“I love Paris in the spring time…….”
Well, how can you not?
Paris is such an amazing city, I think there must be more than one something for everyone here.
We all seemed excited to arrive in Paris, with the kids giving off a great vibe through the whole train journey and even the busy Metro, Ari still in his full Viking outfit and Tess still wondering why she doesn’t have a helmet of her own.
This is the first time we have rented a private apartment in Paris and attempted to live the Parisian life, albeit for a very short time.
Despite my reservations after our experience in London, we found a little apartment for rent privately online in a very convenient location just off Rue Lafayette, near the Opera House, and very close to two Metro stations. This time we met with the owner at the property, Emmanuel, before parting with our money, and all went well. It was a little one bedroom unit, with a second sofa bed in the lounge room, on the fourth floor of a very old building, although conveniently retro-fitted with a tiny little three person lift. It was fully equipped with everything we needed and had a nice view up the street as well as across to a primary school where our kids could see all the children being dropped off and picked up and studying through the windows. We were delighted to have this place to call home for the week.
Given our location and the fact that the Paris Opera House is one of Skye’s favourite places of all time, our choice of outing on our first day was a no brainer. Despite the convenience of the Metro, we decided to walk the two stops and suss out the local cafés, restaurants and Boulangeries along the way and we were not disheartened, particularly by the many beautiful and opulent old cafés which inspired us to have our Caffe Noisette’s (Macciatti) at a different bar each day rather than choosing a favourite. It only took a couple of visits before our request of “Der Caffe Noisette s’il vous plaît” was followed very closely by Ari’s “and un Chocolate chaud”. He’s really been very impressive with his attempts at various languages.
The Opera House itself is so worth the visit, it is the epitome of opulence.
A great find in Paris for the kids was Cité des Enfants, a children’s science centre within an enormous reclaimed industrial precinct with such other attractions as a planetarium, an IMAX theatre, a submarine, parklands and playgrounds. The science centre lets the children experiment with water, mirrors and sound, sort balls through obstacle courses, explore mazes, be part of a construction site and so much more. Afterwards I took Ari through the Argonaut Submarine and museum where he listened very intently to the audio guide about life aboard a real submarine. Both the kids absolutely loved this place, I think Ari asked to go back everyday thereafter until we left Paris.
How cool is the Eiffel Tower? Only one lift was working when we were there so the line stretched well beyond the tower’s huge stanchions, so, looking at the absolute lack of a line at the opposite corner where the stairs are we thought “we can just walk up, we’ve done it before, why would anyone wait in that queue?”. What we didn’t consider is that when we did climb it the previous times we were 5 and 12 years younger and not carrying a child each, and when we brought Ari in 2009 we were able to share the load, so the 700th step did take a little more effort this time round, but still worth the while and I am sure we beat everyone in that line to the top. (I should clarify that the 700+ steps just get you to the second platform area, there are four lifts from there to the very top which everyone has to take as there are only ladders in that section). Tess grinned from ear to ear the whole way up with the strong wind in her face and Ari thought the tower was fantastic, he was very interested in its use as a weather station and radio tower and the comparison with other structures around the world like the Statue of Liberty which we visited on the way here and the Leaning tower of Pisa which he is determined to see when we get to Italy. After the climb back down Ari took Tess on a spin on a Harley Davidson (attached to a Merry Go Round) and the kids enjoyed playing in a little playground on Champs Des Mars under the shadow of the tower.
Again much of our time was spent simply wandering and exploring the city, aided by the very simple and efficient Metro in traversing its expansive landscape. Some stand out moments for me included: Walking along the Seine and admiring the houseboats and many floating restaurants whilst thinking back to how these roads were all metres under water during the floods when we came for the Millenium New Years Eve; Notre Dame Cathedral and Ari lighting a candle to “wish good thoughts about his family, and a little thought about a new scooter”; The Metro, I don’t know why, I just love it; Luxembourg Gardens, where hundreds of people are lazing around having long lunches of bread, cheese and pâté on the grass, playing petangue, watching the birds on the lake in front of the Palace, playing with the kids in the fantastic playground where Ari literally flew off the flying fox circuit on a sharp bend, and, enjoying coffee and ice cream under the trees.
I won’t detail every minute of our week here, although I’d love to, but one last thing I would like to give a mention to is Parisian drivers, and their parking. I considered writing a whole blog entry about it. At a glance it’s easy to assume they are mad drivers and shocking at parking, but the reality is they are brilliant at both. It’s not easy to navigate the five or so lane round about at the Arch Di Triumph, or to guide your car over the footpath of a narrow one way street to get around the bread van that has decided the middle of the road is as good a place as any to park while making a delivery, or to park your car in a space smaller than the actual car, or to get your car out of a parking space when the cars in front and behind are both touching your bumper, but they do it, with speed and efficiency, oh ok and with a few bumps, scratches, beeping and yelling, but still, it’s brilliant.
Next we are spending a week in Greece, on the island of Rhodes.