22 years have past since our first trip to Paris. We are now a party of 4 and seem to always have a adventure planned. We (really me) decided that a trip to Paris was a must in the summer of 2008 this would be our 5th time to the city.
I figured what I was doing wrong was not staying long enough. We seem to take day trips but what was needed was 10 days. This time Sean and I are taking Philippa, our seasoned traveller of 5 years. I found us a lovely apartment in the 8th arrondissement Madeline. Just up the street from the Opéra national de Paris - Palais Garnier.
The internet now makes my job very easy. I am a planner and like to know what is going on when we are in the city.
Once we arrive at Charles de Gaule airport Sean asks if I have the code to the apartment. Remember the email with the code to get in? Yah no! I don't! So much for my planning. I don't care at this point we will just camp out front until someone lets us in. I am sick with worry as we approach the the address, will my 5 year old be camping on the streets of Paris. We can see a lady sweeping the sidewalk and chatting to someone I am thinking oh please be the lady that runs the place please! Yes it is her, "ah madame Je suis si heureux de vous voir". She takes us inside to the elevator up about 7 floors then out.
Walk a bit to a small door the kind in the movies that you hid people behind. Yes I have rented the attic! We some how drag our belonging though the small stairwell including a push chair. I am sure there is a jewish family up there. But no it is the cutest little apartment in the loft. When you look up at a Paris apartment from the streets you can often see a small window that is sorta in the roof. Well people really do live up there and you get a smashing view. I love it! The windows face the court yard and you can see the wonderful Paris skyline.
Our first morning I am up and dressed at 6:30, why so early? Because croissants and coffee taste best early. I have the choice of 4 boulangeries from the corner of our apartment. I choose the one with the longest line. I am following the locals. I order trois croissants and a baton for sandwiches. Then off to the local grocers for fruit, jam, milk and coffee. As I stroll back in the fresh morning air the thin bag that covers the croissants lets out their wonderful aroma and I find myself peeling off a buttery layers followed by many more. Upon my arrival at the apartment entrance the bag is empty. Oh crap I have eaten 3 entire croissants. Oh boy back to the line up. Ann Marie is bringing out a warm batch from the oven trois de plus pour mon sac. I manage to get them home and even eat a 4th pretending that it is my first. This will have to stop if I am going to fit up the stairwell by weeks end
We head out as a family by 10. Philippa spots a playground and wants to play, so she joins the other children on the equipment while I join the other mums.
I have been planning for this trip for awhile and one of my details is not to looks like a wide eyed tourist of the 80s. I have packed 7 regulation white blouses. Yes french women wear white and navy blue They also have lovely shoes but my size 11 feet don't fit in lovely shoes and like many french shop keepers have told me in horror." non non madame vous devez aller à la section des hommes pour les chaussures". So my shoes are the give away, I am a Canadian trying really hard .
Our timing is to be in Paris on Bastille day. Years ago when we lived in Clevedon my girlfriend and her kids came to stay with us. They wanted to spend some time in Paris while they were visiting, so I set them up on a coach trip with Shearings. The trip included Bastille day. They came back to the UK" LOVING Paris". The lights, music, food the everything. Yes their first trip ever and they Loved Paris. They were on a friggen coach holiday!
So yes I can testify that being in Paris on Bastille day is a excellent idea.
But la crème de résistance is the Fireman's ball. We had seen a poster advertising the event and it turns out the firehall was just a block away from our apartment. So if you are ever in Paris on July 14th go to the fireman's ball. It is a great party .
The Euro-star was a great opportunity to head to London for a picnic. We get to meetup with our good friends Jazmine and Lorraine for the day and home in Paris for dinner
As our perfect week in Paris comes to a end, we are sitting having our last morning ONE croissants and coffee by the window and can hear some music over the coo of our neighbourhood pigeons. It gets a little louder and it is french accordion music. OMG it is like a scene from my favourite movie Chocolat! It is perfect I have done it
"I LOVE PARIS"
It is now 12 years later from when Sean and I first ventured to Europe in 1986 and we are now living in the UK doing a teacher exchange with the CTEP.
We had a whole year of school breaks ahead of us. Our first one is 6 weeks into the school year , October 1998. Hannah is just 5 years old and can recite all the Madeline books by heart. So what better place to take such a well read child then to Paris? I am still determined to love Paris.
My plans consists of trains, cars and ferries. It will be wonderful strolling through the beautiful tree lined streets of Paris with our little girl. She in her blue collared dresses and the three of us in two straight lines. Autumn has to be a lovely time to visit I was sure...
We arrive via the train to the ferry docks for our journey across the channel only to be told that the storm has prevented all boats from sailing we will just have to wait. And wait we did. For hours. What the Met Office called a "vigorous" depression in the Atlantic had halted all ferry service to France. Oh this is a great start!!!! Eventually, we finally did set sail for France having no hope of getting the train I had paid for on the other side that would take us into Paris. We would arrange to take another train and finally arrive a day late at about 3 in the morning.
Our hotel room is small, really small, but it has it own bathroom so things are looking up. We try to dry some of our very wet clothes, eat the bag full of Burger King that Sean went out and got, and go off to bed. After all we only have the next day before we have to start the whole journey back again.
We awake in the morning to a knock on the door. I walk across the beds, since there is no floor, just beds.
I open the door to see a tray with 3 croissants, a silver pot of coffee and a pot of hot chocolate. Now if you can imagine the most amazing cup of coffee the world has to offer, this was it. Thank goodness Sean didn't drink coffee so the entire coffee pot was mine, all mine!
This was the perfect start to our day, Paris was going to be amazing! I keep saying this statement out loud as if it will help the outcome. Once out on the streets of Paris we are greeted with rain. The kind you get in Prince Rupert, that comes at you sideways, ensuring you are soaked within a few minutes.
I have managed not to pack any underwear for Sean so our first stop will be the C&A for undies. Go figure Paris does not sell tightie-whities, so Sean is the proud owner of a 6 pack of very skimpy black Parisian undies and he is not impressed.
I am determined not to have the rain ruin our day but soon it is very apparent that we are going to have to change our itinerary to just a few sights. So I consult the Madeline books.
It was now half past nine, so we headed out in the rain, off to the Luxembourg Gardens to perhaps see a tiger in the zoo that Hannah could say pooh pooh too.
Then I held her hand as she walked on the edge of the bridge knowing full well how to frighten her dad. We went up to the second floor of the Eiffel tower to check out all that Jules Verne had to offer. Then down to the bottom of the tower, where two very rain drench parents watched their little girl ride solo on the Double Decker Merry Go Round and were thankful that not a single gypsy lady was in sight.
The day was not as we had planned, but we went back to our hotel, we broke our bread, brushed our teeth and went to bed. I did however remember to order two pots of coffee for the morning as I knew I would need them for the trip back to England.
Our poor little Hannah continued her Madeline story. Once back in England she was rushed to the Bristol hospital to be diagnosed with double pneumonia. Ah Paris, I will love you one day!