Jamie – 19 August 2011
A week in Paris can go very fast. Our’s did. We had a fantastic time – here is a bit of a day by day summary with photos.
Landed from London mid afternoon and taxied to our hotel, the Pavillon Saint-Louis Bastille in the 12 Arrondissement. This was a bit of an internet gamble but was perfect for a family of five and sensibly priced. As importantly, it proved to be a great area for eating, walking and exploring, without being overrun with tourists. Highly recommended.
Bec has documented a lot of this day really well on an earlier blog. We explored Paris the way it should be done – on foot. After walking down part of the wonderful Promenade Plantee (which I later ran in its entirety) we continued down to the Seine where we enjoyed the riverside summer activities that the city lays on – faux beaches, petanque, ice creams. After a couple of hours we went “inland” to the area around Hotel De’Ville and the George Pompidou Centre where the children loved watching the different buskers, and especially the bubble blowers (see photo on previous blog). We finished up the day walking to the Bastille area where we enjoyed moules, pizza, etc.
Tuesday was a full day at EuroDisney – a mandatory activity for a family with a week in Paris. Apart from the mix of languages, once you go through those gates you could have been in Anaheim or Orlando. The children loved every minute of it (other than the queues, some of which ran to an hour). Unadvised evening rail works on the only line between Paris and EuroDisney meant that it took us 2.5 hours (rather than one) to get home (at 11pm). This would normally be a major catastrophe in our family but on this occasion it didn’t really throw us – we were in such a good mood and made some lovely Italian friends on the platform and train.
This was a deliberately quiet day. Sari and I walked 4km (with stroller) to the
Jardin Du Luxembourg, the second largest park in Paris. Bec and the boys joined a short while later, having shopped for the perfect picnic ingredients – baguette, camembert, jamon, rocket, artichoke hearts, etc. We sat on the lawns, with priceless backdrops front and back, eating our delicious lunch before wandering down to the large octagonal pond where the boys sailed model boats which you could hire out for the princely sum of three euro per hour. The boys and I then walked back to our hotel before we went out for another streetside dinner (mussels again – this time both boys polished off bowls as big as their heads).
Probably my favourite day. We were up early (for us) and caught a taxi down to the Musee D’Orsay, in front of which we boarded a long canal boat. We were taken down the Seine, past Notre Dame, before heading north up the 200 year old Canal Saint-Martin. Over the next 2.5 hours we cruised along a 2km cave-like tunnel, went through 9 separate locks, which had us finish 27 metres higher than where we started back on the Seine. I find that sort of engineering amazing, particularly given the lock system is largely unchanged in 200 years (other that some hydraulics being added to the gates). The canal took 20 years to build and was funded by a new tax on wine. Very French.
Today was another quiet day. We caught the Metro to Ecole Militaire where we alighted for our visit to the Eiffel Tower. The boys and I climbed up the first two stages (which is as high as you can climb, but a little less than half way to the top). The lift to the top was booked out although the views from our level were still breathtaking (or was that the 674 steps we had just endured?). Bec and Sari ventured from the Eiffel Tower to Le Bon Marche, the oldest department store in Paris (and also designed by Gustav Eiffel – clever man – BTW, he also designed and oversaw the building of the Statue of Liberty which was a gift from France to the United States). I then let the boys decide how we spent the afternoon and was surprised that they wanted to watch the last Harry Potter film (for the second time in 2 weeks). I enjoyed it the first time and was craving a few hours of English so we tracked down an English cinema (which we found on the Champs Elysee!) and settled in for some Expelliarmus and Avada Kedavra. Potter fans will know what I mean.
Tomorrow we catch the 9.15am TGV to Avignon for the start of our next exciting leg – our month in Provence.