Leaving Crete was quite sad for me, so having three days in France was one of the best ways to leave. When searching for flights many months ago, I was excited to find a very cheap charter flight on Transavia airlines direct to Paris from Crete. Getting to London was cheaper via Paris with the train to London, than flying directly there.
I have a pen friend in France called Eric Marmot, we have written to each other for many years and have lived quite parallel timelines of life events. We are a similar age, he and his lovely wife Annick were married the same year as us, Annick and Eric visited us in Australia during their honeymoon, their oldest daughter Joanna was born the same month as Yasi and Toby, and their youngest child Tomas was born a month or so after Kalika. We don’t write all that often now due to busy family lives, but we keep in contact. I was really excited when Eric invited us to stay with him whilst visiting Paris. They live in a stunning country home about an hour out of Paris in beautiful French countryside. Starkly different to Crete. There were rolling green meadows, flat and very fertile farmland, thick forest with tall trees and lush green lawn. I was ever so pleased that despite the challenges of languages our kids were friends instantly. Ours hadn’t seen a trampoline for 15 months, and played on it nonstop.
Tomas was a great soccer player and that kept he, Toby and Emilio amused for hours while we sat on the patio in glorious sunshine sipping French champagne and devouring delicious French cheeses. As I was helping myself to more and more cheese Sandy said to me, “I’ll love you whatever size you are” – I didn’t quite know how to take that!
Annick and Eric were incredibly relaxed and accommodating despite the imposition of 7 bodies and numerous bags in their 3 bedroom home. Staying with them was a culinary delight.
They are amazing cooks, incredibly calm and love filled parents and as champagne connoisseurs we sampled some ‘real’ champagnes accompanied by cheeses and breads that make your mouth water to think about. The kids thought all their Christmases had come at once when they were served chocolate milk and THE most amazing chocolate croissants for breakfast each morning. The calmness of Eric Annick and their child’s ( and possibly the late nights) meant all our kids slept in until about 9 am – unheard of!
A wonderful tradition that I will take away is that of ‘apperol’? When dinner is almost a ready, spending 1/2 an hour drinking champagne with delicious nibbles.
I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for an amazing 3 days together.
I am not someone who loves to drive, I had heard many stories about the difficulty of driving in France, so we wanted to catch trains. Since we have such a large family, train travel in western countries can be mega expensive if not a little slow, not to mention lugging big bags with kids in tow. Once we googled train prices we found it would be half the price to have a car for the 3 days we were there. So we made a deal; Sandy ‘the calm driver that she is’ was to tackle France. And I would drive in England. She was amazing despite crazy motorcyclists and mergings from all around. On the morning we left Paris, we took a wrong turn of the Peripherique (ring road) looking for a petrol station to fill the rental car on our way to Gare du Nord, and before us loomed the Arch de Triumph. This is a major unmarked perhaps 10 Lane roundabout that many rental companies will not insure you to use. She manoeuvred her way around this driving challenge without even getting stuck, and then we found a petrol station with toilet (we were all absolutely busting after 2 hours in the car in busy traffic) and proceeded to tour past the Moulin Rouge to the train station – with all the pent up energy ending with a slight family meltdown. Needless to say we purchased more chocolate croissants for the train trip under the channel and made it to the train with literally a minute to spare!
One of my favourite moments in France was when we were in the car waiting for Sandy and the big girls to return from their One Direction concert (at 1 am), Kalika and Yasi were so excited. Yasi gave me the biggest hug and said ‘Thanks baba, you’ve made all my dreams come true’. It was priceless.
By Baba Miliking
Yasmina’s blog 21/6/14
When we got to France my first impression of Paris was that it was very beautiful and green – when we were in the sky we saw the Eiffel Tower.
When we got to our friends’ home, which was hard to find, they were very welcoming and very nice. There were lots of flowers to be seen and it was a very nice home. It had a big back yard with a trampoline and swings.
Next door there was stables for horses and they were very beautiful horses.
The mum is called Annick and Eric is the dad. Their two kids Joanna and Thomas were very nice and playful. It was fun staying with them.
I got tickets for my birthday to see a One Direction concert – it was awesome and deafening. I went with my sister Kalika and my mum. The gates opened at 4.30pm but One Direction came on at 8pm. At 6.50pm there was a support band and they were really wild – they jumped up and down on stage all the time and one of them was wearing a ball gown. I was very glad when One Direction came on – it was so awesome how they just ran on stage and started singing before you even knew it. The first song was ‘Midnight memories’ and then after the first song the boys were talking for about 10 minutes about how much all the supporters have done for them over the last four years. Every time they spoke a word of French the crowd went wild. They sang lots and lots of songs – my favourite was “Little things’. It was funny when Liam and Nile were singing in ‘Little things’ – the crowd went really crazy. I also liked ‘What makes you beautiful’ – the last song of the night was ‘The best song ever’.
It finished at 10.30pm and it took ages and ages to get back to the car from Stade de France which is a big football stadium. It was packed walking to the station and when people were walking out they were in such a hurry – I really don’t know why. We almost fell down the stairs to get to the Metro because they were pushing and shoving. We got to the car where baba and the other three were waiting. It was 12.45am by this stage.
It was one of the best moments of my travels so far. I loved it.
Zoi’s blog 21/6/14
I think France is very beautiful. After we got off the plane we went to the luggage area and got mum and dad’s backpacks.
– I think that Paris has a lot of traffic
– Our friends are nice and friendly – they are Eric & Annick and their children Joanna (my age) and Thomas (Kiki’s age)
– They are fun, one of them speaks good English – that’s Eric the dad
– Paris is also very touristy around the parts we went to
– The Eiffel Tower is much bigger than I thought and I thought it was a black colour but it is actually a bronze colour
– Paris is a very interesting place with lots of tourist sites
– P.S Did you know? About a painting of a woman called ‘Mona Lisa’??? Well there was a King who brought the painting, he lived in a castle which is now a museum called the Louvre. Once one of the employees of the Louvre fell in love with the woman that was painted and stole the painting and hid in it under his bed for three years!!! Now it stands back in the museum.