Paris in July continues with books and photos

I met V when she and her husband were living in the Cleveland area and the four of us became fast friends. E is from France, came to the US for college and was working at his first job after. V is from Belgium, met E on a trip to LA and married him. Jason and I don’t speak French and what little I picked up from them I’ve forgotten. We were so sad when they left shortly after their first daughter was born so that they could be closer to family, but agreed to visit them two years after they moved. I’ll share some Lyon pics, where we stayed with them for half of our trip this week, but didn’t want to keep talking about Paris without saying why we went in the first place. To be honest, I had no desire to visit the country (oh, how wrong I was!).

Jason and I were lucky enough to attend the French Open on our 2010 trip. I purchased the tickets for us (and our friends who met us in Paris) months ahead of time as a surprise for Jason. He was thrilled and it was a great day to watch clay court play. I remember feeling the pregnancy more that day than any other, sitting in the heat so long.

I listened to The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, although you can see I have a copy of the book. McLain is local and I went to hear her speak a few years ago and had this and another of her books signed. Here’s the recap of the fun event.

This book is about Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, and the time that she and Ernest lived in Paris. It actually started with their courtship in Chicago, but this is mainly about their life in Paris. I was surprised at how much I liked this one. Hemingway married four times, but this first marriage shows us the writer before his fame. The voices of both came through to show a marriage from loving beginning to sorry end.

Recommended for historical fiction fans, Hemingway fans, or those who like to read about history from a woman’s perspective. I admit that I’ve spent some additional time on the internet reading more about this fascinating family.

Any Hemingway fans? I’ve only read A Farewell to Arms. What about you?
Jules Verne, born in 1829 France, was a man ahead of his time. Often called the Father of Science Fiction, he merged science and literature and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brought him international fame. He was a real visionary who loved adventure and writing. This book told a little about what he correctly predicted and what happened to his unfinished works after his death.

I’m not sure exactly how I’ve reached this age and never read one of his books.
What have you read by Verne?
I finally finished French Exit and am happy to put it behind me. I listened to over half of it and then switched to reading so I could finish it up an was surprised by how much more I preferred reading to book. Obviously the audio performance was skewing the characters for me.

Long story short, Frances, an eccentric widow, her grown son who still lives at home, and their cat who possesses the soul of her dead husband have lost all of their riches. They move to Paris and pick up a wide range of colorful characters. Something happens at the end and you’re done. I enjoyed some of the dark humor, but didn’t feel satisfied after I was done. I’m still not sure exactly what it all meant 🤷🏻‍♀️

The donuts are from my Instagram pic. I received the puzzle and the postcard on the same day 🙂

Visit Thyme for Tea for more Paris in July posts.

Paris then and now


I loved this book! Notre-Dame: The Soul of France was written after the devastating 2019 fire that left the church crumbling, but still standing. It starts with the shock of the fire told by those that were there and those tasked with taking care of the cathedral. It was riveting.
The bulk of the slim book covers Notre- Dame from its first stone in 1163 to the new bells of 2013. It covers each era of the cathedral and the politics, uprisings, and Paris events of the day. It’s a bite-sized history of France told through the lens of Notre-Dame.

The last section is about what’s happening now in the aftermath of the fire. The summation pages were some of my favorites.

“For she is not just any people’s palace. Notre-Dame is the beating heart of Paris. For more than 850 years, the echo of France’s glory and misery, of France’s victories and disasters, has resounded under those vaults. For more than 850 years, the French people have rolled for their deaths, sounded the tocsin and chimed their joy with the bells and bourbons of her towers. Atheists and believers can find the same memories, for they are France’s memories.”

It’s current events and history in one book and I highly recommend it.

I included a few pics from our 2010 trip. I shed some tears as I watched it burning on tv.

Have you been to Notre-Dame?
To continue my Paris travels I read the first of the Hugo Marston series, The Bookseller. Hugo, an American in charge of security at the US embassy in Paris, is on vacation. He goes to his favorite bookseller by the Seine and witnesses him being roughed up and kidnapped. No one will back up his story so he’s on his own and been told to lay off. Oh, and his trip back the States to see his wife? She tells him not to bother.

