Sunday, August 11, 2013

We'll Always Have Paris

“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Now what if you fall asleep during the walk?

Munchkin and I are back on American soil, and boy does it feel nice. So in case you missed the memo - because you have a life - the little one and I spent the past two weeks galavanting about Paris and London. Le huz was traveling for work and we were his stowaways (aka hotel leeches). Olive had been a good traveler up until this trip to Europe, so I decided to take on the challenge... 

While le huz fulfilled work duties from 8am-11pm, I entertained the monster to the best of my ability. I'd been to both cities multiple times, but never with a child. Knowing this, I did as much research for the trip as I could. We were only going to be in Pair-ree for four days, and I wanted to make the most of it for the both of us.

While in Paris, I relied heavily on this lovely book. Wandering in a heatwave on my own is hell. Wandering in hot weather while pushing a chubby baby along cobblestone is just insane. I wanted to be open to the Paris that Olive would want to see but needed to have a rough idea as to what places would be baby friendly. The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children provided some excellent options when I was out of ideas.

My suggestions for those trying to survive-and-thrive with a tot under 2 years of age. They worked for me, and hopefully they'll work for you.

1) Do take advantage of Parisian parks. Olive clocked in some major hours in various parks across Paris from small plots in Le Marais to the beloved Jardin du Luxembourg. They're plentiful and free. Unleash your little beast in one. It ensures a hearty nap.

Chillin' in Le Marais. 

2) Do take your kid for a spin on a carousel. When not asleep in her stroller (being pushed around by her stinky, sweaty mommy) Olive enjoyed spotting and riding carousels sprinkled about the city. The one kitty-corner to the Eiffel Tower was her favorite. Each time she caught a glimpse of the structure, she'd point and yell, "UP!"

Jet-lagged child staying up beyond her bedtime at the Eiffel Tower carousel. 

3) Skip the Louvre and head for the Pompidou. The Louvre's glass pyramids are worth a snapshot, but don't bother bringing your young child into the museum. A meltdown is sure to occur. Not that they don't occur at the Pompidou. Olive showed little appreciation for modern art - frowning and screaming her way through the main floors of the Pompidou. But she really enjoyed the children's gallery, Galerie des Enfants, located on the mezzanine. The museum's eye-popping "inside out" architecture didn't amuse her as much as I'd hoped, but the surplus of nasty pigeons that gathered around the the building were a hit.

Ooh... it's the Beverly Center!

4) Do take a breather at a Parisian cafe. Les Duex Magots in Saint Germain des Pres is a famous one I used to drop by when visiting in the past without a child. (Brasserie Lipp - located across the street is good too!) With a baby in tow, I prefer to seek out spots where I'm able to pull my stroller right up to an outside table and avoid making a scene just to get seated. Olive and I enjoyed people watching - and fruit salad munching - at this Parisian classic.

Selfie of les duex magots at Les Duex Magots. 

5) Do shop for your baby since French clothes are special. Celebrity-loved Bonpoint and Bonton are worth a browse. The gingerly stylized outfits are so gorgeous, but also incredibly expensive. Petit Bateau and Alice a Paris offer duds that are more affordable, but no less lovely.

Mommy & daughter photobooth fun at Bonton in the Marais. 

6) Do take a stroll along Pont des Arts. My not-so-easily-impressed daughter loved so many things about this pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine. Built in 1804, the metallic footbridge is a destination for couples wishing to memorialize their love. Sweethearts from near and far visit the bridge to attach padlocks emblazoned with initials and messages before throwing the locks' keys into the Seine below. Olive and I attached a lock of our own. Be forewarned that your child may not take the throwing-of-the-keys-into-the-Seine bit too well. Olive was traumatized.

Not one to settle for low-hanging fruit.

7) Starbucks is your friend. Feeding my monster while in Paris wasn't exactly easy-peasy. We were staying at a hotel, and at any given time, was only able to store a small bottle of milk or small container of raspberries in the minibar for Olive's dining pleasure. On more than one occasion, Starbucks came to my rescue, offering my anti-baguette baby some welcome options for breakfast (hotcakes with syrup , fruit salad and freshly-squeezed OJ). More importantly, Starbucks (at least the two that I visited) offered that rarely-seen-across-Paris changing table for the baby in the bathroom. When traveling with a baby, I try to be flexible, not snobby. I'll take what I can get!

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. Starbucks for breakfast in Paris.

Four days flew by rather quickly. Before I knew it, I was packing our super heavy suitcase and loading her up in her Ergo carrier to catch the Eurostar to London. Olive and I will always have Paris, and I look forward to sharing photos of our mommy-daughter bonding trip with her when she's older and capable of understanding... next up, London, baby!

Au revoir!

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