Wednesday, June 22, 2011

National Lampoon's Parisian Family Vacation - day 1

Where do we begin about Paris with the family?  Talk about baptizing the kids by fire on the streets of Paris (our oldest is 8 and our youngest is 6 years old). We'll explain later in the post.

We let everyone nap and shower until around 4p after our 1pm arrival to the apartment.  We were trying to get everyone on the new time zone.  We ducked out, briefly, to the local boulanger to get fresh sandwiches for everyone.  We were famished.  After we'd eaten in our chic little Latin Quarter pied-a-terre, we took the kids for a short walk to Notre Dame.  We took the Pont Neuf route because we wanted the kids to see the River Seine.  They were wide-eyed and completely overwhelmed with the pace, the people, and the vast array of languages being spoken.  Jack, our youngest, really had trouble because in his whole life he's never had to worry about running into anyone who's walking in the opposite direction (in SoCal we drive everywhere).  Needless to say, he's quickly gotten a lesson in the pace of Paris and French people.  
Kids on the River Seine

We finally reached Notre Dame and the kids were amazed.  The 5:30p bells were ringing as we walked up and the tourists were out en masse.  We took a bunch of photos of everyone in front of the church.  We took a tour through the church which had a mass happening.  It was ethereal because a soloist was singing this melancholic rendition of a hymn while the Padre was swinging a smoking vessel through the air.  We stood watching for a while as the smoke wafted above the congregation into the ancient air of Notre Dame.  Evan's phone rang and he quickly jumped over to the side.  Our friends called to let us know they were all on bikes near the Louvre.  We made a quick plan to circle around the Eiffel Tower somewhere and try to hook up.
Notre Dame

We'll talk about the kids' first Metro ride later but needless to say, Jack is not a big fan of the people on the Metros of Paris.  We were on our way back down to the Metro to catch a ride to the Eiffel Tower as Jack started groaning, "Oh no, not the Metro again?!  It's too crowded!"  Little did/does he know it's going to be our mode of transportation for the next 4 days!  We made it to the Eiffel Tower, and we met our friends in a cute little cafe and had a glorious meal.  The kids got their first world famous, Parisian, cheesy hot dogs with frittes.  The adults enjoyed some much needed yummy Cote du Provence rose and Sancerre blanc wine with dinner.  Our friends casually mentioned during dinner that it happened to be the "Fete de Musique".  He went on to tell us it was the one night musical artists were allowed to perform on the streets of Paris without obtaining a permit.  
Cheesy Hot Dog avec Frittes

We finished dinner and made our way up a little alley to the sound of music in the park adjacent to the Eiffel Tower.  A great little cover band with some long-haired, hippy-looking Parisian youths were playing.  The kids ran around chasing each other in the little grassy area behind the band.  Our friend's 3-year old danced away to the musicWe all enjoyed watching everyone swigging their wine out of bottles while listening to the scratchy sound of music coming out of the garage band's makeshift Marshall stacks.  

It was starting to get late so we decided to head over to the Eiffel.  When we got to the base it started "sparkling" as our friend's toddler put it.  Our son, Jack, kept saying "Wow! Mommy!  Wow!" "Look, Mommy!".  You can imagine how stoked he was at seeing it for the first time in all its sparkling glory.  We took pictures and decided we'd better hit the Metro because Jack was getting crazy and tired.  
"Sparkling" Eiffel Tower at night

Once we reached the Metro we had an uneventful trip to our stop.  However, when we got off the train all we saw were mobs of people being held back by french Metro officials.  We couldn't figure it out.  Where did all these people come from?  Evan thought a show must have just gotten out or something.  Our apt is on the edge of the Latin Quarter so it wasn't that far-fetched an idea.  We struggled our way out of the Metro and once on the street started freaking out because the masses were EVERYWHERE!  It was "FETE du MUSIQUE" in Paris!  Again, we didn't realize exactly what this meant to the thousands of struggling French musicians.   For ONE night a year, ANY musician or ANY streetband can play ANYWHERE on the streets of Paris!!  We are staying literally near the epicenter of hip bohemian culture in Paris so every single corner we turned onto had a band playing on it.  Our kids had their feet barely touching the ground behind us as we hung tightly onto their hands just trying to get near our street.  Mind you, any normal person would have been excited to have this night happen while they're in Paris...for us it meant an extra 30-45 minute walk to get the already falling asleep kids home to bed.  As luck would have it, Maggie woke up at 11am this morning and said, "I really liked the one girl singer who was singing Bon Jovi, Mom."  Poor Jack didn't open his eyes until 1pm-ish.  Oh Paris...

Today we got our start at around 3pm.  We ate at a delicious Swiss mountain-themed place with yummy fondue.  The kids have never eaten food on a stick that you dunk into yummy goat cheese and french Emmenthal cheese with beer.  We took them to Luxembourg Gardens and they played for about  4 hours.  We stopped in at the local grocery store on the way home and grabbed a bunch of stuff to make an apartment picnic.  It's 10:30pm now and Maggie is busy reading a book to Jack in bed.  They are both complaining of sore feet.  Oh Paris...
Luxembourg Gardens

Evan and I are enjoying the last few drops of a delicious Sancerre Rouge wine we picked up to go with dinner.  Paris, as you would expect, has been amazing so far.  We'll post about the Street Art fair we accidentally walked through in front of Saint Sulpice later.  Tomorrow, if the weather holds up, we'll be on top of the Eiffel Tower (as promised to Jack before touching Paris' soil).  We plan on taking them to our favorite open air market on Rue Clare and then we'll have a family picnic in another great park - Champs du Mars.  We're teasing Jack that he has to walk up the Eiffel stairs, and that only his family gets to ride in the elevator.  He's saying it's going to be "no problem"!  Oh la la!


Kim - Liv Life said...

So glad you are all having a wonderful time! Thanks for posting and keeping us all in the loop.
It's grey and chilly here.. had sun for a few hours but the mist is swirling low... so much for the first full day of summer.
Vegas in 4 days!

tomg said...

Love the update! That family photo in front of the Eiffel is amazing.

tomg said...

It's Meredith, by the way. It looks like my comment came up under Tom G...which is my other half :)