Monday, April 7, 2008

Paris--oooh, la, la!
















Our big spring vacation plans to Italy had been made, but as the end of March approached, we realized that Nike would be closed for a long Easter weekend. What else to do with our time than book ourselves train tickets to Paris?!?


We found an apartment in the 6th District (St. Germaine) at the recommendation of Stacey’s co-workers, and it was perfectly situated for us to explore the city. The weather was quite cold all weekend, with rain showers on and off all day on Saturday. But the sunshine on Friday and Sunday made up for the one day of bad weather.


On Friday we visited Notre Dame (opting not to climb the tower with the kids, which seemed overly ambitious), ate crepes, and took a sightseeing boat ride on the Seine River. The kids were thrilled to guess which bridge Madeline might have fallen off of into the river from when she was saved by a dog...with sincere apologies to those of you not familiar with the Madeline stories.
















We had a great dinner at a brasserie, and when we got back to the apartment the kids collapsed into bed. We’d heard the lines to take the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower could be brutally long, so we arrived first thing in the morning on Saturday. BIG mistake. We suffered through cold, rain, wind, and the misery of arriving 30 minutes early due to a guidebook error (damn you, Lonely Planet!). Still, we braved the weather. 


The kids weren’t quite as happy with the views as we were, but they were excited to have made it all the way to the top of Monsieur Eiffel's great masterpiece.


Their treat was a trip to a café for hot chocolates and baguettes. The cab driver was rude (surprise, surprise) when we gave him the address, telling us we should have walked because it wasn’t very far.  But we didn’t care; we were cold, and willing to pay the minimum cab fare to get out of the wind and rain.


After some down time back at our apartment, we headed back out to explore more of the city as the sun returned. We visited the Obelisk, saw the Arc de Triomphe from a distance, and walked through the Jardin du la Concord up to the Louvre. We opted out of going into the museum because we couldn’t imagine a more boring way to spend the time for the kids. Instead, they rode the carousel in the park, played in the maze of bushes, and tried to avoid all the puddles from the rain.


More chocolate was in our immediate future, with a trip that afternoon to the famous Ladurée Bonaparte, where we all indulged in pots of hot chocolate--which is actually more like drinking melted chocolate or chocolate pudding--and ate delicious mint chocolate pastries.

Sunday was Easter, and we let the kids just play in the apartment since we’d rushed them out the previous morning. Mom and dad took turns having an amazing run, going from the apartment to the Louvre, through the park to the Obelisk and then up to the Arc de Triomphe. The sun was shining, and it was spectacular!


Easter didn’t seem complete without an easter egg hunt. Lucky for us, a local park was hosting one for the kids. After registering each kid for 2 Euro, they were allowed to find 3 colored eggs, and trade them for a chocolate croissant and a bag of chocolates. We couldn’t read the French instructions, so our kids went out with usual egg hunt enthusiasm, and started filling their bags. We were politely told about the “rule of 3” and so we went about re-hiding the eggs for all the other children.


Here's a short video clip of the egg hunting action:

video

Despite the cold and rain on Friday, we really had a fantastic time in Paris. After staying in an apartment, we will probably consider them for many of our future trips. It’s really great to have so much space, a kitchen to cook our own breakfasts, and a washing machine to launder the clothing.


Click HERE for a peek at all of the photos from our Paris trip.