Day three of Paris the family and I headed to Luxembourg garden’s. A fantastic place for kids. After walking around a bit, we found the playground (upside: it’s large with lots of variety, downside: you have to pay a few euros to enter). While the kids were happily playing, I took a short walk to see the Pantheon, close by.
After the playground, we took the kids to the center fountain in front of the Luxembourg Palace where they were renting out small sail boats for kids. Again, a must do activity with kids. We then went in search for lunch, after which, yes I had another crepe. And it was great.
Next on the list was Sainte Chapelle, famous for having one of the most extensive stained glass collections. You do have to pay to enter this chapel (while most European churches are free of charge), but it’s completely worth it.
After seeing the Chapel, the family headed back to the hotel for a bit and I had some time to myself again. I decided to walk along the Seine to the Musee d’Orangerie on recommendation from a friend, and aside for the 45 minute wait, I was not disappointed (if you are planning to do museum’s BOOK IN ADVANCE, it will save you so much time-or look at getting a museum pass). The Musee d’Orangerie is famous for the Water Lilly paintings by Monet. And rightfully so. Simply stepping foot into the room will leave you in awe. In 1909, when he created the idea for this project, he wrote “Nerves strained by work would relax in its presence, following the restful example of its stagnant waters, and for he who would live in it, this room would offer a refuge for peaceful meditation in the midst of a flowering aquarium.”
The museum has an underground floor, housing both modern and traditional works from artists such as Guillaume, Renoir, Rousseau, Picasso, and Matisse. One can easily plan to spend a few hours here. From this museum, I moved onto the Arco di Trionfo, located at the end of the famous Avenue Des Champs. The arch is in the middle of a busy round about and you have to enter through an underground pass. I bought a ticket to climb it, and honestly, I think this was my favorite view of the city (yes, even over the tower). Also, before reaching the top, you pass through two floors of museums. You’ll find history of the arch along with history of the city.
I met my family for dinner than headed out for the evening to Montmartre. A few people, including my host parents, had recommended visiting this place while on my first visit. Plus, I had to see the City of Lights after dark. It’s a city on a hill, and while it was pretty dead after dark, I still enjoyed it.
The following morning we climbed the Eiffel Tower. While I have mostly all good things to say about Paris, I must admit that this was probably the most overrated thing I did while in Paris. I’m happy I did it, but I wouldn’t jump to do it again. Here’s why:
-Security all weekend was incredibly tight. We waited for 40+ minutes just to get into the area under the tower.
-We didn’t book ahead for tickets so we had to wait in line to buy tickets (walking was shorter so we opted for that versus waiting to take the elevator).
-There are three floors of the tower. After walking to the second, we discovered ANOTHER incredibly long line of people waiting to get to the top floor. It was momentarily closed because of how many people were up at the moment.
So if you are dying to climb the tower (or pay a bit more and take the elevator), I would advise that you book in advance and be prepared to wait in lines. I climbed to the second floor with a five year old. If he can take the stairs, so can you.
After climbing the tower I had some free time again, and grabbed lunch on the way to the Musee d’Orsay. This museum is absolutely stunning and you have to visit it when in Paris (closed on Mondays). In 1900 the building was constructed as a railway station for the World Fair. At the time, it also included a hotel and a grand reception room. As more people traveled to Paris and trains were modernized, new stations were built and this building was abandoned until 1977 when the French government turned it into a museum. Most of the artwork reflects the western world art from 1848-1914.
Post Museum, I regrouped with the family and we took the kids to a kid’s museum and found yet another playground. This one was inside the Tuileries garden, following the Louvre. Like I said before, I really got to know the playgrounds and parks of Paris.
That evening after dinner, I headed out on my own again. This time, I went straight for the Tower. I was far from disappointed. The Eiffel Tower is breathtaking at night. I walked around the tower a bit and then headed across the bridge and up the stairs past the Trocadero gardens and sat for awhile taking it all in. Growing up, Paris, for me, was always so far away. It was a dream, another world and I still can’t quite believe I went there.
“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.”