Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Mexican Getaway (Puerto Vallarta, Part 1)

Note to visitors: Por favor, do not attempt to read this post if your WiFi connection is slow. This could prove a very frustrating experience. On the other hand, you could fix yourself a margarita and go with the flow... Enjoy. 



Street art, El Malecón, Puerto Vallarta

It is not an easy job vacationing in a place like Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico's safest and prettiest coastal towns. But someone had to do it, and our family flew over last week. You're welcome.

The City by the Bay: Puerto Vallarta
Life is a beach in P.V.

Renowned sunsets...

Since tourism took off in the 1960s, Puerto Vallarta has become a coveted destination for Mexicans and gringos alike, especially during peak season, December through April, when thousands of tourists descend upon the once sleepy town. Sun worshippers spend lazy days soaking up the rays and surfing on the beautiful beaches along Bahía de Banderas (Mexico's largest bay.)




The famous Mismaloya beach
Junior and friend



Others play and splash around in the expansive pools and lagoons of elegant resorts along the coast. 



Junior and Dad...

Look, Mom! I'm flying!

Foodies and amateurs of nightlife have a myriad of options to choose from, among beach and street-side stands, casual cantinas, world-class restaurants, lively bars and clubs. 




The Vista Grill: A gourmet experience above the Old Town

Thrill seekers are not forgotten, and venture out in the jungle and the mountains surrounding Puerto Vallarta. Last time we were in town - too brief of a visit while we were cruising down the Mexican coast - Les Boys loved taking a canopy tour with a local company, Los Veranos. Junior was 6 years old then. So they went back and brought our Seattle friends along. When we arrived after a bumpy and dusty ride along narrow mountain roads, French Girl and her Seattle Mom friend found a good observation point, down by gurgling Horcones river, and sipped margaritas to forget their 12-year olds were flying from treetop to treetop, securely fastened [they hoped] to a zip line, hundreds of feet above the ground. After a couple of drinks, French Girl and Seattle Mom did a great job at relaxing in the sun while ignoring the iguanas, snakes, and chatty jungle monkeys surrounding them.

Oldest zip line company in Puerto Vallarta--
Highly recommended by these French/American gringos!
Why can't there be a place like this while we wait daily
in our school's pick up line?

Ready for action!
When the crazy camera guy offers to take you on a "private tour"
so he can film the whole adventure,  you should be worried...
The highest and longest of the 15 zip lines
OMG! That's my child, flying over the Rio los Horcones canyon!

Crazy camera guy insisted everyone tried it upside down!

Later on that afternoon, we all walked around Puerto Vallarta's old town and went shopping for Mexican painted tile and glassware. My favorite find was a handmade ceramic Chihuahua  that will greet guests in my Seattle kitchen. His name is El Diablo, and I know my friends will not mind seeing him there, a few feet away from Minerva, the French kitchen witch I brought back last summer. Mes amis are very understanding of my quirky [French] ways, you see. 

Tourists in Los Arcos



The kind of kitchen
 that would brighten up the average Seattle day!


If, like this French Girl, you enjoy nothing more than walking around a city; people-watching; taking in colors, smells and sounds; if you know and love the Mediterranean culture, then Puerto Vallarta is a dream come true. The town reminded me of Spain at times, and provided daily opportunities to practice my [rusty] Spanish with friendly locals. I could not get enough, as I left the busy Malecón (waterfront) neighborhood and ventured deeper along the narrow, steep streets of the old town. 


Inside the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The recently renovated "Malecón', Puerto Vallarta's Champs-Elysées

The best art is not always for sale:
Sand sculptures

I prefer sand iguanas to the "real thing..."
This young guy was a few feet away from my table
 while I had lunch at the River Café...

Los Voladores de Papantla: a traditional performance,
 at the top of a 98-foot pole






There is so much more to show you, but I fear this post may already be too long. 

You see, this trip was not just about sightseeing and playing at the beach. I still have to tell you the story of the famous movie, filmed in Puerto Vallarta, that changed the town for ever; I have to tell you about that school where Junior and his friend spent a morning with Mexican children; I have to tell you about les chiens, the dogs... 

