It was the last stopover of our first trip to Europe with our kids Francesca and Nello. They’ve already knew the city from films like Ratatouille, A Monster in Paris and Ballerina and we all, specially Fran, had great expectations. We arrived by train from London and the welcome wasn’t very warm: our transportation didn’t show up and the room that we’ve booked with a Seine view wasn’t available. We weren’t discouraged by this and after checking in decided to give Paris a second chance to introduce ourselves. Our first encounter was in Luxembourg Garden, I still remember Fran’s expression, eyes wide open, ecstatic, taking all in. A group of kids playing with motor toy boats at the fountain, couples in love, families, tourists but also locals, it was Sunday. We kept walking and we found a live orchestra playing the Game of Thrones melody in a park gazebo. Is it always like this or is this an apologize for the harsh greeting?
The next day we visited the Louvre Museum, there was a long line of people waiting to get in but oh mighty kids priority (traveling with infants has its benefits you know) we got in at once. One of my rules when I visit a museum with my children is to spend 1 hour and a half top, it is impossible for them to keep their attention (and I may risk to say their sanity) longer than that. We had two clear objectives: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci and the Egyptian pavilion. Franchu was taking her first year of primary school and they had studied the ancient Egypt wo she was very interested in the culture and history of the country. We had been warned about Leonardo’s painting to be very crowded and that it was pretty small, but reality was even more disappointing. A sea of heads holding every type of camera you can imagine made us desist from staring at it for a while. Instead, and without a huge knowledge of art, we played a game where each of us picked the painting we liked the most and explained why. This game helps us to develop our kids habit to contemplate things and to recognize how they make them feel. Finished the visit, we tried to had lunch at the restaurant outside the Decorative Arts Museum but it was full. The sky was clear and the temperature warm, so we bought some baguette sandwiches and improvise a picnic in Tulleries Gardens, took our shoes off and put our feet in the fresh grass.
On our third day in the city of lights, we had an important date with its most famous icon. Some friends told us that we could expect strict controls at the entrance and even a possibility of mistreatment from the security personnel. Nothing further from the reality that we experienced, every single person was kind to us, Nello chose to dress in a Transformer costume (Bumblebee) and received a salute from all the soldiers guarding the tower. We had a lunch reservation at 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant located at the first level and with privileged view of Trocadero Gardens. After a tasty French meal, we went up to the other levels and finish our visit with a toast at the Champagne Bar at the top of the Eiffel Tower with the city at our feet.
We didn’t get to visit every iconic place of the city, such the Sacre Coeur for example, instead we chose to walk without a plan, not thinking of the check list of “things to see” but more about seeing what we felt like it. The last day of the trip and after two weeks touring over Barcelona, London and Paris we rewarded the kids with a visit to Euro Disney, where we dine at Chef Remy’s restaurant, replica of the one seen in the last scene of the movie Ratatouille.
For us Paris is no longer its monuments but the moments that we shared as a family, like the ice cream we had at Berthillon at Ile Saint Louis recommendation of my Parisian French teacher Claire, the thousands of carousel rides in front of the Eiffel Tower, the strolls by Saint Germain Boulevard, where we tried one of the most luscious hamburgers at Café Louise, Fran discovering the taste of winkle (a sea snail) which she loved and kept asking for more during the entire trip and Nello singing out loud “Ohhh Champs Elyseeeeees” sitting in his stroller as we walked the city’s most famous avenue looking for Ladureé macarons. The best souvenir? Every time my daughter remembers or names Paris, she can’t help to sigh as if she was in love.