We got back to our home in Halle on Saturday night after 6 days in Paris. As much as we LOVE Paris, I know we are both glad to be back to our German home. It amazing how quickly a place can feel like home! We have lived in our new place for about a month and it definitely feels different from all the other places we’ve ‘lived’ recently. It’s not bad living out of suitcases, even with a toddler (and I feel like I can say that as a true pro, since we’ve been doing it for two months straight). It’s just having to live in someone else’s space and being in constant motion for so long that is really the challenge. I think Mark and I are both glad to have traveled so much already but are also very ready to start a routine here in Germany and figure some things out at home. Like grocery shopping (so hard!) and dissertations and learning German (really just a -me- problem).
We arrived in Paris on Monday after 9 hours of travel and met the owner of the apartment for a quick run through. It was an exhausting day of one tram and one train to the airport, two flights, two subway transfers and two trains to make it to our place on Rue Cler in the 7th arrondissement. We thought flying would save some time but with all those changes and transfers and layovers, I’m not sure it was worth it. Especially with a stroller in the least stroller-friendly city ever. Next time, the train! It still would have been close to 9 hours, but with a lot less stress.
These are some pictures I stole from the website where we rented our apartment. It was just as lovely in person! We were so glad to have a kitchen, living area and separate space for James to sleep. Renting an apartment is the way to travel with kids.
We put James’ travel crib in the kitchen for bedtime and in the bathroom with a travel blackout shade for naps. I’m always nervous something is going to go wrong with his sleep, especially when we travel, but it worked perfectly!
I took James to get a French haircut since his German haircut was pretty bad and made worse by me trying to fix it. He was so excited to sit in the chair just like he saw the adorable French boy doing before him. He fell at the playground a couple of days before we left, so the nice scab you see above his lip is from that.
Our apartment was on Rue Cler, the most beautiful market street in Paris. Flower shops, boulangeries, restaurants, produce stands, pharmacies (for french beauty products), children’s clothing stores, cheese and wine shops. It was a bit of heaven for me. I didn’t take many pictures because I felt like such a dorky tourist. I should have just swallowed my pride and captured the gorgeousness more.
The strawberries – the most amazing Willy Wonka treat, the dark espressos with their flakey croissant side-kicks. the crispy but soft baguettes, the salty charcuterie, the stinky cheeses, the subtle lemony salads, the tender pate paired with exotic jelly, the escargot – a chewy-buttery bite of heaven, and of course the wine – which is drunk liberally and produces a lovely dreamy haze over the dinner table. This is how life is supposed to be. I am sure of it.
Our apartment was also about a 10 minute walk to le Parc de Champ du Mars…and the Eiffel Tower. There are three playgrounds, two carousels, food stands and most importantly, lots of open space for James. So we spent a lot of time here. As you can see, we were very happy.
This trip to Paris was almost sweeter than my first because I could just sit and watch it all. The first time you want to do everything, hopping (or crutching in my case) from one place to the next but — while solo-parenting during the day I just decided to stay small and go slow.
The last day, Mark joined us and we walked almost 9 miles around the city. I wore James in the Ergo baby carrier for most of that. I think its time it upgrade to a more toddler stable carrier –30 pounds of human hanging off my back (or front) gets a little much after mile 7. But it was still fun and he was able to nap on the go, so completely worth the sore muscles the next day.
Bonton: the cutest three-story children’s clothing store without a changing table in the bathroom. Oh, Paris.
The café at Merci was one of the restaurants we missed out on last time we were in Paris. We were so glad we went back when they were open this time. I want someone to make me soft-boiled eggs with perfectly toasted dipping bread every day for breakfast for the rest of my life.
Part of the reason we walked so far that day was because we were trying to find a street artist whose work we loved when we were there three years ago. We ended up at the Jardin des Tuileries after giving up and found it 100 yards away in front of the Louvre! Bon chance.
Of course, we stopped at Berthillion on the Ile St. Louis, where you can find what some people call the best ice cream on earth — although I’m still partial to Bent Spoon in Princeton.
This is the look on his face right before we fed him escargot – also – right after he wiped butter all through his hair. Butter is apparently the best hair gel. He loved the escargot by-the-way (as he should, its amazing).
First this happened: We were just walking down the street, the man in the green pointed at James and they all just ran over and started taking pictures. He just stood there while they posed and tried to get high-fives and kisses. We were laughing so hard and didn’t understand at all what was happening.
And another. I can’t explain it — but I like it.
Our 6th wedding anniversary was on August 1st, James and I were in Minnesota and Mark was still in Princeton putting the finishing touches on our move. Because of the that we decided that we would wait to celebrate our anniversary when we were in Paris. Mark is the sweetest gift giver and always tries to give a traditional anniversary gift for the year. Six years is traditionally candy so he researched the best authentic candy shop in Paris and brought us there as a surprise. Le Bonbon au Palais did not disappoint. Everything in their store is made by French candy makers across the land. It was such a delightful experience to try all the different pieces that are very different than anything we’d had before. It was so much fun and I would definitely recommend this as a fun destination if you ever find yourself in Paris.
Get this — The French candy shop woman who helped us had perfect English skills with a difficult to place accent. We asked her about it and she said she lived in Princeton for four years as a child. What a coincidence!
On the Paris subway on our way home, there was a little girl of about 7 or 8 eating some sort of pastry. James was watching her intently. We saw her whisper to her mother, her mother nodded yes and then she ever-so-sweetly walked over and handed James the rest of her treat. It was the cutest thing! He was so happy and ate the whole thing right away. I could tell she was very happy he enjoyed it so much. We don’t normally let him have stuff like that or take food from strangers but it was so kind and he enjoyed it so much that we were more than happy to let everyone enjoy the moment. They were also nice enough to take a picture of us. Kindness lives!
There you have it. I could go on forever about this magical place. A very lovely trip that made us long to come back again soon.