So here is the thing. Why don't we agree to meet here next week; same day; same place; same time? I hope you can make our rendez-vous.

A bientôt.


All photographs by American Frog Photography. 
A heartfelt merci to the artist otherwise known as Le Husband.
Do not reproduce without permission, please. 

Afterword:


9:30pm. This is a last minute update to cheer the crew and cast of the little [French] movie that could, "The Artist." Jean Dujardin, merci for a fun and... ahem... spontaneous speech ;-) Cocorico! Bravo les Artistes!





59 comments:

  1. I've just discovered you blog and it's lovely ; and my God you HAVE been places ! Thanks for sharing !

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    1. You're welcome Christine. Come back anytime...

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  2. Veronique,
    This was a delightful first installment. I loved it! Three things I'll take away:
    1-your son zip lining upside down. c'est cool!
    2-the incredible violets and pinks in that one sunset photo-stunning
    3-le husband is tres fit!
    and one extra
    4-i think you're fabulous and can't wait for the next pv post.

    aidan xo

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    1. Merci beaucoup Aidan. ;-) I will let Le Husband know that you find him fit-looking. He will be VERY pleased. Feel better!

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  3. You must have had such a wonderful time in that glorious warm weather! I have only been there once and it was a long time ago. I love the older architecture - I too would love walking around exploring back alleys and watching people~
    Glad you are home,
    K.

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    1. Merci Kim. Check out the next post. You will find cute pics of little friends for your new addition, Petit Louis ;-)

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  4. As usual, a compelling post that draws me in. Can't wait for the next installment...

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  5. Wonderful post. Love the sunset pic and tranquility.
    And with all those uber elegant white and grey kitchens flooded the blogosphere and Pinterest the orange kitchen is a color relief, simply fab! Love it.
    I'm craving a ceramic shopping while my les boys would have their boys' fun.
    Congratulations on Artist Oscars!
    Natalie

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    1. Bonjour Natalie. Thank you for stopping by. I agree with you the "minimalist look" is ok for a while, but I do enjoy bright colors at home. Could not bring that gorgeous kitchen back with me, but that little ceramic Chihuaha brightens up my kitchen countertop now ;-)

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  6. I want to go!! Glad you had a wonderful vacation!

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    1. Hello girlfriend. You would love exploring Puerto Vallarta while your boys have fun at the beach. Great town, smaller, but great atmosphere.

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  7. We went to a wedding in PV last May and loved it - our hotel and the site of the wedding was just up the hill from Our Lady of Guadeloupe, so we had that lovely spire in our sites much of the time. Glad you had such a wonderful trip, and congratulation to Uggie and all his Artist cast-mates!

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    1. Bonjour Jeanne. I would love to stay downtown for a couple of nights next time I visit. We were in Nuevo Vallarta, the "posh" new suburb where many resorts are located now. It was lovely, but I could not walk to town, and that was a bit frustrating.

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  8. WOW WOW WOW
    I have not seen so much of Mexico even when I was there.
    merci for sharing your voyage!

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    1. You're welcome, Carol. Where did you stay last time? Some of the hotels/resorts are outside of PV and you have to be motivated to travel downtown.

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  9. We've vacationed here too and just loved it - toured Richard B. and Elizabeth T. "pad" - did you happen to see it? Gorgeous pics!

    leslie

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    1. Ah. La Casa Kimberley. That's for the next post. It is not open to the public anymore, sadly, and in bad state of disrepair, but with a little bit of imagination, one can still picture Liz and Richard, hanging out in Puerto Vallarta with their friends...

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  10. Veronique, I cannot wait to hear about the rest of your trip. If I'm being honest, I've never had the desire to go to Mexico, but this post and those lovely photos changed all that! It looks beautiful, relaxing, and colorful!! It sounds like everyone had a fabulous time! Hopefully you have come back refreshed and well-rested. Can't wait to hear (and see!) more details of the trip!

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    1. Bonjour Katelyn. In my [limited] experience, Mexico is a beautiful and friendly country. Unfortunately, several regions are plagued by drug-related violence. Puerto Vallarta is not one of them, thankfully. I always felt safe there, and used common sense whenever I walked around on my own. This applies to all cities around the world. I would go back in a heartbeat. There is so much to see, and learn there.