I liked getting to know more about the book trade in Paris, it’s serious business! I liked the day to day description of Paris and the diplomacy needed when working at the embassy. This is a nice start to an ongoing series (there are 10 so far). Off to see if my library has the second one.
A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower is a great picture book about something I knew nothing about. At the turn of the century Henri Deutsch offered a prize of 100,000 francs to the first person who could pilot an airship from the Aero Club around the Eiffel Tower and back within 30 minutes. Santos-Dumont had been working on his hot air balloon with a motor inspired airship for a while, even crashing a few already, when he finally managed the feat. A nice piece of history and good illustrations.

Visit more posts from Paris in July at Thyme for Tea.

French books, tea, puzzles and wine

When I decided to participate in Paris in July, I reserved books at the library, bought some French wine, ordered a few puzzles, and…visited Etsy! I only let myself order two things and one came this week all the way from France.

The Eiffel Tower shaped tea bags from Tea Heritage are adorable and tasty. What a fun way to add a little pizazz to my morning tea. They have all kinds of shapes and, as you can see, the shapes and tea sachets are a great size.
We finished our 1500 piece Ravensburger Paris puzzle last night! It was a fun one, although I had a hard time with the dark section on the right. My eyes aren’t what they used to be 😂

I also finished My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme, published 2006, 336 pages. I listened mostly but did like having the actual book so I could look through the pictures included throughout. I liked this so much more than I thought I would!

It’s about food, France, friends, foreign service, and fame late in the game. There were lots of names of people and places and, to be honest, I’m glad that I listened. If I had read it I may have become caught up in the details 🤣. As it was, I felt like I was listening to an accomplished and happy woman tell tales from her life to me and a group of friends and it worked.

Have you ever watched Julia on screen or tried one of her recipes? I haven’t but feel like I need to now.

I’m not saying that having friends drive you through some of the prettiest areas of France was a gift, oh wait, I am saying that! Look at the cover of today’s book an compare to my photo from our trip. 😍. We spent a day admiring the views and visiting small villages and it was a breath of fresh air. This was the Beaujolais area.

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac (published 2018, 384 pages) is a great beach read. A single mother takes her 10 year old to France for 5 weeks so that he can spend quality time with a father he rarely sees. She’s leaving a scary situation with her mom, bringing a few friends, and harboring a serious secret. There are heavy topics, but they’re done with a light enough touch. I can’t say I loved any of the characters, but i enjoyed the audio.

I’m drinking a lovely Bordeaux, Chateau Moulin Lafitte. I love the lightness of the full bodied wine.

This was an impulse buy when I visited Barnes and Noble last month and I’m so glad I brought it home just in time for our (modest) vacation planning. It helped awaken the wanderlust 😁. So many gorgeous pictures. Paris had 4 pages of pics, this is just the first.

What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?

And this book went perfectly with the postcard I received yesterday from Poland. I love the whole world in his hands photo. Zuzuka told me the last movie she saw was Birdy (Ptasiek in Polish).

What’s the last movie you saw? We just binged the rest of the final season of Bosch last night so we’re looking for a good movie next.
I listened to Jane Smiley’s most recent (Perestroika in Paris), told from the perspectives of a horse, a dog, a raven, two ducks and a few rats. These animals are living in Paris on their own and have loosely banded together. They understand and use money to pay for things 😒 The story meandered along at a snail’s pace, but the happy ending was nice.

I was completely the wrong reader for this one. I don’t usually care for these kinds of first person animal stories, but I wanted to try something different set in Paris and this was definitely that. I think Gage would have enjoyed it more than I did.

Make sure you visit Tamara at Thyme for Tea for more Paris in July posts.

No Spring Chicken

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No Spring Chicken: Stories and Advice from a Wild Handicapper on Aging and Disability by Francine Falk-Allen

2021, 330 pages

Francine is a polio survivor. She contracted polio at 3 years old in 1951 and now has a permanently paralyzed foot and mostly paralyzed leg. She has not let this hold her back, especially from travel. As a matter of fact, this fits right in with my Paris in July reading since she relates how best to navigate Paris and the airports. Her honest and useful insight will, most likely, inspire you. Her first book was a memoir, Not a Poster Child: Living Well With a Disability, and I’m now interested in reading that as well.

