Wonderful small towns: Edmonds, WA

Wonderful small towns: Edmonds, WA

“This town of churches and dreams; 
this town I thought I would lose myself in, with its backward ways and winding roads leading to nowhere; 
but, I found myself instead. 
-Magic in the Backyard (excerpt from American Honey, by Kelly Elmore)” 
 
What does a big-city-loving-French-Girl do, when she can’t be in a big city? 
 
She hunts down the nearest small town, that’s what.
 
Lucky Moi, the Seattle area has a few good ones, and I have featured some here in the past. Lovely Snohomish, WA, has inspired several stories. So has Winslow, Bainbridge Island…
 
Today, I’d like to introduce you to another favorite – probably one of the best small towns in the area – Edmonds, WA
 
Edmonds, like many local towns, was founded by a future lumber baron. There are still trees around, but trees are not the first thing that come to mind when I think of this attractive, friendly locale. 
 
Located a few miles north of Seattle, Edmonds offers a lot more. First, breathtaking water and mountain views. How many urban areas boast views of the Puget Sound, the Olympic  mountains (to the west,) and the Cascades (to the east?) This town does. 
 
Hellooooooooo Pacific Northwest…
The iconic WA state ferries link Edmonds to the neighboring Olympic Peninsula…
 
That fact alone would make Edmonds the perfect place to retire. How fun would it be to walk my dog every morning on the local beaches, or along the waterfront, looking at this? After years of hoofing it daily, rain or shine, in a pastoral setting, coastal hikes would be a welcome change.
 
One can’t walk the dog all day, I realize. Not to worry: There is plenty to do in Edmonds. 
 
Edmonds is a real town, you see. There are sidewalks. Shops. Restaurants. Coffee shops. Art Galleries. Let’s not forget an old-fashioned movie theater and a Saturday outdoor Market.  Best of all, there are people, children, and dogs walking around, all day long. 
 
 
Edmonds has turned a little chi-chi (affluent, trendy) over the last ten years. As I was walking around yesterday, I noticed the old mom-and-pop antique-shops had been replaced by spas and trendy eateries. The crowds basking in the sun on the town’s patios were eclectic. Busy families; empty nesters reading the paper while sipping a cappuccino; relaxed 30-somethings casually dressed in high-end yoga wear; the mandatory local tree huggers, complete with Birkenstock sandals… But everyone seemed to get along just fine. People laughed and greeted each other, smiling, as people have a tendency to do in the Pacific Northwest when they are granted a day of exceptional weather outside of the summer months. 
 
I had lunch sitting at the bar of my favorite local restaurant, Chanterelle, where I chatted for a while with a patron. We both picked the pear-brie-spinach quesadilla. fresh… and délicieux!
 
 
Bon appétit, French Girl!
 
My day would have been perfect as it was, but I made it even better by visiting two mandatory stops on all my Edmonds trips.
 
First, the Savvy Traveler, the perfect shop to prepare for a trip… or to dream about one… The store has everything; I mean everything you *think* you need to travel. Bags galore, of course. Travel guide books. High-end travel clothes that will instantly turn you into Indiana Jones on your next expedition…
 
 
 
 
 
I found a great Fedora hat for my upcoming trip to Europe, and replaced my travel hair dryer. Then I had fun browsing around and chuckled a few times… As I said, the Savvy Traveler will gladly sell you all the things you need to travel… and more…
 
 
These would solve the problem of overstuffed carry-on bags on major airlines, don’t you think?
 
Edmonds’ most famous son and resident is European travel Guru Rick Steves. This French Girl is a fan (I mean, I have met the man and shot the breeze with him on several occasions, for chrissakes!)  No trip to Edmonds is complete without a visit to Rick’s Travel Center, Europe through the Back Door, downtown. 
 
 
The Pacific Northwest’s Mecca of all things Europe…
 
I love it there. There is fun stuff to look at, and even more to learn. A wonderful collection of bags, and other travel artifacts (all labeled “Rick Steves” to ensure you will be making friends while lining up in front of the Eiffel Tower or shopping on rue Cler in Paris, France…) 
 
 
 
 
There are travel counselors at the ready to help you plan your next European adventure. 
 
There are tables and chairs where guests are welcome to sit down and take notes from the generous collection of travel resources Rick and his team share with them. 
 
