“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 As I was walking around yesterday, I noticed the old mom-and-pop antique-shops had been replaced by spas and trendy eateries.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…
|Post dedicated to Tonks, my little black witch:
My field trips would not be the same without you!