Take a Trip to Paris with Me
Paris. Oh, Paris. I don't know what to say about you that hasn't already been said. It's hard that I'm breaking down our amazing trip with a post about Paris first. Because, well, it's amazing. If you've been, you know this. If you haven't you know this. Paris is Paris. It's love and art and beauty wrapped into one. Ernest Hemingway said it best when he said, "There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris." Oh, Paris.
I'm sure you've heard it before - we did, but we didn't realize how literal this is: Paris shuts down in August. We landed on a Sunday, so it didn't click right away. We assumed the empty streets were just because it was a Sunday morning. Nope. We had Paris all to ourselves. Which is really cool, but almost every restaurant we tried to go to, was closed. So keep that in mind.
Hotel Le Bellechasse (8 rue de Bellechasse 75007)
We arrived to our gorgeous hotel to relax for a little bit before heading out. It was beautiful. And the room was large for a Paris hotel. Very ornate in a modern way. The staff was so friendly and accommodating. They even gave our daughter a welcome package complete with Le Petit Prince baby shampoo, coloring book, and color pencils. It was right across the street from the Musée d'Orsay on the Left Bank. (Rule # 1 when traveling to Europe, try to power through that first day. Stay out/awake until at least 8:00 pm that first night and you'll be fine the rest of the trip). We tried to go to a restaurant in our Michelin Guide, but it was closed...for the month of August (I kid you not). So We ended up across the street, and we were not disappointed.
Freddy's (54 rue de Seine, 75006)
We ate our first meal in Paris at Freddy's and it was amazing! I ordered the eggplant, my husband ordered fish, but the highlight...the cheese! We ordered chevre. It was served with (I'm assuming) honey drizzled over it and a side of bread. I have a gluten alergy, so I just ate it by the forkfull and felt no shame. French cheese...proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Or something like that. Bonus - they are open all August. They even had it written in large chalk paint on the windows of the restaurant.
The Eiffel Tower
The last thing I wrote in my travel journal our first day of this trip was, "It was awesome seeing the Eiffel Tower stretch above the Seine." And yes. That's always my favorite. People asked my favorite city of this trip...Paris. It's always Paris. My favorite thing in Paris...The Eiffel Tower. It's always the Eiffel Tower. What can I say? I guess deep down I really am a hopeless romantic. And at night? Wow. The Eiffel Tower at night was the most beautiful piece of art I've ever seen. I had tears as I just soaked it all in. Truly, breathtaking. And something you must do when in Paris. I can't believe it took us so long to do it.
Every day, we asked our daughter what her favorite part of the day was. And every day it was either the playground or carousel. She loved the Eiffel Tower, but definitely loved the playground under the Eiffel Tower more. She got a kick out of the crepes. She called them "tortilla pancakes" - my little Texan. There is a park or carousel every mile. It's the perfect opportunity to relax for a little bit while your kid goes crazy. We also checked out the Paris Zoo. She had a lot of fun seeing the different animals. Different climate, different continent, means lots of new animals to see!
Go. Just go. This museum was so cool. All about the French military. Their WW1, WW2. and WW2 resistance exhibits are especially special. Americans, for the most part, don't realize what it was like in France during the wars, and in large part against what the French people wanted. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in military history to any degree. (And the views of the Eiffel Tower are really special.)
What a beautiful place to relax. We didn't sail the boats. Instead, we just relaxed and let our little one nap in the stroller. The statues. The flowers. All of it. It's just so very Paris. Once the tot woke up, we headed to the world's largest playground ever (maybe not technically, but the largest one I've ever seen). She ran amok. Made some French toddler friends. And had the time of her life.
Another new Paris site for me…the Latin Quarter. We stumbled upon the Latin Quarter for lunch one day. It lives up to it’s hype. A much quieter scene than many of the iconic stops in the city. We met some locals who currently live in the States and they pointed us to the direction of Hemingway’s home. Paris really is quite an amazing city. When you go to the Latin Quarter…get gelato!
What. A. Dream. I've wanted to visit this bookstore the past few times we were in Paris, and for various reasons just never made it. But we made it a priority this trip. And again, it did not disappoint. There was a little line waiting to get in, but it moved quickly. I was a little overwhelmed by it all. Actually, a lot. I was so excited that I was just finally there! And so overcome by all the amazing paper-bound books that my brain froze. I saw a Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote at the very front, so I grabbed it and walked around with it. I was searching for WW2 resistance books (a current fave theme of mine these days). Books about Paris. Books about expats. I know they have them. But I just couldn't wrap my brain around everything. We got to the children's section. We bought Cat in the Hat in French and English for my daughter's class, along with Madeline for her. I bought Breakfast at Tiffany's, a tote bag, and we went on our way. When you go, I highly recommend doing a little research beforehand and come prepared with a list.
Dinner on the Left Bank
I'm not sure when they revitalized (for lack of better words) the Left Bank, but it's totally different from when we were there last. It's all walkable. There are little workout areas (think less bro-y and smaller scale version of Venice Beach in LA). Bars. Ice cream trailers. Restaurants. And tons and tons of spots to picnic. Other than the first night, we hung out on the Left Bank every night - with who would appear to be the locals that didn't leave the city for the entire month of August. Definitely recommend doing this. It's a great way to soak in the Paris vibe without spending a lot of money.
Paris, in short, doesn't have to be over-the-top. It doesn't have to be expensive. Our favorite meal was a picnic outside. Our favorite activities were free. You can easily do Paris with a toddler as long as you are willing to be flexible (but honestly I don't know a single toddler parent who is allowed to not be flexible). So, if you want to go and are able to, don’t let having a toddler be your excuse not to. There are many teachable moments that come with traveling to another country. She’s learning a lot about other cultures, their food, their language. It’s pretty awesome to be able to share it all with her.
Have you been to Paris? What are some of your favorite things to do? Places to eat? Any tips? I'll be back, and I wanted to add it to my list! ;)
Camera: Holga | Film: Lomography | Color Dev: Holland Photo | BW Dev: myself | Scan: myself