Shhhh! Travel is serious business…
I had a good time chatting with some of the visitors and shamelessly plugged in my upcoming France travel workshops with a lady and her friends who were discussing their summer trip to Paris… 
 
The least I could do was to purchase Rick’s indispensable Civita Day Pack. It is affordable and so soft and light you can practically stuff it into a pair of sneakers when not in use. The color? Prune (Plum,) of course. The bag had to be *perfectly* accessorized with my favorite suitcase du jour: Rick’s new rolling carry-on, designed to meet European carry-on standards (a souvenir from Mr Steves’ last travel festival I attended with a friend.) Voilà, I shall stop here before this post becomes a Rick Steves commercial. This is French Girl in Seattle‘s blog, after all, not American Public Television!
 
So, you may ask, is Edmonds, WA perfect? Just about. There is one tiny, upsetting little thing there. 
 
Le rond-point. The roundabout. 
 
Living in my neck of the woods in American suburbia where three roundabouts were introduced on a busy road a few years ago, has convinced me Americans just can’t do roundabouts (or maybe it is just a Pacific Northwest thing?) I mean, where else in the world do people accelerate as soon as they see the YIELD sign upon approaching the dang thing, threatening to hit any unfortunate soul already maneuvering their way inside it? 
 
YIELD!!!! How hard can that be???
 
Well, Edmonds have their roundabout, and they must have assumed nobody would pay attention to a YIELD sign (they would be excused if they did,) so they went ahead and replaced them with four giant STOP signs. I spent ten minutes watching the incredible show unfolding before my startled eyes yesterday, as cars slooooowwwwllllyyy approached the roundabout; hesitated; moved in; slowed down or stopped in the middle to let pedestrians go; started again… tentatively. On the bright side: Nobody got hurt. People are relaxed in Edmonds, you see. It must be these gorgeous water and mountain views. Edmonds is a happy town. 
 
Edmonds roundabout, with one of the four stop signs.
Apparently, the fountain in the middle had to be protected with steel bars…
It had been hit by crazy drivers too many times!
 
Would I live there? You’d better believe it. As soon as I learn how to steer my favorite car (and faithful sidekick) through le roundabout
 
A bientôt.
 
 
Post dedicated to Tonks, my little black witch:
My field trips would not be the same without you!
 
 
All photos by French Girl in Seattle.
Please do not use, reprint or Pin without permission.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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34 Responses to Wonderful small towns: Edmonds, WA

    • Mais oui. Several times. It is not that difficult to do. Mr Steves is very approachable, and a lot of people get to meet him during the fun and informative Travel Festivals he organizes in Edmonds a few times a year…

  1. My son lives in Everett and we’ve been to Edmonds just a few times. I did not know about the Savvy Traveler, so I’ll have to add that to the list for next time! How have I missed that?!

  2. Well Veronique, i’m a New England girl originally, and have always had trouble with roundabouts. :). So maybe it Is a distinctly American thing. My skills have nor improved after 17 years out west!

    I am a huge Rick Steves fan! Every week i catch his Best of Europe series on OPB. :). So much fun to watch, and he’s so very knowledgeable. I hope you had an excellent weekend! Hasn’t our weather been fabulous?

    • Now you tell me. I just assumed that in DC at least (a city famous for its roundabouts,) people would be ok driving in circles… Now I wonder… 🙂

      I love the Best of Europe series too. I have enjoyed the new episodes and watched them with my son this winter. I like the blend of travel information, cultural tips and humor. Watching Rick’s shows is *almost* like being in Europe…

  3. Bonjour Veronique, I love the views of the Pacific Northwest. I have been to Vancouver, BC which also face the Pacific Ocean. As you wrote, it is a great place to retire but it rains too much (sorry about that). Edmonds looks like a beautiful city to spend a lovely weekend. It’s funny that your car has a name too. Tonks is amazing. I love German cars too particularly VW and Audi. My car has a name too, she is Patsy, used to be a VW Passat but now an A4. Still the within the same family. Thanks for sharing this town.

    • My dear Pamela, I am with you about the rain. The only way I could retire here would be to be able to spend several months a year in a sunnier climate especially late winter/early spring. That is how a lot of “natives” handle things, actually. Many Seattleites have second homes in Hawaii, Arizona, or California.

      I bet Tonks would love to meet Patsy one day 🙂

    • My dear Mariette. “Spotting fabulous little cities” is what keeps me sane in my corner of suburbia. I live to spend time in towns or cities, and I am willing to work hard to get to them 🙂 I am glad you enjoy my reporting. I will try and find more good spots for you and my other readers… Hugs to you.

  4. It’s been many years since we were in the northwest, but we’ve been to Edmonds. It is a great town. Your photos make me long for a return trip. ‘-)

    • Ah… See? I am not surprised you remember cute little Edmonds. Worth a visit, definitely, and so easy to get to from Seattle. If you ever return to this area (wait for summer though,) I would love to meet you at Chanterelle for lunch and hear all about your life in Texas, Sarah!

