Monday, August 25, 2014
take me with you - paris (part 1)
ahhhhh this post is going to be long. mainly because it's for my memory. i was so excited to bring the girls to paris, especially elodie. the idea of teaching her to use a map, navigate the metro, see the eiffel tower...well, i won't soon forget it and hope that i can bring both of them back as they grow. i'd love to walk down the same streets with my twenty five and twenty two year old daughters and point out where they were when they were mere children. such a wonderful thought. we really tried to limit ourselves to one big activity a day even though there were so many tempting itineraries and things that i wanted to see. i've been to paris several times while living in france and in the years following my stay. i thought back to what the wow moments were to me and built our days around revisiting those things.
we arrived mid-afternoon after taking the tgv from london. i love train travel and all the different train stations in europe. we checked in to our airbnb just around the corner from la bastille (technically still le marais.) i actually prefer staying nearer to la bastille. it's so vibrant and the grand boulevards are close to the canals and the seine. we were walking distance to the picasso museum, all the great restaurants and shops in le marais, as well as some good shopping (bon ton and merci were highlights!)
i would highly recommend renting a flat while in paris versus staying in a hotel. airbnb in paris can be a bit maddening as it seems parisians (and i obviously might be generalizing, this was just my experience and an experience of a friend who was also looking at the same time) are a bit slow at getting back to you and don't update the calendar frequently. i finally was able to book a flat after contacting the host several times. it was worth it in the end but a bit hard!
i loved having a cheese shop, bakery, charcuterie, and even an organic store (called bio in france) within walking distance. we were always picking up lovely things for our meals and became friendly with the local merchants.
day 1 highlights//
my husband's a coffee snob to the nth degree so each day we literally planned our itinerary around our espresso. thankfully it worked out.
we started out with a stop at télescope coffee before heading to the musée d'orsay. we took a roundabout walk through jardin des tuileries then across one of the many love lock bridges. this one was la passarelle de solférino rather than the structurally challenged pont des arts.
it was hard to choose just one museum while in paris. with a five year old and a toddler (and a laundry list of activities) it was just the way it had to be. musée d'orsay is an easy winner as it's a stunningly beautiful structure (an old train station) as well as chock full of all impressionist masterpieces.
tip for families: don't wait in the long queue right at the entrance of the museum, rather head over to the far right entrance which is for vips/wheelchair accessible/and in small print...families.
it was a rather moody day and we walked along the seine back to our flat. that night we made a big pot of soup, gave the girls a bath, and stayed up with friend drinking wine and eating cheese until the wee hours. home sweet home in paris.
day 2 highlights//
again, we chose a cafe with great reviews. this time, coutume instituutti which was in the institut finlandais near la sorbonne. perfect espresso. definitely worth the trip.
we then headed to cathedrale notre dame de paris. francesca and i walked to the seine and watched the boats and an accordion player while michael and elodie waited to get in. then we joined them inside while a mass was taking place. it was so beautiful to hear a chorus singing while walking through such an important piece of history.
afterwards, we headed back to le marais so that i could introduce my family to one of my favorite lunch spots from my early twenties...l'as du fallafel. there is always a queue up the street but it goes quickly and is worth the wait. it was exactly as good as i remembered and i loved seeing elodie sitting on the street corners with a half dozen parisians and other tourists digging into her falafel sandwich.
that evening we went to montmartre to see the basilique de sacre coeur and to have dinner at le refuge des fondues with our friends brian and bri. i stopped to pick up some strings of lights for elodie's room from le case de cousin paul which was right around the corner. it's so fun to wander the streets of montmartre!
stay tuned for part 2 in paris...