The Best History Theme Park in the World: France's Best-Kept Secret

In Northwest France, one hour from Nantes, there's a history-oriented theme park that puts on the most amazing and original shows you can imagine. Le Puy du Fou has been voted the best theme park in the world several times (Thea Awards, given in the USA), plus it attracts more than 2.3 million visitors per year and has top ratings on TripAdvisor. So why have you never heard of it?

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Hawaii's Aquarium: Why Maui Ocean Center is Worth a Family Visit

If we lived on Maui, or visited frequently, an annual family pass to the Maui Ocean Center would definitely be on our wish list. Two years ago we visited the Newport Aquarium here in Oregon, and while it was fantastic to view creatures of the northern (colder) Pacific, it's a pleasantly different experience in Maui to admire the incredible creatures of the tropical Pacific.

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Family Must Do's on Maui: Our Favorite Hawaii Activities

Bonjour and Aloha! One month ago a acquaintance asked me, "So when can your family go to Hawaii this summer?" The only correct answer to that question is "Anytime!" Thanks to their offer of a place to stay, we've just gotten back from a week on Maui and a week on Molokai. The last time we visited Maui our baby was a year old, so it was a wonderful family experience to visit now with our 2 year old, 5 year old, and 8 year old. Here's what we loved during our week on Maui, and what I'd highly recommend you do if you get the opportunity to visit:

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Joyeux Noël & A Podcast about Our Family Language Trip

Joyeux Noël, les amis! Yes, Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas! I have a little gift for you if you listen to podcasts and are interested in traveling as a family to help you or your children improve your bilingual skills! You see, Marianna DuBosq at Bilingual Avenue has just released the 100th episode of the Bilingual Avenue podcast, and in this episode, Polish mama & translator Hanna Cheda and I share about how we took our families overseas for amazing language immersion experiences. I give details about how we saved money for the trip, how my children handled the experience, and how I enrolled my daughter in a French school. Hanna shares about locating affordable family housing and finding free immersion experiences for children. I hope you love what you learn!

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5 Brief Lessons Learned for Planning a Family Trip Abroad

Here's a short summary of the top lessons I learned for taking our family abroad. So many parents would love to take their children abroad but haven't yet made it happen, so I thought I'd share the basic tips that I learned during this first stay overseas. I learned one of these tips the hard way, but thankfully you won't have to!

1. Open a separate savings account for the trip. We did this about eighteen months before we left on our trip, and the separate savings account was essential in helping us to be financially savvy and to visualize our progress towards our overseas stay. It was so encouraging to make our planned monthly deposits to this account.

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Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping in Lyon & Paris, France

Bonjour again from Lyon! This is my family's first extended stay in France, so it's also the first time I've had the role of preparing meals for my children here. Living here has improved my meal planning skills and expanded our palates, I'm glad to say! I've consistently tried to plan French meals so my children can enjoy one of the best aspects of living in France--the food and the culture surrounding it. Here's what I'm doing differently here:


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Life in Lyon: Settling in as a Family

Bonjour, mes amis, from Lyon! it's been seven years since I was last in this city. It's wonderful to be back and to see Lyon looking vibrant with its squares and monuments restored. Because it's August, many residents are on vacation and tourists have taken their place, but still, the city just shines with its lovely architecture and views. Maybe it also shimmers because of the heat--It was 35-39 degrees Celcius all last week (95-102 degrees F) until a weekend thunderstorm rolled in and brought relief.

My husband ran the 100m dash this last week in the World Masters track meet--I'm so proud of him, and impressed that he ran it in 11.74 seconds despite the scorching heat! He'll long jump this week as well. The Masters' meets are open to non-professional adult athletes age 35 or older with an official mark to submit. Participants compete against others in a five-year age range. A few days ago, for example, I watched a a group of 85-90 year old women from around the world run the 100m, and they looked amazingly fit. It's so inspiring!


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Arriving in Paris (and What Not To Do on Arrival)

 Bonjour les amis! We're in Paris! This is my first trip back to France in eight years, and It's great to be able to share this city with my husband and children. (He and I were last in France when I was two months pregnant with our first child.) I hope to write more frequently about our experiences here, so Intentional Mama will be more of a travel blog for a while, d'accord? Here's how we're adjusting, and what we've learned the hard way:

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