Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bon Voyage! (Trip to Paris)

Last month, Brian, Avery, Meghan and I took a little trip to Paris, France. Brian had a conference, so I decided to tag along. Meghan is still pretty attached to me, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for Avery to use his French and have some one on one time with us. Well, as one on one as you can get with a toddler in tow.  My good mother and a friend of hers, as well as our new mother`s helper, manned the fort and kept the other children.
The trip started off well, when Brian used some upgrade credits from his Aeroplan Elite account, to upgrade us to First Class on our Montreal to Paris flight. It was heavenly! The lay flat seats allowed us to get some sleep. Here's a pic of Avery in his first class seat, with Brian in the background.

 When we arrived, (on a Wednesday) we checked into our hotel, and decided to head out to do some sightseeing. Our hotel was in an excellent location. About 50m from the subway stop, and the the Arc de Triomphe. We walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was a longer walk then we bargained for. (Tourist maps are deceiving) We waited two hours, yes TWO hours to go up in the tower. There was only one of two elevators in service. Thankfully Meghan fell asleep on the walk there, so it was totally bearable. 

I am not a fan of heights, so I just went up to the first level. That was high enough for me. Brian and Avery went all the way to the top.

After the Tower, we took a little break in a park nearby. Meghan enjoyed her freedom from the stroller.

On Thursday, Brian headed out to his conference. I had to wake Avery and Meghan up around 10am. We got breakfast, and were ready to head out, when the manager of the hotel came and apologized profusely to us. You see, we had booked our hotel through Expedia. We chose "The Belfast" hotel, because of the location, but primarily because 2 adults and 2 children could fit there. If you've ever travelled in Europe, you know that hotel rooms there are SMALL. Most only accomodate two people. When we first checked in, the had only received a reservation for two adults. It was a small room, but they managed to fit a cot in for Avery. They couldn't even fit a playpen in for Meghan. I made her a little "bed" on the floor. So anyway, the manager offered to move us to a bigger room. She explained that they had been having a lot of problems like ours with Expedia, and they don't work with them anymore. I said sure, but we had to go back up to our room, and pack everything up in our suitcases, so they could move them for us. So needless to say, we got off to a late start. We took the subway to Notre Dame.

Avery in front of Notre Dame

Stained glass window

After Notre Dame, where we lost Avery's hat, we walked along the Seine to the Orsay Museum. We browsed the little kiosks selling every tourist trinket imaginable. I purchased some prints of Paris, that matched some prints that I got the last time we were here, ten years ago. I was pretty excited to go to this museum because they have an exhibition on Impressionist Art. I love this style! I got to see the originals of a few of my favorites. Unfortunately, you were not allowed to take any pictures. Meghan fell asleep on the walk there, and slept the whole while I gazed at the works of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Manet, and van Gogh, among others. It was awesome. Avery did not share my enthusiasm however.We could not get out of there fast enough.
Avery, sitting on some weird seat, waiting impatiently for  me
We got back to the hotel, and Brian was there waiting for us. Our new room was great. A lot bigger, with plenty of room, well, according to European standards. We all fit in fine though. We  had made plans to meet up with a girl Brian had known from his mission. Brian served in the France Bordeaux Mission, but this woman now works in Paris, about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. She met us, and we walked to a cafe to eat supper and catch up. Unfortunately, I didn't remember to get a picture. Oops. We stopped on the way back at a grocery store to pick up a few things, including 1L Yop. Oh yeah. One. Whole. Litre. of yummy yogurt goodness. This one`s for you, Keah.

Friday, we walked down the Champs Elysees. We went in a few stores, including a toy store, where Avery got some French Pokemon cards. I saw a Louis Vuitton store, and an Abercrombie & Fitch that were out of this world. Should have taken a picture.

Then we headed to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur Basilica. See all those stairs.
Avery at the bottom.

Yep. We went to the top. It was soooooo hot there too. You can`t see in the picture, but off to both sides, there are more steps. They are very wide, short and curve around each level. We decided to go up the east steps. Did I mention that Meghan was sleeping. In her stroller. Just as we were starting our ascent, we were bombarded by some African men, asking us to hold out our finger. They had embroidery thread to make bracelets. I was like ``Non, non, non`` and shaking my head. I looked back at Avery, and he had put his finger out, so I had to stop. I ended up sticking my finger out too, and we each ended up with bracelets. Man, are they persistent. They`re all chatty and interested where we`re from. When I said Canada, they said `Toronto or Montreal`` Um, neither. As soon as they finish, the one guy gets all serious, and says, `contribution, please. It was a little unnerving, but I gave them a few euros and we were on our way. Avery took the front bar of the stroller, and I supported the back, and slowly but surely, we made our way. Stopping to enjoy the view at each ``level``. 