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  11. Words cannot describe how envious I am of you right now. LOL! What a perfect vacation. It sounds like your family had a blast and these photos are stunning. I've never been to Mexico. I hope to change that some day!

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    1. Well, you can save up a bit and fly there. Mexico is still relatively cheaper than other destinations, especially if you go outside of the busy tourist season. I heard prices drop drastically in the summer. Something to keep in mind. I can already see Jennifer Fabulous walking along the Malecon! ;-)

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  12. Oh boy ! Looks like a wonderful place to have a wonderful time, which evidently you did... can't wait to see part two, and good to know it is still possible to travel to Mexico without gettting caught up in the narco wars...

    And EXCELLENT news for The Artist, we loved it, la Grenouille and I...

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    1. Bonjour Owen. Thank you for your visit, Monsieur Toad. Yes, it is still safe in PV (see my comment to Katelyn, above.) Truth be told, we heard a bus carrying cruise passengers had been highjacked the day before we left. They were unharmed but all their possessions were stolen. Sad, but this won't stop me from going back. The police is everywhere in PV and I take this as a sure sign they intend to keep the place free of drug-related violence.

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  13. Interesting.. not surprised to hear this as the home was open to anybody and tourists were touching things. I have a picture of myself on Elizabeth T. bed.

    Thanks for visiting me today! My daughter speaks French very well and is studying accounting and french at UW. My husband and I will be visiting Paris at the end of June to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Looking forward to that - our first time!

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    1. You will love Paris, Leslie. Is your daughter tagging along as your interpreter? -- I would love to see pics of Casa K. Could you email me a couple? I promise not to publish them. I would love to take a peek though ;-)

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  14. Hum, rien qu'à voir les images, je me sens en vacances!Quel curieux melange, au fil des decouvertes , on se sent à Cuba, en Espagne, puis en Méditerranée. . Ce qui est sur, ce que c'est Muy caliente!Chaud, coloré, vivant!J'ai hâte de voir la suite! surtout que je me demandais de quel film tu parlais. La nuit de l'iguane?..
    A lundi prochain!

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    1. Bonjour Malyss. Il ne faisait pas si chaud que ca, environ 25 ou 27. C'est une ville tres changeante, coloree et vivante. En temps qu'Europeen (et mediterraneen) on s'y sent bien... Et pour le film, oui, tu as devine (et il y a une histoire sympa autour, bien entendu ;-)

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  15. Merci pour le arm chair trip to PV. Looks like you all had a great time. Beautiful photos. I look forward to the continuation.

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    1. Merci Cherie. You know I aim to please ;-) Your turn is coming soon...

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  16. You must have had a wonderful time. I love all your photo's The church was my favorite.

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    1. It was a fun week, and we are certainly going back. Thank you for stopping by, Riet. By the way, I hope the weather has warmed up for you in the Netherlands...

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  17. I love your French twist on a delightful holiday. Such fun seeing your family. I love getting to meet the families of my dear blog friends. And a good time was had by all!
    V

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    1. Merci pour ta visite, V. You will see more of "la Famille" next week. ;-)

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  18. Bravo et merci, Véronique! Tu sais nous émerveiller, nous donner l'eau à la bouche, par tes récits et tes belles photos.
    Et cette région que je ne connaîtrai probablement jamais, me donne pourtant bien envie de la découvrir!

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    1. Merci beaucoup Richard. Il ne faut jamais dire "jamais..." Qui sait si tu ne viendras pas au Mexique toi aussi, un de ces jours... A bientôt...

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  19. I love a holiday destination where there is something for everyone and PV sounds like one of those places! Bali was like that for us when David and Aimee were young, but we haven't been there for years now, after the Bali bombing it never felt safe anymore. Thankfully Aimee loves Paris as much as I do! Looking forward to part two Veronique see you next Sunday.

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    1. Something for everyone. That's it, exactement. More to come next week...

