Day 15: Paris avec Papa et les Enfants

DH had to return to Milano today. He was meeting with some people from the China office there during the day and having dinner with them in the evening, but planned to be back in Paris with us the next morning. He left early, about 6AM, and took the train back to Roissy to catch his flight. Papa, the girls and I took our time getting going in the morning. We left the apartment around 10 and had a petit déjeuner (breakfast) down the street at a place we could see from our window. It was reasonable for Paris: 5.70€ for a hot drink, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a real croissant. The girls had chocolat chaud (hot chocolate, but much less sweet than an American equivalent), Papa had thé chaud (hot tea) and I had café au lait. We ate inside the open storefront and enjoyed the brisk morning air and sounds of people starting their days.

Breakfast

From here we walked down towards Notre Dame. On the way we spotted may gorgeous structures and monuments. (Honestly, you really can’t look anywhere in Paris and not see something gorgeous or historic!)

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We also noticed that Paris is a very cosmopolitan city.

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We saw many interesting sights along the way.

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Sainte Chapelle

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Random tower on fountain

Random Fountain

As we got closer to Ile de la Cite, we passed the Palace of Justice, the Seine, St. Chapelle, and our first glimpse of the famous bell towers of Notre Dame.

Palace of Justice

Seine River

Palace of Justice

Barge on the Seine

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La Conciergerie

Palace of Justice

Palace of Justice

Sainte Chapelle

On our way to Notre Dame

First glimpse of Notre Dame

At Notre Dame, we had an emergency restroom stop. Waiting in line, the bathroom attendant must have noticed our distress. She waved us into a men’s stall just in the nick of time. We gave her 2€ tip for her perception and thoughtfulness.

Now we could properly focus on the beautiful church ahead of us. We wandered counterclockwise around the chapel, enjoying the gorgeous facade, intricate stonework, and the beautiful gardens below.

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There are a few small playgrounds in the area around the chapel, which the kids eagerly explored.

Playground at Notre Dame

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Merry go round

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We walked all the way around the church. It is impressive no matter which angle you view it from.

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Bell Towers

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Papa in the gardens

Gardens at Notre Dame

Of course, we loved the gargoyles.

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Gargoyles

Gargoyles

More Gargoyles

I mean, really, who doesn’t love a gargoyle?

Gargoyle

Gargoyles

More random shots:

Impressive Notre Dame

Park near Notre Dame

Street along Notre Dame

This is my favorite photo of the whole church:

Keep your head

It looks like the woman on the left is saying, “there, there…” and the guy on the right is like, “whoa, dude…that’s gonna leave a mark.”

Left door

Entrance to Notre Dame

Front entrance

It is an impressive edifice.

Taking in the view

Bell Towers of Notre Dame

Notre Dame statuary

We did not see Quasimodo, so don’t even ask. But we did see Charlemagne and his “leudes”, or vassals.

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Charlemagne

Honestly, they have a very “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe going on.

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We also saw (but did not feed) the many pigeons.

Just Looking

Don't Feed the Birds!

We got ready to leave Notre Dame, and headed south towards the Luxembourg Garden. First, we had to cross the rest of the way over the Seine.

Little Bridge

On the bridge, we spotted this street performer. The kids wanted to put a coin in his basket.

Street performer

Mummy Thanks

We made it across the Seine and headed towards the park.

Pont St Michel

Le'perouse

Scenery

Finally, we came across the Institut de France.

Institut de France

L'Institut

Institut de France

Here, once a year, a group of 40 linguists meet on the steps to discuss what words are “legal” in the French language. Their job is to keep French modern and useful, without it eroding and becoming… uh… less French.

Institut de France

A trio of British girls asked us to photograph them here with their cameras. We did, then they offered to do the same.

Tourists at Institut de France

We continued on, planning to stop for lunch on the way to the park. Good thing we weren’t headed to the Eiffel Tower today.

