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Paris - Christmas, New Years with a familyh of 6!

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Jan 7th, 2009, 05:37 PM
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Paris - Christmas, New Years with a familyh of 6!

Greetings,

I will try my hand a trip report...if only to relive the sweet time in Paris.

We left Orange County California on December 22 and I was a nervous wreck. Many here sat through my dealing with our Air France tickets via Orbitz - having them, not having them, etc. I did not have seats and was dreading a 10 plus hour flight with all middle seats.
The flight was a breeze - I give a shout out to AirFrance it was fabulous - two meals - all the movies you can watch - We slept on and off through most of the flight. Even 11 year old dd who hates to fly and does not sleep on planes - Tylenol PM and she was OUT.

Upon arrival in this beautiful city we cruised through customs, and got our bags - caught up with my stepson's friend no real issues. He had a much longer day then us going from LAX to JFK to LHR to Paris.
We used www.shuttle-inter.com
upon the advice from this board. It was 85 E for the 6 of us and what seemed to be mounds of bags.

Our apartment was rented through VBRO - but it was handled through an agency not an owner
www.purchasepropertyinparis.com - Stacey was the representative. I rented it back in Feb. of 08. It is a "real" three bedroom, 2 real bathrooms in the Latin Quarter at 16, rue des Ecoles. LOVED the location. The cost was 3,150.00 Euros for 10 nights. (I think? I know it was right around 4,000 USD when it was said and done - around 400.00 a night). I will share more about the apartment later.

Quick (as if anything with 6 people can be quick?) unpacking and off to explore. The weather was fabulous last night - clear and cool. Could not be nicer! Hope it stays like that but I imagine that might be too much to ask for .

Strolled the streets and found a lovely corner cafe - it was yummy! The best part? The wine! Oh my - a carafe of wine for around 15.00 dollars? Love that!!

Then off for crepes from the street! Nuttella and bananas..not sure that is fair!

Everyone has been so helpful, charming and kind.

A fine start to our holiday!

Now..I should get off to try to sleep. Tomorrow morning is Christmas Eve here - we are going to the Christmas markets and then the Notre Damn which is within walking distance from our apartment.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 05:44 PM
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Hi MomDDTRavel, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your report.

I remember your email trying to find a doctor for your daughter.

We live in Sydney Australia, and I know that feeling of a long, long flight. We fly to Bangkok first (about 8 hours) and then 16 hours approx to Europe. It's ok once we get going, but the anticipation is awful.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 05:51 PM
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I love Paris trip reports. I'm looking forward to more!
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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:08 PM
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Dawn, I was hoping you would write this up. I had a look at your photos yesterday and thought you were all having a great time.

More, please.

Anselm
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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:28 PM
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Dawn, looking forward to more!
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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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Dawn...

Looking forward to your report. I'm impressed you're on the ball with writing a trip report so soon. I just got back from Rome last Saturday and have barely started organizing my trip photos!
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Jan 7th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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Thank you all!

Lowcountry - I am cheating a little. I did a blog for my family and loved ones to follow while we were in France - and I am taking some from there to remember...I would not be able to. I am suffering more then normal from Jetlag and think I have a bit of a stomach bug that has been going around.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 07:36 PM
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Christmas Eve: I headed out to get something for "provisions" for the next few days. Oh what fun!

dd and ss were already out and having breakfast - the rest of the crew was sleeping soundly. I enjoyed the crisp (see: cold) morning air and the feeling on the streets. As I explored around I was delighted to find fresh markets already booming...(these were right on the corner on St. Germain) I saw a long line coming out of a bakery and knew that was the place to get my breads. I was certainly intimadated in the line with all the Parisians to say the least. I stumbled slightly forward knowing my one or two french phrases "do you speak english" being one!It was Eric Kayser at 8, rue Monge - it was WONDERFUL. I got a yummy "log" for Christmas Eve dinner for tonight.

I realize that it is a small delight but I confess to be thrilled with just walking about and picking up a few things here and there in all the shops.

There was no way that I was going to be able to get all I needed and carry it back myself - so I got enough for breakfast and headed back to the apartment.

Dh and I headed back out - this time with my large tote - NOW I was a real Parisian. Of course I was thrilled as people mistook me in my black slacks, sweater and coat for being French .

Wine is amazing here and such a fabulous price! Whole chickens, cheese, wine, bread, fruit, sausage... we are set for a few days .

