It was a dream come true! Getting to visit Paris and see the Eiffel Tower with my family.
We did very little planning for our trip! VERY little! My husband researched the hotel, the trains and how we would get around. Everything else we left to figure out while we were there.
We are stand-by travelers, so as I wrote about earlier we were only there for 26 hours; from landing in the country to taking off to come home. In fact the flight crew that worked our flight into Paris was the same crew that was with us leaving. And as we had showered them with chocolates on our way in. They remembered us.
So what started as a “hey we should go to Paris next week” conversation with my husband ended with amazing memories and photos of us with the Eiffel Tower.
Upon our arrival into the Charles -de Gaulle airport we were able to purchase our tickets for the train. We knew we needed to ride a different train and a bus to get to our hotel. But in walking to find our train we found our hotel, Novotel. We were beyond excited. We would be able to go up and freshen up from our long trip and get started with our adventures. While checking in we discovered that our sleep deprived bodies were wrong. Apparently Novotel is a popular name for hotels and we were at the wrong one. So off to the bus and train we went.
The bus was PACKED! Standing room only, but we were just glad to be heading in the right direction.
It was already a wild experience! The kids had never been outside the United States so it was quite the adventure for us all. We were in a country where we didn’t speak the language, other than yes, no, and thank you!
Check-in to our hotel was incredible. The hostess spoke beautiful English and was incredibly helpful.
We checked out our room and were all a little confused by the hotel room. I was a flight attendant for 6 years and my husband had just celebrated his 10 years as a pilot… we have stayed in an absurd number of hotel rooms in our days and this one was very different.
We couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on. Finally we found a thing on the wall that held our key card to turn on the lights… yall, the hippie in me would have done a back flip in the room hadn’t been so small. No way to leave the lights on in the room if you leave with your room key. Genius!
We had a long journey with our travels. In order to get on our flights we had to take an early one into Chicago and hang out for 5 hours before leaving for Paris. We needed to freshen up like you wouldn’t believe.
Mama hen that I am began getting clothes ready for when kids get out of the shower and my husband was happy to help the kids get all cleaned up….
But we couldn’t find the shower.
My son tried the first door and it was a toilet room. The room was a step above our hotel room floor and was tiny! It had a toilet and a sink. No shower. My exhausted mind begins to wonder… community shower?!?!
But we found it. A room with a sink, a shower, and a huge tub. They sacrificed the space in the rest of the room to have a large bathroom… I like those priorities, Paris!
We all got refreshed and were on our way. Our bus stop was in front of our hotel and when we got on we were on with one other family. They were speaking Spanish, and my husband was able to ask some questions. We found out they were also from the US, and gave us some great tips as they had already been there a few days.
We got on our way to see the Eiffel Tower. We were only in Europe for the day, so we knew we needed to get started on our way to see La Tour Eiffel. Coming up the stairs at the train station we saw the signs for the tower. Tears sprang to my eyes and I was overcome with emotion. Who knew a tower could invoke so much emotion in a person. Finally getting to see something you thought you would never see… All those years of flying and seeing photos from friends and hearing the amazing stories and finally it was happening to me! Even better, it was happening to my kids! They were getting to see one of the most beautiful sights in all the world. And now all those nights my husband didn’t make it home all those delayed flights and times he had to miss out on things with the family and he got the chance to take us all on a dream vacation!
We decided to grab a hot dog and some macrons and enjoy a snack. I was astounded at how good the hot dog bun was! and the hot dog. I mean, even hot dogs are better in Paris, y’all!
We walked around the tower a bit and just took in the view! I swear I could stare at it for days.
We decided to take an Uber for dinner. Our driver had on a suit and tie! And he was awesome enough to take us around and show us a few more things in the area (no extra charge) in exchange for getting to practice his English, which was superb!
Our driver had to let us our a couple of blocks from the restaurant we wanted. This particular cobblestone road is only open to bicycles and motorcycles. Which was kind of fun as the people walked down the street as well. From all that we saw and experienced the public transit and walking were easy to maneuver for the most part. And the city is pedestrian friendly!
It was much like what I would have envisioned. Tall, very old, buildings with the most beautiful architecture. A market with fruits and vegetables out on the sidewalk, a bakery with the most delicious smelling bread!
The restaurants that we saw we all open air with indoor/outdoor seating. Most of those seated outside were smokers so we opted for the indoor seating.
Our server brought us English menus and was interested in what we thought of the city so far. He brought us some red wine and told us the story behind it. And he explained that a wine must breathe… I never knew this. And I gotta say letting our wine sit long enough to breathe was a bit difficult after smelling how amazing it was going to be. The baguettes we had after ordering were to die for. Our dinner was fantastic! Our little lady slept through most of dinner as she was exhausted from fighting sleep the majority of our flight over. Both the kids had some French fries, which tickled me… when in France I guess you must eat fries.
After dinner it was time to wrap up our day and get some sleep to come back home.
We did a lot of walking and oohing and ahhing. We did encounter a couple of possible pick-pockets. I am sure having two kids, not speaking the language and looking at a map made us easy targets. But in both cases a stare down to acknowledge that we saw them took care of them and they were gone.
We had to ask directions a couple of times on our way. The signage didn’t always have English, but we were able to get help from kind strangers. It was actually more common for the people we encountered to speak English without hesitation than that blank stare that let us know we needed to find someone else.
We were exhausted from our whirlwind trip. None of us were excited about getting up early the next morning and we were even less excited about having to leave so soon! One more day in Paris would have been amazing, but it wouldn’t work with our schedule at the time.
For breakfast we were able to have some delicious pastries and cheesecake… hey, don’t judge! we were on vacation.
Our flight to Chicago was pretty empty and we were able to spread out and get comfortable. There is much to be said for kids being able to spread out on an international flight. From Chicago to Atlanta our flight was full and we weren’t able to sit together. Our 5 year old (at the time) was sitting between two gentlemen and didn’t mind a bit. One of the men saw what was happening and offered to take Brad’s middle seat and let them sit together.
Our trip to Paris was more than I could have ever asked for.
Travelling to Europe only made me long to see more of it, to get back soon, to spend more time. To be completely engulfed in the culture, the people, the food, the rich history.
Our 26 hour trip to Paris was amazing, a dream come true, and it made us realize that we want more! More Paris, More Europe, More International Travel, More Adventures!
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