Pounding Paris pavements

We explored Paris today, quite a lot of it on foot.  And like London, we’ve found Paris is hard on the feet!

We are lucky enough to be staying only 20min walk from Notre Dame cathedral, so we set off in pleasant sunshine marvelling at all the stone buildings and peeking through the occasional open doorway at hidden gardens and courtyards.  The kids were astonished by all the pipes and tubes on the outside of the Pompidou Centre.

you can never tell whether there's scaffolding on it or it's meant to look that way...

you can never tell whether there’s scaffolding on it or it’s meant to look that way…

Before we even got to the cathedral there were lots of alluring souvenir shops, so we stopped to get postcards and the kids drooled over all kinds of kitschy trash.  We firmly repeated that they can buy themselves a t-shirt each – later – and otherwise let them look.  The shopkeeper endeared himself to them immensely by giving them a couple of Eiffel Tower keyrings each.  Babess is still adamant that we have to go back there.

The lines outside Notre Dame were enough to dissuade us of any ideas of seeing it from the inside, and we walked around the outside instead towards the Ile St Louis, one of my favourite neighbourhoods.  We walked down the main street looking into shop windows, then stopped for Berthillon icecreams and coffee.

The line at Sainte Chapelle was also very long, which I was sadder about, but we browsed the flower market before hopping on the metro to the one thing the children all agreed was the point of our visit – the Eiffel Tower.

Fainjin and Pearl were keen to go up, at least to the first level, while Babess wanted to keep her feet firmly on the ground.  So The Dad walked up the stairs with the older two.

up, up, up...  still going up...

up, up, up… still going up…

They waited in line for longer than they eventually spent upstairs, naturally.  They had a fun time, although The Dad was the only one brave enough to do this:

Whoa! Glass floor!

Whoa! Glass floor!

Babess & I enjoyed a picnic in the Champ de Mars while we waited.

All together again, we paused for everyone else to eat, then we got back on the metro towards Montmartre.  We trudged up the hill, which was very very crowded, and battled our way through the throng in the Place du Tertre, unable to see much of the painters and portrait artists plying their wares because of the sheer numbers of people.  The Dad and I reminisced wistfully of our winter visit in 2000, when it was nice and quiet and relaxed.  The kids clearly disbelieved us.

By now we all had sore feet and incipient grumpiness, so we headed home for dinner and French cartoons on the TV.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

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4 Responses to “Pounding Paris pavements”

  1. Karen G Says:

    This sounds like a great trip! Here’s a very long comment [sorry!]
    I haven’t been to Paris in over 15 years, when a friend and I visited our friend who worked for the OECD.
    Some of my favorite things were going to the Musee D’Orsay, and [like you] buying picnic food at neighborhood bakeries [ficelle sandwiches wrapped in cellophane 🙂 ] & farmers’ markets. We also had lunch at a rail station – a variety of fruits and cheeses that the French seem to take for granted.
    Sometimes simple really is best.
    On that note: We treated our friend to a farewell dinner at a bistro she liked. So they each got a fabulous dessert, while I had a lively conversation with the waiter about ‘compote de pommes’, using my best French. And, picturing a delicious tarte tatin or something fancy, I ordered … plain applesauce. It was warm, as promised, though.
    Also, I found the French folks to be very friendly and understanding of my grammatical faux pas. Except when I ordered ‘une tasse de cafe a apporter avec moi’ [my translation of ‘coffee to go’.] This was before Starbucks, and I was so jet-lagged I didn’t care that they were very amused. It was coffee.
    I also dressed in neutral tones to conceal my American background, but that probably didn’t work too well. 🙂

  2. Karen G Says:

    One more thought – re souvenirs: I still have my green Guide Michelin [in French!], and a newspaper and magazine or two … somewhere.
    Maybe your younger kids would like a child’s book or magazine in French. In addition to a t-shirt, of course.

    Also have train maps from a later visit to Scandinavia.

    And postcards are always nice, especially ones you send home to your family. I’m terrible at that.

    I haven’t looked at any of the above in a long time; however I’m sure they’ll bring back great memories, once I find them. [I moved recently.]

    • Kate @ upsidebackwards Says:

      Hi Karen!
      I lived in Paris for a year in my early twenties, which is astonishing to my children. “You *lived* here?!” 😀 It’s very different being a tourist here, especially accompanied by children, but some of my memories are coming in handy, and my rusty French is making a surprising comeback. Babess summoned up a “merci madame” in a boulangerie yesterday and was given a small treat for her courage!
      Thanks for the book suggestion – it’s one I had thought of earlier and forgotten in the excitement of being here. We’ll have a look for something today. We are also trying to collect bits of fabric from each place we visit, to make a memory quilt each when we get home.

  3. Karen G Says:

    Hi Kate,
    A quilt or collage is a wonderful idea! I’ll mention that to any friends who are traveling with children this summer.

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