Now... the issue is that we came back to a sleeping apartment...humm..to let them sleep or not? I think I shall for a while - we are wanting to go to midnight mass this evening so it is most likely a good idea!

dh, sd and I went out for a while - we never did find a Christmas market .

We strolled to the Notre Dame and kept walking over to the ice skating rink - hot wine, (love this!! could be a habit forming here)a sandwich and strolling about...

We had a wonderful dinner in. It was rather intersesting figuring out the appliances. It would have been helpful if the apartment came with a "book". I do not recall a rental ever not coming with one?

We headed out down to the Notre Dame around 9:00 or so - planning on going to a Christmas Eve Celebration. It was breath taking - the tree outside was lite up... I am almost in tears. Deep sigh. The lines sort of made me want to cry too. LOL We lined up and people were a little rude. Oh well - nothing to spoil our evening. It seems they let people in and out - not really sure on what is going on but we were let in after a short time in line and found a seat. The "celebration" was a bit of a let down.It was very dark and a sort of power point? I sort of napped and so did the children. At 11:00 pm we made the choice to move on. No midnight mass as planned. People were getting REALLY rude.

Walked around a little - more hot wine . Back to the apartment.

Joyeux Noël my friends and family!
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Jan 7th, 2009, 08:27 PM
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It is definately different to be traveling on Christmas day.

The children were sleeping in. I had stockings I brought from home for them - to make it is a little more Christmas. I was going to buy a small tree but dh was a grump and felt that 40 Euros on a little tree was a waste. Bah hum bug.

dh went to church this morning again at the Notre Dame - to Mass this time. I kept waiting for the children to arise - nothing - I decided to venture out and catch up with dh.

We went to St. Severin - St. Nicolas - the organ was amazing! It was a beautiful morning but getting chiller.

We headed back to the apartment fully expecting to find the kids up - nope. dh napped and hung out a little while till we realized we needed to get them up - a very cranky set of girls - who were not happy we did not wake them up to go to Disneyland in Paris. We finally headed out and took the Metro over to the Eiffel tower. It was very crowded in that area. I was not digging it.

The Latin Quarter where we are staying has a nice feel to it - many different resturants, shops etc. The Eiffel tower was purely tourists and now I remembered why I had the wrong notion from our last trip that the French were rude. No, the tourists are rude! Pushing shoving..geeezz...

I do have a funny tip. You get off the main street Metro and there is a long line to get the tickets and go up the tower. I told the family to wait there and I went off to check out what the situation was. There was a much shorter line not too far away? I stopped at information and asked the nice man what the deal was? Why was the other line so much shorter? Was it different?

His reponse? Classic " Because people are STUPID, they get off the metro and get in que" LOLOLOL.

Alrighty then. I got the family and we waiting not very long to go up the to second floor. It was fun. What a treat - Eiffel tower on Christmas day It was also C-O-L-D. The wind had picked up and we were chilled. We hung out long enough to take in the view and the sparkling lights! Yeah!

Hungry - we headed back on the metro towards the Latin Quarter. There are a series of streets that I am sure someone out there knows the name of - cobble stone, with Greek Resturants, shops, etc. Breaking plates and everything! We had an amazing Greek meal - wonderful food and service - OPAH! Music...VERY festive!

I will also add that I have read a lot that it is hard to find a resturant or anything open on Christmas in Paris? Not sure where those people have been but there were many choices for food - many - and even some shops open. I was able to go into one of the small stores by the apartment and get some staples. I will say having 6 persons in the apartment we are powering through things - no costco in sight .

dh, the girls and I headed back to the apartment. ss and his friend of course stayed out. I told them that no such luck tomorrow for sleeping in...I am going to wake them up and we are going to Versille .

au revoir for now!

Dawn
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Jan 8th, 2009, 07:18 AM
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Dawn,

Am loving this report-I plan on doing a trip similar to this next December after Christmas-12/27-1/3-so we will be there during New Year's and I plan on renting an apartment as well (first time renting apt.). I love Air France-it still feels civilized somehow (even in coach)...

It will be my husband and I and by then 15 year old daughter and 7 year old son...

I was laughing about Disneyland Paris because I know the kids would love to go but dh and I could take it or leave it (since we've all been to WDW and Disneyland in CA)-we could probably be broken down except I believe its crazy crowded that time of year-although we definately plan on taking them to Versailles...DH and I have been to Paris before several times including once with our daughter and adore it...

