|Learning to dunk|
With a child, there is a lot less sight-seeing, and a lot more site-being. I imagine that in some ways, having a child along makes you more like a native. Playgrounds, parks, coffee shops, grocery stores, and toy shops aren't on most tourist's "hit-lists," but they are essential to making sure that every member of our traveling party (aka family) gets to enjoy the stay. (I find "stay" to far more accurate than "trip" now if that's any indication.) I'll try to sprinkle in tips as to what's worked for us, in case any of you are planning trips with little ones. (Eowyn will be 2 in a month, and she's an active little toddler, just like she should be =D)
Our friends the Chalamets lent us their apartment while they were on vacation, so we got to have our own little home, right in the heart of Paris. We were a block from a major metro stop, within 10 minutes walking distance of both the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, with great access to a natural food store, a playground, and public transit to Paris City Center. Since the Chalamets have a little guy a month older than Eowyn and a new baby girl, the house was equipped with plenty of kid gear, and Eowyn had her own room (best for everyone when jet-lag is involved). Eowyn LOVED all the toys. As soon as she would see their front door, she'd declare "I wanna go pay! (play)"
Tip #1-- establish a "home base" as soon as possible. It doesn't matter if it's a chair in a corner of a hotel room with a stuffed animal, plastic spoon and cup; just give your child a place they can unwind, play freely, and gain a little security. And I'm serious about the plasticware being pretty entertaining toys. :)
This visit, we had 2 full days as a family, and decided to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, to spend a day in Versailles' gardens. The 2 days it was just E & I (Daddy was pow-wowing in preparation for DrupalCon London), we did some shopping at the Galleries Lafayette, and walked around the Rive Gauche (5eme & 6eme arrondissments). We also enjoyed getting together with several friends on different ocassions-- dinner out one night with my childhood best friend (I hadn't seen her in almost 14 years!!), getting our personal tour from our resident Parisian guide Sego, and an amazing dinner at the home of Ryan's business partner Fred. It's such a blessing to have friends in a foreign city!!
Tip # 2--for traveling with kids-- pick one site/day. Notice I said site, not sight. If there are several things within walking distance (and I mean one that won't leave your kids writhing in agony in the stroller) they can be viewed in one day... but mostly pick one area!
We had absolutely glorious weather the days we were outside. The Parisians kept telling us how lucky we were, that it had been "tellement moche" (so very ugly) up 'til now. We definitely enjoyed the 70-80s; warm enough to be out without pants or sleeves, but not so hot as to make us sweat bullets.
|In front of the Louvre|
The Arc de Triomphe was great. Amazing view, really amazing view-- just a cool experience overall! It's expensive (though I could have gotten us in for free if I'd just been a little less honest, as European young adults get in for free, and no one ever asks for ID, hehehe) but worth it at least once!
|Splashing in a fountain in the Louvre gardens|
No Szrama trip to Paris is complete without Berthillon ice cream, which you can buy in the very heart of the city, right behind to Notre Dame. The flavors are exquisite-- my favorites are salted butter caramel and chocolate whisky (or bitter cocoa, which has perfectly enough sweetness and lovely robust chocolate flavor)-- and we tried several fruit sorbets (grapefruit, coconut, wild peach and pear) that were very refreshing. Eowyn has taken to ice cream very well, asking for it daily. The kid's going to have serious sugar withdrawal when we get back to our regularly-scheduled-program, hah. Actually, one of my favorite things about French cuisine is how low-sugar the desserts are. They are often sweetened only with fruit; even the ice cream is mostly cream and the sugars present in the flavorings. Yum. Tip #5- let your kids enjoy the vacation, too. Let them get some extra dessert, a toy native to that area, or skip some unloved food, all the while maintaining enough routine (and veggies or fruits) that they stay rested and healthy!
Friday while Ryan slaved away, Eowyn & I went out into the sunshine in the company of our dear Segolene. She is always so wonderful about taking me to new little corners of Paris. Paris is so full of beauty; it never ceases to surprise me, and there is always more to see. Just look up at any given point and you'll see a mosaic in a wall, artful wrought-iron balconies, courtyards bursting with flowers, or an architectural gem. We laughed about how easy it is to get lost in Paris because you're so tempted to walk about with your neck craned back trying to take it all in! This time we went around the Sorbonne district to the south of the la Seine. It's the scholarly district, and it felt like such a different city-- quiet, far less cars, almost a village feel. I'm sure come la rentree (school starting back up) students make it quite lively. I did manage to sell some of my college required French reading...I got only about 50 cents for them, but hey! I didn't need them taking up room in my house, and now maybe someone will enjoy them. And I just got a kick out of selling them. =D
|Checking out the locks on the "Lover's Bridge"-- |
supposedly a lock symbolizing your love here "locks" it in!
|Waiting for the train to Versailles|
|Square René Viviani, with Notre Dame de Paris behind|
|In front of Paris' oldest living tree|