We took a speed train from London to Paris on Saturday morning. It takes just under 2 1/2 hours and the brilliant English Channel to get from one place to the other. Being a group of 7 in a big city with a foreign language is quite formidable, but we somehow managed to figure out how to get from the very busy train station to our flat in St. Germain (our "Paris home" as Tessa calls it).
We walked across the Seine River to Ponte de Neuf and grabbed a light dinner before exploring the city more. The architecture in Paris is unbelievable...you could walk around all day just looking at all of the interesting buildings and bridges.
Paris is filled with sites that you've heard about and seen pictures of your entire life...so to walk up on an iconic structure is this larger-than-life feeling. Everything we saw this weekend was much bigger and more grand than I had expected and anticipated. Our first stop was Notre Dame Cathedral and wow! It was huge! And gothic, full of gargoyles and intricate stone carvings covering every single inch as it reached skyward. The courtyard in front was filled with people because, as we learned, this is the most visited tourist site in the world hosting 14 million people annually! Cue the "crazy French pigeon lady"...she was a show unto herself- both people and pigeon were flocking to this seed-throwing marvel of a woman. She put a hat on Lauren (Is it bad that all I could think about was that I hope there was no lice on said hat) and some seeds so the pigeons landed on her head for a nibble. Same thing happened to Taylor (minus the hat) and while Elle was capturing it on camera, a couple of pigeons landed on her head too. She was trying to shoo them away, while snapping pics, laughing and then simultaneously getting pooped on! Something she will never forget, for sure.
We were able to get inside to have a look at the old and storied cathedral. Its massive interior was understated stone with gorgeous stained-glass windows. It is so amazing to me that this church was built over 8 centuries ago! Brian, Elle, Kate and Taylor went outside to join the line for a climb to the tippy top, while the younger girls and I sat and waited in the cathedral chairs. We were there for their nightly Evensong, which sounded more like an opera than anything...so gorgeous and so lucky that we were able to witness that.
We left the cathedral and headed for some dessert on the neighboring Parisian island of Ile St. Louis (Notre Dame is on the island of Ile de la Cite). We found a gelato cafe and bought a huge take-home carton with 4 amazing flavors, sat down on the street outside, and ate up every single delicious bite. Yes, it was perfect.
Taylor has been talking/dreaming/planning our trip to Paris for months and of course, the Eiffel Tower was at the top of her list. So, we decided to throw parenting caution (and normal bedtimes) to the wind and see it this same night. We got a car and were dropped right in front of another incredibly iconic site. No one can prepare you for how massive this structure is...its absolutely incredible. Its hard to describe what it feels like to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time after hearing about and seeing pictures of it your entire life...it really is surreal. I'm pretty sure all of our jaws were on the floor. We walked across to the Trocadero so we could just sit and marvel at the tower for a while. The kids ran around the empty fountains and rolled down the hills waiting for the sun to set on a night when the weather could not have been more perfect. Finally, at 9:30 pm, we walked across to the other side of the Eiffel Tower to switch our view and waited for the famous sparkling of lights at sunset (10 PM). 20,000 bulbs went off at 10 and wow, wow, wow...it was so spectacular. No words.
After the thrill of seeing the lights, we headed home. It has been Tessa's habit lately to have an instant and urgent need to use the potty (like if you don't find something in 30 seconds) so we were on some dark street when the need hit with no toilet in sight. Before we knew it, she was crying and letting it all go all over herself and the street. She laughed it off pretty quick, we made it home and directly to the bath, but we will always remember the night Tessa left a little of herself on the streets of Paris!