I have to confess to you, I had delusions of daily mini-travel-journaling this trip to capture the moments. How’s that going? We’re currently on day 13 of our trip, and well, we’re talking today about days 3 and 4. You know what they say about good intentions…but! I’m forging ahead anyway. 🙂
After an exhausting (but incident-free!) 24 hours of travel,
we closed the roller shades to our rooms and settled in to sleep. All the children slept right through the night, with the exception of the 2 year old, who briefly woke up at 1:30 to ask for water (and food, but I talked her out of that ;). She’s never been my greatest sleeper in the best of circumstances, so I didn’t think too much of it when she awoke a second time…until I walked into the kitchen to realize that even though it felt like night in our bedroom, the sun seemed rather far overhead…sure enough, it was 11:00!! Oops. Sleeping that late isn’t exactly the best strategy for getting over jet lag, but oh well. We moved slowly, but eventually got ourselves dressed and out the door for some pain au chocolat
(At some point we also got Christie’s new SIM card set up. Short post to come on that! Game changer!!) I also bought lunch sandwiches with our pain au chocolat, because I was definitely not awake enough yet to make sandwiches, hah! I had planned a rather full day of sight-seeing that made logistical sense, but between having slept so late, and Christie needing to be back at work at 5:00, we went for plan B: a partial itinerary. We caught a bus to the Luxembourg Gardens, and enjoyed walking around and soaking up its beauty. I declined to spend 12€ —3€ a child — to let my children play inside its playground, however. (I wondered if I was being a cheapskate, but no. We ran across plenty of other free playgrounds around Paris to make the idea of paying that much absurd! When I decided against paying, I explained to my children that we could buy TWELVE pain au chocolats for the same price as the entrance fee. That trade-off seemed to work. 😉
In my pre-trip Paris research I had run across the Pâtisserie Viennoise listed on David Leibovitz’s page of excellent shops for chocolat chaud, and it was near the Luxembourg Gardens. So off we trotted to try it out! It was charming, tiny, delicious, tucked away, and felt very “old Paris” to me. Christie navigated us there (my phone apparently was still locked and couldn’t be used with a French SIM card, sigh) then scooted off to work.
The staff at the cafe were accommodating to my crowd. I ordered chocolat chaud to share, and eagerly offered it to the children, expecting to delight them. To my shock, none of them except the two year old liked it, even after plenty of sugar was added! (The whipped cream on top was a hit, have no fear.) I drank maybe a half a cup, and um, the two year old demolished the rest. She would definitely not normally get that much sugar all at once, but what can I say? It would have pained me more to let such a treat go to waste!
We packed ourselves up (before the two year old totally melted down, but after a delightful conversation with an older lady who was taken with my eldest), and strolled around a short while. At this point I had strapped the toddler on my back, who promptly fell asleep. Oops. Should have made that move sooner! I knew naps were going to be a sticky spot…we then headed back home on the bus. (More to come on this, but BUSES ROCK.) We stopped at a grocery store on the way home to get supplies, including refrigerated pasta for dinner. We ended the day eating in our apartment, and getting to bed at a not-unreasonable time. More melatonin for the kiddies, and the two year old did wake up once anyway. But this night I left the shades partly open! With the helpful result that we woke up at a decent time the next morning.
It was Christie’s birthday, and we had a lovely day planned — Eiffel Tower, Jacques Genin, and the Louvre! The Louvre is open late on Fridays, and going late usually helps fight crowds.
I packed up sandwiches and sliced apples, and we headed off on the bus to see the Eiffel Tower. We got off the bus at the very end of the Champs de Mars, looked at the tower, took our pictures — and the kids were ready for a playground break. 😉 There were several off to the left (all free!), so we chilled there for a while.
Then it it was off to ride the carousel and eat banana-Nutella-whipped cream-crepes on the other side of the Eiffel Tower!
We ate lunch after our crepes (life is short! crepes first!), and then took the metro over to Jacques Genin, where we had planned a delightful afternoon treat session in his tea salon. Alas, it had been swapped out for the season with an ice cream counter! Which I’m sure was awesome in its own way, but not what we were hoping for. . . maybe the salon will be back in October. . . first trip pancake encountered. We headed off to find coffee, of which we now felt in sore need of. The toddler was now napping in the stroller, which was a win. It was now earlier in the day than we had planned to head to the Louvre, but after gauging jet-lag and kid attention span, we decided to head there and see how the crowds were.
It didn’t turn into another pancake (thankfully!!), but they had changed ticket and entrance protocol since we’d been there last — I had some idea of what they’d changed, but not the extent. Currently, the only way to buy tickets in person is to stand in the hideously long line up near the pyramid. . . or buy a timed entrance ticket online. . . it took me a few minutes to figure this out. Christie and the kids parked nearly the McDonald’s in the food court and ate french fries while I scouted options. Ha! Yes, McDonald’s in the Louvre. Ignominious, I know, but desperation leads to all sort of compromises. Once again, having a French SIM card came to our rescue — in less than 5 minutes we bought tickets for immediate entrance online and trotted of to see history! Big win here: not standing in line and all the kids were free!
The Louvre deserves a post of its own: I have had the privilege of coming here several times and it never ceases to awe me. The incredible amounts of history, time, heritage, and sheer beauty available to see are overwhelming. Short version for today is that Christie and I geeked out together over seeing real live Sumerian winged city gates and a Hammurabi’s code stylus in person, we walked in the former moat of the original (first) Louvre defenses, and saw a small Egyptian Sphynx. Well, those were the highlights of what we saw. As I said, it’s vast.
Thankfully none of us wanted to look at the Mona Lisa because the line for that was OBSCENE. Hours long. I don’t know what to tell you about that that might be helpful, except possibly come very late. Thankfully we got to the head of the line to get into the wing because of our stroller. I didn’t feel guilty, because we didn’t want to join the Mona Lisa line. Also: We also accidentally used up all our wing entrances on our tickets, because we entered one twice in a row after spotting a bathroom. (So don’t pop in and out of the wings. You get entrance into each once!) Thankfully the guards didn’t really care and let us in to power through to see our top stuff! We were at the Louvre about 3 hours total; in retrospect I’m shocked the kids held up as well as they did! I hope they’re cultivating a love for museums; I certainly don’t want to make them hate going. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve said it enough, but they have been such. good. travelers. They’ve had their moments, but that’s life with kids, and overall being out of pocket has been so much smoother than I expected!
We headed outside to see…. pure Paris magic. The sun was beginning to set, the light was incredible, and the weather just glorious. The buildings glowed, and seemed all the more amazing for it. I think each of us caught a second wind and didn’t want to go back to the apartment! We let the children frolic for a bit, and then did the responsible thing and caught our bus before the energy crash hit.
On walk back from the bus stop we popped into a patisserie for some treat; we did, after all, have a birthday to celebrate! And yes, I put in the picture of my daughter picking her nose while we were singing, because it cracked us up.
We ate eggs and baguettes for dinner, and basked in our happily-packed Parisian day. And the delicious pastries. Then packed the kids into bed and crashed. 🙂
Next time: Parisian strikes and the Pantheon!