Let’s start with saying that this is a book for the disabled and those aging and losing some of their physical independence, either temporarily or permanently. It’s also a book for anyone who assists or loves them. It’s broken into three sections. The first is on navigating travel in the United States and abroad. She has done so much of the homework, that you’ll be itching to travel (who wouldn’t after the year and a half we’ve had!). This would help those wary of travel as they lose some comfort and mobility.

The second section is where you’ll find advice for both the caregiver and for the aging. It will help you see that you’re not alone. She gives many well meaning tips on living well and points out that while none of it’s groundbreaking, it is nice to have in one place. She even gives exercises to help strengthen your core and hopefully ease pain. She talks about navigating doctor’s visits for mundane checkups to cancer appointments. There is a lot of great information here.

She wraps up with finding ways to connect in your community. Sometimes you have to initiate the support you want! This is so important not only for the disabled and aging, but having a safety net of support does tend to help them most. I think this book was informative, inspiring, and just the reminder we all need as we age.

I want to thank Rebekah at PR by the Book for sending this to me when I said it looked interesting. It was so much more than I thought it would be and I recommend it for those who are no spring chickens (and the people who love them) 🙂

Francine’s website.

You can connect with her on Facebook too.

French cats, wine, postcards, movies, and, of course, books!

A Walk in Paris is a kids picture book with lovely illustrations. I loved seeing the neighborhoods of Paris, but thought there was too much information on each page for any kind of story flow. It’s okay to browse through for the illustrations and to pick up random information like ‘Steak-frites, or steak with French fries, is a popular bistro choice.”

Gage loves The Who Is book series, so I was excited to sign him up for an online book club on Outschool. They read a Where Is book and meet every two weeks. As they discuss the book the teacher also includes other activities, like drawing a Wanted poster. This is a great book group and if you’re interested in it for your kid DM me and I’ll send you the link. The next book is Where is the Serengeti? The week of July 18. We read Where is Alcatraz and he loved it.
Let’s start with the French wine. This beautiful glass of white wine was more than I had our whole 10 days in France. After we’d made our plans to go and visit our friends in Lyon I found out I was pregnant. A few things about this were stressful, I’d miscarried a few years before, I was 38 not 20, and I was still puking my guts out daily. AND I was going to a wine lover’s paradise but not able to drink the wine!

Somehow I still managed to have a fantastic trip even if I was still sick every morning 😂.

Now about the book, The Little French Bistro. I loved this quirky little book about an older woman who decides to kill herself by jumping into the Seine on a trip to Paris with her husband. She’s fished out of the water, of course, but now she has to figure out what to do with the rest of a life she doesn’t want.

She makes her way to Brittany, also called the end by of the world, and lives each day as if it’s her last, until one day, she doesn’t. There are lots of characters with their own stories and they fit neatly into the story of this seaside village.

I love stories about women finding their way and reinventing themselves to match the life they want, especially if there’s a little magic. And to do it in France? Even better.

And head over to Thyme for Tea for more Paris in July fun!

Six in Six, 2021

As of this moment, I’ve read 228 books this year. That’s a lot of books!

I saw my friend JoAnn post her lists about her first six months of reading this year and decided to spend some time perusing Jo’s lists at The Book Blotter. Here’s what she has to say…

What is it all about?

The idea being that as the end of June approaches and we are then halfway through the year, let us share the books we have read in those first 6 months. In fact let’s share 6 books in 6 categories, or if time is of the essence then simply share just 6 books. Whatever combination works for you as long as it involves 6 books. Of course the same book can obviously feature in more than one category.

She has a list of categories to choose from so, let’s get to it. Let me knw how many of these books you’ve read!

