As usual, Yen cleared his camera before we left. But then I put Mina in these overalls and he really had no choice.
And then we decided to go for a little hike at Ward Reservation. The kids inherited my love of a good boardwalk.
Linus continues his research into carnivorous plants. I actually chose Ward for this walk because I was pretty sure we could find a few pitcher plants in the bog. Yep!
It was a beautiful sunny day, and we intended to go for a longer walk than usual. I was wearing the backpack because I had strategically filled it with a variety of snacks for the kids to enjoy at different points throughout the morning.
Unfortunately we read the map incorrectly, and after a half-hour walk, discovered that we were only getting started.
We snacked, regrouped, and decided to take another trail.
You’ll notice that Linus is wearing his fungus shirt. I think we need to buy a few more for when this one wears out.
And now, the promised vacation photos.
We left on a Wednesday evening (September 11, actually), and arrived early Thursday morning. Grandma and Grandpa joined us, but I’m afraid you won’t see a lot of photos of them. They’re expert travelers now, and we only saw them at the beginning and end of each day as we all enjoyed our lovely Airbnb.
It was located in Le Marais, so we took the train to Les Halles and then walked. Of course we stopped quickly when we discovered Stravinsky Fountain.
When I told people we were headed to Paris, I’m sure most of them assumed we’d be taking in the attractions, eating lots of pastries, and taking romantic walks. It wasn’t quite like that.
In fact, you’ll see that our agenda was focused on showing the kids a good time. Yen and I had both visited the city several times, so it was refreshing to explore the truly off-the-beaten-path places.
Like playgrounds. We discovered that Paris has quite a few, but they’re always completely mobbed. And full of dust. And sometimes closed for construction but full of smoking teenagers. Still, the kids had a good time, and we found a few worth repeat visits.
Of course each playground had a lovely backdrop, like L’Eglise Saint-Eustache.
I believe most of the adults here were actually au pairs. I suppose if you can afford to live in Paris, you need to spend your days working instead of playing.
Across the street from the playground was the Les Halles mall and a LEGO store.
I’ll admit now that we really had a rough time with Linus on this trip. I’m not sure what’s going on with him lately, but he’s been incredibly difficult: hitting Mina, talking back, refusing to listen. On my more upbeat days, I consider all of these positive signs that he’s developing his own distinct personality, and it’s a natural part of growing up. On my low days, I want to sell him to the highest bidder. Still, he’s so damned cute, and he wins you back in the end.
One of the reasons we chose to come to Paris now is to visit Yen’s aunt. She and her husband will soon be moving to Las Vegas, so we thought time was running out to see them there. Of course we’re happy to visit Vegas again!
You can see by the kids’ attire and the slightly glazed look in Yen’s eyes that this was an early morning visit. She’s taking a baking class now and needed to be ready for an exam by 10am.
Finally we pulled ourselves together and went out on the town.
I’m afraid you won’t see much of the classic views. Notre Dame especially is completely inaccessible right now. And anyway, the kids weren’t interested. We did all agree to a walk along the Seine, though.
The weather wasn’t quite how I would have designed it. It was in the 80s most days. Yuck! Where’s my Fall?
I don’t know how Yen managed to fake getting this close. It’s completely surrounded by a high wall while they start repairs.
There – see the scaffolding?
When we realized Notre Dame wasn’t an option, we carried on to Place Saint-Michel for a little snack (and a look at the people).
I thought the kids would be excited about crepes. I expected to buy them constantly. Maybe we chose poorly for the first one, but they wanted nothing to do with it. I ended up eating most of it, and we didn’t get another! I’m so sad, and will have to visit MA France in Lexington soon.
We roamed a lot, which was nice. But stressful. I explained to Linus that drivers in Paris don’t look out for little boys, and he needed to pay attention. Actually I needed to pay attention.
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was Notre Dame burning. Maybe terror attacks and a general “do it while you can” attitude. But the city was completely packed – for more crowded than I’d ever seen it.
If the tourist attractions were boring, the infrastructure certainly was not.
Linus was particularly interested in the ubiquitous fountains.
You can’t tell it to look at them, but the kids had a great time. Somehow every time Yen took out his camera, they both dropped into “bored urchin” pose.
