Category Archives: Childhood

Merci Monaco

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for such a wonderful immersion into Dali’s artistic journey at Grimaldi Forum

for the wonders of jewelry making by Chaumet

for the new turtles nursery for Samy and Avril at the Oceanographic Museum, which we always enjoy visiting

for our first visit to the zoo, which only got 3/10 from my kid, who knows everything about how enclosures should look like and she is serious about it. Some enclosures are beautiful nonetheless. The zoo is home to 250 animals and all of them were donated, which makes it unique

for the return of the unhindered view on the Casino in all its green splendor

for the best tarte au chocolat at Costa. The lady there also vows to the excellency of chocolate éclaire. Something to try next time 🙂

for an excuisite chocolate ice cream by Marcolini, enjoyed in a true schoolgirl spirit on the stairs of the Opera. It brought back a dear childhood rebelion memory: to eat ice cream in the middle of winter and on the stairs of the bus station

for the discovery of Gaia, an ode to Greek cuisine in the heart of Monaco. I loved the food’s magic power to take you to the Hellen land and then bring you back to Cote d’Azur. We enjoyed the watermelon and feta salad, the cheese pie with truffles and the fish in salt crust. Wine lovers will find there a fine selection of Greek and French wines (to the extent I can judge). Service is personalised and well syncronised on a very busy night

for an amazing view from Le Meridien, which was very generous with us and exceeded our expectations

for the mind-blowing taste of Munegu – a cake born from a blend of panettone and fougasse – from Mada One by Marcel Ravin, to share and enjoy with the loved ones upon return

Parenting: as small as that

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This week, Brené Brown shared with us “What Toni Morrison Taught Me About Parenting”. I warmly invite you to read it. There was a specific part, Brené quoted from a Toni Morrison’s interview, which drew my attention: “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they (kids) walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”. These words resonated with me on many levels, as a kid, as well as a parent.

I was raised under the vigilant lenses of “not enough” of a soviet time. My school socks were not white enough, my hair was not well enough braided, my voice was not loud enough in pioneer marches … My parents got in the spirit of “not enough” and kept a faithful devotion to it at work and at home.

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart” reminded me of my grandmother. She was the only one who looked with wonder every time she saw me. Her face would light up, regardless. Mismatched socks or not. Braided hair or not. Scratched knees or not, dismissing with a smile my parents’ worry of “how would you look on the school play pic?!” Who cares 10-20-30 years later? Back then, pictures were black and white anyway.

When I became a mother, some family members would almost demand that the baby smiles at them. They probably thought babies come with a smile button on their back or that I have it on a remote control. My response was and is “she brings joy by her mere existence. She does not need to do anything special for anyone”.

I know that she knows that today, as well as she did when she was a baby. Because when I put shoes’ laces first, she does not hesitate to remind me of what’s important in parenting, with love.

 

Tips for city-breaks with kids

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The last city break we took inspired me to put together some tips for trips with kids. These might be valid sometimes for the “big babies” of the family (we all know who they are 🙂 ).

So, here are my tips:

– limit the number of visits per day and plan breaks every 2-3 hours, depending on the age of the child;

– look for sensorial-friendly activities. Luckily, museums these days integrate in their displays lots of interactive features for a more fulfilling experience.

– alternate landmarks with visits to zoos, amusement parks or public parks, where local kids play.

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Paris, Trocadero Gardens

– with some commitment, you can find nature spots even in busiest of cities. Your urban kid and your urban self will be thankful for a day spent among trees and other creatures.

– let the kid sleep longer in the morning. They will be rested and eager to explore through the day. That’s also the perfect time to plan for the day.

– consider whether you need to book a hotel room with breakfast or rent an apartment with a kitchenette. Choose what serves better your own morning rhythm.

– book hotels with pools for a “chillaxing” (my kid’s favourite word from “chill” and “relax”) experience in the evening, after long walks. It will also serve you well in rainy weather.

– allow some TV time, if you have no TV at home (which is our case) or stick to your usual TV time-allowed at home.

– complete each day by asking the kid what she enjoyed most during the day. She is your most valuable customer, so – ask for feedback.

– enjoy every moment and look at places through your kid’s eyes. You might be surprised by what you experience even in familiar places.

Seen in Paris

Merci Paris for

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Merci Paris for

my kid’s first encounter with you and your generosity with architecture and entertainment for her age (and mine).

her amazement when the Eiffel Tower suddenly appeared in front of us at Trocadero (if you want such an effect on your kid, do not tell her/him what’s next 😉 )

the lovely Acquarium and for her first fish feeding&touching experience.

the Batobus and its unique hop-on hop-off feature, which takes you to 8 points of attractions.

the small zoo at the Jardin des Plantes of the Museum of Nature, which has quite a variety of animals, including the cuttest red panda, snow leopard cubs and baby orangutans.

the superbly done zoo in Vencenne forest, home to 2000 animals. It is our absolutly nr 1 and we have seen quite a few so far in Europe.

the Museum of the Humans – Musee de l’Homme – and its interactive displays to learn or revisit some of the stages of human development. Displays also raise awareness of the human impact on nature. It was fun to listen to different spoken languages and learn for example that Mand was spoken by 8 people (!) in 2015.

the magic of the four-hand baking for tea time with chef Antonio Cortez at the school of Alain Ducasse.

the best breakfasts at Carette and Stohrer, the 300 years old bakery in Paris.

and a silent promise to come back and explore more of you.

“Little leaders. Visionary women around the world” by Vashti Harrison

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I do not know if I bought the book for my kid or for myself. Never mind, we both loved it.