Six pretty covers

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The Lion and Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
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Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto
When Birds Could Talk And Bats Could Sing: Hamilton, Virginia, Moser,  Barry: 9780590473729: Amazon.com: Books
When Birds Could Talk and Bats Could Sing by Virginia Hamilton and Barry Moser
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The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood
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Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas
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Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Six books set in a country not my own

Dawn by Elie Weisel – Palestine/Israel

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – Japan

A Burning by Megha Majumbar – India

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – Nigeria

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio – Italy

Six cool classics

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hanberry

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Murder in the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Six series I continued

Jack Reacher by Lee Child -4!

Inspector Rebus by Ian Rankin -2

Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French -1

Lady Sherlock by Sherry Thomas -1

Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman -1

Lucy Valentine by Heather Weber -started and finished all 5

Six non-fiction books I’d recommend

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

What Unites Us by Dan Rather

A New Kind of Country by Dorothy Gilman

Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, Mehrdokht Amini

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Six of the books I’ve enjoyed most so far

Win by Harlan Coben

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Paris in stories, page and screen

I’ve been reading, watching, drinking, and puzzling my way through the city for Paris in July and for my book a day challenge. Let’s see where I’ve been since Sunday…

We watched the 2011 movie Hugo and I tried some Chateau de Segries 2019 Cotes-du-Rhone from France for Paris in July. We hadn’t seen the movie or read the book about the orphan boy who could fix things and lived at a train station. The movie was good as was the full-bodied wine. I didn’t have a full second glass since it’s 14.5% alcohol. My body doesn’t handle red wine as well as it used to! It only took a few days to empty the bottle 🙂

I’ve also included a few pics taken from where we stayed our last night in Paris. Such beautiful views.



While the boys played in the river I took Lonely Planet Kids Paris City Trails for a northeast Ohio nature walk. I loved this book! It’s 100 pages of beautifully laid out facts with stories and photos. A few quick, fun facts from the different spreads shown.

“No ladders and buckets are needed to clean all the pyramid windows (the Louvre)- every three weeks the job is done by a remote-controlled robot.”

“Sixty-six feet below ground, in the limestone tunnels that sprawl beneath Paris, lie the skeletons of 6-7 million Parisians. The public can explore 1.43 miles of the tunnels, but that’s just a fraction of the 186 miles that actually exist.”

“In 2010, a Parisian park introduced chilled sparkling water to its drinking fountains to persuade Parisians that tap water was just as good as the stuff in plastic bottles.”

“$16 is the current fine for jumping into the Seine.” (This is shown with all of the Clevelanders in the Chagrin River)

“120. The number of bicorne hats Napoleon used during his military career.”

“The French have been eating frog legs since the 10th century. Today the French frogs are protected, so the frogs in Paris plates are often shipped in, live, from Asia.”

Sitting here with my coffee and new journal (❤️ @etsy ) enjoying this beautiful summer morning. I TRY to read an inspirational/meditative book and journal every morning, in reality it’s like 4 days a week.

I finished up my morning reading book for the last month, Peace is Every Breath by, my favorite, Thich Nhat Hanh. This isn’t my favorite of his, but it was okay. This could also count for this month’s challenge because he wrote it while living at his Plum Village retreat in France, but we also read..,

Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower. I adored the illustrations, all back and white with highlights of pink. The story was okay, but after realizing it had no basis in reality I was confused 🤨 Don’t let your kids read it and think it’s true like I did.

And if you’re still reading, the photos are from outside Pompidou Center. We met our friends there because it was close to our last hotel. There was some crazy stuff in there. We were there a few hours before moving on, but I still remember vividly some of the installations, they were that bold and, some, disturbing.


I wanted to play Azul last night but Gage wanted to work on the Paris puzzle as a family. Last time I showed you the Eiffel Tower and now you get a peek at another “piece” of the puzzle 😄.

I also listened to this story collection by Jojo Moyes while working on the puzzle and running a few errands. I loved the longer first story, a novella really at 151 pages. It’s about two people finding each other at the wrong time. But can there really be a wrong time for true love? Nell falls in love with Paris and Fabian and goes back to England after their weekend romance, but is that the beginning or the end? I’m not telling.

