Thursday, 2 May 2013

Paris in Spring is a Glorious Thing!

Is that a song, or a poem? If not, I think it should be! Actually Paris is great anytime of year, especially to me perhaps in spring and winter. I haven't thought most places are a favorite in winter, and winter is not my favorite season in general (fall is), but Paris has a sleepy romance in winter that is wonderful in its own way.

But for our week of spring in Paris we had a wonderful time! I enjoyed our week a lot, probably much more than our time there last spring when we were there for three months. We were in the process of trying to move there then and it was a bit stressful always wondering where we were going to live and being pregnant at the time only magnified the stress a bit, so it was definitely very pleasant not to worry about apartment hunting among other things.
Technically we went for Andrew's work. He was attending a conference, which kept him busy most of the week. But Lois, Ellie, and I still spent plenty of time out. It's a bit of work getting out the door with two wee ones even if we're just at home in London (argh, it takes forever it seems!), and most days in Paris I had to muster up a lot of motivation and do plenty of deep breathing just to prepare to leave. Normally I wouldn't need any motivation to head out the door in Paris, but with two children, and the piles of kiddy-related stuff I needed to tote with me, and the fact that we didn't bring a stroller or Lois's scooter, and that I don't speak French...well, lets just say it's a miracle I actually left the apartment by 11am each day. But leave we did! Below is pretty much how we got around, one strapped on and one free. I'd wear Ellie on the front and put my backpack on the back, though I flipped them around here at the zoo in the Jardin des Plantes.
Lois, being the typical four year old, wanted to do typical four year old stuff like go to the playground. Although Paris has some great playgrounds, that isn't necessarily how I wanted to spend most of my time. So my general plan each day was to pop into one or two places I wanted to go as we made our way to a park or playground. Then we'd spend a few hours having a picnic while Lois played, and as we'd make our way back, we'd pop into a few more places that we both wanted to go, like ice cream shops or toy stores, both of which are amazing in Paris, so I didn't have to be talked into going to either. Without a stroller, I had to motivate her little feet somehow! Ice cream and toys do the trick. The toy shops in Paris have convinced me that I was definitely born in the wrong country! I'm in love with French toy shops. They have the most beautiful, interesting, fun toys. Ah, I just wish I had filled a little suitcase with a bunch of things for the girls. More reason to go back!
Berthillon ice cream is really great. Out of the flavors we tried, I preferred the pistachio to chocolate. I didn't think the chocolate was very balanced in that it was sooo chocolatey and not very creamy. I would have prefered more cream to it! But still worth a stop. 
And lets not forget candy shops! My favorite that I've been to is Le Bonbon au Palais. It's not too far from Jardin des Plantes, and it's around the corner from a playground (good to know if you have kids in tow). And it's also around the corner from a place called Breakfast in America, which is just what it sounds like, a good o'l diner kinda place. No Waffle House in Paris, but they do have BIA. Get a milkshake. But don't forget to save room for your candy...
My plan with the kiddos worked pretty well most days. I was very impressed with Lois. We were usually out each day from about 10am-5pm, and I'm amazed that I had little trouble getting her to walk home (or walk to a bus or train station to get home). She had to walk though since we didn't bring a stroller, and I was carrying Ellie in a carrier. (We decided not to bring the stroller because we never use one for Lois at home anyway, and Ellie is still small enough to be carried pretty easily in the carrier. I knew the stroller would just be another level of anxiety for me--pushing it into teensy shops, clunking my way down narrow sidewalks, etc.). Just look at lil' Miss Confidence! 
Paris has beautiful parks, many of which are wonderful for kids. We stayed right next to Luxembourg Gardens in the 5th. We could have easily just gone there every day. The gardens are lovely, the playground is fantastic (though you do have to pay a few euros to get in), there's a carousel there, and on the weekends, children can rent sailboats in the fountains and take pony rides. Lois enjoyed her first pony ride! There's also a marionette theater in the park. They have shows on Wednesdays and the weekend, I think. We didn't go to one this visit but have before and they are wonderful. A visit to Luxembourg Gardins is easily an all day place with kids if you want it to be. The sailboats are especially charming I think. If you're hungry, two wonderful places to eat are Bread and Roses and Au Petit Suisse

The park gets quite full on a nice weekend! In Paris people are often not allowed on the grass, but they do allow it sometimes, I guess the weekends are one of those times. The flower beds in the park are very beautiful so be sure to stroll by a few of them. 
One day we also went to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic. There's also a great playground there, and then a huge carousel near the river just in front of the Eiffel Tower. We each wore pretty new dresses for the occasion. No shlumpadinka outfits for an Eiffel Tower picnic in this family!
I had a good time comparing lots of pictures of Lois last year in Paris to this year's visit. I have a bunch of these comparison sorts of photos, but unless you're her mom, I doubt you'd be that interested! But it's really fun for me to see her last year compared to this year in the exact same spots in various places. I hope she'll appreciate these photos when she's older. I might have to go back to Paris every year just to keep it up! (This photo has a wide white border, sorry for what seems like a huge gap.)
I was happy to revisit some of my favorite places. I stopped into La Droguerie for some craft inspiration and went to Rue Montorgueil right nearby to treat my tummy to some Stohrer pastries, specifically a puits d'amour (like a creme brûlée in a pastry). 
The general street scenes and window shopping around this area are wonderful. 

I also went to one of my favorite streets, Rue Saint Paul (you can find a list of shops on that street and in the area here). Two of my favorites are Au Petit Bonheur La Chance and EW, which are practically next door to each other (you can read my article on Au Petit here). More on this area here.
Andrew was busy working most of the time, but we did get 1.5 whole days with him. Here he is being silly with Lois. 
I have so many more pictures, but those are the highlights! And below are a few more snapshots. If I posted all my photos from our week, you'd need a whole day just to scroll through them. But I hope you've enjoyed a bit of our Paris week! Here again is a map of a few of my favorite places in case you are interested. I'm already looking forward to going back. I miss this view from our balcony!
Paris buildings. 

 The best macaroons were in this pink box below! Love their macaroons!
Lil' Miss at a market. 
Pretty flower shop. 

An evening stroll.
I did bring our new camera but all of these photos are with my iPhone, using instagram. I'm having a terrible time getting out of the habit of using my phone to take pictures! It's just so easy and familiar to pull out my phone. I did take some with our new little camera (a great little camera, by the way if you're in the market for a good, lightweight camera), and so I might add to this post once I get them off the camera. Au revoir until next time!


Vintage Sheet Addict said...

Stunning photos, what a great family time you've had, love those images of your girls and the Effiel Towers, sums the week up brilliantly! :) x

Katie said...

Looks to be a wonderful time! Loved looking at the photos - makes me want to hop on that Eurostar!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I love to follow your travels to places I would love to go. Thanks for the great pictures and travel tips. Marie