Saturday, December 31, 2011

Paris meets Bear Country

"Mutti, meet Big Foot. Big Foot, meet Mutti!"

It has been over two weeks since my fingers have hit the keyboard. I have missed you, Le Blog

Things are slowing down a bit, and I finally get to write a new story. Mutti ("Mom," in German) a.k.a. Le Husband's mom, a.k.a. Junior's grandma, has come -and gone- after nine very busy days. We did our best to show her around (this was only her third visit to Seattle,) and to introduce her to favorite places, and favorite friends. Voilà a Best-Of of our Holidays "à la Pacific Northwest." 

Like many modern stories, Mutti's American adventure started in an airport. Seatac airport, as we call the local hub. Mutti was flying with Air France (the French airline offers the only non-stop flight available between Seattle in Paris.) Even though she had traveled over-an-ocean-across-a-continent-in-coach-class-for-most-of-a-day, you would not have known it. She looked fraîche comme une rose, (fresh as a daisy) when she finally appeared on top of the escalator in the main terminal. That's a real Parisienne, for you, folks. 

Waiting, waiting...

Notice the newly-purchased coat: Mutti is ready for Northwest weather!

We were not the only ones waiting. As I was observing the crowd, I noticed another family standing across from us by the escalators. I could not help but wonder: Who was Amanda? I surmised she was an American exchange student coming home from France during Christmas break. 

By the time Mutti went to bed that first evening, she had been up for over 27 hours. Ah, the joys of international travel!

The first morning, we did not waste any time. There were only a few days left before Christmas. Gifts had to be selected, purchased, and wrapped (just in case Santa was too busy to take care of the French imports and their visitor.) Time was of the essence, and we all took off to go downtown. What do you do in America when you want to shop in an efficient manner? You hit the mall, of course. Downtown Seattle has a decent one: Pacific Place. There are a few good boutiques around the corner, including the Nordstrom flagship store. The next few hours were very busy. Some of us spent a lot of time doing this...

You've got to love smartphones!

Others were more productive and got the job done...

Mutti found a jolie jacket here. 
It will look great on the Champs-Elysées!

"Real" Chanel...
Pricey "fake" Chanel, by St John

More Chanel... Do you notice a theme, here?

Les boys were not forgotten. On the way home, we stopped at West Marine (the boater's Nordstrom,) so Le Husband a.k.a. "Skipper Fred" could find a proper gift. 

"Maman, could I get a new dinghy, please? (kidding!)"
I still don't understand why Le Husband turned these down...

Très chichi, non?
"Green" bags made out of recycled sails: Perfect! 

When we were not shopping last week, we were sightseeing. One day, Le Husband took Mutti, Junior and a buddy to the famed Seattle Museum of Flight. It is a local "must-see."

Two friends inside the International Space Station

"Bonjour,  Monsieur!" 

About to board the Flight Simulator

Another day, Mutti and I met a dear friend (and former French student of mine) Kaydee, and the three of us enjoyed a lovely lunch and afternoon in a quaint Seattle neighborhood I blogged about this fall, Madison Valley

A local bistro, Voilà

Conversation flowed... in French, bien sûr...

Avoiding Christmas crowds in the charming Madison Valley boutiques
We got treated to my friend Nora's delicious macarons chez Inès Pâtisserie

Not all our trips were taken in an urban environment. Mutti had not seen the mountains in the winter for over 30 years, so Le Husband, a caring son, decided to drive to Leavenworth. For those of you who have never visited the Pacific Northwest, Leavenworth is a major tourist attraction located in the heart of the Cascade mountain range. A former timber community that once thrived thanks to the Great North Railroad, the small town floundered once the railroad was relocated to another city in the 1920s. In the 1960s, several officials decided to capitalize on the town's location (it is surrounded by majestic peaks,) and Leavenworth was remodeled into a Bavarian-style village. It was a daring move, but it paid off. Today, Leavenworth attracts over a million visitors a year. The scenic town offers the best of both worlds: a lively downtown with quaint boutiques and restaurants (looking its best in the winter when it is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Christmas lights sparkle on all buildings,) and outdoor activities galore. 

