Turning 50 in style in Paris

Andrew and Alyssa arrived first thing on Friday morning after an overnight flight from Toronto.  I was so anxious to see them, I barely slept at all the night before.  Funny how I have managed for almost a year without them (and them without me), but once I knew they were coming, I could barely contain my excitement knowing they were on their way.  Having the kids with me for my birthday was the best gift ever (thanks guys!).

Alyssa surprised me with a “Paris” wardrobe for my trip.  When I had mentioned earlier that I didn’t want to look like a frump in Paris, she had simply responded with a “don’t worry about it mom, I’ve got it covered”.  I thought she would bring me a top or two – imagine my surprise and delight when she handed me five complete outfits including a pretty dress to wear for my birthday dinner.

Once the kids were settled into the apartment, we set out to explore Paris.  The weather was dismal – cold and rainy just like England – but it was perfect museum weather.  We got caught in a torrential downpour on our way to the Musée d’Orsay.  It didn’t stop the kids or Chris from taking pictures along the way.

Here’s some of Alyssa’s shots:

After wandering through the Musée d’Orsay for a couple of hours taking in the gorgeous impressionist works of art by some of my favourite artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and Renoir, jet lag got the better of the kids and we headed back to our apartment for a little rest.

The musée d’Orsay used to be a train station.
The two clocks have been transformed into windows with
great views overlooking the Seine. 

Alyssa zoomed in and got a great shot of Sacre Couer
from the clock window.

Never too old to have a nap on mom’s lap!

Alyssa had just said to me:  If only I could lie down just for a moment.
And Voila! A place to lie down for all of us.

At the apartment, we indulged in an indoor picnic of french baguette, a variety of cheeses and pates, and a delicious French wine that cost less than 3 euros, followed by a lovely afternoon nap.  What a luxurious way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Because of the rain, we decided to postpone our plans to visit the Eiffel Tower and instead we made our way to the Arche de Triomphe which was close to the restaurant where Chris had arranged my birthday dinner for the second seating at 10:15.  After a quick tour in the pouring rain around the Arche de Triomphe, we ducked into a lively bistro restaurant for pre-dinner drinks. It felt very Parisienne even though the place was probably full of tourists.

We ate dinner in a tiny French restaurant tucked away on a side street just around the corner from the Arche de Triomphe.  Our three course meal was perfect in every sense – taste, presentation, quality.  We had fun tasting each other’s selections.  The food was absolutely amazing and the ambience in the restaurant was intimate and cozy.  The waitresses were delightful, nothing like the snobbish waiters we have been warned about.  These girls spoke quite good English but were equally happy to speak to us in French when they saw we wanted to practice.  They were very down to earth and really made our night memorable.   We had the best table in the house, next to the window where we could gaze onto the dimly lit street, lined with orderly apartment buildings; we felt like we were on a movie set.  We closed the place down at 12:30.

Back at the apartment, my birthday celebration was far from over as we toasted my birthday with a bottle of champagne – sure it was well past midnight in Paris, but it was still my birthday in Ottawa, 6 hours earlier. Alyssa suggested we do something that was done for her on her 25th birthday last spring:  each person shares how they feel about the birthday person.  Chris began, followed by Andrew and then Alyssa.  They each expressed to me how they felt about me, things they admired in me, how I have influenced them positively…..it was very touching and endearing.  So often we don’t tell the people we love how we really feel about them, and why they mean so much to us.  Well, the three most important people in my life gave me those expressions of love – what a beautiful and memorable gift on my 50th birthday.

Category: Europe, France
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2 Responses
  1. Family Sommer says:

    Hello Christina and Chris,

    at first: BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR CHRISTINA. We wish you luck, healthiness and a lot of more nice experiences for your further journey.

    We were agitate about your stay at our home. If you want you could live in our house while we are in holiday (18.-25.8.12). Or you could come with us to the baltic sea with a tent. You decide what you would prefer. After this week we will make some trips with you in our hometown and around it.

    Many greetings, Family Sommer.

    • christina says:

      Hi Detlev and family
      Thanks for the birthday wishes and for the invitation to the Baltic Sea. Unfortunately we will be in Ireland during that time, but we would love to come visit afterwards, near the beginning of September. I’ll send a separate email to work out the details. Enjoy your holidays!
      Chris and Christina