View from the top.
When we got to the top, we took the funiculaire down. Too bad we didn`t see that on the way up. After we got down, we walked around a bit, and I discovered we were in the garment district. So many fabric stores. As far as the eye could see. I went in a few, but as you can imagine, Avery wasn`t really into it. It was quite overwhelming, so many colors, textures and types, I didn`t get anything. I didn`t really need anything anyway. We got back on the subway to meet Brian at the Louvre. When we stepped off, we saw Brian get off. He had been on the same subway, just two cars back. That worked out well.

Entrance to the Louvre
The Louvre was very frustrating. We saw the Mona Lisa, but if you ask me, the whole museum is overrated.

Mona Lisa from a distance
 That opinion may have something to do with the fact the elevator didn`t seem to be working, my feet and legs were aching, Meghan was sick and tired of her stroller and wanted to walk, the darned museum is on so many levels and sublevels, it drove me nuts. The guide and map (if you can call it a map)that they give you is so hard to follow it`s ridiculous. We had such a hard time trying to leave, to find the exit. We went up a level, down a half level, around in a circle, down another half level. I couldn`t wait to get out of there.

Mona Lisa close up
 Saturday was a bit of a rough day. Avery didn`t want to do much of anything. But I dragged him halfway across the city, (well, not quite, but it was a bit of a ride) to a store I wanted to go to. It wasn`t as good shopping as I`d hoped, but I don`t regret it. We got some pain au chocolat for lunch (a pastry like a croissant, with chunks of chocolate baked in. Can you say YUM), and sat in a park to eat it. Then we headed to the Musee d`Àrmee (Army Museum) which was the best museum we went to. It was amazing. I wasn`t particularly looking forward to it, but I thought Avery would like it. It did not disappoint. There were so many artifacts, Avery filled up the memory card, with pictures of guns, chain mail, armour, guns and swords.  They seemed to have something from every major conflict in history. It was quite something. Next to the museum, there was a church that housed the burial sites of some major French people.We went in to see Napoleon Bonaparte.
Pretty neat.

Avery in front of a canon

Napoleon`s tomb

That evening, when Brian got back, we went to the Arc de Triomphe. I didn`t realize that you can actually go up inside of it, and come out on top. Before we went, I suggested that we leave the stroller behind, beacuse Meghan had had enough of it. I had brought my babywrap, and put her in that instead. She was not thrilled, but it`s a good thing we did, because the elevator was out of order. So up we trudged, up, up, up the spiral staircase. There were people in front and behind, so you couldn`t stop to rest. You just had to keep moving. Fortunately it wasn`t as bad as I expected. The view from the top was amazing. I kept my distance from the edge though.  

The Arc
See the Eiffel Tower behind us

View of the Champs Elysees
I can`t remember which Bourne Identity movie it was in, the second or third, but the pic below is La Defense, at a distance of course. Jason Bourne goes into the square building at one point. Anyway, I`ve wanted to see that building ever since. It it pretty impressive, even from a distance. 
The Grande Arche (square building)
On Sunday, we planned to go to the Palace of Versailles. This has been a dream of mine since I wrote a paper on it in high school. I couldn`t wait!! We started the morning off by going to church. We were planning just to stay for Sacrament meeting, but it just so happened that it was their ward conference that week, and they were doing things backwards. Figures. So we stay, but leave right after we had the sacrament. We got to Versailles early afternoon, and boy is it HOT! 

Poor little Meghan fell asleep with a piece of her baguette sandwich sticking out of her mouth.
Versailles is a sweet little town, and the palace was amazing. But boy, what a lineup. We must have waited over an hour to get tickets and then get in the front gate. We were packed like sardines, and moving shufflesteps through the whole palace. It was so packed, and so gorgeous.  After we went through the palace, we decided not to walk around the gardens, for two reasons. There was a lineup there too, and we`d have to get another ticket to view the gardens, and secondly, Meghan was CRANKY. The stroller was at the front gate (can`t bring strollers inside the palace) so we would have had to backtrack, etc. It just wasn`t worth it at that point. Did I mention how bloody hot it was too. We`ll have to save that for another trip, someday. 

Me, in front of Versailles

The Hall of Mirrors

The ceiling in Marie Antoinette`s salon, I think.

Monday, we headed home. It was nice to get home. We had a great trip.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!!! How exciting. Looks like you all had a fun trip.