I remember when I first met my husband there were two things that really stuck out to me about him. 1. That he studied and lived in France for two years, and speaks French fluently. 2. That he was a Cat 2 cyclist and mountain biker, and in his early and mid 20’s was a sponsored athlete and raced competitively. The first few times we hung out I was so incredibly impressed hearing about his life. Getting to know him and learning about his experiences and accomplishments living in France and racing was exciting, and I was very quickly attracted to so much more than his physical appearance.
He showed me journals and pictures of his time spent in France, expressed many times how much he truly loved living there and found it hard moving back home and told me one day he’d take me. Over the years we’ve taken a lot of fabulous vacations and weekend getaways, but it wasn’t until two weeks ago that we finally embarked on a vacation to France, and we took our daughter with us.
The planning all started last October when my husband registered for a huge bike race called La Marmotte, which is about 110 miles and 16k feet of climbing. He had done the race once before back in 2003 when he was racing competitively, and finished in the top 300 out of over 7k riders. I have to admit when he told me he registered, I wasn’t totally convinced we’d all actually go over there together. At the time it not only seemed like a huge race to train for and take on, but a huge vacation to take on with a toddler. But our hopes and plans went into action and we made it happen.
When I write that it was by far the most amazing vacation and experience of my life, I mean it 110%, along with our honeymoon to St. Lucia which was just as incredible and memorable. But France was special in a different way for soooo many reasons…
On June 27th we flew to Paris. We had one day and one night to spend in the city before heading down to the French Alps on a fast train. We were gone for 12 days total, and had 10 full days in France, and in that time we traveled by planes, trains and automobiles, stayed at four different hotels and one of my husband’s friends house, ate some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had, drank amazing wine, met new people and made new friends from all over the world, climbed mountains, toured glaciers and ice caves and simply had the time of our lives. We ended our trip back where we started, in Paris, which is by far the most beautiful city I’ve seen thus far.
So many people have asked me how traveling to another country with my daughter was, as she’s not even 2 1/2 yet, and I’ll write here what I’ve told everyone else – absolutely awesome. All in all she did fantastic traveling and with time change, and we even got complimented by a few people on the plane ride to Paris on how well she did.
It was amazing to watch her get excited seeing things like the Eiffel Tower and the “big mountains” when we were in the alps. It was amazing to watch her make friends with young kids from places like Madagascar, France and Poland. It was amazing listening to her start speaking the language a bit, and using words and phrases frequently and properly. Most of all it was amazing seeing how happy my husband was just by watching her be so immersed in the culture and light up with happiness in a place that’s so near and dear to his heart.
There was a lot of emotion tied to this trip. When my husband finished his race he literally collapsed into my arms crying and told me he was so happy to see me and my daughter, and to finish the race. In all the years we’ve been together, I have never seen him like that. It was a happy and victorious moment for him, but a tough one as well because he had an incredibly hard day on the bike. His head and legs were still tired and “off” from all the traveling, and he had hoped for a better day. I was so incredibly proud of him and impressed with his perseverance, and ability to push himself mentally and physically to complete such a difficult course. I drove the roads and mountains over there, and I was sweating just being behind the wheel of a car. I’m quite certain I’d never even make it to the starting line for something like that.
My husband was also emotional just being in France visiting familiar places from his past, showing me and my daughter around and speaking the language again – which was quite impressive and sexy, may I add! He told me it made him so happy to show us everything, and even more happy to see how much fun we were having. For me, it made me so happy and emotional finally being able to experience and understand the country that continues to be such a huge part of him. In a way, I felt like I was finally able to truly understand and connect with a side of him that I never could before until going there with him. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like I have an even deeper understanding, love and connection with him now, which is a pretty amazing feeling.
France was always on my bucket list of places to visit, and even though I had been to Europe once before, this was my first time going to France. I joked several times that it took me 35 years to get to the Eiffel Tower, and my daughter less than 2 1/2. And although I’m grateful to have given her such an incredible experience at such a young age, I’m really glad I waited to go there myself until now. Being able to go with my husband for the first time and as a family is an experience and memory that I’ll never forget. It was truly special for so many reasons, and it was a vacation full of amazing memories that I’ll hold close to my heart forever. France is a place that’s not only special to my husband, but to all of us as a family now. I’m so grateful for the time we spent there, and I truly can’t wait until we go back again ♥