Happy New Year

Happy New Year from France…

Sending you all the very best wishes for a wonderful 2018. Thank you for being here with me. ❤

It’s not the Eiffel Tower, but here’s tonight’s fireplace view.

Cheers!

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Medieval buildings in Paris

There is nothing like wandering around the streets of Paris to make you feel like you just jumped back in time… for the history that lies within this city is magical!

11 and 13 rue François Miron, Paris - Photo credit: Bellanda

11 and 13 rue François Miron, Paris – Photo credit: Bellanda

Not far from one of my favorite cafés, La Caféothèque, I stumbled across two examples of medieval architecture that can still be found here in Paris. These historically classified buildings are located at numbers 11 and 13 of rue François Miron and their medieval structures date between the 14th and 16th centuries. The half-timbered buildings have been restored multiple times for security & fire safety reasons, with the most recent renovation dating from the end of the 1960s.

I love that each building has its name engraved on the façade:

  • 11 :  maison À l’enseigne du Faucheur (Faucheur means Reaper)
  • 13 :  maison À l’enseigne du Mouton (Mouton means Sheep)

Let’s just say, that I’ve been inspired by these names and have been making up names (albeit silly) for each building I see… wishing my own building had an interesting name and story to go along with it.

11 and 13 rue François Miron, Paris - Photo credit: Bellanda

11 and 13 rue François Miron, Paris – Photo credit: Bellanda

No matter how long I’ve lived here, this city continues to hold little surprises for me… Paris, je t’aime!

 

Together, We Stand Strong…

Together, we stand Strong... Bellanda ®

Together, we stand Strong…
Bellanda ®

It’s been exactly 2 weeks since the attacks in Paris brutally reminded us of the changing world in which we live. It’s a world where children are now exposed to things we’ve tried to protect them from, and lives are taken in the most cowardly of ways.

Today, President Hollande has asked everyone to unite and display the French flag in remembrance of those lost in the Paris attacks. To many of us, such a request would seem only natural. As Americans, we proudly display our flag every chance we get, but France’s love for their flag has been a bumpy one. The French flag has evolved, and has taken many forms since the days of Kings and the Revolution. It wasn’t until 1794 that the Tricolore as we know it came into existence. It has since been readopted several times.

Over recent years, the French Tricolore has increasingly been associated with far-right groups, like Le Pen’s National Front party. To distance themselves from the views of such groups, many French have backed off from displaying the flag. Political parties, like that of President Hollande, have also shied away from its use.

The President’s request to display French flags is a big deal, and I couldn’t agree with him more. It’s times like this that everyone needs to come together, breaking through political differences… after all, they’re all French!

As I walked through the streets today, it was obvious that no matter what political party they were from, flags were everywhere. I’m proud of how this country has pulled together to remember what they have in common: liberty, equality and fraternity.

Together, we are far stronger than those who would like to do us harm…

Stand Strong Paris - Bellanda ®

Stand Strong Paris –
Bellanda ®

Paris… Standing Strong

I’ve read endless articles, posts, tweets and have personally received more messages than I can ever count. You’ve warmed my heart. Thank you for the outpouring of support. We’re doing the best we can to overcome effects of the horrible events that took place in our city. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all touched by the horrors here in Paris and to those touched in similar attacks across the globe.

Eif Tower Blue White Red

Eiffel Tower: Blue, White & Red  – Photograph: Bellanda

Paris Sans Voitures… a true pleasure!

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Ever experience crossing the busy Champs Elysées or La Place de la Concorde on foot? As with many big cities, it can be a bit of a challenge, even with the pedestrian lights. I’ve been caught numerous times on the middle platform clinging to my little ones until the light changed yet again, praying that they wouldn’t jet back into traffic as we waited.

This past weekend was different. We got the chance to walk in the streets of Paris… literally! What a pleasure and special opportunity. It was the first time that the city of Paris liberated its streets from cars, giving the opportunity for Parisians and tourists to enjoy the city without stress and added noise/pollution.

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Although this was not the kind of day to leave your real camera at home, I decided to simply enjoy the walk with my loved ones. As many of you know, my energy levels can be inconsistent due to my illness. Unfortunately, this particular weekend, carrying my camera equipment was out to the question. That said, I couldn’t imagine not sharing this special event with all of you. Hope that you don’t mind the smartphone images… it’s the spirit of the event that counts, right? 😉

Celebrating European Heritage Day in France

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda - All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes
Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

This past weekend was French Heritage Day (Les Journées du Patrimoine). Since 1984, France has opened its doors to history and culture. The weekend offers opportunities to visit government buildings, monuments, and other sites that are normally closed to the public. Entrance to these places, in addition to those that are regularly open to public, are free. Many monuments offer guided tours or special activities during the weekend. You don’t need to be French, as visits are open to everyone on the third weekend of each September… I highly recommend it!

This year, we decided to take the kids to the Château de Vincennes. We planned on visiting the château, the keep (tallest medieval keep in France) and the grounds… but we had no idea of what a treat we would get until we walked up to the front of the château. What a great surprise!

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

Several associations brought us on a little trip back in time, building memorable moments for our little ones. They were amazed to see the American flag waving on a military jeep alongside another jeep displaying the French flag. Their very own two cultures were present, which brought about great discussion.

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda - All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes –  The Association Vincennes en Anciennes
Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda - All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes – The Association Vincennes en Anciennes Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

Within the courtyard of the Chateau, we got a glimpse of life of as a soldier in a military camp reenactment…

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda - All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes
Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

1815-1915

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda - All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes
Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes Photos: Bellanda - All rights reserved

French Heritage Day at Château de Vincennes
Photos: Bellanda – All rights reserved

Great thanks to everyone who took part in making the events at Château de Vincennes truly fabulous. Bravo!

We’re already looking forward to next year… Maybe we’ll visit the Palais de l’Elysée!  🙂