The rest of the stories were entertaining, but brief, and mostly forgettable. Still, I liked the book as a whole even though I’m not a short story fan.

Paris fun to be continued…

Paris in July Books, Memories, and a Puzzle!

Happy Fourth of July my American friends! We went to our local fireworks show on Friday night and are going to grill and spend the night in our tent tonight in our backyard! I imagine we’ll be up until very late hearing fireworks go off 🙂 I read one non-Paris book Homeschool Hacks by Linsey Knerl and thought it was well done for the beginning homeschool family.

I’ve been enjoying my memories of Paris and reading books set there this week. Here’s a recap (follow me on IG for everyday thoughts).

Still taking recommendations for anything French this month and make sure you visit Thyme For Tea to see what other bloggers are choosing to write about this month!

When we visited France in 2010 we went to visit friends who had moved to Lyon two years earlier. We stayed with them for 5 days and then went to Paris for 5 days. We had our days for Paris roughly planned (our friends met us up there for a few days too), but asked for recommendations because our train was going to get us there earlier than we thought. Our friends knew us well and we ended up in one of the coolest places, Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

It’s a 110 acre garden cemetery that opened in 1804. We didn’t have nearly enough time to spend there but appreciated our time, even managing to find a few famous people by just following the crowds. You can see our photos of the burial sites of Jim Morrison and Collette. Now I always recommend it for Paris traveling friends.

This ties into Anna in the French Kiss because these students who were attending the American School in Paris went there. Anna from Atlanta was sent to the boarding school for her senior year because her famous novelist dad (who very much brought Nicholas Sparks to mind) wanted her to have the best.

Anna finds friends, French cinema, and love for the city while also falling in love herself. I listened to this one and loved the narration by Kim Mai Guest. This was a fun, light teen novel., even if I did get frustrated with the girl!


Eiffel Tower

Sitting outside with my coffee thinking of Paris. The photo is from our trip 11 years ago.

I don’t know about you, but I get too many magazines. They get thrown in a box and I read them when I have time. Yesterday we had a pool date at a friend’s house and I grabbed 4 magazines to take. This was the one on the bottom. It’s from June 2020 😂. It was fated that I just now find it.

I read Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano and translated by Phoebe Weston-Evans. This was a confusing and strange little book, only 148 pages. A teenage boy is hit by a car in the streets of Paris and is injured badly enough to be in the hospital for a bit. When he’s sent home, a man from the accident makes him sign a paper and hands him a wad of money.

The narrator, some 40 years later, tells what happens next, but he also throws in scenes, thoughts, and dreams from his childhood and just before the accident. I’m ambivalent about this one, but was happy to read a book by a Nobel laureate.


Started a 1500 piece puzzle with the most important part!

That’s me with the Seine and the Eiffel Tower (you may need glasses to see it) behind me.

Paris in July begins

I like months where I try to refine my reading list, so I was happy to be reminded of Thyme for Tea’s Paris in July. I looked through my to-be-read stacks, placed a bunch of books on hold at the library (some I’m still waiting for), bought a few Paris puzzles, and bought some French wine. I’m all in! I’ll be including pictures of our Paris trip 11 years ago, some postcards I’ve received and who knows what else I’ll find around here!

In my head this was going to look like the Eiffel Tower. Clearly, it needs some refinement, but that can’t be helped now 🙂

My current stack of possible reading .

My first choice was the one in the middle, To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin. Beginning in 1887 as the Eiffel Tower was being erected, it’s a love story. Although fiction, one main character is loosely based on a real person Emile Nouguier, one of the engineers working on the tower. Cait, a widow from Scotland, is in the city as a companion to a wealthy (and annoying) brother and sister. Emile would be a great catch for the sister, but it’s Emile and Cait who share sparks. The two were from very different social classes and at the time that made it impossible to see a future together. I liked the description of the city and the building of the tower, both of which were as much a part of the story as anything else. I can’t say I loved the book, but did at least love the last chapter set a few years into the future, as it gave the hope and light that the rest of the book was missing.

If you have a book or movie to recommend for this month, let me know 🙂