I think when the girls look back on their time in Paris, one of their highlights will be when their cousin Joaquin and Auntie Shana came to visit. For months, “I miss Cuzzie!!” was a recurring refrain here, and Piper and Ruby talked incessantly about what they would do when Joj came to visit. I’d say we knocked it out of the park. We’ve been here long enough now that we know the ins and outs of tourism with kids here—what sights you have to line up early for, what restaurants are kid-friendly, where the least-busy entrance to the Louvre is, and where the best parks are for just hanging out.
After a devastating start to the trip, when I confused the day they were arriving (forgetting to add the +1 day to the airline arrival time) and sent the girls off to school with promises that their cousin and auntie would be there when they got home (I had to make an emergency trip to the bakery to buy chouquettes in order to console a wailing Piper upon her arriving back home and not finding them waiting for her). But they did arrive the next day, and from then on, life was good.
With Ruby off on her school trip to the farm for two days, Piper got to spend some quality time with Joj, and she loved it. From walking backwards on people-movers together to concocting menu ideas for the craziest restaurant ever (appetizer = slushie on potato chips), they had a great time together. First up was the “Art of the Brick" Lego exhibit by Nathan Sawaya, which was cool for both adults and kids—Sawaya is a real artist who has chosen lego bricks as his medium, so his work is both thoughtful and just plain neat.
Another highlight was a visit to the catacombs, where (as we are old hands at this now), Chuck got up to wait in line for us so we could arrive with only a half hour to wait with the kids instead of 2 hours!
They didn’t seem at all creeped out by the bones, and really enjoyed wandering through the cool and dank passageways (130 steps down underneath Paris).
We also hit the Louvre (Mona Lisa—check! Egyptian mummy—check!), followed by some quality jumping time at the trampolines at the Tuileries (a Pisula girl Paris must-do). And then we all headed to the girls’ school on Friday at noon to meet Ruby’s bus. She loved having all of us there to greet her, and we were able to show Joaquin and Shana both her classroom and Piper’s classroom. We even went to the park for a little while after to find Piper’s class (at park time) and show off Cuz to P’s besties.
After that, it was back on the sightseeing train. We waited in our longest line of the trip to climb up the towers at Notre-Dame. It was a good 1.5 hours we spent waiting, but the kids were remarkably well behaved (helped by eating nutella street crepes and picking out gargoyle souvenirs at a shop across the street), and the visit was totally worth it.
From there, we showed Joj the lock bridge (well, the one that hasn’t been replaced by graphic art panels) and took the Batobus back to the Eiffel Tower. (Seine boat cruise—check!)
But some of our highlights of the trip were more off the beaten path—one evening, we all went out to one of our favorite restaurants in Paris, Le Recepteur, where the kids had awesome steaks. On the way home, we walked over the Pont de Grenelle, which is over the Île aux Cygnes where one of the Parisian Statues of Liberty sits. Under the bridge is also an area with some workout equipment and a small rock wall climbing one of the bridge posts. The kids LOVED it, and in fact, insisted on going back twice.
We also spent a fun afternoon visiting the slightly creepy but very cool Deyrolle taxidermy and entomology shop where we picked up some beautiful shell souvenirs to bring home with us. Then walked a few blocks away to the famous Les Deux Magots cafe (picked out by Joj in his guidebook back in D.C.) for rosé and some amazing macarons. Bucket list item achieved!
We took a visit to Cité des Sciences one weekend morning, which is a huge hands-on science museum for kids. The kids loved playing in the water section, talking back and forth to each other with sound tubes, and playing with the green screen in the TV studio section. We even got to visit and take a tour of an old submarine.
After that, we explored Parc de la Villette, which is a huge park with art installations and playground equipment for the kids, including a massive dragon slide.
So much fun, and hard to get them to leave, but Shana and Joj still had Sacré-Coeur and the Musée d’Orsay on their to-do list (the girls and Chuck and I bailed out for some much needed rest time). But maybe the biggest highlight of the trip was just spending time enjoying our balcony—finally paying off after the first three months of cold and gloom here! Shana and I got to share glasses of wine at sunset, and one evening we let Piper and Joj stay up until 11pm to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle (sunset is so late in the summer that most nights the tower doesn’t sparkle until 11pm….though ironically, a couple of nights later it was cloudy and it sparkled at 10pm…grrr). The expression on Joj’s face when the tower started sparkling was worth the price of this apartment ten times over. Pure joy. Mission accomplished!