Six Days in Paris
Six days in Paris.. it almost seems like a dream. M had a conference in Luxembourg and a few months ago asked if I wanted to join him for the weekend. The kids were going to be out of school, the in laws were going to be here so I said sure. Some time passed and nothing was really confirmed. My sister in law wanted to go on a kid free trip and asked if the in laws visited her over the summer. We said sure. More time went by the the Luxembourg talk started again. We thought to add the kids to the trip since they had never been and maybe do a few days in Paris. The dates were really close the the 4th of July. M said he could squeeze in a couple more vacation days if I wanted to turn this little weekend things into a full on trip. We decided we would stay in Paris and M would commute to Luxembourg a mere 2 hour train ride.
I was really late to planning the trip. Finding a hotel was very difficult. Seems like Paris was the place to be this summer and almost everything was booked. In the end we had to stay in the 13 arrondissement, a little away from the center of things but once we were there it was no problem at all the Paris metro system is amazing and everything felt very close.
Monday night we took a red eye flight in Charles De Gaulle. Thankfully there were no delays and we arrived at our hotel around noon. Our rooms were ready early (this is my favorite thing to hear when we arrive at a hotel before check in) We went up, freshened up and hit the streets!
We started with a late breakfast of pastries from Carl Marletti. We ordered the lemon tart and a chocolate eclair.
Unfortunately D has an assortment of allergies especially to nuts and we learned very quickly that many Parisian pastries have nuts in them :(
We walked through Rue Mouffetard which we found a bit underwhelming and then took our first Metro towards the Eiffel Tower. It was a very easy process and by the end of the day the boys were leading the way.
Side note: Covid and masking did not seem to be a big concern of the French. We were at times packed in the metro like sardines and not a mask in sight.
Once we departed the Metro we first needed a bite to eat. We grabbed a pizza at La Commanderie. They had this great chili oil to drizzle over the pizza which I want to attempt to make at some point.
Next stop Rue Cler, a bustling market street. So many more yummy things to eat. It was a toss up between macarons and ice cream. Amarino's ice cream won, it was such a hot day.
Afterwards we slowly made our way towards the Eiffel Tower. Some of the area was under construction. The Eiffel Tower was getting repainted. We took some pictures from the gardens and then crossed the bridge and took some pictures from Tracadero Gardens.
Here's a pic of baby us from back in 2009 when we first went to Paris.
Sunset at the time was 10pm.. it was close to 8pm when we took these pictures! Afterwards we grabbed a metro back to our hotel and went to a local Chinese restaurant Di-Choulie. Another Paris thing we noticed, air conditioning is not very common. Most restaurants we went to had open windows and no air conditioning.. so you never really got a break from the heat. We Americans are used to blasting air conditioning everywhere.
So the jet lag made it difficult for us to sleep until midnight and we struggled with waking up in the morning. But M had no choice as he had to wake up early early and head to Luxembourg. I set an alarm for 9am and dragged the kids out of bed as we had reserved tickets to The Centre Pompidou for 11am. We had a quick bite to eat at Florent Toupin - Boulanger Bio (some of these names are so long). Here the lady behind the counter spoke no English and the bakery offered no coffee. So we grabbed some croissants, nothing memorable.
Thank God I reserved all tickets online in advance because the wait outside the museum was long! We breezed right though.
Museums are a tricky thing with kids. I will not pretend that my kids are super cultured and love museums. They complained constantly until they would find a piece that interested them, then they would spend minutes in front of it entranced and then immediately go back to complaining.
When we wrapped with the museum in the late afternoon we called it a day and headed back to the hotel to relax till M came home. When he did, we went our for dinner at La Mexico and then followed it up with dessert crepes at Creperie Little Breizh.
Day three was a rainy day.. we had seen the forecast earlier and moved up our trip to Lourve so that we could spend most of the rainy day indoors. I had once again reserved our tickets online in advance so that we did not need to stand in a long line in the rain. I had also discovered that entering from the Pyramid was a bad idea as it was the most famous hence busiest entrances. Instead we entered from the mall (which I didn't even know existed) and the line was very short and quick. But before the museum we had breakfast at Terres De Cafe.
We got a slice of apple, banana chocolate chip and my favorite carrot cake bread. D couldn't have any of the carrot cake (allergies) but it was the best of all three breads. Even H who cringed at the sound of carrot in a cake had to admit it was delicious.
Then off to the museum. Knowing the the kids may find it oh so boring I created a scavenger hunt for them. Something basic like find a fruit bowl, a headless woman, a flag, something that starts with the first letter of their name and their favorite of course butts!
The Louvre is massive and I didn't want to spend the whole day there, but I also didn't want to miss out on seeing anything important. So again I did some research. The Louvre is split into 3 wings, Denon, Sully and Richelieu. Denon is where the most famous pieces are. So we started there and ventured into Sully to see Venus De Milo and into Richlelieu for some sculptures and the Islamic section which was in a completely different sub section.
The Mona Lisa - the crowds around her very insane. And we wondered out loud with the kids if everyone came to see her because they liked the painting or because it was 'the' thing to do. And how it's okay to not do something just because everyone else is doing it or loving it. It evolved into a conversation about peer pressure and we all agreed the the vegetable man below was way more interesting than the Mona Lisa, sorry Da Vinci.
