Do you have a family travel happy place?

Playing at the Jardin du Luxembourg playground

One of the things I love about all the travel I’ve done, both with my kids and without, is that I have many places to return to in my mind when I’m feeling blue.

I’ve been lots of places that I love, but for me none can rival Paris. I can’t really explain it, but from the very first time I set foot there at twenty years old – literally half a lifetime ago for me – I felt like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (which, not surprisingly, is my favorite movie of all time). To me no other city is as beautiful or satisfying.

This affection is only increased by the fact that my boys loved it there as much as I do. Our Parisian trip in the summer of 2008 was a family travel high point for all of us. We had a marvelous time. And one of the boy’s favorite activities was visiting the playground at the Jardin du Luxembourg. So when I need a little boost, or a reminder of what this traveling with kids thing is really all about, or just a glimpse of some chubby toddler legs, I love to look at our photos from that day, our first full one in Paris. I especially love this picture of Tommy:

Spinning on the Jardin du Luxembourg playground

That little blond boy next to him kept shrieking “Attends! Attends!” (Wait! Wait)  or “Plus vite! Plus vite!” (Faster! Faster!) and without fail Tommy would do the exact opposite of what he was demanding. But it didn’t matter – they spoke the international language of childhood facilitated by utter and complete joy.

And of course, no visit to a French playground is complete without a real carousel ride on a giraffe.

Riding the Jardin du Luxembourg carousel

Do you have a family travel happy place? If so, I hope it makes you feel as good as these pictures make me feel.

For Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Reader Responses

13 fellow travelers had this to say

  1. We started going to Mexico’s Riviera Maya when Kaylin was 8 months old. To me, a beach resort there represents relaxation and a hassle-free vacation. We’ve been back at least a half-dozen times with the kids and it’s our family travel happy place. (Might have something to do w/ the pina coladas that start getting poured for Mom and Dad around 11 a.m. each day…)

  2. I had to think about this question for a minute but I believe my happy travel place would be my dad’s home in the middle of the tiny German town where we got up each morning to shop for our bread and cheese and we wandered through the forests on nature hikes.

  3. oh, we so need to get to paris. lillie can’t WAIT!

    our happy places are numerous: seattle (my brother lives there); glencoe, scotland; our cottage up in northern MI; and more locally, meijer gardens and sculpture park in grand rapids, MI. i feel lucky to have so many wonderful, wonderful places we totally love.

    that photo? and story? LOVE it!

  4. I love this – the idea of a family travel happy place. Mine would have to be our cabin in Yosemite National Park. I think my love of that spot is infectious, because my kids love it, too. I’m thinking you know just what I mean!

  5. Hmmm . . . that’s a tough one. But, we love a little village in Germany called Sommerhausen.

  6. Mine has got to be this gorgeous place we stayed in the Italian Alps. It’s not a place which is set up for kids but the owners are such wonderful people, so welcoming. The food was out of this world. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this place since we stayed there but haven’t got round to it yet. You’ve inspired me again, Mara!

  7. I have this beautiful photo of my parents at a cafe along the Jardin du Luxembourg hanging on my fridge. I pause at least once a day and admire it.

  8. Great post. Very true. I have had as much fun reliving some of our travel as I did in the special moments. On gloomy days my mind quickly drifts t our happy travel around Japan’s Mt. Fuji. The beauty of the mountain when we first saw her, the delicious warm Houto (noodle soup of the area), the crisp air -a nice break from the Philippines heat, the hot soaks in the open air hot springs, the long walks, clean streets, fast, and quiet trains…it was just such a great all around family trip. I go there over and over in my head and one day, I might return.

  9. I gave the wrong site. Here it is.

  10. Mara,

    Our Family Happy Place is probably either the beaches of Phuket, where we find ourselves going back to even though there is so much of the world left to explore or the Happiest Place on Earth. Even my grumpy gus husband who claims to have had enough of Disneyland always seems to love it each time we go back!

  11. We’ll the whole family love to travel and bonding together and I am so glad that every place we have travel is a happy place for everyone… But what is so remarkable last year was our trip to Disney Land it was my kids first time to Disney Land Florida and I have seen the best smiles in my kids faces. I will never forget that day and place and for sure I will bring them there again.

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