Flights to Europe aren't so bad for us (6 hours ?)since we live outside of Philadelpha so we have access to Newark but someday we will probably be crying as I'd love to go to China and Thailand and I know the flight will be miserable for us...

Yum hot wine outside Notre Dame-did you skate?

I'm sorry about your "pushy"experience at Notre Dame... You know I've never found Notre Dame to be my favorite church in Paris-although it is fun to climb to the top and see the bells and gargoyles..._it is magnicent but very dark and a little dreery to me) St. Chapelle is so beautiful and there is something deeply moving about St. Severin...

Anyhow keep it coming...fun reading...

Patricia

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Jan 8th, 2009, 07:46 AM
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Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for reading . We did not skate - I will share more on that but when the kids went back to skate there was a hole in the ice. One thing I am going to do is just do it next time. We were there and the line was not too long but for some reason decided to come back? I cannot recall why? And when they did there was a hole in the ice.

One thing I did was have each person in the family write down 3 or 4 things that they really wanted to do in Paris while we were there to try to accomplish it. The girls had Disney Paris - I LOVE Disneyland - we live 20 minutes away and have passes and it just seemed like a waste of time and money to go. I know they were bummed though.

I went to Thailand in 2003 (I think that was the year?) it was a long flight from here too!

I grew up in Cherry Hill area of NJ outside of Philly and we still come back often.

Do you have your apartment yet?
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Jan 8th, 2009, 08:01 AM
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Enjoying your report. Your delight in doing small, homelike things is so fun to hear. And sharing Christmas with family away from home is somehow more special IMO.
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Jan 8th, 2009, 08:10 AM
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Thank you so much Julie. I have to say that was the special part of this trip - very small things - that I took pleasure in. Yes, the Eiffel tower was special, yes, Notre Dame was amazing..but going to the market - well that ranked high for me .

I will say that when we get to the days when I saw the art in Paris - I was close to weeping. #39;(
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Jan 8th, 2009, 01:09 PM
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Dawn,

We don't have an appt. yet-I thought we had time yet for December-does it get crazy busy for rentals? (we haven't done a rental yet-usually hotels but now with a 7 & 15 year old and staying over New Years-we thought it made more sense in addition to meal flexibility-we love eating out but being able to breakfast in and make some meals in with the 7 year old-I loved living vicariously through your food shopping description-I want to buy bread and cheese and wine and pastries too... Do we need to book now :-0

We are going to Mexico for a week in March and I was going to book Paris apt after that...?

(So you used to live in NJ-well you can understand my mouth dropping 5 years ago when I saw the Pacific in California and I turned to my husband and said "I can never go back to the Jersey beaches to swim again...-we've been to Ca three times-San Fran, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, LA, San Diego-and Disneyland and every time I was on/by beach-I almost wept...)

Sorry for the digression...back to our regularly scheduled program...

Do I need to make Paris apt ressies a year out?-and btw can you mention the names of restos you went to if you remember?

Thanks and more please...
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Jan 8th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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Hi Jennifer,

Been a busy day but I will write more later - I promise.

Regarding the rental - I booked our apartment in Feb of 2008 because of the size I was looking for (a real three bedroom) and knowing that is hard to find in Paris. There is a lovely 2 bedroom that I highly recommend that was recommended to me that I wanted to rent but it was not available for the full 10 nights - the owners were wonderful people though and willing to work with me on letting me use another apartment they had in the 3rd district - but we did not want to move in the middle of the stay.

I will find the link to that apartment. It is in the 1rst and a few on this board have rented it. I liked the left bank more then the right - but that was just a personal preference from someone who is no expert!

I do recommend a man named Michael Orsman if you would like a guide one day. He is a man from Philly actually who has lived in Paris a long time and is a favorite on this board and the AOL paris board. I know again, that several here can vouch for him. He is amazing with the city and with people (children as well). I will get you both the apartment that I really wanted and his information.

~dawn
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Jan 8th, 2009, 02:19 PM
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Here is the apartment - they have another one as well which is less expensive also smaller in the 3rd. Really nice owners. http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p143450
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Jan 8th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p210013

That is there other one.
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Jan 8th, 2009, 06:20 PM
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December 26 ~

It was COLD today.

We ventured out to take the RER to Versailles and felt the cold wind right away...

