Get ready for a long post... I'm catching up on our first days in Paris!
First up, you would certainly not know by walking down the streets that it's springtime here. The word is cold, and are we ever thankful for the layers brought along! (In fact, I could have included my puffer jacket and been quite happy.Yes mom, I should have listened to you.)
We didn't come with any specific agenda, just a general list of things to consider doing. I like to travel this way and it seems to fit us all well. Plus, a city like Paris is sometimes best discovered by simply wandering about.
Love being locked into place on the bridges over the Seine was one of the first things we stumbled across. While popular with tourists, apparently this act is controversial with the city of Paris.
And on the plane over Max inquired what city Rodin's 'Thinker' could be seen. "Well, I'm glad you asked and it's Paris!"
The museum, housed in a beautiful structure and surrounding garden, is delightfully free of crowds - particularly when showing up less than an hour before closing. (And with kids, you don't need more time than that!)
Next, a macaroon from Anglelina's for a treat. We plan a return trip to taste their hot chocolate, which is said to be the best in the city.
And not stepping into a Sephora upon passing its doors does not occur for the girls in this family. We have never encountered such a large one and soon the boys were bowing out to find attractions more to their liking.
Like a swim at the hotel's lovely pool. Meeting back up we headed out to dinner, spotting the cutest car ever...
... tried to make sense of the menu...
... under the watchful eye of Napoleon, who happened to be reading the Wall Street Journal.
And is sleep ever more inviting than when traveling? I think not.
Another day, at the Louvre, I learned about "photobombs." Okay. Annoying.
Entering we hit up the main attractions and fought crowds. Seriously, Paris is getting crowded.
And to that comment my husband responded, "The world has gained over a billion in population since we last were in Paris and it is the most visited city in the world. So... should we be surprised?" Not when you put it like that sir.
Falling prey to the spirit of the room, we inched up to a front row position to capture shots. After which I advised we all take a moment to simply study and enjoy this work of art, the Mona Lisa. (Hard to do with all the pushing going on...)
And how many times do you return home from a family trip only to discover there are no complete family photos. This mirror gave an opportunity to avoid that problem...
When deciding to get a shot of just the two of us, too funny, we were suddenly joined by a whole new group of friends for my daughter!
And while yes, I'm supposed to be paying attention to the art, the floors and architecture of the Louvre is what most charmed me.
Phew. Museums can take it out of you, and after a couple galleries we needed a break. Well what do you know, surprise of all surprises, guess what has cropped up in Paris - and right in the Louvre - since our last visit nearly 14 years ago? Starbucks. We could not resist and ordered up our favorite drinks, got off our feet, people watched and rested for awhile.
I've been lucky enough to visit Paris several times before, and have stayed at this little quaint hotel each and every time prior to this trip. Hotel des Grandes Ecoles. First in 1985 when studying in Paris for part of a summer and amazingly the same two women are still running the hotel after all these years, Marie and Madame Laflock. We looked into staying here again, but decided after a couple nights at another hotel that offered a bit more room - to start the trip off - a move to an apartment would suit a family better over the long haul.
However, when heading up the hill for dinner in the 5th arrondisment and spying the doors open, we had to go in for a little walk down memory lane. The place looked so inviting in the evening light...wow, the epitome of french charm. Yes, we'll definitely will have to stay here again someday. (When we come back without the kids!)
After a couple nights we moved to the apartment, and whoever has said the French are rude has not meet the couple who rents out this apartment. We were greeted with a freshly baked cake, delish! The flat is spacious, clean, charming and very welcoming after a long day out and about in the city.
Now can I confess? It was with some dread I headed out to the Eiffel Tower after we decided to make this site a priority.
After nearly two hours in line, a very chilly line, we were finally on the elevator to the top.
This outing was definitely for Max, who ate it up! Thank goodness, made it completely worth it.
Architecture, and architecture from around the world, is a passion of his and he delighted in comparing the height of the tower to other remarkable buildings both near and far.
Afterwards, you guessed it, reward time. Big time.
And then we hit up the Louvre. Again. We wanted to visit the Egyptian wing...
... and say hi to Venus de Milo.
Reward time, again. We knew exactly where to go and it was close by just down the hall.
Don't judge... we've visited plenty of cafes as well!
As for hopping from locale to locale, after you understand the Metro system it is definitely the best way to get around the city and the kids have been having a good time figuring out how to map a route.
And at this metro station near Sacre-Coeur the walls lining the stairs up to the exit are painted with scenes of the church and surrounding streets, giving us a hint of what lay ahead.
The visit inside the church was worth the climb up the hill,
as was the amazing view of the city sweeping out below...
.... which included the Eiffel Tower beautifully lit up in the early evening sky.
Are you still with me? The next post will most definitely be shorter!