Our Week in France- Fontenay Abbey

 

IMG_4924
A day trip to Abbaye de Fontenay was a nice closing to our time in France. Warm weather, beautiful sunshine, a simple picnic, and plenty of fresh air. The Fontenay Abbey is a 12th century Cistercian Abbey and a Unesco World Heritage site.

The abbey is peaceful, meditative, and serene. It felt like the perfect way to end this trip. A nice slow down before heading back in the car and beginning the journey home. There were so many fun moments on this day. Here are a few that stuck out in my mind: Opa cuddling his grandkids on the picnic blanket during lunch; trying to to keep the children quiet inside the abbey; admiring the clean architecture; large, but simple, fountains; beautifully blue skies and warm sun; and by far my favorite– Opa leading his family in a 3-part round of a movement from Mahler’s First Symphony inside the abbey. Other visitors were so amused, they even joined in. It was a perfect meeting of like-minded choir nerds. Musically, I was quite impressed. 🙂

IMG_4916

IMG_4913

Advertisements

Our Week in France– VĂ©zelay

IMG_4848-2

Perhaps the most relaxing day of our week in Burgundy was our day trip to VĂ©zelay. The Oma and Opa creche was up and running and we were off for a day without kids. My main goal was to have a relaxed lunch of yummy French food. Mission accomplished.

IMG_4821

We had a delicious menu for lunch outside on the main street. I just love how everything tastes better in France. It was so nice to chat with Jaap and Mieke and have a relaxed meal without having to entertain small children. My coffee and accompanying sweet treats was a great ending. These tiny homemade pink marshmallows were delicious!

IMG_4840

Afterwards we took in some sites, visiting the basilica and checking out the views. VĂ©zelay is a tiny town situated on a top a large hill and the few from top was beautiful. I’m so grateful my in-laws were willing to give us this relaxation time. Whew.

Our Week in France—Family Time

IMG_4747

Exploring Chateau Bussy-Rabutin

We visited Château de Bussy-Rabutin as a family day trip during our Burgundy trip. We enjoyed a cozy family lunch at a local cafe complete with local cheeses, meats, and wine from the region. We had packed a big picnic lunch, but forget half of it back at the gîte. Ooops. At least we were able to laugh about it and we made the cafe owner very happy with our visit.

IMG_4704

The chateau turned out to be a fun family activity. Exploring the interior and running around the grounds. The sun was shining, Flora was exploring with her cousins, and Thibault slept on Jaap most of the time. It was a successful family day trip.

IMG_4715

Our Week in France– Living my best life

IMG_4701

This summer has been quite the journey for me—and it’s not even finished! When we decided not to travel to the U.S. this summer, our original plan was to book a European beach vacation. Somewhere in Spain, Portugal, Italy or Greece. With the busyness of day to day life and my fear of not finding/booking the perfect family vacation, plus the idea of traveling some where super hot with a baby. I couldn’t decide what was best for us. I had set my summer vacation expectations too high. In the end we decided to stay in the Netherlands, plan a last minute trip somewhere and have some day trips around the area.

IMG_4682

First night at the gîte

When my in-laws found out we had no formal travel plans they invited us to France for the week. As a gift to us, they booked a gîte for the week. I was relieved that we had a summer holiday planned, but was still disappointed that we chose not to take advantage of a summer in Europe and have a beach vacation. As our trip approached, I was getting very excited, but being reasonable with my expectations of traveling with a baby and small child. 1.5 hour day trips everyday was not possible, wine tasting throughout the countryside will have to wait till next time!

When we arrived in France I thought—-we’re on summer holiday in France! How was I not more excited about this trip!!! Pinch me—I am living my best life. Exploring the Burdundy countryside, drinking French wine every night, exploring castles and abbeys, eating delicious food and French baguettes everyday, hearing French and listening to Flora trying to learn French, and spending time with our family. It truly was a fabulous week. I was so thankful to be on this trip and it made me think how fortunate I am to be living this life with my loved ones.

IMG_4740

Beautiful sunny day

Our Week in France

IMG_4668

DELICIOUS peaches—market in Reims

We have recently returned from our vacation in France. It was fantastic! Traveling with kids is not an easy feat, but I kept my travel expectations low and reasonable for these little ones and ended up having the greatest time. My (amazing) in-laws invited us for a week in Burgundy with them. In the end, my sister-in-law and nephews came and we had just a fabulous time.

