Just 7 weeks left in Paris, and suddenly I feel like the days are being ripped off a day-of-the-year calendar in fast motion like in the movies. There is still so much I want to see and do (and eat!) before we leave, while at the same time, lunches need to be packed, and laundry needs to be done, someone just yelled “but it’s not FAAAAAIIR! she got…” for the bazillionth time, there’s no food in the fridge, it’s time for the homework battle, and dinner must be made. It’s a weird combination of vacation and regular old daily life we’re living here, and it’s clear that without making an extreme effort to do so, we could just ride out the days and find ourselves at the end of July wondering how we possibly could have missed going to the Musée d’Orsay. I dread returning home and having some well-meaning friend who checked off every major sight in Paris in a week-long vacation say, “Oh, didn’t you just love the insert-obvious-Paris-sight-here,” while I say, “Um, actually, we never made it there. Nope, not in 7 months. But did you know I managed to get my hair cut (twice!) and had a dryer installed?”
Anyway, it’s obvious a list must be made, and who am I but champion list-maker! (Pro tip: never start a list with something you haven’t actually done yet. It is much more satisfying and encouraging to start by checking off something immediately—see how much progress you’ve made already!) So here goes:
1. Go to the French Open
2. Musée d’Orsay, without kids
3. Rodin museum and lunch, with kids
5. Go to the Sunday organic market at Boulevard Raspail
6. Relaxation and massage at one of the Paris hammams (traditional North Africa/Turkish steam bath)
7. Watch a sunset at L’Ile de la Cité (will have to be a date night because sunset isn’t until 10pm!)
8. Take a bread-baking class. I’m honestly not sure how we will all survive back home without our daily baguette.
10. Tea and macarons at La Durée
So that’s what’s left, but I plan to put together a greatest hits list at the end of our stay for anyone considering visiting Paris with kids. I’ll let you know what we accomplish from the list above and whether it was worth it!
But back to the first item on our list, the French Open. Here it’s just called Roland Garros, the “French Open” apparently being a term used only outside of France. (Now I’m wondering what they call the U.S. Open here—Flushing Meadows? It really doesn’t have the best ring to it.) Anyway, Paris loves it some Roland. For the duration of the tournament, there was a large tennis ball with the words Roland Garros raised into the center of the Eiffel Tower, between the first and second platforms. You can see it if you zoom in on this picture.
And, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, on the Champs de Mars, they erected a large video screen playing the tournament live almost every day for people to watch while lounging on the grass or picnicking. So awesome. But once I heard that you could actually get tickets fairly easy for Roland, I headed straight to the website and managed to secure tickets for both Family Day (to take the girls) and the women’s semi-final (just for Chuck and I). The stadium is right in the city, and turned out to be around 6 stops on the metro plus a 10-minute walk—so easy! And no parking to deal with…
Family Day was really fun—the players take turns playing short one-set matches, and you can just walk into any stadium or court and grab whatever seat you want. (We could have had much better seats than the picture shows below, but by then we were hot and needed to find shady spots.)
We didn’t see any huge names, but the first match we saw featured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who (being French) was a big crowd favorite and made it to the semi-finals this year. The girls even got over-sized tennis balls and got autographs from a couple of the female players (sadly eliminated in Round 1…). Super fun, and we spent a full half-day there without anyone getting too bored.
Around 10 days later, it was Chuck’s and my turn at the women’s semi’s. I had booked the tickets for a Thursday, thinking the girls would be in school the whole day, but there was a last-minute scramble for babysitting when I realized that the big matches would not start until at least 3pm. But we managed to piece-meal together some babysitting coverage, and were all set…until, Piper woke up the day of the match complaining that she was tired and had a headache. Of course she did. Once we realized she had stayed up late in her room the night before unbeknownst to us, she was threatened with having her sleepover playdate the next day cancelled should she complain in school and ask to be sent home. Am I terrible? Possibly. But I was not going to miss out on my very first tennis Grand Slam. In the end, the babysitters arrived on time and met the girls’ bus with no problems, Piper made it through the day, and I was able to relax and have a great time. We caught a set of the men’s doubles semi-final and then both women’s semi-final matches, including watching Serena Williams pull out a gutsy victory under severe distress.
We were in the absolute last row at the top of the stadium, but we still had a great view. And, had the advantage of feeling some cool wind from time to time through the cut outs in the cement wall behind us. After 6+ hours in full sun and 80-degree temperatures, we needed it! But it was absolutely a blast, and worthy of my upcoming must-do list should you be in Paris in May. Stay tuned. BTW, my favorite sign at Roland below. :)