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  20. Well, Véronique, I'll certainly be back for more - same time, same place next week. I loved this post - what a wonderful holiday - so much more than a beach! Places like this are the perfect holiday spot for me - sun, vibrant colours, beautiful buildings and of course margaritas...
    A bientôt!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.com/

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    1. Bonjour miss b. I tend to stay away from destinations that offer "just a beach." Call me picky, but since I am not a sun worshipper, I'd rather walk around and explore rather than lay in the sun all day. Puerto Vallarta enabled me to do just that. Lovely place. Bonne semaine!

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  21. Ummm you're having a little bit too much fun. I'm officially jealous. ;) Looks like and sounded like a blast. No picture of the ceramic Chihuahua? I'm looking forward to next week Veronique. Have a fantastic week! =)

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    1. Hello Sandy! I guess I will have to add a picture of "El Diablo" to the next post ;-)

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  22. Enjoyed going along on the spectacularly colorful visit with you & your family to PV. Gorgeous pix! My child on a zip-line would make me need a Margarita, too ;) Looks like he and Dad had a terrific time. Was also thrilled for 'The Artist' win. What an entirely fabulous story...and a lovely mid-winter boost for La Belle France! Look forward to the next installment!

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    1. Merci Suzanne. Not to worry. Everyone survived the zip lines (and the margaritas.) Have a great week!

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  23. Oh my goodness Veronique! I too visited Prt Vallarta recently - just this past October. I loved it so much. It actually reminded me a bit of France because of the cobble stone streets. It was like a tropical European San Francisco to me. We visited a small art school while there, and I loved it. I'm so happy to see that you had a wonderful time!

    Amber
    Ambersmouthwash

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    1. Hola Amber. I do remember that post you wrote a few months ago, and the beautiful photographs. What a great city, eh? I can't wait to go back.

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  24. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. We spent a week in Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago and loved every minute of our time there. I was struck by the seaside location and wealth but how seemingly just a few blocks away was the jungle and immense poverty. We missed out on the zip lining and will have to add that to our itinerary next time.

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    1. Welcome chez French Girl in Seattle! I agree with you on the topic of "colliding worlds" in PV. Everytime we left our [admittedly extravagant] resort, I was fascinated to see how quickly the "real" PV caught up with us. Come back next week as I am taking my readers on a trip in a poor neighborhood South of town...

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  25. I just could not stop reading and scrolling, and by the time I finished, I had forgotten about fixing that beverage - rats!

    Love your photos and the tour of PV. I did some pretty exciting ziplines at Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Out of the 8 of us taking the tram to the top, only my sister and I really "jumped." Too funny, but we did scream like little girls on that first plunge 700 feet over the rainforest - eeeeeeeek!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  26. Thanks for the warning! :-) (I thought I made long posts.)

    But it was defintely worth spending the time!

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    1. Merci Peter. Yes, I know you understand the concept of long, but thoroughly researched posts ;-)

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  27. Great post - are you working for the Puerto Vallarta Tourist Board?
    Loved your "note to visitors" and I could certainly do with a margarita or 4 ........
    I will definitely meet "you here next week; same day; same place; same time"............ and from memory................. "same bat channel". (Now that's telling my age!)

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  28. Welcome back Elizabeth. I imagine it would be rather easy to work for the PV Tourist Board ;-) Hope you are "hanging in there" while renovating your "French Folly!" -- It will all be worth it, in the end. See you next week.

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  29. Outstanding place and your pictures are wonderful!
    Léia - Bonjour Luxembourg

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    1. Merci beaucoup Cezar and Leia! I must give all credit for the pictures to Le Husband!

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  30. Your Mexican holidays look lovely. Thank you for sharing some of them with us. I especially liked the photo where the boy appears to be flying through the air :)

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    1. Great to hear from you, Olga. The boy was flying through the air that day-- and he loved it! ;-)

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  31. Bonjour Véronique. I am also happy you found my Blog. We do have a great deal in common, including the fact that I, too, spent many years teaching French to adults and loved every minute of it.

    I will be "Following" your Blog as well. Let's do keep in touch. You can e-mail me "en direct" any time.

    Your son is adorable and the pictures on your blog are beautiful. Le Husband is very talend.

    I really love your profile picture. Very French.

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  32. What a wonderful trip!! I want to try ziplining too. Your photos are wonderful!

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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