Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Smith Family European Family Vacation--Days 7 and 8: Hello, Paris!

I'm a little behind, since we've been busy living.  Luckily (note the dripping sarcasm), Lucy threw up twice this morning, and I'm not feeling so hot either, so we stayed home from sightseeing today.  The upside is that I cleaned the whole apartment and have time to catch up on my blog posts.

We got up on Saturday and prepared to go for a nice, long loop around the city.  Every time Aaron and I have been to Paris, we do this loop and we love the sights and people watching that it affords.  All told, we walked about 6 1/2 miles that day, which is an extra big deal for little kids like Sawyer.

We started from our apartment and walked to the Arc de Triomphe, then headed down the Champs-Elysses.  We did some shopping at H&M and Petit Bateau.  Petit Bateau has just about the cutest, best quality children's clothes ever--and price tags to match.  Given that 80% of my kids' wardrobes are normally bought at thrift stores, I felt even more sticker shock.  But we bought some really special clothes that they will love for a long time.

Sophie, Lukas, Sawyer, Lucy and I spent a little while waiting for the others.  We had separated to shop.  Without thinking, I let one of the boys who went with Aaron use my phone.  We opted to enable international texting on our phones for just such eventualities, but it doesn't work if you don't have the phone in your pocket :).  Anyway, the younger kids and I parked ourselves on a bench and watched the parade of nationalities and personalities and fashion ideas come on down the road.

Just about the time I started wondering how to file a missing persons report in France, we finally found each other, and continued on to the Place de la Concorde.  I didn't know this until this trip, but this was the "Revolutionary Square" where many of the beheadings of the French Revolution took place.  To transform the meaning of this place, Louis-Phillipe decided to erect a 23 meter granite obelisk, given to him from the king of Egypt. It took two years to transport it from Egypt to France.

The day we were there, an energetic brass ensemble were playing music at the foot of the obelisk, so we stopped to listen.  Lukas and Sawyer ran up and put money in their open case.  Those two love to give money to musicians--pretty much anyone who asks for it.  There are a lot of people begging in Paris.  Many of them hold out a cup.  The first time Sawyer saw this, he said, "Mom, is that guy thirsty?"  That made me laugh, but also feel sad.

Damon doing some photo bombing.
We walked across the Seine, and then along the river and across a few streets to the Eiffel Tower.  We will go up in the next few days, since the line is really long if you don't have reservations.

Sophie and I being silly under the Eiffel tower.

Then we hiked home.  At this point, everyone was hungry and it started to feel like a death march.  It started to rain.  Several of our shopping bags started to disintegrate because they were so wet, so we had to stop and consolidate so nothing would get ruined.  Sawyer finally blurted out, "I'm so hungry I could eat all the people in the whole world!"  Since we didn't want to have to resort to cannibalism, we stopped at a fast food place near our apartment and bought a few Margharita Pizzas and Doner sandwiches.  We took the food home and inhaled it.  Then Aaron and I retreated to our room while the kids messed around taking funny pictures of each other.

I don't even know how to caption this picture...
Cute Sophie.
Blue steel.
Bottoms up.
Apples are a good modeling prop.
Aaron and a few of the kids went back to the Champes Elysses for more shopping.  The rest of us just lumped around watching garbage on TV (or working on blog posts, as the case may be).  But the TV was in French, so I'm pretty sure it was a cultural experience.  At least now the kids know how to say "sponge" in French.  That should come in handy.

On Sunday, we had to get up early (7 a.m.) to get ready for church.  The church building is over near the Hotel de Ville, so it took a few metro changes from where we are staying to get there.  We listened to someone translate the service into French for the first half of the services and the children went to Sunday school, where other children translated for them.  However, then the translator's microphone went on the fritz.  Since we weren't getting anything out of the meeting anymore, we decided to cut our losses.  We went to the Notre Dame and toured it.  They had a mass going while we walked around, and the music and atmosphere was amazing.  I love organ music in cathedrals.

Walking out the gate from the church courtyard.
The church building is the ground and lower ground floor of this building.  Cars park haphazardly in the courtyard.
Joan of Arc statue in Notre Dame.
Intricate stained glass in the cathedral.
After that, we had lunch along the banks of the Seine.  Then we went home.  A few blocks away from home, we realized that we both (Aaron and I) forgot our keys to the apartment.  I was doubly sad, because I had decided to wear attractive vs. sensible shoes to church, and said attractive shoes were not making my feet happy.  Although they did look fabulous, it must be said.

Damon and I went out to figure out how to call the property manager.  We didn't pay for a calling plan on our phones because we have a phone in our apartment.  Although, that only works if you can get into your apartment...

We went to three different convenience stores, and ended up at this little kiosk that sold cigarettes and pay-as-you-go phones, as well as (luckily!) calling cards.  Then we tried to call the number we had, but after several attempts, we couldn't figure it out.  We were just leaving the phone booth in frustration, when Aaron found us and let us know that the building supervisor had let us in.  Hallelujah!  My feet were so happy to come home and chill out.

Memorial honoring fallen soldiers at the base of the Arc de Triomphe.

Detailed stone carvings on the Arc de Triomphe.
After napping and eating dinner, we headed out (in sensible shoes for me, this time) to climb the Arc de Triomphe.  Well, in all fairness, Lucy, Sawyer and I got to cheat and take the elevator to the almost-top because of our stroller.  The view was beautiful, and we were up there when they turned the lights on the Eiffel Tower and to watch the sunset.  Magical.  Aaron and I tried to get Brendan to take a picture of us kissing, but he insisted that the first picture he took was good enough.  So it is not quite as artistic (or well-focused) as I would like.  But what can you do?  Knowing that you got to kiss the one you love on the top of the Arc de Triomphe in the City of Love helps to compensate for any photographical deficiencies.

Lukas looking at all the sights of the city from his vantage point on the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Lights on.  Periodically they sparkle and flash.
With my love.
Then we went home and crashed.  The great thing about having such busy days is that we all sleep like logs.

Bon voyage!


  1. Ahhhh Pareee! Glad you didn't resort to cannibalism but after I read that, I misread "Doner" sandwiches as "Donner" sandwiches and thought perhaps you HAD resorted to eating members of your own party. Whew!

    Tom says 3 visits to Paris is enough for him (tho one was only a matter of hours with his parents) but I want to go again and just walk around various neighborhoods and shopping areas and observe. Maybe I'd better take a girlfriend or daughter instead! Your trip sounds great. How smart to rent an apartment instead of staying in hotels. I'm amazed you're doing it with the whole family. I did one with two kids & it about did me in. They'd better appreciate their awesome parents. You're SuperWoman!

  2. Brynn, we might have tried for Donner sandwiches, except they would have taken too long to make :).

    I volunteer to be the girlfriend you take! I would love to come back with friends and go to all the flea markets and stuff. I am not SuperWoman. It is exhausting to be going all over, keeping the kids from running into people, carrying the stroller up and down the metro steps. On the other hand, the kids are a great excuse for taking it easy. Of course, maybe they are the reason we have to take it easy :).


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