Wednesday, May 26, 2010

French connection

A few weeks ago, six family members on my hubby's side traveled to Paris where a niece is finishing her MA this year. These included my sis-in-law and her daughter from the Philippines, a nephew and niece from the US, and Bob and me from Canada. There were more of us originally in this reunion of sorts, but things came up and others backed out.

Seven was still a good number and a lot of fun. We all stayed at Nikki's apartment in Rueil Malmaison located in the Paris suburbs.

Our band of seven consisted of (L-R) Warren, Michelle,
Nikki, Noemi, myself, April and hubby on the cam

Prior to the trip, many emails went back and forth until we found a happy compromise considering our time, budget, and travel preferences. In the end, we agreed on Paris, Brittany and Normandy in Northern France...

Map of France (adapted from

...then the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Southern Italy.

Map of Italy (adapted from

Except for Nikki, we all had "open jaw" tickets. Bob and I were scheduled to fly out of Rome and the others out of Naples.

In France, I always found it convenient and reassuring to be with someone who understood and spoke the language. Two years ago, when I visited my son Gino in Provence, he did all the talking. (You may read about our adventures and misadventures in my blog entries starting October 2007). This time around, it was Nikki. Ooh la la!

Their fluency in the language never failed to impress me. How in the world did they learn to speak like that? They sounded so confident in talking with bus drivers, waiters, stall vendors, ticket counter agents... I, on the other hand, could only say Bonjour and Merci. After that, I went back to looking dumb.

It was indeed very helpful to be with someone who spoke French in France, but there was an added advantage if that someone was living in-country. First, we had a place to stay, never mind if some had to sleep in the living room.

Noemi opening the door to Nikki's apartment.

Second, we not only had a spokesperson, we also had a travel guide who could reliably navigate the city streets and the Paris Metro!

Waiting for our ride at the Charles de Gaulle station

Nikki organized the France leg of our holidays and did it well. I will write about the highlights of our French escapade in my next entries.

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