Mina was very interested in all the locks we found on various bridges. Yen and I were amused by the combination locks. Just keeping options open, I suppose.
Of all the things we showed them, this was at the top of their list: a set of exercise bikes positioned next to the river and available to charge your various devices.
Ah! Recognize that handsome fellow? Yes! It’s Jamie. He, Peter, and Cindy drove down from Belgium to join us for the weekend. He and Linus immediately picked up where they left off in their love affair with plumbing, mud, and other things you just shouldn’t touch.
We went back to the LEGO store and the playground across the street.
Everyone just acted naturally – they got to work right away constructing their various projects. It always amazes me how kids set to work immediately. You don’t see them pause to consider, they just begin trying out configurations to see what grows.
Later we found this sculpture of a giant hand and face. Really who could resist climbing such a thing?
We carried on then toward the Louvre. Not everyone has been inside, but we weren’t compelled to go in today, either.
It started to get really hot that day – probably 85 by mid-afternoon. We were all feeling a bit lazy but pressed on.
You can’t see it, but if you sit right where Mina is, you’re actually looking right down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. We turned off before we got there, though.
We found another playground and the kids headed right up this giant ladder. Didn’t matter that I was nervous. Didn’t matter that they saw another kid fall down from the top. Up they went!
Mina was probably too small to be up there, if we’re being honest. Jamie was incredibly sweet and helped her out – without anyone coaching him to.
We saw some rather morbid sculptures during our walk.
As usual ice cream was a theme for the day. It look quite an effort to find a place, Les Glaces du Palais at Palais Royal, but it was worth it. Very high quality stuff!
Then various little people started asking to use the toilet, and we realized it would be easiest to just sit down, order some coffees, and then use the restaurant‘s facilities.
The kids really loved taking the subway everywhere.
That afternoon we attempted to visit the Eiffel Tower. But again… So many people!
Back to a carousel!
Now I’ll take you on a journey in which we try to get some good tourist photos. This one worked fairly well.
Then I moved to a new location and tried to get the kids to join me. That’s Linus behind me.
OK, I got him, but now Mina’s behind him!
Peter took over the camera, and Yen joined the effort.
Maybe if we tickle them they’ll smile?
OK, forget it!
Nice, Mina! Only what’s going on with Linus and gravity?
Now the pros come in and get a nice one in one shot!
Back down to the subway to find our way back and make our dinner reservation.
I finally just lost my patience with Mina and hauled her.
The next morning, we set out for La Villette, a huge complex on the outskirts of Paris. It has it all. Museums. Parks. Lots of green space. A sunken bamboo garden. Crazy playgrounds. Carousels. Etc. on and on in a beautiful, free setting.
Who says playing is just for kids?
Mina stretched up to show how tall she could be, then Peter added his glasses to the ensemble.
Check out this look of determination on her face. I’ll give you, now, a montage called Mina Jumps.
It was getting close to time for Peter and Cindy to head home. We stopped off for one last carousel ride, and agreed to meet up for lunch.
You see Peter over there on the other side of the canal? He’s looking at his phone because he’s laughing at me. We’re all the way on the other side of the canal, and had a heck of a time finding them.
No problem, we’ll just cross the bridge!
We had lunch outside at a cute little place. Unfortunately they forgot to put our order in, and it took 30 minutes longer than it should have.
Then we said goodbye and headed back to the house.
The next day, we checked out Jardin des Plantes, which is a combination of a botanical garden and several museums.
This museum was the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution. What a great space!
Linus is delighted by the interactive screen. I’m horrified by the climate change models.
Now we’re really starting to get tired. It’s hot. We’re not sure what to do the rest of the day. Linus was reaching peak obnoxious levels. We headed up to this aqueduct that’s been turned into a 4km long elevated park, Couloir Verte (“green belt”). It’s the first of its kind, and inspired a similar one in NYC.
And… another carousel. What is that, four now?
And that was it! We were full of croissants and ready for the next adventure. Here we are at the train station waiting for ours to board.
Surprise! Yen’s aunt and Francois came to see us off!
See Linus’s little jump for joy as we’re preparing to board?
And we’re off! Next stop: Amsterdam.