The rain had finally died down so we left the museum.
We headed to Rue Montigruil - great street with tons of food options.
We started with lunch at Riha Durum a Khurdish sandwich shop. It was very heavy on the parsley which I was not a fan of.
And then the very famous pastries from Stohrer. Nom nom. D still had a very limited selection to choose from as 99% of the pastries had some sort of nuts in them. :(
We bought some coffee from Starbucks, it was nice to get a nice American size of coffee. Bought some chocolates from La Mere Da Famile and then continued to wander through Rue Montamare. All lovely streets, hustling and bustling. We stopped at Osteria Ruggera for dinner.
and ended the day with delectable choux from Odette.
We started day four with breakfast at Jozi Cafe near the Pantheon. There was a bit of a wait and it was absolutely worth it.
We walked along the Seine, perused the bouquinistes and then crossed the bridge into Ile de la Cite.
The Notre Dame Cathedral still under renovations.
A baby us outside of Notre Dame in 2009. I always laugh at this photo because it looks like M has held me hostage, arm behind my back. Lol.
After the Notre Dame we visited Shakespeare and Company and The Abbey Bookshop. There were no pictures allowed inside Shakespeare and Company and they were limiting the amount of people entering the shop. The Abbey on the other hand seemed was overflowing with books.. literally could die buried under them. Not a horrible way to go.
We do not give the boys an allowance of any sort but on trips we give them spending money. They choose how to spend it with our guidance and any leftovers rolls over into the next vacation. They bought books. :)
We had lunch at La Bucherie.. the service was very spotty. And I am now struggling to remember what we even ate.. burgers maybe?
We walked through the streets of Cr du Commerce Saint-André and Rue De Buci and many in between. Rue Seine was full of little art galleries.
We stopped for some pastries at Aux Merveilleux de Fred. They are known for these cream whipped fluffy meringues covered with flakes or crumbs.
We also spotted a Pierre Herme Boutique and had to get some macarons. They had the most unique flavors. We tried the lychee raspberry, the wasabi, blackcurrant, and strawberry mint.
We strolled through the Luxembourg Gardens and realized that French gardens contain very little grass and more pathways lines with trees and shrubs and they don't have many playgrounds, the boys were especially disappointed by this.
We ended the night with dinner at Le Choupinet.
We started the morning as usual by grabbing a metro to a new area to have breakfast. Today's restaurant of choice turned out to be reservations only so we had to wing it and stumbled upon Dunkerque which had a delicious breakfast.
The one oddity we experienced was that when H ordered a lemonade we got 1/4 a glass full of pure lemon juice and were provided with water and sugar to make our own.
Sacre Coeur was on today's agenda.
We strolled down to Place du Tertre a small square full of painters and cafes. And then continued down to Rue Norvins and Rue de l'Abreuvoir.
On our way to the metro we stopped at Jeff de Bruges to buy some more chocolates. Then we headed to The Parc des Buttes Chaumont. But first lunch. We stopped for some good old southern food at Gumbo Yaya and it was finger lickin good.
Next The Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It was a lovely sprawling park, hilly with a suspension bridge, a lake, waterfall and grass! We spent some time just sitting, kids again a little disappointed there was no playground. Afterwards we hit up another park, Parc de Belleville that promised a great view of the Eiffel Tower. It was not not good. It seemed more like a place where young people came to drink. There was a ton of graffiti everywhere and the view was unimpressive. Below the supposed lookout there was a nicer garden where people were sunbathing but it was not worth the trip.
Last stop Canal St. Martin. It was a cool neighborhood with a bunch of restaurants. But it had been a long day and I think everyone was just a tad tired now. We were walking an average of 20,000 steps a day. We had pizza at Acqua e Farina. The pizza we had on our first day at La Commanderie was better.
Our last full day had arrived. We had donuts and coffee for breakfast at Besties Bakery.
And then headed to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. A fancy mall with a a gorgeous ceiling and a breathtaking view. This was true on all counts.
We were set to explore of Paris' passages. The covered passages of Paris were an early form of shopping arcades. The oldest one the Passage de Panoramas built in 1799.
Right outside of Passage Jouffroy we spotted a Neko Ramen and couldn't resist.
Then we explored both Passage Jouffroy and Passage de Panoramas.
Our last stop was Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe. It was a hot day and there just happened to be a parade going on in the street. After much Googling we discovered it was The Tropical Carnival of Paris. So it was even louder and more crowded than ever.
We went up all the many many steps up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, all 284 of them.
We ended the day with some burgers at Butcher. The service was not great. The server messed up our orders then overcharged us and then instead of refunding the extra charge they claimed the machine wouldn't allow it and tried to give us a bunch of water bottles or juice bottles instead.
The last morning we thankfully got a text message early in the morning that our 1pm flight was delayed an hour so we basically went right back to sleep. With all the horror stories we were hearing about flight delays and long long lines we were still a little apprehensive and wanted to get to the airport early. We had our last parisian breakfast and bid Paris farewell.
Thankfully our flight was on time but when we arrived at Newark the airport was full and we had to wait on the runway for over an hour before our plane got a place to pull in. But it could have been worse.