The drive to Leavenworth, through Stevens Pass
A Bavarian village... surrounded by the local "Alps"

A taste of the Old World

In Leavenworth, Mutti enjoyed a delicious German lunch (complete with Bratwurst and sauerkraut.) We visited local boutiques specializing in nutcrackers, coocoo clocks and other Bavarian-themed paraphernalia, and braved the bitter cold during a walk in the scenic riverfront park.

Happy dog and boy in Leavenworth, WA

Bon appétit, Bald Eagle!

After exploring the area so much, it felt good to relax with some of our hospitable friends, who had us over for dinner, or for coffee and beignets. Then we welcomed a few families on Christmas Eve. This trip was Mutti's introduction to American style entertaining. She learned some useful survival skills... 

How to eat a hamburger... Forks and knives not allowed!

How to sample Tequila...

Let's not forget lime juice and salt!

We noticed everyone was on their best behavior around the French lady, well almost...

On Christmas morning, Les Boys, Mutti and I opened our gifts. Junior was very happy about  his new RC plane, a gift from his grandma. 

We treated Mutti to a special celebration on Christmas day: brunch at the [revolving] Space Needle restaurant. The weather, however windy, cooperated, and we admired endless views of the Puget sound area during the meal. 

Junior and "the Orbiter," the Needle's signature dessert
Don't fly off,  Junior!

A few days later, Mutti went home to her hometown, Paris, France, after a successful visit to Bear Country

Les Boys and I stayed home and relaxed a bit, enjoying the last few days of Christmas break. We ignored the pelting rain and checked on our boat, Mistral, at the marina. Then  we  paid a visit to some boat-dealer friends and looked at their sailboat inventory (a favorite family pastime-- Le Husband has not given up on his dream to own a French sailboat one day!) 

This is what our family does,
when most people stay stay dry inside coffee shops!

We started a Harry Potter marathon and watched a different movie every night (is there a better way to spend a cold, rainy winter evening?)

Wizards, witches and pixies are always welcome chez French Girl!
(Kris Kringl Christmas shop, Leavenworth, WA) 

We read; we talked; I wrote. Tonight, we will meet more friends to celebrate the new year. 

This is it. The last story I will write in 2011. Thank you for following this fun little blog this year. I can't wait to see you again in 2012!

Bonne année! Happy New Year!

-- French Girl, les Boys (and Mutti) 

A bientôt.


  1. what a wonderfully L-O-V-E-L-Y post and a beautiful way to end the year and WELCOME in the new....i have enjoyed getting to know you this year and look forward to many more enjoyable moments in the future...BONNE ANNEE and all my good wishes for health happiness wealth and peace in this new you and all whom you love v....I LOVE THIS BLOG!!

  2. Merci g. As always, the first one to comment (I was hoping you would be, since this has become a bit of a tradition this year! ;-) Thank you for your continuous support. I wish you and your family all the best in 2012. See you next year chez French Girl! -- Veronique

  3. Merci, Véronique, pour ce reportage très intéressant!
    C'est un peu en Amérique que nous allons donc quitter 2011...
    Je te souhaite à toi, et à tous ceux que tu aimes, une très bonne année 2012. La santé, et du bonheur, beaucoup de bonheur!
    Joyeux réveillon!
    Gros bisous!

  4. Adorable! Your posts always make me happy Veronique. :)

    Wishing you a great 2012!

  5. Good Morning, and I hope this comment makes it all the way thru to publish. I usually write some exciting comment and it is lost into cyberspace, but I am determined to keep trying. As my hubbie is shown at the scene of the Tequila crime I feel some responsibilty for showing Mutti the "underside" of American hospitality. However our introduction to the "Pear Williams" at your place more than makes up for a little Tequila sampling. Best Wishes for a great New Year.

  6. Looks like a lot of fun!
    Your MIL is adorable and I am admiring her trim figure and French style.
    I also love seeing Seattle through the eyes of a local. I want to pack and get on the Clipper and visit again.

    I've been aboard a few Beneteau's and they are great sailboats.
    I love how they have creative storage spots in the most unusual places. Storage for me when we cruise is a huge thing, as there never seems enough room for all our gear.
    The interiors are bright and tall men don't bump their heads on the bulkheads.
    Pure luxe, they are the Chanel's of sailboats for sure:)

    Happy New Year!

