Thursday, September 3, 2015

Paris with Kids

This is a monster of a post, we were in Paris for a week, and we did a lot! So it may be a little slow to load with all the photos.

You could be forgiven for thinking that, after a Disney park, the actual city of Paris would be a bit of a letdown for the kids. But as it turns out, there are plenty of places for children to play in the city.

We had gotten an apartment in one of the outer neighborhoods in the northern part of the city, and we weren't able to get in until 6 pm. The owner did let us drop off our bags, thank God, so at least we were free to explore.

Unfortunately, the heat wave was still in full effect, so our priority was to find something inside an air conditioned building. We didn't want to jump right into museums, and most of the other things we'd planned were outside, so I just searched online for things to do with kids in Paris.

And came up with mini bowling. At a bar.

Yes, it seemed weird to us, too. So I called to make sure that we could bring the kids over right then to bowl, and was told that we could. The bowling part was in a big room behind the bar, so the grown ups could drink and the kids could play. They played two games and everyone was happy.

By then, we were able to get into the apartment, and there was a grocery store just down the block. So we stopped there, before going in to get settled and try to stay cool.

Opening all the large windows made for a nice cross breeze, but the building was at an intersection and it was really noisy. In fact, Adrienne kept the windows in the bedroom closed. But even after it cooled down a bit, I always kept at least one of our windows open in the living room where Peri and I slept.

We were in Paris for several days, and a few of them were supposed to be really rainy, so we were trying to save the museums for those days. But that meant we needed to find something to
do while it was still really hot the next day. I thought that one of the Bateaux Mouche boat tours would work, since it should be at least somewhat cooler moving on the water, so we went with that.

The kids are always happy with the novelty of being on a boat, and it provided a different perspective to see all of the great buildings lining the Seine. It also presented really nice closeups of the bridges. Some of them are very elaborate.

We waited until evening to go see the Eiffel Tower, to let the heat of the day dissipate a bit. I do not remember seeing crowds and mess there, the way it is now. I thought it really took away from the effect of the Tower.

But let me tell you, when that sucker lit up and darkness fell completely, you really didn't see anything else. It was just gorgeous.

And then right across the street was a carousel! So the kids were really happy with the whole experience.

They were really great about seeing the museums, too, once we finally got to them. We dropped in to see Mona at the Louvre, as well as a great deal of other things. I still think that the glass pyramids, cool as they are, do not mix well with the Louvre architecture.

But the biggest thrill there for the kids was probably all of the
mice they saw in the food court, when we stopped to eat. And in fact, when we re-entered the museum after eating, a mouse practically ran across our toes as it crossed a hall.

We went to the Arts et Metier, which has old versions of all kinds of electronics and machinery. The main reason I brought them there is because I thought the model of the Statue of Liberty being built was so fascinating. But they were pretty indifferent to it.

They found all kinds of other things fascinating, though -
including the subway stop that was made to look like a submarine, so it was still a good stop. They liked seeing the small copy of the Statue of Liberty there, too.

But in between the museums, the kids were getting to run and play all over the place. 

There was a great playground, just right next to the river, so

we took some time to just let them enjoy themselves. 

There was a whole planting thing that we couldn't figure out,
but it looked like they were allowed to climb in this thing, so we let them.

There wasn't a whole lot at the D'Orsay that really interested them, but we didn't make them stay too long, and they were really good about looking at the things that were there. 

It helped that it's such a cool building, a former Belle Epoque railway station, and there is another copy of the Statue of Liberty there. So they got to see two of the three that are in Paris.

Adrienne and I both love Van Gogh, so she really wanted to see his stuff there. This is one of my all time favorite places to visit, I really love it.

But when we went out on the balcony, Peri spotted an
amusement park across the way. There was a giant ferris wheel, so it was hard to miss. When we finally got there, we found a very colorful and lively carnival. 

The kids only went on a couple of rides, starting with the bumper cars. Donovan wasn't quite tall enough to reach the pedals, so one of the workers jumped in with him to help out, which we thought was very sweet.

And then they discovered hamster balls. I don't have any photos of them here, because Adrienne's phone had already died and my battery was very low, so we were conserving power. But there were some in Edinburgh, so I'll have photos of them in that post. 

Basically, it's huge inflated bubbles with a kid inside, that floats in a pool of water. It's almost impossible to stand, but they keep trying, while the balls float around the pool. They thought this was THE best thing ever.

Afterward, we got cotton candy and they got to play on the
playground right alongside the amusement park. The sun was just setting when we left, which meant it was almost 9:30 pm. It had been a really good day.

One place they did not get to play was the playground at the Luxembourg Gardens, because it was closed. We couldn't figure out why, the weather was great. There was actually a fee to use the playground, but it wasn't much, and we would have been more than happy to pay it. But there was no one around to collect it and the gates were locked.

Most of the Luxembourg is keep off the grass, but there were
large parts where people were allowed to sprawl, and we found some shade for the kids to play. Finding the time and place to let kids run around to their hearts content is an enormous help in traveling with kids, and that is fortunately not a problem in Paris. 

There's a food kiosk there, too, so we ate sandwiches then had crepes. In spite of not being allowed to use the playground, a good time was had by all.

There was more, so much more, and still we didn't get to everything we wanted. So we went back for another couple of days after Brandon and Danielle left. Mostly it was just to see Versailles, so this first visit was the real Paris experience, and it was a huge success.

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