Monday, May 19, 2014

France, Part 3: Paris!

When we finally decided, once and for all, that our trip to France with two tiny girls was really going to happen, I made it very clear that we had to spend at least ONE DAY in Paris.  In my opinion, Paris is the most beautiful city in the world!  I was not going to take my girls all the way to France and NOT take them to the Eiffel Tower.  We began planning the trip, and as we started looking at dates and times and reservations, as we started talking to the family about dinners and outings and tickets and cars and became clear that we were really only going to get ONE DAY in Paris.  But that was enough.  All I wanted was ONE DAY.

We left Lagnieu on Tuesday morning and drove back to St. Florent to eat lunch one more time with Papi and Mamie Nelly.  It was another really long drive, but I am so thankful that Sylvain knows how to drive over there.  I'm sure I could figure it out, but you know how it is in a foreign country - rules are different and signs are different and everything just feels weird.  I was happy to look out the window and take care of the girls in the backseat!

Wind Turbines!

Toll roads.  Boo.

Hot dogs and french fries.  So elegant!

I bought Margot that new coat on my shopping day and she didn't want to take it off!
Papi drove us to Paris and by the time we arrived at our hotel we were exhausted. It was so nice to stay in a hotel, where we could take longs baths and showers, make messes without bothering anybody, and relax a little bit before hitting the big city on Wednesday.  The girls jumped on the beds, we went to the free happy hour in the beautiful lobby, and we ate dinner at the nearby train station.  Our hotel was AT the airport, which was nice because we didn't want to miss our flight on Thursday morning.  On Tuesday night, Sylvain bought our one day family pass for all trains and subways, so we were ready to go bright and early Wednesday morning.  We caught the train into the city and the girls were so excited to be on a REAL TRAIN!

I'm glad we brought the umbrella stroller, but it took a while to get used to hopping on and off the subways with it.  It beats having to chase after a 22 month old, though, so it was worth it!

First stop: Eiffel Tower!

We waited in line for over an hour to get our tickets to go to the top.  As it turns out, we could only buy tickets to the second viewing level, and if we wanted to continue to the top, we'd have to buy a second round of tickets once we got there.  It was crowded and I was so nervous that we'd lose a child, so once we got the the second level, we just hung out there long enough to say "We climbed the Eiffel Tower!  Hooray!!!" and we got the heck out of there.  The girls didn't know we weren't at "the top" and they had a perfectly good time, aside from all the whining and running away they tried to do.  We did find the perfect peace keeper, though - an Eiffel Tower lollipop!  Worth every penny.

Margot and I shared a crepe.  Everyone was happy!
If I had to do it again, I would DEFINITELY buy our tickets online so we could go straight to the top as early as possible.  The line waiting killed our spirits, as parents, and we almost threw each other over the edge of the tower!  We held it together long enough to get our viewing's worth and then we went DOWN to solid ground and walked through the yard in front of the tower.  That was much more pleasant.

After a few photos, the girls and I sat under a tree while Sylvain went in search of sandwiches and drinks for lunch and diapers for Margot.  I couldn't believe how quickly he found both!  We had our picnic lunch while we gazed at the Eiffel Tower, then the girls played on a playground for a little while with a bunch of other kids from all over the place!  The weather was beautiful and I was in heaven.  It was definitely the most relaxing and iconic part of our day!

Chasing the birds

Trying really hard to NOT pick the flowers.  Torture!

I love this picture.  It has my whole heart in it!

At the edge of the playground.  She was happy to sit in the sand!

After lunch we planned to go to Montmartre, so we headed to the nearest subway station.  We got one last glimpse of the Eiffel Tower on our way...

And then this happened....
That poor girl was worn OUT!  I've never seen her sleep like that before.  Luckily, it was a pretty long walk - Sylvain carried her like that for a good 30 minutes.  When she woke up she said, "Is this how we nap in Paris?"  I said, "Yes, I guess it is!"

The subways were an excellent adventure, and probably Sylvia's favorite part of the whole trip.  She just loved the hustle and bustle of all the people.  She held my hand the entire time, but she loved going up and down all the steps quickly and never knowing what was going to be around each corner.  Sylvain was great about knowing which trains to get on and which way to go - we all just followed Daddy and hoped that no one got lost!

Sylvain carried the stroller up and down a million flights of stairs, along with our bags and belongings!

This is the subway tram to the top of Montmartre!
 When we finally reached the top of the hill, we found a cafe where we could have some drinks and let Margot sleep in the stroller.  Sylvia and I had pineapple juice in fancy glasses and Sylvain had some new beer he's never tried before.  The cafe was right next to the big artist's plaza, which is what we came to see, so Sylvia was itching to get out there and look at the art.  Once Margot woke up, we were on our way!

Sylvia sat so still for her portrait!  It took a good 30 minutes and by the end, she was nodding off.

Margot sat on my lap for an artist to draw her portrait, but she was not quite as still as Sylvia.

 Their portraits are okay - they don't really look anything like them, but it was the experience Sylvia was dying to have, so she loves hers!  I know I'll be glad I have them in 20 years, but for now they're still rolled up in a yellow tube in our basement.

We strolled around the rest of the artist's plaza and Sylvia picked out a small canvas Eiffel Tower painting in bright pinks and blues, and that's what she wanted to buy with her birthday money.  It is now hanging proudly in her room and we all love it!

By the time we finished at the plaza, it was almost 5:00 and we were all exhausted, so instead of going around to the front of the church, we headed back down the hill and wandered a bit through the streets and shops before getting back on the subways to head to the hotel.

The sights and sounds of Paris were enough to leave a lasting memory on the girls, or at least Sylvia.  She was really able to soak it all in and I hope she remembers it forever.  She still talks about the Eiffel Tower and the subway, and she constantly asks when we're going back!  When we returned to the hotel, the girls had a nice, long bath, and they both crashed before their heads hit the pillows!  I spent the evening packing and repacking and organizing and FREAKING OUT about getting ready for the airplane ride home, but I'll leave our airport adventures for another post.  Sylvain went to the hotel bar and brought up one glass of chardonnay for us to share before bed, and that...along with the box of chocolates I had to finish before they went bad...was the icing on the Paris cake for me!

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