IMG_4647

Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims

We spent one night in Reims en route to our gĂ®te to break up the travel time. We wandered around the city, I let go of my dream of champagne tasting (next time!), and enjoyed the good food, architecture, and sunshine! Despite an AWFUL (!!!) night’s sleep, our vacation was off to a good start.

IMG_4648

Flora channeling Joan of Arc

IMG_4675

Location of our picnic lunch

Our Delft with Kids Trip

IMG_3390

We’re so blessed to have my mom staying with us for 2.5 months. She retired last month and is here enjoying an extended vacation with us in the Netherlands. We went off exploring Delft and Den Haag last weekend. Despite the winter temps we’ve been having, we had a great time. So proud of my kiddos for being happy little travellers. Here’s more about our quick trip to Holland and my Delft with Kids tips.

 

 

Tip #1 Visit Delft!

I love this city. It’s romantic, atmospheric, and small enough to walk to see the whole thing in a day. It’s truly a beautiful place. It was a good home base for us. Small, completely walkable, and manageable with two small children. Our Airbnb apartment was two minutes from the Markt. Delft is centrally located with Den Haag, Leiden, and Amsterdam close by.

IMG_3338

Tip #2 Eat a stroopwafel the size of your head

We asked the TI booth about finding the fresh stroopwafel stand and she told us exactly where to go. Off of Brabantse Turkmarkt and Burgwal is a stroopwafel stand where you can get the most delicious stroopwafel you have ever tasted. It’s not open everyday, perhaps just on Saturdays. Lekker!

IMG_3367

Tip #3 Take a Boat Cruise

My mom and I enjoyed a learning a little bit more about Delft history on the tour. I think Flora thought the ride was going to be a little more exciting than it was, but it was still worth the trip for us! Rondvaart Delft

Tip #4 Enjoy an early and casual dinner at Burgerz

We had a delicious dinner here at 17:00 on a Sunday evening in an empty restaurant. Perfect when traveling with baby and toddler! The food was delicious. Lots of veggie burgers and a kids menu to choose from, plus a salad for Grandma. I think my mother told the waitress the salad was delicious at least 5 times.

IMG_3427-2

Tip #5 Stroll along the canals and enjoy a coffee outside at Stads-Koffyhuys

While the kiddos napped, my mom and I sat outside near the the canal and enjoyed a yummy latte. This lunch spot also has a boat on the canal with seating as well. We sipped our coffee in the sunshine while admiring the leaning Oude Kerk.

 

 

 

Tip #6 Visit the Kinderboekenmuseum in Den Haag

I would recommend this museum for small children. We took the train from Delft to Den Haag CS, which was a fun activity for Flora in itself. It’s only a 20 minute ride, which is another toddler plus! The Kinderboekenmuseum is a small children’s museum very close to Den Haag Central train station. Each room depicts famous Dutch children storybooks. I thought it was visually interesting. Lots of play on space, size, and perception. Very cool. Flora enjoyed hopping through the Hungry Caterpillar’s food and running around Kikker’s little world. It was fun to see these stories come alive. Thibault also had fun rolling around on the floor while my mom and Flora explored the rest.

IMG_3463

Tip #7 Take advantage of the Museumkaart

We truly lucked out on this one. I read the Maritshuis was closed on Mondays, but as we were walking by we saw that it was open most likely because of school vacations. It was already 16:00, but my mother and I jumped at the opportunity. Both kids had fallen asleep and the employee outside said everything was accessible by elevator. I was so happy that mom got to see Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It was kind of a drive-by visit because Thibault woke up and was making a little bit of a fuss, but this is what’s great about the Museumkaart. You can just hop in someplace for an hour and not feel like you are wasting your ticket money!

Well there it is. Our 3 night stay in Delft complete with my kiddo recommendations. Glad to be home now. Whew!

 

Delaware Water Gap Day Trip

DSC08478

Childs Park Trail

Enjoying the great outdoors on our annual summer trips to the States is by far the highlight. America’s natural beauty amazes me. Such a beautiful country. Despite our little charmed life in the Netherlands, this is one of the things I crave the most—the big vast, abundance of nature. Scenes like this are hard to come by in our neck of the woods.

My parents took us to the part of the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania for the day. These photos are from our hike in Child’s Park. I was so proud of Flora for hiking the whole trail up and down and only needing to ride on Papa’s shoulders for the last five minutes. It was a success! She’s a nature lover.

DSC08461

Some quiet time with Grandma

DSC08456

A moment of Zen