Bonjour my charming readers. I am now French. Mr. Minivan and I took advantage of the boys being at camp and hopped across the pond for about a week. We had a great time. I had never been to France before--I loved it! Can't wait to go back. I need to start smoking and learn to drink espresso to really fit in, though. Oh, and learn to ride a motorcycle or scooter. Everyone spoke at least some English, which was great, because I speak only about 6 words in French, and none of them are "Where's the ladies' room?" Our suitcases arrived a day after we did, so we were forced to shop a bit. Luckily, July is when one of the big "soldes" (sale) takes place. (The government regulates the soldes, which take place only in January and July) Unluckily, the dollar is very weak against the Euro. We bought just enough to get by till our stuff arrived. The stores were mobbed--a soldes is a big deal when it only comes twice a year, apparently. Armed with TripAdvisor and Chowhound info and recommendations, we went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Marais--where we stood in line for great falafel and schwarma. We walked and walked the neighborhoods and the Champs d'Elysee, ate fabulous baguette sandwiches on the street, and had a great time. We went to the South of France for a few days after Paris and drove all over. It was fabulous. I found all the people we met to be friendly and helpful. You can immediately tell who are the Europeans and who are the Americans. It's easy. The ones with the cigarettes are the Europeans. The ones lugging the large suitcases are the Americans. On the way back we stopped in London for the day. If you think France is expensive, go to England. You'll immediately feel much better about the Euro. Prices are similar to what you'd pay in dollars, but they are in pounds. Get it? One pound is worth 2 dollars. So 19 pounds for two drinks in a London hotel doesn't sound too bad....until you realize that is really $38. My 12 pound gin drink was the best $24 drink I've ever had. Actually, it's the only $24 drink I've ever had.
I am regarding this trip as my summer camp and in the words of Boy #2, "Next year I'm going for 8 weeks."