You can see a lot of Paris in just one day – really! When traveling on standby, we do not always all get on the same flight. Which is what happened to us on this trip. The kids and I caught a flight from Newark to Paris. My husband had to take another route and we would hopefully meet up in Paris! Once onboard we settled in for the 7 1/2 hour flight. After the dinner service, I had to force the kids to get some rest so we could hit the ground running once we arrived. That was much to their dismay, as they wanted to watch the movie. But once we got our pillows, eyeshades and blankets out, they realized how tired they actually were. It was a bit like putting a puzzle together to see how to comfortably sleep 3 in one row of coach – with seatbelts on! But, it worked and we slept for a good 6 hours.
Once on the ground at Charles de Gaulle Airport, we raced through the maze of tunnels with moving sidewalks, like something out of a futuristic movie, to get to the main terminal and clear immigration and customs. We were fortunate that there was only a short line. We found the well-marked signs to CDGVAL, which is the tram that connects you to the main train station. We went straight to the ticket office, skipping the self-serve kiosks, which have a tendency to have problems. We got our tickets on the RER (Train) to take us to CHAMPS DE MARS stop, which is the Eiffel Tower stop and where our hotel was located. It was effortless and we only had to change trains once at GARD Du NORD. It was faster, about 40 minutes, and much cheaper than taking a taxi into the city. As we exited the RER station, the Eiffel Tower, called TOUR EIFFEL, was front and center with the Seine River on our left. We had arrived in the beautiful city of Paris.
Once at the hotel, we met up with my husband and checked into the room. We grabbed our umbrella (just in case it was needed), sweaters, city map, camera and put on a good pair of walking shoes. Then it was a quick exit from the room before we could realize how tired we were from the 6-hour time change. It was around noon local time. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower and surrounding gardens, photos just can’t do it justice. And to think, it was built to be a temporary exhibit is amazing; since now it is one of the most iconic and well-known structure in the world. The line to go up the stairs was crazy long and since they were open till 6pm, we decided to keep moving for now and try back again later. There were many vendors selling food under the tower. We grabbed a crepe and hot dog and walked along the Seine River towards GRAND PALAIS and the CHAMPS ELYSEES.
We had a great view of the ARC DE TRIOMPHE while crossing the street, past the OBELISK and then into the JARDINS DES TUILERIES. The kids liked running around the park and we got a much-needed cup of espresso at the park entrance. It was a beautiful park where you can rent hand carved wooden boats to sail on the little pond or stroll along the manicured gardens.
Next was the LOUVRE Museum, which the kids had zero interest into going in to see. So we took a photo of them “holding up the pyramid”, they looked down through the glass and kept moving.
We exited to the east, stuck our heads into ST GERMAIN CHURCH and walked along the river on QUAI DE LA MEGISSERIE. The street was filled with small pet shops that sold all kinds of animals big and small. This was the kids highlight – I am sure!! They forgot all about being tired and excitedly hurried into the shops.
Then we crossed over the river right by NOTRE DAME.
There was a baking Expo going on in the square. So lucky us, we got to walk through and see how they baked the baguette, Pain au Chocolat, etc.. That was cool.
After the baking expo, we remembered why it was that we had come here in the first place – NOTRE DAME! There was a very, very, very long line. At first it looked hopeless, but It moved swiftly and we were in, in no time. Once inside, we walked around and asked how to get up to the Towers. We were informed that it closed at 3pm and we had missed it. By now the kids were dying. We had walked about 4 1/2 miles, so the thought of walking all the way back, was way to daunting. We jumped on the underground metro and were back in no time. Now the line up to the top of the Eiffel Tower was more manageable – so up we walked and walked and walked. The view was fantastic!
We had dinner at one of the hundreds of brasseries you find all around Paris. Casual, kid friendly dining with sharply dressed waiters in black pants, white shirts and aprons. He asked if we just wanted drinks or if we were eating as well. Eating, was the immediate reply. He showed us to our table and we sat our exhausted selves down. When ordering wine and beer, they asked what size, how many ml you want. So it’s easy to just have ONE huge glass of wine (if you wish)! The man at the table across from us ordered what appeared to be a gallon of beer. Not sure if it was just for a photo or if he was truly thirsty! We enjoyed our escargot, french onion soup, along with some standard kid fair. For dessert we shared an ile flotante (floating iceberg) and crème brulee.
As we walked the few steps back to the hotel, we saw the reflection of the Eiffel Tower in the building in front of us. It was all lit up and it happened to be 8pm on the dot, so all the lights twinkled. We found out it twinkled on the hour every night. Absolutely breathtaking! We were up early the next morning to head back to the airport to fly home. We were super lucky to get first class, which was a perfect ending to a great trip!
INFORMATION ON PARIS:
Open Road’s Best Of Paris, by Andy Herbach