Thursday, April 21, 2016

Paris with Kids

After arriving in Abu Dhabi in business class, we were back to slumming it with the masses in Economy as we headed off to Paris to start the European portion of our travel year.

The flight was uneventful, but the arrival to Paris from an Arab country was interesting. Within feet of getting off the plane and while still on the ramp, the police were set up checking every single passport. Then we made our way to the passport line. Slowest line ever, but understandably so I suppose.

We were all excited to arrive in Paris, not just because it's Paris, but because we met up with my sister and her family! It was so great to see family and some familiar faces!

In many ways, Paris is a city for adult tourists where you can visit more museums and churches than you've probably seen thus far in your life in total, sit at an outdoor café for an afternoon drinking your thimble-sized café watching the world go by, shop, or simply wander around enjoying Paris. While the kids can do any one of those things in small doses, they cannot last an entire day and then days on end doing what adult tourists do in Paris.

But, we had a fantastic time seeing Paris our way.

First up, the Eiffel Tower, because how can you go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower. We only looked at the tower and decided not to go up. The lines!! I know it was Easter weekend, and the start of spring break season, but I thought these terrorist attacks, and the threat of more, were keeping people home. Nope. Based on the length of the line, the tourists continue to come.

Since were so close to Les Invalides, we decided to stop in. Great for a kid that loves armour and cannons. 

We didn't linger through the museum, because there's just so very much to see. It's almost too much, but in some ways that prepares you for the over the top tomb of Napoleon.

It takes a certain personality to pull off having this built to hold his remains.

The view from above of Napoleon's final resting place. It too, is a bit over the top.

Next, the Catacombs. We moseyed on over on Easter Sunday. The wait was unbelievable: 3-4 hours long. But we hadn't seen my sister and her family in so long, it was easy to stand in line and talk to pass the time. It helped that the line was just out on the street so there was room for the kids to move around and burn off some energy. The coffee and snacks also helped.

We headed down a whole lot of steps, and then walked through the tunnels under the streets of Paris, that were used during the time of limestone mining. While walking, I decided it best not to think too much about where we were and what if something happened.

And then we came upon the bones. When the medieval graveyards started overflowing and becoming a health hazard, it was time to dig up those bones and put them somewhere. What better place than the old limestone mines and tunnels in the suburbs. I expected piles of bones, yes, but not artistic piles of bones. Work went into these displays, and in fact, continues to go into them as these piles require some maintenance. 

What's become one of our favourite things to do is a free walking tour offered in many of the cities we've been to this year, and Paris is no different. The tour is free, but you tip the guide at the end whatever you think the tour was worth. We've had terrific guides with these free walking tours just about every time we've gone on one. Plus, if a kid needs to drop back for a bit because he's dying of boredom, no one feels ripped off because they've missed part of the tour to deal with the child's threat of imminent demise.

We took the tour in the area of Montmartre, where our apartment was. We hit it lucky with a great guide who was so very French. He showed us around the area and made me love it more than I already did. In fact, I liked the area so very much I'm going to do a blog post on just Montmartre soon.

Our French guide. He only wore the pink vest so he'd be easy to find and follow,
but note that his scarf matches the vest. So French. So awesome.

No visit is complete to Paris without at least one art museum, and at least a church or two. Our art museum of choice was Musée d'Orsay. It's not huge, and has art that we knew the kids wouldn't hate. Meaghan quite enjoyed it. Eamon at least behaved. Plus, it's my favourite museum, so of course I was keen to get there.

As for the churches, we made it up the hill in Montmarte to Sacre Couer

My sister and her family are the three walking down the steps in the bottom right.

And we did the obligatory visit to Notre Dame. I'm not certain what it was, but Eamon seemed to actually enjoy our walk through Notre Dame. He listened. He looked. He talked about what he saw. I can't actually ask for more - well, maybe fewer giggles about the flying "butt"resses. Kerry and Meaghan planned to walk up to the top, but alas, the line closed when they were about 5 people away. Maybe next time we'll go up.

A Rose Window at Notre Dame. I love stained glass so very much. I could have included a whole lot more, but restricted myself to just this one photo. But be forewarned: more stained glass may appear in future posts.

But Paris can be more than museums and churches and architecture, a train ride away took us to Disney Paris. This was an outing the kids fully supported.

The look and feel is similar to Disneyland in California, but it's different. The Haunted House looks different, the Pirates of the Caribbean has a completely different and much more pirate entrance, and Indiana Jones is a roller coaster, not the awesome adventure ride. There are also some completely different rides including a whole Toy Story area, and a ride featuring everyone's favourite rat, Ratatouille. But the kids had an awesome day and not surprisingly, were ready to return should we agree. Sadly, we didn't.

The Haunted House, or as they might say in France,
Phantom Manor (and yes, that is how it's written on the sign.)

Yes, there is a slinky dog ride!

Then suddenly, our week with my sister and her family had come to an end. It was time for us to move onto Toulouse, and for them to return to Canada. The week sped by far too quickly, but we were mighty happy that they'd come to see us.

At Gare Montparnasse waiting to go to Toulouse.


  1. Just wait til Donald Trump hops the twig. He'll make Napoleon's Tomb look like an outhouse!