^^took this exact same photo two years ago on our last visit to paris, so we had to get another one
we only spent a day & a half in paris while we were in france (apparently pitstops in paris are a thing we like to do) & while that's hardly enough time, we used our time up the best we could! our hotel was a a couple blocks away from the arc de triomphe which is a kind of perfect spot. the arc de triomphe is on champs elysées, a straight shot to the lourvre museum, & just a couple blocks over the river from the eiffel tower, so it made our visit pretty easy. i always think paris is a surreal place to visit i think. every time i'm there i fall deeper & deeper in love with it, there is something about paris that just really draws me in. 

our stop in paris was pretty easy & really relaxed which made it even more perfect. since we had all been there before we weren't rushing around trying to get all the sights in, but moving at our own pace doing our own thing & really just enjoying it. we did go to the eiffel tower though because i kinda feel like you have to go if you're there & why wouldn't you want to? no matter how many times i've seen it, i'm still blown away by just how big it is! we got crepes by the eiffel tower & cedar rode the carousel 3 times before we had to literally pull him off of it while he sobbed the entire time, he is obsessed with carousels, cute.. but not cute when he almost cries every time he sees one that he doesn't get to ride.. haha. it was really fun with cedar in paris. he pointed & "oohed" & "ahhed" at nearly everything & anytime he noticed th eiffel tower he literally would point & say "woah! cool!" he was sooo into it, i loved his reaction every single time. he never wanted to take his eyes off of it! 

besides venturing to the eiffel tower, we shopped along champs de elysees, i had a crepe about every 5 minutes cause, why not? & we wandered through the different streets just sort of taking it all in. i had really wanted to go to musée de l'orangerie to see monet's water lillies, but as fate would have it the museum was closed on our full day in paris, & we didn't have enough time the following morning before catching our flight to portugal, which was a bummer, but just means i have to go back to paris, right? right! 

& if you're interested, check out my previous posts about paris!



whenever i'm texting one of my friends about life & things get busy / complicated / crazy / etc. we always seem to end our thoughts with "LIFE, MAN." it kind of just engulfs everything into a small description, don't you think? maybe i'm crazy, but i feel like this statement of two words just explains things. life just happens. oh, & all caps is a must on this statement.

anyways, life has been gooooooing so quickly! it always does. the last few weeks from our trips during santa semana, to coming home & having austin's parents arrive, we have been non-stop around here. LIFE MAN! i have been getting tired of posting only about our trip, haha, so here's a recap of life after travel & having austin's parents in town!

austin's parents were supposed to get here thursday morning, but their flight was delayed so they didn't arrive until the afternoon, but it worked out for us because austin was home for school when they got here! we were really excited about having them come visit & showing them around madrid. the first night they were tired & no one wanted to wait till 8:30 for dinner (almost nowhere opens before 8:30 in madrid for dinner, it's a real buzzkill when you're starving & don't want to cook/don't have food to make), so we took them to our favorite: tierra burrito. the next day while austin was at school i was their tour guide around the city! i did my best to show them all the sites & give them background information, but i really don't know a lot of madrid's history (i'm working on it), but we had a good time. i took them to breakfast at this cafe i really like, bocados, then down to puerta del sol & plaza mayor, the palace, then back to our apartment for cedars nap. during his nap we had good old fashioned spanish bocadillos, which is litereally just spanish bread with jamón ibérico (a special spanish ham). austin met up with us at home & once cedar woke up went to retiro to where our friday playgroup was meeting. after playgroup & seeing the park grounds we went to dinner at a really, really good Brazilian restaurant.

we had a jam packed, busy day, but it was really fun. saturday we took a day trip to toldeo. toldeo is an awesome little town that's only 30 minutes away on the train. i had been yeaaaaars ago when my friend shannon & i went on our european adventure, but didn't really remember much & i truly don't know why austin & i haven't gone before, but it was beautiful! definitely deserves its own post :)



