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My French life: parents sit down to wine, bread and cheese fondue at the table while one child serves water and other child gets sick in other room. -NOT (quite)!

I haven’t blogged for some time. The last three weeks have been wrought with illness in our little apartment (>month for little Clarisse) but it’s winter and it’s to be expected. “La Gastro”  (stomach flu) had reared its ugly head, as well as the colds, coughs and fevers but with foreign French origins, these viruses are harder to shake from our Canadian bodies. So I’m going to recap what’s been going on.

Clarisse received her first hairwash in a salon! The “Chinatown” (well, two streets really) in our neighbourhood was recently explored by us and the salon is in a building once thought to be the oldest one in Paris! Turns out it’s missing a cellar, which homes typically had in the Middle Ages. The deteriorating timber wood really makes it look ancient but in fact, it dates from the mid-17th century.

3 rue Volta: not the oldest building in Paris but from 1644. Definitely in the top five for oldest functional building.

We missed the Chinese New Year parades because of illness, but came very late to one celebration. Actually, we were in time for the free food = feeding frenzy and let me tell you, people are just animals whenever free food is offered. So we held back in order not to be crushed by the French crowds getting their hands on really yummy samples of dumplings and prawns(!) handed out. [I am only offered shrimp chips and Chinese snacks in the Toronto library celebrations. The Parisian Chinese know how to throw a fête with good food…] The Chinese are experienced at doing big colourful parades in Paris and creating a lot of noise. (We found firecracker casings all over the pavement. Darn!! Missed that too!)

The town hall (=mairie) for the 10e arrondissement: how lovely! Many of the streets near my neighbourhood were adorned with red lanterns in celebration of Chinese New Year.

As the weather continued to be wet and cold in January, I became desperate and took my kids out of Paris (on my own!!) to visit Playmobile Funpark in the boring suburb called Fresnes. I have to admit, I felt very much at home there because half the parents there were dressed down (like me), and not skinny. And all the French kids inside were running around, being noisy and having meltdowns. So I actually had a relaxing, nonself-conscience day and Clarisse loved it there. Poor William tolerated it (he’s becoming too old for this) and picked up a nasty bug the next day, reminding me that indoor playgrounds don’t regularly clean their toys like they should. At least he had the pleasure to guide me on the commuter train and bus lines—I couldn’t have done the journey without him.

The FunPark is in a large plaza in the burbs. We are not in Paris anymore...

I don't know of any indoor playgrounds in Paris but this one is only 2 E per person. There are different themed stations, and a gift shop that you must pass through to exit the building. Smart marketing strategy...

Not that I’ve seen any movies here, but the Star Wars movie Phantom Menace is set for re-release in 3D this month. The European Quick burger chain here is hot to promote it by coming out with special burgers for the movie.

Advertisment at the bus stop. Funny how the person waiting with the cane looks like an extension of Yoda!

I hope that is a load of cheese bits on the Jedi Burger because it reminded me of marshmallows. If you venture to the Dark Side, then the Dark Burger or Dark Vador Burger (especially appealing as it entirely black) is for you. I suppose green burgers for Jedis wouldn’t sell but black burgers do…?! I am amazed that this marketing ploy is not happening in America. Go here for info http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57353300-1/who-wouldnt-want-a-star-wars-themed-burger/  or even better, here’s a promo with music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VjOYmRtIeA

It has been particularly cold the last three weeks and we hearty Canadians did not bring a lot of winter gear with us. Brrrrr… But the children were delighted at finally seeing snow last week which surprisingly compelled Clarisse to take a walk (instead of sit in the stroller). Yeehaw! We spent one cold Sunday inside Le Louvre with a lot of warm bodies.

In front of Molière's statue/fountain on our way to the Louvre. Molière was a French playwright and actor, and considered the creator of modern French comedy.

Place des Victoires: King Louis XIV and horse coated with a dusting of snow. We often walk this way when heading west in Paris.

Free Museum Sunday: ONE of the queues to get into Le Louvre. My kids wanted to be outside than currently inside the palace. All winter photos by Chris Kennedy.

By the way, the oldest stone house still standing in Paris belonged to Nicholas Flamel. Yes, that Nicolas Flamel from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. He was, in fact, a real person whose interest in alchemy has made him a legend. He lived as a bookseller with his wife and owned a few houses. The City restored the exterior of his home (which is now a restaurant) at 51 rue de Montmorency, which is very close to my children’s school. The building looks in great shape compared to the building on rue Volta and has some old carvings on its posts.

Home of Nicolas Flamel, built 1407. There is a prayer inscribed above the doorway asking residents of the home to pray daily.

C’est intéressant d’habiter à Paris, n’est-ce pas?!