We keep a list as a family that some would call a “bucket list” that has places we want to go and things we want to experience. Our kids also have individual lists. On the top of our 10 year old daughter Evie’s list was Paris. Since we were going to several different locations within this European trip (read more about that here), we were only in Paris a short time, just 3 days in Paris, but we did everything on our list we wanted to do and had a great experience!
We arrived in Paris mid-morning, and honestly this was our grumpy day after no one really slept on the plane. But jet lag law means you can’t just go to sleep in the middle of the day or things will really get messed up. So we pushed through and ended up having a good time. We found a cute Paris café with all kinds of pretty pastries and goodies and then went to the Eiffel Tower. Sugary treats and the kids’ excitement for the Eiffel Tower were just what we needed!
The only thing I would have done differently here – and probably for our whole trip – is to have either arranged a ride or gotten a cab out of the Paris airport. We managed okay and probably saved some money, but being so tired and lugging around all our stuff was rough. We do pack light, but I hadn’t thought about the number of stairs we’d have to carry all those bags up and down through the metro. I also thought that we’d at least get some sleep on the plane on the way there, but everyone (except 3 year old Case) struggled to sleep at all. Oh well – learning experience, and the kids honestly did great through this even though I know it was hard on them.
*If you want to read the story of the kids’ first international flight, click here!*
This was our big sight-seeing day! We had a long list of things we wanted to see and do, so I wasn’t sure if we’d get to do everything, but we did! We even accidentally stumbled upon the Luxemburg Gardens, which we had originally planned for Day 1 but hadn’t had time for. Paris is a pretty easy city to get around in with several sightseeing attractions close to one another. Here was the order for our big day out in Paris:
We didn’t stay here too long, but it was so beautiful and peaceful. I had been a little bummed we couldn’t make it work the day before. On the morning of this day we were on the way to Notre Dame and accidentally got off on the wrong stop, but when we rerouted ourselves to just walk the rest of the way, we walked right by the Luxemburg Palace. I was so excited!
We got as close to Notre Dame as we could, but unfortunately since the fire the entire area is blocked off and you can’t go inside. Still the beauty and history of this cathedral is breathtaking, even from afar.
Shakespeare and Company
It might be a stereotype for homeschool moms to love books and bookstores, and I don’t necessarily like to think of myself as a stereotypical homeschooler, but I seriously do love books and bookstores. New books, old books, classics, emerging authors … I love it all. I love how books feel and smell even. I quite despise reading anything at length on any kind of electronic reader. SO … needless to say, this famous bookstore was a happy place for me!
We always buy a book from our trips as a souvenir, so it was awesome to get one from here. They stamp the books and give you a Shakespeare and Company bookmark. We chose to add Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers to our collection and of course, a book of Shakespeare sonnets.
From my favorite bookstore to what is probably my favorite area in Paris … The Louvre. We debated back and forth about whether or not to actually go in the Louvre, but because of time and children’s interest we decided not to and to just spend some time in the courtyard. We talked with the kids about the famous artists and paintings here, particularly the ones we had learned about in homeschool, and took fun forced perspective pictures with the big pyramid.
We leave trips, not with regret for not doing everything, but with appreciation for all we have experienced and with hope and plans to come again for even more next time!
Seine River Cruise
There are a lot of Seine River Cruises to choose from, various companies, some with lunch or dinner for various lengths of time. We chose to do an hour long cruise with Vedettes du Pont Neuf and ended up finding a special offer – a free cruise with a special international guest who would be doing some filming. This was a very unique and fun experience! The special guest was someone everyone seemed to know except us, a singer and a judge on the The Voice in France named Mika, and then a guy who was basically the Ryan Seacrest of France! They told us facts about Paris as we cruised through on the boat, goofed around a bit, and Mika sang a couple songs. We’ll have to look it up and see if any of it was actually aired on TV!
I cannot pronounce the name of this church without sounding like I’m from Kentucky (which I am), but this gorgeous church sits on top of a huge hill that overlooks the entire city of Paris. It was absolutely stunning, and while we were there the sky just added to the beauty, being the bluest of blue with small white cotton ball clouds. Preston, our 12 year old, said this was one of his favorite spots of our whole trip.
Arc de Triumph
The toddler crashed at this point in the day, so Josh and I took turns sitting with him on a bench near the Arc de Triumph while he napped and the big kids did some shopping. The girls both got berets. Evie had been talking about getting a beret ever since we even mentioned the possibility of Paris, and she wore it pretty much the whole trip after she got it!
This is the best area to see the Eiffel Tower at sunset and get to see the Iron Lady light up! We also finally got some crepes for a sweet treat. The kids had been eyeing all the Nutella crepe stands all day! Call me crazy, but to me the crepes are just … eh … give me a chocolate croissant over a crepe any day. The kids went nuts over them though.
To think back through the list of all we did in one day, it sounds crazy! It was a very full, very fun day! So much beauty and history and culture … truly an incredible experience.
Okay, let me be real, there is a huge part of me that hates admitting we went to Disney while we were in Paris. I mean, it’s Paris, and we only have 3 days in Paris. BUT, we have a 3, 8, 10, and 12 year old, and I wouldn’t change our decision to go. They loved it, and it was such a great day! The RER train ride to Disneyland itself was actually quite enjoyable. Then Josh described our day in Disneyland Paris as his favorite Disney experience ever. We’ve done Disney World in Orlando a few times and have enjoyed that as a family, but here there was no miserable heat and humidity, and there was not the ridiculous mass of people. It was really chill. We rode everything just walking around at a relaxed pace, ate dinner in their Disney Village, then took the train back to the city. A Disney day that didn’t end with exhaustion! It did rain on us this day, but it was just light rain and none of us really minded at all.
Our 3 days in Paris were filled to the max with wonderful experiences and memories. Other than the amazing sights, a favorite of mine was watching our children converse with the French people we met. Most people spoke some English well enough for us to communicate, but I think they appreciated the kids trying the French that they had learned.
I love watching the world become a little smaller in the kids’ eyes, a little more attainable, if you will, and for them to see that people … no matter where in the world they are … are people, created and loved by God.