years ago i saw a picture of mont saint-michel (probably on pinterest..) & automatically assumed it was a photoshopped picture & couldn't be a real place. luckily for the rest of the world i was wrong & it is a very real place! & a gorgeous, unreal one at that. it truly doesn't seem like it would be real, it also looks as if it was built specifically for tourists with it's tiny alley ways, small shops, population of 50 (yes, you read that correctly), no cars & overall quaint-ness. mont saint-michel most definitely should be on your must-see in france list, it is definitely worth taking a couple of days to visit. plus, it's another unesco world heritage site to check off the list :)
i'm kind of obsessed with the picture of cedar in the sling.. i love his little leg poking out!
a brief history lesson:
 mont saint-michel has been in use since the fifth century under the name Mont Tombe, which changed to mont saint-michel after the monastery mont saint-michel was built between the 11th & 16th centuries. the abbey is gothic-style & dedicated to the archangel St Michael. the monastery gave support to william of normandy (it's even featured in the bayeux tapestry i mentioned in this post& suffered multiple attacks during the hundred years' war between the french & english. fast forward near the french revolution, there the abbey did not have many monks in residence & was closed & converted into a prison. the prison officially closed in 1863 & in 1874 mont saint-michel became a historic monument & in 1979 mont saint-michel & the bay were added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

mont saint-michel is an amazing monastery & huge. my mind was blown while we were there, it was so beautiful, not the mention the views the abbey has. it's straight out of a fairy tale... or hogwarts, cause it looks a lot like hogwarts also. especially when you arrive. there's a bridge that takes goes to mont st-michel but you can't drive there, you take a bus & it shuttles people to & from the island everyday, once the last bus leaves the only people on the island are people staying in one of the hotels & the 50 residents that live on the island! we were staying on the island & while pretty much everything shuts down except for hotel restaurants, it was really cool to walk around what felt like a ghost town & really be able to take it all in without all of the people.



going to the d-day beaches & american cemetery in normandy was a really cool, grounding experience. i remember briefly learning about d-day in one of my high school history classes, it sort of got mushed together with all of the WWII history we were learning, but since learning about it & hearing about the normandy beaches, i have been eager to go. while on our trip austin & i kept asking my mom hundreds of questions about d-day & when we were able to, we would look up different facts about it. we figured it was a good time to brush up on some history since we were at the actual place. so, here's a quick history lesson for you, incase you're like me & need a little refresher!

d-day happened june 6, 1944 & is the largest invasion by sea in history. d-day marks the day the american, british & canadian allies invaded normandy to liberate france & the rest of europe from the nazi occupation in WWII. the allies landed on 5 beaches along the coast in the region of normandy. d-day is also the beginning of the battle of normandy, which ended august 1944.

so there's you're little history lesson. it's crazy going to such a historical area, actually being where the battle happened, where history was made. it kind of puts everything into perspective for me, being able to see where the troops were landing & being able to better invasion what it may have been like for them. not to mention that a lot of the troops were basically just kids, 18 year olds in charge of freeing an entire country. it's crazy to me & truly heroic. the day we went around to the beaches & cemetery were insanely windy. cedar got blown over a couple of times, which was sort of funny, luckily he thought it was funny too & he didn't really mind the wind which was just nice, haha. it was slightly misty but with the crazy wind by the time we left the cemetery we were all drenched. needless to say, we didn't wander around a whole lot while we were there. but we tried to make it worth our stop, despite the weather! the cemetery overlooks omaha beach & the english channel & was really, really pretty.

we didn't go to all of the beaches, but we made it to omaha beach & utah beach. they were really, really pretty. totally different than the beaches i am use to, they have a total east coast or pnw feel to them, which i really like. flat, long with a lot of grassy goodness to them. while at the utah beach we went to a museum that was partially built from a bunker that was actually in use on d-day.



a couple of weeks ago austin, cedar & i flew to france to meet my mom to kickoff austins spring break! france most definitely remains one of my favorite places i have ever been in europe, you probably think that i say that about every place... & i probably do... but this one is for reals. i have loved france since the first time i visited, nearly 14 years ago & my love has not faded in the slightest, in fact i think my love for france grows more every time i go. 

i'll be honest, i'd never heard of bayeux before or new any of the significance of it except that it's where the bayeux tapestry is, & i only faintly remember hearing about that in one of my art history classes... so, it was all new to me, haha. bayeux was our base while we went around the d-day beaches that are in normandy & it's an adorable little medieval town full of colorful shop fronts, little alleyways & charm. i loved our time we spent in bayeux & definitely recommend visiting. the bayeux cathedral is amazing. it always blows my mind when such a small little town has such gigantic, beautiful buildings, it's so cool to me. plus like i said earlier, it's home to the bayeux tapestry which is really, really impressive... which is probably why it's so famous, plus a UNESCO world heritage site!  the tapestry is a 230 ft. long depiction of the norman conquest of england & there are over 50 scenes shown in the tapestry! plus it's lasted over 9 centuries which is pretty crazy / cool / impressive. just for a little history lesson for ya!  

check out my other posts on previous trips to france here!