  7. WOW! Looks and sounded like a super time! Great photos. Happy New Year to you and yours! =)

  8. Dearest Véronique,

    What a lovely post! We all are very familiar with this kind of visits. Don't you get dizzy from looking at the escalator for the 'one' familiar face showing up? How many times we gazed at it for hours... Her day of 27 hours was not too bad. We made once a record of 42 hours, flying to Johannesburg in South Africa, via Brussels, Belgium... Of course our trips to Indonesia ware long; two nights on the plane with a 12 hour lay-over in Amsterdam.
    But after a good night sleep one feels fit again.
    You certainly had a super time all together and that is great for lasting memories!
    Wishing you a Happy New Year in good health and all the best.

    Love to you,


  9. Looks like you all had a wonderful Christmas and Christmas break! Leavenworth sounds like a fun day trip, and I am quite envious that Mutti got a jacket from kate spade! I hope she enjoyed her foray into American cuisine too! It's amazing the year is coming to a close much has happened this year. Au revoir 2011 et bienvenue 2012! Bonne annee, Veronique!! Katelyn

  10. What lovely pictures! Last time I was in Seattle we went up the Needle, but I need to check out Madison Park and we've talked about Leavenworth as well. Thanks for allowing me to vicariously visit!

  11. What a wonderful time had by all. So good to find your site!

    Veronique, All the best in 2012!

    I hope you will enter my Giveaway From Serena & Lily!

    Art by Karena

  12. So nice to meet you just found your beautiful blog and so happy I did. I have enjoyed looking around and I'm now following you, if you find a spare minute hope you visit me sometime and follow back so nice to meet new friends. Sending you special wishes for a wonderful New Year I’m looking forward to keeping in touch in 2012.
    Always Wendy

  13. What a great time you all had!!! Fun fun fun!!!! That dessert looked amazing!!!

  14. MA BELLE!!!! Oh, toute la famille ensemble pendant les vacances; c'est SUPER! MUTTI, quel joli mot. J'adore le langage et c'est un grand plaîsir de t'écrire dans le plus joli langage du monde!

    Merci pour tes commentaires au sujet de mes créations. Je me passionne du papier, et si tu connais les oeuvres de LE JARDIN DE MISS CLARA, je voudrais faire des oeuvres selon son style, mais evidemment, mes propres idées!

    Je t'embrasse ma chère et BONNE 2012! Anita

  15. -- Richard, Heather -- Thank you for stopping by and best wishes to you also, les amis!
    -- Suzi -- You made it! The comment went through! Mutti loved her introduction to tequila sampling, and we are happy you both enjoyed "la Poire Williams!" ;-)
    -- Hostess of the Humble Bungalow -- Seattle can be quite scenic when the rain finally stops ;-) Ah, Benetteaus... Love your comparison with Chanel. One day, one day...
    -- Sandy -- Best wishes to you, my dear friend.
    -- Mariette -- I do not know how you survived all that traveling. I wish you a peaceful year in 2012. Stay home for a while ;-)
    -- Katelyn -- Thank you for visiting. The Kate Spade jacket looked smashing! I might wait for end-of-season sale and get one myself!
    -- Margarita, Karina, Wendy -- Welcome chez French Girl. I am so glad you stopped by. I am looking forward to visiting your blogs too.
    -- OurLifeinaClick -- That dessert was just vanilla icecream, but the dry ice made it look special and Junior loved it! ;-)
    -- Anita -- Merci de ta visite, chere amie. Bonne annee a toi aussi. Je te retrouve prochainement dans ta boutique Etsy.
    -- Veronique

  16. Oh my dear, what an album of family fun you have shared with us. Mutti seems like my kind of lady. I want to shop with her! :)

    Bonne année to you and your family. I have loved, loved getting to know you this year.

  17. Happy new year, i wish you the best love this post!

  18. Merci encore for an interesting story of a slice of your life over Christmas 2011. I always enjoy your excellent photos. Looks like you all had a wonderful time.
    A bientot en 2012!

  19. Looks like you all had a lovely visit. I know it was a special time for each of you. No question Mutti is Parisian. One can see it in her style. She is a beautiful lady! Happy New Year to you and your family. ~ Sarah

  20. I adore your Mutti. Basically, I wish I had this kind of a person in my life. I really admire her elegance and her zest for life. How wonderful that you have had so much fun over the holidays. It is practically a dream come true :)

  21. A long break fro blogging, but you compensate be a long and fascinating post!

    Last (only) time I was in Seattle was in 1972 (incredible, 40 years already!); I guess it has changed a bit, but the beautiful landscape is still there!

