MA-losophy in Paris: Museums of chocolate and masterpieces

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

These boots were made for walkin’ and butt made for sittin’
I am not one for tour buses, but when in one of the largest cities in the world with 11 sets of feet (ages 2 to 76) it’s a way to gain a general introduction to Paris.  There is a double decker tour bus called L’Open Tour Bus that shuttles you to major landmarks and you can get on and off as you please.  Headphones are provided so that tourists can listen (in the language of their choice) to interesting facts about the sites.  If you intend to cover a lot of the city, in lieu of a taxi and to give your feet a break, consider the open air tour bus.

Small Town Gal in a Big City
When I was younger (my 20′s) I thought I wanted to live in a big city.  Thank goodness I came to my senses.

I find people in the city pleasant enough.  I get more intense and become very (Leo) protective of my family with the rush to get on buses and in taxi’s, the foot and vehicle traffic, the constant hussle and bussle.  A small experience like my daughter’s boyfriend purchasing our morning bread and pastry and witnessing a dozen teens fighting (a few had big boards and metal apparatuses on their hands as weapons) doesn’t say that I didn’t enjoy seeing the Eiffel Tower.  Glimpses of armed police or military (I can’t tell the difference) lining the toll area prior to entering Paris (maybe dignitaries were visiting), didn’t overshadow my family’s memories of seeing the Champs Elysee, Notre Dame, the Seine, and the Arc de Triomphe. Take out the word Paris and insert any large city in the world, the pace is one I would rather handle in small doses.

I don’t view big cities as beautiful.  I do, however, view cities as interesting due to their history (including well maintained museums and historical sites), and convenient because so many cafes and small grocery stores keep extended hours (one doesn’t have to eat lunch between noon and two, for instance).  The kids were thrilled because they could shop excessively and take advantage of our generosity while on vacation, and get American fast food.  I waited to take my mid-day meal at a cafe (when they had their fast food day) and enjoyed a Salad Nicoise (a French salad that includes tuna, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, onion, capers, and potatoes), while the rest of the family had tea and coffee.

My girls as cocoa beans (considered currency 1,000's of years ago... cocoa beans not my girls) in Paris.

Our last day it was pouring rain.  I had fleeting thoughts of taking the family to the Louvre, but we had a late start, some in our group would have been too tuckered out to enjoy the artwork after waiting in a long line in inclement weather to get tickets (it takes an hour or more to get into the museum to purchase tickets depending on when you arrive).  We could have gone to the public mall that is connected to the Louvre, they could have seen ruins that were uncovered of the old Louvre on a lower level (where toilets are located…important to note), and maybe taken tea at a wonderful shop (Mariage Tea) where walls burst with an amazing selection of loose leaf teas. But, instead, we went to the Chocolate Museum — yep, anti-climatic — watched a guy make chocolate and got an awesome picture of my girls as cocoa  beans.

My brother and sister-in-law and their two boys (2 and 4) went off on their own.  They had a number of things that they wanted to cross off their bucket lists (they did go to the Louvre).  But, after the Chocolate Museum my 76 year old mother and 12 year old were pooped so we took them back to the apartment.  The 20-somethings split off and my husband and I walked to and fro, just the two of us. How about that?

Last night in Paris
All 11 of our family members came back together for dinner and Mimosa’s.  I had no idea that my mom was such a lush.  We had two bottles of champagne and I think she polished off one of them.  Maybe it was that long nap she took before dinner?  If we weren’t on vacation it would have been time for an intervention.  But, these are how memories are built.

My mother losing herself in a Mimosa in Paris

The MA-losophic message is find that magic feelin’
Crossing off items on your bucket list (things you’ve only seen in textbooks and movies), walking and riding a tour bus, fast food and French food, museums of chocolate and masterpieces, it’s all in Paris.  Keeping the limits of each family member in mind will make a trip to the big city much more enjoyable for the entire group.

Once home, I can move into a daily grind. I am focusing on how I can relive that vacation lightness on a weekly basis. That magic feeling of “what fun or relaxing things are we going to do today?” It plants me into the moment and  I spend less time thinking “how many days before my next holiday?” OK, I still do that, but I am keenly aware of the importance of having an appreciation the fullness of now.  How is the present fitting for you?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to  Speak to you soon.

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