If you build it they will come

Bec – 15 August 2011

Without wanting to jinx myself I think I can safely say that as a family we had the “perfect day” today in Paris. A lovely combination of children’s and adult approved activities – all at the budget price of ‘FREE’.

The day started slowly and after a 10am breakfast we decided that we would simply head down to the banks of The Seine and walk for as long the kids would let us…hoping we may end up somewhere near Centre Georges Pompidou.

No sooner had we hit the edge of the river, we knew we had stumbled onto something quite wonderful. Every summer the French install beaches from Gard De Lyon right up to Pont Neuf. Not only do they truck in sand but they build cafes, ice cream shops, petanque courts and children’s water parks all onto cobblestoned walkways that would only be five metres at their widest spot.

The Parisians flock to these spots and they were all in their bikinis and on sun lounges behaving as if the footpath had always been a beach.

The children were captivated and the Adamson boys (Jamie, Foster and Mylo) played petanque (see photo below) for an hour. Sari helped by throwing a few balls then simply flirted with the local French passers by who wanted to take photos of her.

One older French man stopped to tell me in broken english that the red boy (Mylo) had a good petanque arm.  Reassuring, just in case the current chosen career path of being a hairdresser during the week and a Jedi on the weekends doesn’t work out for him.

Up in the Place de la Ville, on the streets above the man made beaches, there was yet another example of Kevin Costner’s greatest legacy …the quote “if you build it they will come”. Beach Volleyball courts complete with sand, nets and spectator seating had been erected onto one of the most beautiful and sophisticated squares in the city….right outside the Hotel De Ville there were men and women stripped down to their shorts and swimmers playing beach volleyball…whilst next door they had built a pool which housed little row boats for small children.

What this scene created was magnificent…you have the young French people coming out to participate in varied and exciting activities right beside the well heeled, coutured Parisians going about their high end shopping. A wonderful juxtaposition… just like Paris itself.

A short stroll along the Rue D’Rivoli found us at the Pompidou Centre… a masterpiece of modern, industrial architecture set amongst sandstone chapels from the 17th century…yet all the buildings old and new, seem to stand their ground and deserve to be there.

Foster and Mylo were fascinated by the ‘Bubble Man’ who managed to create enormous bubbles that looked like they could carry a small child away in them. There were the usual jugglers, musicians and acrobats ….. but coupled with space to run around…the children were in bliss and remained in good moods all day.

Jamie finished the afternoon with an 8km run along a disused aboveground railway line that has been planted out to create a corridor of green above the streets and crowds right in the middle of Paris.

Then we all headed out for Moules et Frites (mussels and chips) at a Belgian restaurant in the Place de la Bastille, where Foster polished off a huge bowl of mussels and proclaimed to LOVE them.

On the walk home…hand in hand with my children and husband I thought about what I initially thought I would learn from our world trip (in between stopping them from running out onto the roads).

I assumed I would learn about the countries we were in ..but I realize that I am learning about them (my children) and I am learning about the interests we share and the ones we don’t. I’m learning that Foster and Mylo are old enough now to discern the humor in many situations that would have gone over their heads before, and I’m learning that I need to let go….to let them have opinions and to take them on board. I’m struggling with the last one …….but build me a bridge… and I’ll try to cross it!

Seine beaches !

Petanque. Australian style.

Bubble boy Mylo

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One Response to If you build it they will come

  1. Jealous but exacerbated by the poetic prose (if that’s not an oxymoron). Wonderful stuff and being a Francophile (or should that currently be a Paris(ian)ophile”?) even more poignant.
    Dad & Mich xx

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