The stories of little leaders are well documented. The bios of are filled with factual information in an easily accessible language. A glossary helps understanding some concepts, which could be new for young readers.

We learned a lot about women and girls who had the courage to go beyond and above what was considered “normal” for the times and societies they lived in. Like the story of Fatima Al-Fihri who funded and created in year 859 in Morocco the first degree granting institution in the world, as a precursor for universities. Or Peggy Guggenheim, the art collector who saved modern art pieces, which would have been otherwise destroyed by the nazi regime. Or the work of Sister Corita Kent who used serigraphs to spread bold messages of love and peace.

Fun 10,000 meters up in the air

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Me and my kid are on a plane to Nice. “Mom, relax. You are always tense on the road”, sound advice from the youngest and wisest family member.

We take off. Up in the air.  I read. Talk to my kid. 20 minutes later: “…. Marrakesh ….. we…..if you wish….Marrakesh!” I hear  the flight attendant’s voice.

My brain is collecting the pieces: “The plane is certainly bigger then the regular internal flights. And the flight attendants are of North African origin…. And they play specific music. …. Did we take the wrong passage, walking to the plane? These small airport! Oh, No! … And I was laughing last year about a consultant who instead of a flight to Florence boarded on one to Minsk”.

Face palm. Repeat. Done with relaxing on the road.

– Sweetheart, I think we are on the wrong plane.

– It’s ok, mami. It’s ok, the kid is trying to reassure me. Her beautiful brave face.

My brain: “I have money to buy a ticket back. Are our passports ok? Do we need a visa for? ….”

I take my ticket and move to catch the flight attendant.

– I think I am in the wrong plane.

– How come?

I show them my ticket.

– It is the flight to Nice!, the flight attendant says cheerfully.

– Why did you say “Marrakech?!

– I am from Marrakesh! he smiles.

– Who cares? 10000 meters above the earth?!

I am almost replacing my words with long beep sounds. I was far from my kid, in case you wonder.

– You do not want to go to Marrakesh? he keeps on smiling.

– No! Not today. I go to Monaco today. And I do not plan to look at Monaco from the other side of the Mediterranean.

Back to my seat. “We are fine. We will land in Nice, sweetie!:)” I say fully relieved.

“Mom, I also heard “Madrid” 🙂

“Sweetie, the other flight attendant introduced herself. She is from Madrid. The guy is from Marrakesh. They add a personal touch”.

After 5 minutes we all hear the pilot: ” We will land in N I C E in 20 minutes. The weather in N I C E is …”.

Amen.

We land happily in Nice.

“Welcome to Marrakesh!” I hear the flight attendant behind me. I turn with a smile. My middle finger has a slight temptation. The lady in me wins 🙂

Dear, whoever who had the idea of saying other cities names when the plane is 10000 meters up in the air, please do not. Let’s keep it standard on this one.

Monaco for kids

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ok, ok, and accompanying adults.

The fame of Monaco as the world of rich and famous as we know or imagine it: heliports, diamonds, luxury and adults games and playgrounds.

I was on a quest of demonopolizing the adult centered view of this harbor of fun. With this in mind, we quickly found out that Monaco is generous for all ages and spirits.

When travelling with the kid, safety comes first. Security wise, Monaco is one of the safest places. The number of police officers per capita is the highest in Europe. It is one of few places where I, a hand holding mom, let my kid wander away from me.

So, for now, here are a few things to choose from for a long weekend with kids in Monaco:

1. Larvotto beach

Small in length, it manages to accommodate a playground for smaller ones and a sports ground and it still leave enough space for free play and lounges. It is also a birds feeding spot, if you are into this.

The waters of Larvotto beach are part of a maritime protected area so the water quality is monitored daily. You can swim with fish even very close to shore.

2. The gardens: Japanese, Exotic, St. Martin, Rosarea of Princess Grace and more

You can have a fun botanic open air class in any or all of them. Trees are marked and their origin explained, to explore trees from different parts of the world. For long walks, you can embark on a marked trees path throughout Monaco, to discover the most spectacular ones. It can be a new sensorial experience: touching leaves of different texture, listening to the sound of leaves playing with the wind … .

More on gardens https://www.hellomonaco.com/sightseeing/parks-gardens/the-captivating-charm-of-monaco-gardens/?fbclid=IwAR2BHy6KK4k-h_L-nHANr87FqTSfDt6WwRGMjxyfmT0rQ3o8yn9ekzCawfM

3. Oceanographic Museum and its panoramic roof

It is always a pleasure to visit it. I recommend to buy the tickets online and skip the waiting line. It is a world of oceans wonders and a platform to educate young and adults alike. This year, we felt royal to be greeted by the Prince, even if from a screen. Monaco invested traditionally in ocean research for dozens of years. It started with Prince Alberto I and the famous explorer Cousteau. This year expo is devoted to the Monaco Blue Initiative and Monaco’s commitment to ocean protection. Kids and adults can learn through touch screens about maritime protected areas, what it means to eat fish responsibly, what it takes to decide with sustainability in mind.

4. Fontvieille area museums

The small and cosy stamps and coins Museum offers a visit to the monetary and early communication history of Monaco.

The private collection of Cars of Prince H.S.H. Rainier III

We loved to walk around the carriages and cars of 100 years and more history behind. The latest sports cars, official cars of Princess Grace, cars decoration elements delighted kids and adults alike.

The Naval Museum

5. The Exotic Garden, the cave and the anthropology museum

From the Exotic Garden you can descend into a 600 meters deep cave. I would recommend the descend only to kids 8+ and with good shoes on. It can be slippery.

The anthropology museum is small and hosts a temporary expo. This year it was devoted to migration.