We got on the wrong train - but made it there no issues once we got on the right train - had lunch in McDonalds (stop lol) I think it cost us just as much as having lunch in a cafe would have though. Note to self on that one. The kids seemed to enjoy it.

The que was long to get tickets to Versailles but we had Museum passes. Please note that many of the museums are free to students - having said that I was not sure if they would still have to wait in line to get a "ticket" so I went ahead and spent the money on the passes to avoid the line. I am glad I did..the line was long and most likely because it was the day after Christmas the palace was crowded -

Have I mentioned I hate crowds?

Okay..moving right along - the French have done something interesting to the amazing paintings and art work in Versailles that I would love to understand more. They have a showing of a "modern" artist that is smack in the middle of almost every exhibit. Color me stupid but I simply did not get it. ??(Jeff Koons I believe? There is another post going on on this)

We ventured through the lovely palace and then onto the gardens which would I am sure be far more enjoyable in weather that was above "feels like 24 degrees" - my face actually felt a little frozen.. yup - seriously.

ss and his friend wanted to continue on in the gardens - dh and the girls and I went to a Starbucks (yes, I still love my starbucks even in France) and sat down and warmed up!

Back to the train we went - oh wait - chaos of some sort has ensued... people getting on and off trains - announcements coming in french that we do not understand... ? dd states "I feel like I am in the holocaust being shoved around on trains, can we PLEASE take a taxi???" Only my daughter. (another note to self: stop making dd study the holocaust perhaps enough is enough)

We finally got home on a VERY crowded standing room only train where *I* started to feel like a cow being herded as well... a French man who reminded me of Steve Buscemi was talking to himself or me. I never did figure it out - but he was VERY amused with himself and often just started laughing..after a while it became down right creepy. He reached into his front pocket and slowly pulled out..... his wallet. LOL Surely it was a gun I thought.

We did manage to make it to our stop all in one piece - although I was not sure where ss and friend where - they keep trying to distance themselves from us (gee - surprise in that? 18 year old boys in Paris - not wanting to "be" with the dorky woman who looks like she is 700 pounds in all her layers, the whiny 11 year old who has blood shot eyes - and Frank who looks like the Michelin tire with his puffy jacket...)-

Norte Dame - I sent Frank back to the apartment with dd (who I forgot to mention had been up since 2:30 am - yes, that is correct - 2:30 am - love Jetlag NOT) Okay..where was I? Oh yes, so I sent dd and dh back while 15 year old dd and I went to a grocery store. This was more of a store then I had been able to find - and less expensive as well. I will think of the name of it - I ended up seeing several in the areas.

Picked up pasta to make for dinner - stopped at another market for my fresh roasted chicken and then onto the produce. I think this might be what I have enjoyed the most - shopping at the markets! I love it.

Made dinner and had to wake everyone up - literally. Not good. Very cranky family.

They wake up slowly and painfully - I am determinded to not let dd go to bed before 8:00 pm or else the saga will continue.

Dh, and the boys went out on the town for the night. As I shared before I am simply not a go out at night kind of gal. I know B-O-R-I-N-G. Dh got in LATE and the boys later - they had a BLAST.

The plan tomorrow is to get the girls up and go to breakfast at the place we stayed at on our last trip here -Hotel Du Lourve in the first district. They has the MOST amazing french toast in the world... (I think so!) and then go to the Louve. Afterwards to hit the Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées which is supposed to be there till 12-28.

We are definitely all enjoying the aspect of slower travel. I like having the apartment to spread out in.

I believe we have decided there is enough to do in Paris - so rather then spend the cash on the train tickets to go far away - to enjoy more right here. We shall how that feels on Monday or Tuesday.

Hope everyone had a merry merry Christmas!

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Jan 8th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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December 27
Well, I have focused on the positive up until (mainly) which of course is not easy for someone who can see her cup as half empty cracked and leaking at times (I read that saying once and could certainly relate!)...

I am sort of grumpy this morning (yes, one can get grumpy even in Paris)so I thought a good time to share the not so bright parts of our trip thus far -

1. Our apartment has all wood floors - nice right? NOPE - you hear every creak and sound of anyone walking. That includes the people above us who dd said "Were really playing around last night - "growling" at each other" You go with that...