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  22. Oh, that was SOOOOO fabulous! Merci!! I need a rest now...feel as if I've been on a long trip ;)

    Mutti is just a DOLL. Such great hair & skin and what a good sport! Although no one would ever get me to eat with hands!! Even french fries...fork. I may have even more French blood than you, French Girl ;)

    LOVED it! Very Happy 2012!! Hugs.

  23. WOW! You and your family are the perfect hosts! And, might I add that your mother in law is absolutely awesome. Tequila?! Hahaha I love it!

    It looks like you guys had so much fun. I love how she never had a hair out of place!


  24. what a lovely account of your christmas celebration and trips with your family - a real treasure - I love the look of leavenworth up in the cascades - Happy New Year to you and I look forward to following your blog in 2012....

  25. Excellent post Veronique and I totally agree with above remarks that your MIL is just so very chic!

  26. Your Christmas looks like it was FUN! Will your family adopt me?! I could be your sister or cousin or SOMETHING! ;)

    When I visit Seattle (some time in the unknown future, lol) I hope we can have some girl time at Pacific Place. It looks like a fabulous mall.

    I love that your mother-in-law did shots of tequila. That's awesome. She seems like such a classy and glamorous woman. I would be a bit intimidated around her. Lol.

    I love these photos, particularly the shots of the city and ocean. Stunning!

    PS. Starting on the book! :D

  27. -- Virginia -- I will give you Mutti's number when you go back to Paris. She loves to shop indeed.
    -- Clara and Cherie -- Merci to both of you and "Bonne année!"
    -- Sarah -- Thank you. 100% Parisian, to be sure ;-)
    -- Olga -- Merci beaucoup. Yes, we all had a wonderful time.
    -- Peter -- 1972?! Seattle has changed A LOT! Seattle was not famous at all in 1972. You definitely need to come back!
    -- French Heart -- You sound more French than most French people indeed. So when you go to Paris, how do you eat a "jambon-beurre" sandwich? I have never tried, but it can't be that easy to use a fork and knife to slice baguette ;-)
    -- Amber -- You are correct. Mutti's hair ALWAYS looks great.
    -- Catherine & Perth Daily Photo -- Thank you! Looking forward to visiting your blogs in 2012 too!
    -- Jenny -- Adopt you? Pourquoi pas? Junior could use an older sister, especially one like you ;-)

  28. What a wonderful time you had with your mil! I remember well when my (Dutch)mother would visit when we lived in the US and our children were young. It was fun taking her around to all those really American places and shops. She loved yard sales (aka tag sales, garage sales) to see all that fun American junk ;)

    La multi ani fericit! Happy New Year from Moldova!

  29. Wow! I'm tired after just reading about all your adventures! Looks like you had a lovely visit - glad to see you took Mutti to my stomping grounds -- Nordstrom and Madison Valley! (Aren't Nora's pastries just divine?) Happy New Year to you all. Hope you get to put your feet up and relax a bit, Veronique! XO

  30. Mutti is a woman after my own heart... Kate Spade and Chanel. Santa had a little C#5 for me wrapped under the tree.

    As always your stories and photos are fabulous and I am so glad that Mutti had the best of times in the Pacific Northwest with you and "the boys!"

    Best wishes to you in 2012, and I hope that you will continue to delight us with your writing and posts. I have already made a file of your recs in Nice!


  31. I am sure Mutti has many fond memories of this wonderful time together with you.
    She is a beautiful woman and always looks beautiful.

    Wishing you the best new year
    Helen xx

  32. Wow! What an amazing time Mutti must have had and you all with her. I have one of those fabbo sail bags but may have declined the 'faux fourrure' boat shoes as well. Mutti will surely be happy to know that Chanel is such a universal style icon ;-) BONNE ANNEE à toi aussi Véronique de notre petit coin du sud ouest où l'on espère te rencontrer un jour lors d'une de tes visites chez TOI!. Pleine de joie et de bonheur à toi et ta famille.

  33. These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle