Posts from the ‘Paris’ category

Project: Build a French City

At our homeschool co-op, I taught a class called “Bon Voyage” with travel-themed vocabulary and culture lessons: famous monuments, shopping, transportation, and directions on a map.

One of the most charming aspects of French life is the variety of small specialty shops found in each town, from small villages to large metropolitan cities.  Despite the noise of the bustling, modern world, wandering the streets in France can feel like traveling back in time. Popping in and out of little mom-and-pop shops, exchanging greetings of “Bonjour Madame, Bonjour Monsieur!” is so vastly different from shopping at Wal-mart!

French shops - la crèmerie

One of my faves – fresh cream ladled into cups, yogurt in glass jars, and dozens of fragrant cheeses.

(Hmmmm… I wonder if somewhere in France there is an opposite of me, someone who thinks French shopping is old-fashioned and yearns to shop at Wal-mart? Would they take pictures of giant cola and chip displays, like I take photos of pastries in bakery windows? Surely not!)

Before classes began, I found several long, rectangular boxes and spray-painted them a creamy stucco color, to represent the limestone of Parisian buildings.  I spray painted the box flaps a textured slate-gray color for the roofs. Each student was given a stiff cardboard panel, about 14″ tall by 11″ wide, to fit the outside dimensions of my boxes.

I wanted to make wrought-iron balconies from pipe cleaners or wire, but it was time-consuming and didn’t look right in the end. I tried finding a window graphic of balconies to cut and paste, but no luck. Another mom found an arched window graphic, so we printed several sheets of windows and cut them out. This gave everyone’s panel a unified look.

Balconies in Paris 1

As my students learned the names of French specialty shops, each chose their favorite and created a representation of it on their cardboard panel.  Every week we added buildings, streets, shops, and monuments to build our city.

The streets were spaced wide enough for them to walk through, so we could practice giving/receiving directions to tournez à gauche (turn left), tournez à droite (turn right), or continuez tout droit (go straight) until they arrived at their assigned destination.  This is what I love about homeschooling: learning “off the page,” i.e., learning by doing. No boring workbook pages!

Once all the storefront panels were finished, we attached them to the large boxes I’d painted, and arranged them into market streets, like this one:

rue Montorgueil – one of my favorite market streets in Paris

Student ages ranged from 7 to 17 years old, and I was amazed to see their creativity!  Below are some photos from our Open House, where we had to fit everything on tabletops along with displays from other classes.  For some reason, I didn’t get photos of it on the floor in the classroom, probably because we were always busy trying to make progress in a 45-minute class held only once a week!

La pâtisserie, the pastry shop

This student amazed me by sculpting her own pastries and cakes for her window!  She covered the cardboard in scrapbook paper, made an awning, and cut an opening for the door.

La boucherie, the butcher shop

This student cut out the butcher and meat display, then added foam spacers for a 3D effect (hard to tell from photo but a great effect). His awning is bordered with a ribbon, and the door and windows have real wood frames.

 

La boutique de fleuriste, the florist shop

Two girls worked on this shop. In another co-op class, they were learning paper quilling, so they made all the flowers from paper and sculpted little clay pots for them! Floral fabric for the awning.

La poste – the post office

French mailboxes and mail trucks are all yellow, as opposed to blue in the U.S. and red in the U.K. Isn’t that interesting?

Le café

This one has tables outside, with a chalkboard menu, and a white poodle! The French love to take their dogs with them everywhere, even to restaurants.

Le parc – the park

Every town has its green spaces, some with ponds and water features. This lady is having a pique-nique with a baguette.

La boulangerie – the bakery

More 3-D bread in the window. Awnings are an essential feature of French shops.

Le musée – the museum

The girl who made this one took time to paint the inside, cut out fancy windows, and fill it with paintings and adorable hand-made sculptures. Love it!

For the open house, I added photos and labels so observers could see what we’d been learning about in class.

We also created a roundabout with a model of the Arc de Triomphe, from a free online printable. Since then, I’ve found a nicer color version here.

These are grouped close together on tables, but during class they were spaced far enough to walk through. See the tiny airplanes at the airport? We also had a zoo with animals, hotels, and little cars and buses, all made by the students.  Voilà!  Everything you need for a successful city!

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Cooking Class in Paris

On my 2008 trip to Paris, I took a cooking class at A World in a Pan. The most exciting part for me was that it took place in the chef’s own kitchen at her apartment, located in the 16th arrondissement, directly above a restaurant.

Chef Laura Neulat spoke English well, and we chatted easily in her living room, until the other participants arrived. Incredibly, they were three American ladies from Kansas City, where I lived at the time, and they were also staying at my same hotel (the one with the teeny, tiny elevator)! Quelle coïncidence!

Our luncheon was a typical 3-course French menu: cheese souflée, chicken in mushroom sauce, and a simple apple tart. We began making it in reverse order, dessert first, since it took the longest to cook.

la tarte aux pommes – apple tart

 

The petite kitchen was surprisingly functional! I took mental notes (and a few discreet photos) of her essential tools and how she maximized her small space for efficiency. At her direction, we crowded around a little table and began peeling, slicing, and grating. It was tight, but cozy. Chef Laura bustled back and forth between the stove and our table, giving excellent tips and instructions. I kept peeking out the window through the wrought iron balcony, feeling delighted with the experience of being in a real French person’s home!

