I’m back at home today after a spring break trip to Paris. I took my three older children and we left Friday night, arriving Saturday morning, and returning home Thursday afternoon.
We packed a lot in. We saw the Musee D’Orsay on the first day, though the kids were a bit over tired to appreciate the art at that point. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. They got crepes from a street vendor and macarons from a fancy shop. We toured the Louvre. We visited Versailles and then biked around the surrounding forest/park. We went to Disneyland Paris for a day.
It wasn’t the easiest trip. International travel rarely is. I haven’t traveled to Europe since 2018 and I am out of practice — meaning that while I remembered to pack the outlet converters I forgot to pack the melatonin and paid for it at 2 a.m. as my body refused to sleep. Four people in a hotel room is also not conducive to sleep, and the kids have a limited tolerance for culinary adventures. So we ate in cafes/bistros that had pizza and pasta every night (fortunately, many very cute places along the various boulevards have such offerings). The obtaining of a Covid test within 24 hours of departure (for the US) turned out to be far more of an ordeal than it should have been, given how every French pharmacy advertises the 15-minute turnaround of their rapid tests. Perhaps that will be its own post.
Anyway, it is always easier not to travel, especially internationally, but then I know I would miss out on some peak experiences. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower is perhaps a travel cliche — one reason I’d never done it on my adults-only trips to Paris — but with kids it seemed like a must-do and on a clear spring day it was stunning, cliche or not. The Mona Lisa draws the crowds, but I always love looking at the handful of other Da Vinci masterpieces in the Louvre, such as the perfectly composed extended family portrait of Anne, Mary, and Jesus holding a lamb. Riding a bike through the greening woods where Louis XIV lived was sublime. The cool breeze on my face and zipping past the rippling water by the palaces will remain a favorite memory. And my kids are convinced that the Big Thunder Mountain Railway at Disneyland Paris is better than the one in Orlando (you whoosh around in the dark for quite a while!).
So, having done the trip, I am happy to have done the trip. The kids seemed to have enjoyed it too, though my eldest said it was good except for the 30 minutes every day when I would freak out (someday, if my children are herding their own children around a foreign country, perhaps they will understand…). There were moments my experiencing self was unsure. I am definitely unsure about traveling internationally with even younger kids (the older ones are 14, 12, and 10; the 7- and 2-year-old stayed home with my husband). But I was glad to be able to show my kids another part of the world. We had a lot of good conversations over those plates of pizza and pasta. I practiced a little of my French! Not too much, though, given how many people in Paris speak English. We didn’t stay in a particularly touristy part of Paris but even so, many restaurants posted French and English menus outside. At one point my daughter remarked that “We’re talking and probably no one knows what we’re saying” and I’m like…um, I’m pretty sure they know what we’re saying. Which is helpful when traveling internationally! There are definitely places that would have been harder.
Now, after a good night’s sleep in my own bad, my memories are even rosier. Isn’t that funny?
Photo: Random Paris street scene