Indo-Vietnamese French Alain and Corinne of Brittany, France met in Beijing and have been together for six years. Their daughter, Maelle, was born at
Beijing’s Fuchan Hospital in late 2005, while their 21-month-old son, Yoann, was born during one of their summers in Brittany. After more than half a decade in Beijing, the family is always game for a Beijing adventure, whether long bike rides of exploration within the city, or excursions into the countryside. Here are their family favorites.
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If we want to eat something, we can make it. We go back home to France every year in the summer and sometimes to India during the winter. Also we like to get out of the big city into the countryside, or go to the sea. As Corinne is from Brittany, being by the sea is a great cure for homesickness.
Spot to Show Guests
All the touristy places in the city like the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the
Temple of Heaven. For food we would take them out for roast duck or to different Chinese
restaurants. We would also take them out into the country if we can, to stay in a village or next to some wild parts of the Great Wall.
Rainy Day Play
Get up late. Play games, draw, read books, watch cartoons, invite friends over, and make sure the kids sleep in the afternoon. Also the kids play area in the basement of the Wangfujing toy store is quite fun for a very cold or rainy day.
We love our neighborhood: the Yonghegong/Guozijian area. We really like all the small hutongs from our neighborhood west toward Houhai. It’s nice when we can get an early start and bicycle around all day, with the kids often sleeping on the back of the bike between stops.
We go to parks very often, because they are close, and the kids can run around and do whatever they like. Ditan Park is quite near our house. We also like to take them swimming, as they love to swim. When it’s cold we take them to Houhai to chair skate on the frozen lake. We also enjoy riding around by bike and visiting some of the old residences and palaces around the city.
Alain is Indian, so we love the Indian Kitchen in Sanlitun, with its South Indian cuisine at reasonable prices and the kindness of the staff with out kids. We also like Lily’s Vegetarian on Xiangcaoyuan Hutong, Vietnamese food at Muse, and a fabulous, small Shanxi restaurant on Yonghegong Dajie called Qishan Mianguan (陕西歧山面馆).
We like to rent a car and explore some of the villages within a one-day drive of the city. We stay overnight in places like Cuandixia or some of the villages by the Great Wall in Huairou County. It’s a great way to escape and relax.
When it’s summer we like to go to the sea or the mountains around Beijing. When the weather is nice we love to eat outside late on a terrace, perhaps around Houhai, Gulou or Nanluoguxiang.
For the children we go to Leyou. For foreign stuff we would go to April Gourmet, and for local products we would just buy at the small grocers in the Hutong by our house or at Jingkelong.