Category: Travel

bonjour, france.

Fresh Scratch, Laduree, Paris

As my morning walks to work are turning chillier and foggier, and as my pile of grading is growing taller and taller, it’s a nice escape to think back to my time in Europe this summer. My days in France the last few summers are always spent with a baguette with butter and ham in one hand and an apricot pastry in another. This is me we’re talking about, after all! {and before you get too envious, do remember I share this time with a dozen teenagers!}

Let’s shed the chill of autumn for just a moment. Here are my greatest hits from this stop on the tour:

Fresh Scratch, Paris, France, MontmartreMontmartre, I heart you. And I  love your graffiti. It’s odd to say, but Paris has terrific graffiti! It’s usually really positive or really funny. And it truly goes for every city I’ve been to while traveling Europe. I’ll tell you more in a moment about what I look for in particular.

Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, FranceThis was the first time I’d been to this old artists’ quarter {now pretty darn full of tourists} in the bright light of day. As in, lunch time. I definitely prefer twilight.

But how cute is this artiste? He’s got his sketch pad under his arm and the Sacre Coeur behind him. That’s Paris, right there.

Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, FranceJust in front of La Maison Rose, we watched a Japanese photo shoot. The two men were dressed like 100 years ago – very dapper – and riding vintage bicycles. Over and over, trying to not get tourists in their footage. It was kind of fascinating and kind of hilarious.

Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Montmartre, Paris, FranceA funny thing about looking more carefully at my photos after I get home from a trip is that I spot the people in them that I didn’t truly see before as more than an annoyance in my frame.

For example, the couple smooching in front of the carousel. I have an entire series of this moment. It would make a fun flip book!

Fresh Scratch, Paris, Montmartre, FranceFresh Scratch, Laduree, Paris, FranceAfter Montmartre came some time on the Champs Elysees. For me, the priority was getting to the famed house of macarons {macaRONs people! macaRONS! NOT macaroons! entirely different goodies!}, Laduree.

It was a gilded house of delight. So colorful. So a-flutter. I missed my girlies most that afternoon, because I knew they’d have adored it. It was so early on in my trip that I couldn’t save them any treats…so one got the empty box and one got the bag, and they were thrilled! I love that about kids.

Fresh Scratch, Laduree, Paris, FranceFresh Scratch, Nortre Dame, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Paris, FranceThe evenings are always my favorites on these tours, as it finally starts to cool down. This trip was incredibly, incredibly hot, as in over 100 degrees daily. Not fun when you’re outside trekking around all day. The inferno even followed us into Switzerland. No reprieve, I tell you!

On this particular evening, on this particular bridge, my co-worker Steve and I witnessed one whopper of a lover’s quarrel. Sadly, it was among a married American couple and not a French one, as I would’ve much preferred to have heard their rapid, passionate French instead of their cruel words in English.

Apparently, “Tom” is just going to be part of her life, and he needs to get used to it, people! And then she stormed off down the Seine, where we later passed her on a bench, and, man, was she pissed. He stood on the bridge a long time. It was like watching a football game, wondering what play would be made next and by whom! Eventually, I saw him walk over to her. Later, I spotted them walking together. But, damn, that vacation was ruined, right?? They will always look at Paris and think of the time they screamed at each other.

Fresh Scratch, Nortre Dame, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Paris, FranceFresh Scratch, Paris, Laduree, FranceAfter leaving the lovers’ quarrel, we found a little park to sit in while we sampled the macarons and watched the hip Parisians play Patonk and drink wine with their friends.

Then I caught an evening boat ride down the Seine. It was downright stunning:

Fresh Scratch, Paris, France, Musee D'Orsay Fresh Scratch, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Paris, France, Eiffel Tower Fresh Scratch, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Paris, FranceThe next day we hit the Luxembourg Gardens, where I wandered alone and tried to channel Hemingway. This is the park he cut through on his walk home to Hadley, is first wife, nearly every day after working {writing} in the cafes.

I came back later and took a nap on a bench. It was divine. It was the coolest spot in the city.

By the way, my brother-in-law tells me that beneath the gardens is the Parisian equivalent of CIA headquarters. Anyone else heard this?

Fresh Scratch, Paris, France

Fresh Scratch, Paris, France, Eiffel TowerMy neice Lexi came along this summer, and it was such fun to show her around and to get comic relief from her nearly every second! She is sassy, that one. I managed to impress her with my knowledge of Tupac lyrics on the bus rides. She just migggghhhhtttt think I’m cool.

We headed to the top of the Eiffel Tower that night, as did Justin Beiber. Just a hot tip: they always tell you the top is closed. It usually isn’t. Just purchase a ticket for the top – they never bat an eye.

Fresh Scratch, Paris, FranceIf you want a great view of Paris, the balcony on the Musee d’Orsay is where it’s at.

The museum’s not bad, either ;)…

Did you know that the Musee was originally a train station used for a World’s Fair, and that they planned to demolish it afterward? Thankfully, it was saved and turned into this gorgeous space.

Fresh Scratch, Paris, France Fresh Scratch, Paris, FranceThis is the type of graffiti I was alluding to earlier. These mosaics can be found all over Europe, especially in Paris and London, I’ve noticed.

They’re supposedly by this artist who calls himself Invader. He makes mosaics of mainly the ghosts from Pac-Man and the little guys from Space Invaders. Here, we have a departure with C-3P0 and Chewbacca. Spotting his work this summer became a game – they’re everywhere! I only wish I’d snapped a pic of each one…my mission for next time, I suppose!

Fresh Scratch, Paris, Montmartre, FranceParis, je t’aime. It’s never long enough.

london 2015.

Fresh Scratch, Kelli Samson, Shelby Payne Photography

We’ve had an extra-long summer in our school district, thanks to no snow days last year and Labor Day being later than usual. While it’s been relaxing and fun, I’m starting to feel like I’m sliding down a muddy hill into the school year. I have no idea why that’s the image I conjure up when I think of it this time, but it is! It’s messy and fraught with denial!

But, you know what? I’ve bought a cute planner from Rifle Paper Co., so I must be, like, practically half way there.

I’m spending time chaotically hitting my summer to-do list before there is no summer left, and culling the stars from my photos of Europe this summer is one of the best things on that list. This morning, I’m starting with London.


fresh scratch, London 2015 Fresh Scratch, London 2015This city takes on such different flavors at different times of the day. Summer twilight in London is my favorite. It’s filled with intoxicated young businessmen in their bespoke suits, hanging out loudly in front of pubs with their buddies, which is hilarious to watch. And London just has that magic light.

Fresh Scratch, London 2015 Fresh Scratch, London 2015 Fresh Scratch, London 2015 The London Eye was playing peek-a-boo with Big Ben. This shot is one of my favorites.

Fresh Scratch, London 2015This year the part of London I explored a bit more was, unexpectedly, Notting Hill. One could wander all of those colorful little streets for days {when I got us a little lost, I sure felt like it we would never find our way out!}, then take a little rest in Hyde Park.

Which I may have done…

Next week: my favorites from France. For an overview of my entire three-week trip, click here.