Shortly before Christmas we took a trip to Paris by way of the EuroStar train. It was a really great trip - not only were the kids well behaved most of the time, but we got to see and do a lot without it being exhausting. Plus we went during a fun season when all the Christmas Markets were up and we could stuff our faces with as many churros and crepes and delicious treats as we could handle. And we did!
The transportation was fairly easy - we took an hour long train from Oxford to London where we switched lines and took the EurStar in to Paris via the Chunnel. I find it so cool that the train literally goes under water. You could feel the pressure change in your ears, but overall it was a really pleasant and easy way to travel. Mary was free and thankfully there were plenty of open seats there and back so she didn't have to sit on anyone's (i.e. my) lap.
We arrived at night so went straight to the apartment we rented through Air BnB. The apartment was in a great location and the apartment itself was perfect for what we needed - two rooms (the kids share a room when we travel), a bathroom, and kitchen, but the only downside was it was on the sixth floor with no elevator. This meant at least twice a day we (Miles) had to lug the stroller up and down and most of the time we had to carry Mary as well. I suppose it helped burn off the nutella filled crepes.
On our first full day in Paris we went out for breakfast where I could brush off my one year of high school French though we quickly learned that EVERYONE speaks English. We seriously felt like we heard more English for the first day than we did French! For all the jokes and rumors you hear about the French people being rude we didn't find that to be the case at all. People were very friendly and were super patient and polite when I did want to practice my French.
We walked from breakfast to Notre Dame. When we arrived we decided it was worth it to wait in line to go inside and I'm so glad we did. Entrance was free and it was so beautiful inside (my pictures don't do it justice).
|Notre Dame in background behind Mary|
After Notre Dame we walked to the Eiffel tower which was probably three miles away, but the kids were doing fine and Finn just hops on the front of the stroller when he gets tired. We walked along the river with the Louvre along side us - it was such a great way to take in the city. We took the subway a lot too, but certainly did a good bit of walking. Each day we figured it was around eight miles worth!
We bought tickets to go to the top - and while the view was amazing, I almost think the view from the middle was better - you're not too far above everything and there's just more space to take it all in.
The following day we went to the Louvre in the morning. I've always heard it is big, but really the building, the collections inside, the underground area - it's massive and absolutely magnificent. We spent a good two hours and easily could have stayed longer, but we didn't want to push our luck with the kids. Our tour guide for the Eiffel Tower said that if you spent 30 seconds looking at every piece of art in the Louvre, it would take you six months to see everything!
|BOB Strollers: Worth every penny.|
|Mona Lisa and Finn|
|Venus de Milo|
|The kids are standing in front of what used the be the castle walls,|
before it becomes the Louvre.
|When Finn started whining about holding the map we knew it was time to bounce.|
From the Louvre we walked through the Touleries Garden (which I am sure is crazy beautiful in the spring) and up to L'Arc de Triomphe. We didn't take the tour up the Arc, but after seeing the city views via the Eiffel Tower it didn't feel like we were missing out too much.
We walked back through the Christmas Markets for more chi-chi's! (churros) and let the kids play in the children's area a bit before heading back to the apartment. I also bought a cute Paris ornament for our Christmas tree.
The following day we split forces as Miles wanted to check out the catacombs, but we figured it would be a little too scary for Mary. And truth be told after seeing his pictures I'm not especially sad to have missed it myself. Finn went with Miles and was a great sport and despite the look on his face in these (super creepy and gross) pictures, he seemed to have a good time with Miles.
Mary and I had a much more pleasant morning spent at the Orangerie Museum which contains works of Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and an exhibit with work from America depicting the Great Depression Era with the main focus being the American Gothic Painting which was on display for the first time ever in Europe (though no pictures of it were allowed).
We then met up with Miles and Finn at Sacre Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. No photography was allowed inside, but it was beautiful. You have to walk up a billion steps, but thankfully the side of the stairs was paved in a way that allowed us (Miles) to push the stroller alllll the way to the top!
|No kids were riding in the stroller although Finn wanted to.|
We walked along the river that night getting to see Paris all lit up after dinner at a nice cafe/restaurant. The following morning we ate breakfast and then packed up to take the train back getting us home two days before Christmas.
A wonderful first trip to Paris - I look forward to going back some day!