Tourists, don't enter here!

Behind the Institut is a statue of Voltaire. I love how he looks down the street so mockingly.

Voltaire

Back of the Institut:

Institute of France

Finally we reached our luncheon spot: La Palette.

Lunch spot

This was a “real” cafe and we sat outside under an awning. I ordered drinks- hot tea again for Papa, some water for the rest of us. We got a plate of bread with jambon et fromage (ham and cheese) and two tartes fraises (strawberry tarts).

Tarte

Jambon et fromage

Tarte aux fraises

After lunch, we walked on towards Pixi et Coi, a little toy shop. We saw some amusing signs along the way.

Lost in Translation

At the toy shop, I got myself a Le Petit Prince keychain (since that is probably my favorite book EVER). I let the girls each pick out a little figurine. S8 got a cat with a really curlicue tail, and O6 picked French Snoopy (holding a baguette and wearing a beret).

We continued on past St. Stulpice,

Landmark

St Stulpice

Jumping

past Le Senat,

Le Senat

and arrived at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Famous spot

This is an enormous park and has something for everyone: jogging, biking, sunbathing (with modesty, of course), equestrian pursuits, garden strolls, tennis, and- of course- chess.

Chessmen

Chess in the park

There’s also a huge playground. You have to pay 2.5 Euros for each child, and adults who want to accompany them into the gates pay 1.2 Euro. But I have to admit, in a city this size, it keeps the riffraff away from the park. I felt okay with letting the kids run inside the fence. Papa sat on a chair outside the gate and watched.

Climbing Web

Peek a boo!

The playground boasted several climbing structures, slides, swings, an area for toddlers, two merry go rounds, and a zip line. That was S8’s favorite by far.

Zip Line

Getting ready to ride

It was a circular track, and the kids climbed onto a platform (not terribly high, just enough to get some momentum) and rode the line back around. You could sit, stand, or hang on with a friend- no one minded. Kids in France are much more autonomous than American children.

Zip line

S8 on zip line

O6 got in on the action, too, though she preferred the merry-go-rounds.

O6 on zip line

Meanwhile, Papa enjoyed a shady spot next to a tree (seated, background).

Papa's spot in the park

Time to go home

By this time it was nearly 5:30 and everyone was getting tired. We decided to take the train back to our apartment. Of course, we managed to get turned around in the park and came out on the opposite side from where we wanted to go, but no matter- a quick walk along Rue Vaugirard took us to the right place, plus we got a view of the Senat on our way.

Near Le Senat

This is actually the Pantheon:

Pantheon

We found the RER station. Before heading down, we bought quick glaces for the girls and then took the A line back to Les Halles. Back at the apartment, we did some freshening up, checked on the laundry, and got ready for dinner. The girls wanted to go to La Perla, probably because it had the same name as the restaurant we went to on our first and last nights in Saronno, so we did. They shared a margherita pizza (of course!) and dad got a calzone with ham and egg. I had a salad “di bufala”- with a fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, greens, sundried tomatoes. Dad and I also had a glass of wine and the girls had orange juice. We enjoyed ourselves and took our time with dinner- very French. Our table was right out front and was perfect for people-watching. A group of street dancers put on a brief show while we ate (break-dancing- one was quite acrobatic).

The girls finished up quickly, so I gave them some money to go next door and get gelato at Delizzifolle. S8 ordered all by herself for herself and her sister. They brought back the change, then sat at one of the gelato shop’s cafe tables near us and ate their treats like little French girls. When they were done, they came back to our table at La Perla and we played hang man while I sipped coffee. Papa showed S8 how to do long division and the pythagorean relationship. On the way home we stopped at a market for fruit, juice and yogurt for the next morning’s breakfast. We came back to the apartment and were able to Skype with DH in Milano, my MIL back in Ohio, and my mom down in Florida. The girls got baths and prepared for bed, but didn’t fall asleep until nearly midnight.