Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Paris Post

The four of us had the amazing good fortune to take a trip to Paris last month. This trip has been in they makings for quite a long time, and I actually can't believe that's it's already over.

My in-laws, Fillis and John, met while living in Paris on their junior year abroad, and celebrated their 40th anniversary in January. That's the official reason for taking the trip when we did, but the truth is that Marc has been talking about talking a trip there with his parents for as long as I can remember. They are true Paris veterans who really know the city well and can speak fluently, so we knew they would be excellent tour guides. Fillis and John were very generous and provided our flights and hotel room, and we're very thankful for that. But they were also wonderful travel companions, and we had a great time exploring the city together.

I'm sure I could go on at great length about many of the things we saw and did, but I thought instead that I'll give you some highlights broken down by topic. Feel free to ask me more about any and all of it!

Flights: We flew to Paris on Air France, and it was surprisingly smooth. The food service was actually really good, and the kids received toys with their meals. On the flight back we had personal televisions, and I watched THREE movies. Totally unheard of for me, but very enjoyable. Max did pretty well with the flights and slept some on both legs of the journey, but Hannah seems to have inherited my inability to sleep on planes.

Hotel: We stayed in a perfect room in the Hotel Saint Petersbourg. It was very centrally located, close to transportation and near the Paris Opera House (which made my 8th grade self giddy to think about the Phantom of the Opera). The main room was large enough for all of our beds and suitcases, and the bathroom was huge. Max loved the extra large bathtub, and both kids enjoyed yelling "Bon jour!" at people walking by the building from the balcony of our room. The staff of the hotel was also super-friendly with the kids, and Max felt like he owned the place, singing his favorite songs from "Yo Gabba Gabba" in the lobby of the building. The room key was kept by the hotel staff, so it was extra large and weighted, which was pretty unique in the age of key cards.

Transportation: We used Super Shuttle to get back and forth from the airport (you're truly on vacation when it's another person's responsibility to adjust the car seat straps for you!), and rode in a van to Versailles, but otherwise, it was public transportation all the way. And I LOVED it. It was easy and efficient and such a welcome change from this horrendous winter with the MBTA. We used the bus, the subway, the RER and took a train ride out of the city to Rouen, and I was shocked by how seamless it all was. There were signs saying how long until the next vehicle arrived, and two ways to validate your ticket when taking a bus. Boston is totally pathetic in comparison.

Food: Ah yes, the food, perhaps everyone's favorite subject when it comes to Paris. And it was in fact very good, but I most liked the experience of not having to clean up after us for a week! My absolute favorite thing was the green apple macaroons from LaDurre on the Champs Elysses, which Hannah and I waited in line for half an hour to acquire, and trust me they were worth the wait. Marc liked the French bread and Hannah liked the croissants at a cafe across the street from our hotel. Max, with his most sophisticated palate, loved the chocolate rice krispies cereal at the hotel buffet best. We had two dinners at Pizza Pino, a great Italian place we found, where I had my first egg-topped pizza, and then proceeded to also have eggs on a burger and pasta, plus a few omelettes before the trip was done. Being that we had the kids with us, we didn't do a lot of very fancy dinners, but we definitely enjoyed the food everywhere we went.

Sites: We really packed as much into this trip as we could. I had brought what I thought were a very comfortable pair of boots for the trip, but my feet didn't make it through the first day without pain. But I persevered as best as I could and we managed to make it to all of the following: the Jardin de Tuileries, the Louvre, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides (including Napoleon's tomb), Le Marais (the Jewish area of Paris), Musee D'Orsay, the Rodin Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Champs Elysses, the town of Rouen and its famous Monet-inspiring cathedral, Musée de l'Orangerie, Rue Mouffetard, the Pantheon and the Jardin du Luxembourg. Hannah and Max also took a ride on the Bateaux Mouche down the Seine, and Marc took a trip on his own to see the Catacombs.

Entertainment: Marc and I are fans of the movie "Moulin Rouge" and used one of its songs as our first wedding dance, so of course we spent an evening seeing this show. It started off slowly and I was a bit worried the movie was better than the real thing, but it did not end up disappointing. The show was fabulous, with jugglers, ventriloquists, even a woman swimming with live snakes, but the best part was the traditional French can-can. Using a suggestion from my parents, the following night we took Hannah for dinner and to see the show at Lido. Hannah was at first reluctant since there aren't too many kids in the audience, but when the show began, she absolutely loved it. During a day when Max stayed with Fillis and John to skip some of the museums, Max got to enjoy a French circus.

Shopping: Other than the food, everyone wants to know about the shopping. To be honest, we didn't shop too much. We gazed in millions of windows as we walked past, but only made a few purchases. I bought a new ring and necklace featuring my favorite apple green color, and Hannah got a couple of cute outfits. Both kids ended up with a few Eiffel Tower souvenirs. But really, we didn't buy much. I guess it's just another reason for us to visit again.

And I do think we will visit again. Now that I've finally had the opportunity to go to Europe, I definitely want to go back and see more. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I'm particularly grateful to have been on such a big adventure with Hannah, who was old enough to really enjoy it all. Thanks again to Fillis and John!

1 comment:

  1. i am starving just LOOKING at that food. YUM!
    i've never been to Paris, but now i want to go even more!