Next we began the chicken recipe. Chef Laura explained how she purchased only the freshest produce and free-range chicken from the market, and the best cheese and cream from the fromagerie. She was very much into organic food and clean eating, as most French people seem to be. They love knowing the story of where their food comes from.

Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons - Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons – Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

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My Favorite Travel Guidebooks for Paris and France

Rick Steves is my go-to source for travel info! For me, his books are just the right mix of important info, advice, culture, history, and humor, all in a user-friendly format. If you’re spending a week or more in Paris, get the dedicated Paris guide. It has the most comprehensive info on where to stay, eat, and visit, along with walk-through tours of main sites and suggested walking routes. As Rick says, it’s a $15-20 tool for a $3000+ experience!

2017 Edition

2018 Edition

I own several editions, but I always buy the current year’s edition for each trip. It might seem redundant, but popular sites frequently close for renovation, hotels/restaurants may close or change management, etc. Best to be prepared with up-to-date info.

Many sites offer a discount when you show them your Rick Steves book. For example, we saved 2 euro per person on our Paris bike tour. With nearly $8 savings, it almost paid for the book! There are offers for restaurants and other activities, too.

Planning to day-trip from Paris? Tips for popular side trips include: Giverny (Monet’s gardens), Disneyland Paris, Versailles, etc. Click the product image for more info.

If you’ll be visiting Paris for only a couple days before moving on to another region of France, then just get the France book. It has enough of Paris to cover a short visit (condensed from the Paris book), plus healthy chapters for the other main regions of France. I’m so glad I bought this one for my 2013 trip to Paris and Normandy, as it was extremely helpful. Especially since I experimented with traveling “on the fly” with few reservations made in advance.

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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The Little Paris Kitchen {Cookbook Review}

This book has some very kid-friendly recipes along with a few hoity-toity ones I probably won’t make, but still find interesting to look at. Overall, a lovely book with lots of French words and pretty photos. 120 recipes. Click the product image for more info.

Croque-madame muffins made with bread, eggs, ham, Swiss cheese, and béchamel sauce

Croque-madame muffins made with bread, eggs, ham, Swiss cheese, and béchamel sauce

Now here are two of my favorite recipes from the book that she did on her BBC show. I love how she takes a classic French dish, then puts a fresh spin on it. Like these Croque-Madame Muffins! The sandwich is nice, but these are so fun to make! The kids will love rolling the bread and sprinkling ingredients in.

I’m always a francophile first and foremost, but on a secondary level, I’m super keen on those Brits, too! This book and show marries the best of both worlds for me. I’ve even been known to make my boys endure an English tea party or two!

croque-madame muffins tea party

Real men DO eat finger sandwiches, scones, and croque-madame muffins!

These little madeleines she makes are so delicate and moist! Even without the lemon curd. Serious yummmmm, or as the French say, “Miam miam!” I get a huge kick out of her accent and using words like “whisker” for whisk.

I bet you want to drop everything and go watch the rest of her videos, don’t you? I love/hate when I binge-watch shows like that! Just don’t forget to get your copy of the cookbook by clicking on the image above. (:

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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Wandering Paris {Book Review}

Companion book to “Rendez-vous with France.” This one is thinner and easier to carry on your trip to Paris. Same style of watercolor illustrations and lots of vocabulary interspersed with hand-drawn maps and suggested themes for how to spend a day in Paris: Flea Market day, Art day, Water day, Bakery day, etc. Similar to my suggestions for theme travels in Paris.
Specific restaurants and sites are recommended with address info. Another excellent gift book. 86 full-color pages.

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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Rendez-vous with France {Book Review}


This is a simply adorable book – a perfect gift for any Francophile. Everyone I show it to wants to keep it! It’s part travel guide, part small dictionary, with tips and cultural explanations. The small size is easy to take with you on the go. Charming watercolor illustrations for common words/phrases, grouped by subject: traveling, shopping, eating out, time, money, seasons, etc. 152 full-color pages. (Click the image for more info.)

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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My Favorite Park in Paris

I haven’t visited all the major parks in Paris yet, but so far, this one is my favorite. Yet, I’d never heard of it before or seen it listed in any guidebook. I happened on it completely by accident, because I was searching for the location of this sign, which I’d seen in friends’ photos.

My Favorite Park in Paris Parc Floral de Paris 1

It’s actually just the last word of the giant entrance sign which spells out the full name of the park, “Parc Floral de Paris.” No one was around, so we were able to pose for lots of fun photos without being rushed.

My Favorite Park in Paris Parc Floral de Paris 2

My Favorite Park in Paris Parc Floral de Paris 3
It was Day 16 of our 18-day trip, and I was feeling tired – and frankly – more than a little disillusioned with Paris, this time around. However, spending the afternoon here provided a much-needed break from all my stress and fatigue. Continue reading…

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