Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Contrast

June 3, 2014

This morning we packed up in our apartment in Paris (with workmen banging on the outside walls – we’re SO glad they weren’t working over the holiday weekend!) and battled our way through the metro and RER systems to the airport.  Then we queued for over an hour to check in, trudged to our overcrowded gate, and had to sit on the floor to eat some hastily-gathered late lunch.

When we arrived in Iceland, we picked up our car and drove through a magical, deserted landscape – in 90 minutes we passed through volcanic wasteland, green farm fields and wetlands, and hardly saw any traffic.

For a family fatigued by the great crowds in London and Paris, this place is a tonic indeed.

Our accommodation is amazing, a cabin all to ourselves with fantastic views and all the amenities we could want. It’s a 15 minute drive back to the supermarket where we accidentally bought yogurt instead of milk (not great for tea or coffee!), but the only sounds we can hear are the birds and we can see for miles.  It’s not completely isolated – we can see other houses and even a restaurant – but it’s peaceful and beautiful and we might have trouble leaving the house to do the tourism we want to do!

There will be photos, tomorrow.  For now my body is still on Paris time (2 hours difference), it has been a long day, and there’s no milk for my tea.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Musee d’Orsay

June 2, 2014

Having been put off by the long queues for every other attraction, I was very keen to visit the Musee d’Orsay, one of my favourite places in Paris.  I resolved to be there before it opened, prepared to wait in line.  Pearl wanted to come with me, and we had a look at some of the museum’s paintings online so she had some idea of what to expect.

Musee d'Orsay

Musee d’Orsay

This morning as we got ready to go, Babess declared that she wanted to join us.  Fainjin was not at all interested, warning her darkly that it was a “just a looking-at museum, you know” but she was undeterred.

So we set off via metro to the Place de la Concorde with its Egyptian obelisk, and walked from there to the museum.  We arrived a little later than I had hoped, only 5 min before opening, and the line was daunting indeed.  But we found the end and joined it, and watched it grow rapidly behind us.  Then the museum opened, and the queue moved rapidly doorwards.  We were inside by 10am, only half an hour after opening.

That’s when I realised that today is the first Sunday of the month, so entry to the museum is free!  Hooray for that.  Babess pointed out a van Gogh exhibition, which was also free for the day, so we hopped in there first thing.  It was crowded but manageable, and the girls loved the richly glowing paintings.  From there we went upstairs and feasted our eyes on the Impressionists.  Pearl recognised a number of Monet paintings from various calendars and greeting cards she has seen.

Pearl looks out through the clock face towards Sacre Coeur

Pearl looks out through the clock face towards Sacre Coeur

As we left, we saw long lines waiting to see the van Gogh exhibition and thanked Babess for her prescience in asking to go in early.  Of course we had to peruse the gift shop on our way out and find some postcards and prints to take home.

From there we walked quite a long way to meet The Dad and Fainjin at Pont Neuf.  They had spent a very pleasant morning at the playground and gardens at the Tuileries.  We all got icecreams and took our seats aboard a cruise boat for a one-hour river tour.  It was a great way to see central Paris for an hour without getting sore feet!

View of Notre Dame from the river, looking downstream

View of Notre Dame from the river, looking downstream

It was only early afternoon when we were done, but we’ve come home for lunch and a restful afternoon – we all find the crowds very tiring and we’ve done a lot of walking.  We got some lunch at the Marche des Enfants Rouges again (The Dad and I would probably hang around there for some of the more exotic offerings if we didn’t have the kids with us!) and we’re enjoying just hanging out in our apartment and listening to the street noise below.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Patience…

June 1, 2014

We spent most of today walking around Paris again.

We are lucky enough to be staying almost next door to the Marche des Enfants Rouges, so we started our day by having a good look around there.  Our appetite for food-tourism piqued, we then walked over to Rue Montorgeuil, another foodie paradise.  As well as patisseries, fromageries, charcuteries etc, we found a little book-and-puzzle shop, where the children each chose a book – Babess found a version of Little Red Riding Hood in French, Pearl found a translation of Guess How Much I Love You, and Fainjin, ever the rebel, found a big Where’s Wally book – in English.

It was a fair bit more walking to the Louvre, where we found the glass pyramid bathed in warm sunshine and surrounded by throngs of people.  Already tired from the morning’s walking, the children were most dismayed at the sight of the queue to enter.  It wasn’t all that bad for the time of day and year, and was moving reasonably quickly, but we decided not to push the issue (after all, there would just be more walking and probably more whining inside the museum) so we returned to our home quartier and the Marche des Enfants Rouges to pick up a lunch to eat in our apartment.

After a substantial meal of smoked salmon, brie, chevre, salad and fresh bread, followed by a range of delights from the local patisserie, we had a bit of a break before heading out to walk it all off again.

This time we went back to our friend at the souvenir shop near Notre Dame, and as promised the other day he gave us prices less than marked for our t-shirts and the kids’ choices of souvenirs.  Onward and southward, over the Seine again and into the Latin Quarter, we ran the gauntlet of restaurant owners trying to entice us in for a 4pm dinner, and eventually washed up at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Babess loved the statues of queens past and ran around finding out their names.  We found the playground… and the queue of families waiting for admission… and turned to the merry-go-round for entertainment instead.  Pearl was too big for it, but Babess & Fainjin enjoyed their ride.

After a wander in the shade and some people-watching, it was time to hop on the Metro and head home again.  Babess has been singing and talking non-stop all day long.  I can’t believe she isn’t absolutely worn out – I am! It is now 9:15pm and she is still talking.  At this rate she will send both of her parents stark raving mad.

In other news, Fainjin’s tooth fell out during dinner.  We shall have to see whether the tooth fairy includes France on her regular route.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Pounding Paris pavements

May 31, 2014

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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