2. Jetlag. Okay - I honestly do not remember being as messed up last time we "crossed" the pond and frankly we went through a lot more to get here (some will recall our trip to Europe in June/July of 2007 by way of Santiago Chile putting us at over 24 flight hours to get to Paris and about 48 real hours so maybe we were just SO messed up it did not feel this bad???)Anyways - we all are just a little off. dd of course esp. she is up and wired and then crashes out... and she is sharing a room with older dd so that creates stress on J's sleeping... I woke up today at 5:00 am and walked out and ss was up (he had NEVER been to sleep - that is another rant for another day) and dd was looking like she belonged perhaps in Twilight...a little goulish with pale skin and a tint of blue under her eyes - yikes.

3. Honestly...that is it. Wow...guess it is not that bad??? The best part is definately being in the same place and not worrying about jamming everything into three days in one country. I know it can be overly tempting once you get to Europe to fill in as much as possible (btdt on our last trip) but as I have mentioned one of my delights with this trip is shopping at the market (although it makes me miss my Mom as I know how much she would relish in the simple act as well - Do we all really become our Moms at some point in our journey???)... I love the Latin Quarter. I have read it is packed in the summer and unpleasant - I have not experienced that at this point. The most crowded we have been (outside of the train last night LOL) was over by the Eiffel tower. A part of me is feeling a little guilty for not getting "things" checked off the list but truly just having a meal, drinking the amazing cheap wine, people watching..it is all what I like to absorb.

I can see how people fall in love with France...the only thing I am itching to do is see another part of the amazing country but alas that might have to be for a future trip..just sshhhhhhhhhh don't mention it to dh - he knows I am not happy unless I am on a trip, or planning one!
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Jan 8th, 2009, 06:31 PM
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December 27 continued

I got up early with the girls and headed out to the Hotel De Louvre. We stayed there in June of 2007 and J (15 year old dd) LOVED the french toast so we promised her that she could have it again. dh called the night before to be sure they were still serving the same breakfast - because he and the boys had been out late - it was just the girls and I.

We got to the metro and it is was a bit of an adventure. Once again we boarded the wrong train going in the wrong direction...LOL We jumped off - re boarded and were off again!

It was down right cold in the morning. One thing that I have noticed is how sleepy Paris is in the morning. It appeared that a couple was just HEADED home from a night out... we exited the Metro right at the Louvre. BUSY in this area (1st district) - TOURISTS!

Breakfast was comical. The hotel is packed with tourists and and the staff seems slightly frustrated. (understatement)There was actually NO french toast. So our expensive breakfast (see: 85 Euros that I made a face at and the waiter reduced it to 55 Euros??) with rude staff was not what we had planned for.

Off to the Louvre. I could spend hours writing about our time there. I was completely overwhelmed by the most of art and the building itself. We spent several hours and I could have stayed all day.

The girls were having a different time LOL... so off we went.

We boarded the Metro to go and find the Christmas Markets. Now, I have wanted to go to Germany and see the authentic markets - and was VERY excited to see these... sort of a bust. Very cheesy..not authentic. Mostly all made in India I think.

We grabbed a cab back as 11 year old dd was hitting a wall again. She is getting sick (gee shocker for those that know how she gets sick often when we travel) and was very tired. The cab was easy and we arrived back at the apartment - dd was sleeping before I could count to 10.

The guys headed out as we were coming in - sort of a drag that we were on different schedules.

I spent the afternoon reading, playing on line and just relaxing as the girls slept.

I headed out to the pharmacy to get some drugs for dd. Hopefully they will help her get better - and walked around the Latin Quarter. As I was wandering about - the church bells were ringing and there was a huge crowd gathered - the French Military had their swords up and a lovely bride and groom immerged from the church - pure elegance - what a difference a French bride and groom as opposed to our garish brides and weddings - it was a time warp - all the women in hats and skirts even though it was 23 degrees!

15 year old dd and I headed out when dh came home - 11 year old dd was still not feeling well - we took the Metro down to St. Germain and strolled about - anytime I see a old cathedral I have to go in... so I drug Julianna in - and there was another Christmas market still up - again, mostly made in India. So no purchases were made.

We strolled and found an Italian Restaurant to dine in - it was nice to have dinner with just 15 year old as we do not get that opportunity often -

Back home and called it a night - I finally slept all night ! Yeah! But unfortunately Miss Tessa was up again at 3:00 am. Hopefully she will be able to stay awake longer today. It is a brutal cycle.

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