photos by ashley ludaescher photography