  5. What a lovely looking town… and the weather was superb for you. The view over the water are mesmerizing! Lunch looked excellent too!

  6. Love little towns with sidewalks! And round-abouts! The powers that be have slowly been adding them to my area and people are really complaining. On my last trip I went around one three times before I figured out the right road to get off of. People were laughing….good naturedly I hope. 🙂 It was a true Chevy Chase movie moment. My niece just moved from the East coast to Washington. I hope to visit soon. Loved reading your post. Wish we had a Savvy Traveler around here. Have a wonderful sweet week. xo

    • Ha! Ha! Ha! At least you tried to FIGURE out the roundabout, Lynn, instead of rushing through it like some “Cowboys” in our neighborhood! I love that scene from the Chevy Chase movie: “Look, kids, Big Ben! [5 hours later] Look, kids, Big Ben!!!” 🙂

  7. Bonjour Veronique. Have not been to Edmonds Washington but I am sure it would be a favorite for me too if we lived in the Seattle area. I love great travel stores, good ones are not as easy to find as you might think. I used to be a big Rick Steves fan, but I am decidedly less so today. I think he is skating by on his fame. He use to publish new books on Provence every year and I would faithfully buy the latest edition. I started to check to see what was changing between editions and not much was and he wasn’t updating it with things that he should have.

    • Bonjour Michel. Wonderful to hear from you, as always.

      Loved to hear your take on Rick Steves. Very interesting. I do own an older copy of the book you mentioned. You know, I would definitely send an email to him and point out a couple of examples where the most recent edition falls short. Steves has a team in charge of updating the travel books (he could not possibly do that himself,) and it sounds as if the guy in charge of the Provence edition has been a bit lazy lately.

      Interestingly, a friend of mine recently applied for an editor position at Steves’ Travel Center in Edmonds. Her job would have been to edit several books in the line, so I know the company takes this very seriously still.

      Let me know if you decide to contact them, Would love to hear if you heard anything back.

  8. What a charming, friendly place! It just about has everything and looks like my kind of town with tidy pavements, cute independent shops, cappuccino and Chanterelle – the perfect lunch stop. The portion of fruit is a lovely addition to that delicious quesadilla! With my passion for travel, I could happily spend time (and no doubt money) in The Savvy Traveler too. Roundabouts would of course be no problem as we have so many of them here – and we are quite disciplined!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

    • miss b, I agree. The Savvy Traveler is a store for you… and Edmonds would no doubt entertain you for a day or two… but you are used to larger cities, as I am. Edmonds is no Dubai, but it is a lovely local destination, especially on such a gorgeous day. A bientôt.

  9. I think Rick Steves would be appalled at the amount of clothes I take to Europe…..but then……I don’t think he spends much time at the opera and ballet. You definitely need to look your best when you go to a performance. Parisian women always look “impec” and so must I, or at least give it a good try.

    You do have a wonderful way of making small towns look so inviting.

    Gros Bisous, ma chère, M-T

  10. What a gorgeous small town with beautiful views …. I could live there. We don’t have “Savvy Traveller” here but it’s the sort if shop I could spend many hours fossicking in.

  11. I love Edmonds…and feel so priviliged to actually work there, and I also lived there for two years…it was heaven. We only live a few minutes away now though so it’s an easy trip there.
    I love Chantrelle’s! My mom just visited from California and we ate there twice, she’s in love with their grilled cheese sandwich, so good!
    xo J~

    PS. I always wonder if I’m going to run into Rick Steves when I’m there but haven’t yet…how fun that you’ve been able to chat with him!

    • Bonjour. I did not know you were a local too. And you live close to Edmonds, lucky you. What a delightful place. I am going to make sure there are more days (and evenings) spent in Edmonds in my future.

      PS: Rick Steves has been traveling in the Middle East lately, so you and your mom would not have bumped into him. It is his joy and privilege to be able to spend at least three months each year traveling somewhere in the world, I am sure.

  12. Just stumbled upon your blog. Wonderful. Agree that Edmonds is wonderful. We lived in the Green Lake area and now in Yakima, so we visit “Mecca” only occasionally now. And, what is it about most Americans and “roundy-rounds” as my wife and I like to call them. And, putting stop signs at a roundy, what a travesty! As a result of our visits to Europe, we are lovers of roundys. So much so that we have been known to make several loops of one as we unexpectantly stumble upon one. C’est manifique!

    • “Roundy-rounds!” — I love it! 🙂

      Several loops on a roundabout just for fun, eh? You remind me of my brother. The only person I know who actually enjoys driving around the Arc de Triomphe in downtown Paris, at rush hour! He just about gave me a heart attack once!

      Thank you for stopping by…

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