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Paris With Teens -- Part II of my trip report

Paris With Teens -- Part II of my trip report

Old Jul 30th, 2006, 07:14 PM
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Paris With Teens -- Part II of my trip report

Paris -- Day 1:
After spending 4 days in London, we hopped on the Eurostar train and headed for Paris. The trip was wild -- one minute you're in England and a few minutes later it's an hour later and you're in France. Anyway, the trip was easy, we got Euros in the train station in Paris, hopped onto the Metro (just as easy if not easier than the London Tube) and were soon at our hotel.

We stayed at Hotel Relais Bosquet. This is in the Rue Cler area (we make fun of Rick Steves all the time but his advice is usually dead-on) which we loved. In the short walk from the Metro station to the hotel we passed the most heavenly smelling bakery and we knew we were in Paris. The people at the hotel all seemed to speak English and were all very friendly. Our rooms were on the 4th floor and we had a partial view of the Eiffel Tower from our windows. It was awesome!

We walked down to the corner and had dinner at Cafe du Marche. Our joke was that we always had dinner "with the grandparents" since the latest we could hold off was about 7:30 p.m. Anyway, we sat out on the sidewalk and had the perfect meal. My roast chicken and mashed potatoes was not fancy but the taste was off the charts, and I think everyone agreed that the food was excellent. Afterwards we walked up Rue Cler to the crepe stand and got crepes. Yum!

Having realized that the hotel offered free internet downstairs, the girls decided that they were "tired" and wanted to go back to the hotel. My husband and I walked up to the river and hopped on a bateaux mouche for a trip up the Seine. The sun was going down and the banks were lined with people just enjoying the evening. Everyone waved at the boats as we went by, and although it wasn't very romantic with all those people on board it was the perfect way to spend our first evening in Paris. At 10:00 (and every hour on the hour) the Eiffel Tower lit up with twinkling lights (I think they go for about 10 minutes). I wasn't expecting it, and it truly took my breath away.

Paris -- Day 2:
We got up early the next morning in order to have breakfast with an ex-teacher of the girls' and her boyfriend who teaches French in the U.S. but was raised in Paris. We went around the corner to a cafe and had croissants and cafe au lait and he gave us some tips about Paris. They then walked us over to the Eiffel Tower where our Segway Tour was to meet.

The Segway Tour was great! I knew that the girls and my husband would do fine, but I was nervous about being the doofus who couldn't get the hang of the thing. My fears were unfounded, however...it was actually easier in some ways than riding a bike. Our tour guide, Stacey, was great, and there were seven altogether in our group. We cruised past the Eiffel Tower and Napoleon's Tomb, across the river to the Tuileries (where we stopped to have lunch and recharge the Segways) and then over to the entrance to the Louvre before looping around and ending up where we started. We were usually on sidewalks and paths, but even when we were on the streets it seemed pretty safe. Oh, and they do make you wear a helmet. The tour wasn't cheap, but everyone agreed that it was one of the highlights of our trip.

That afternoon we took the Metro to Opera Garniere. We missed the tour but walked around inside and got a feel for the opulence of the building. The stop was the special request of my younger daughter, who had played the Phantom music in band, loved the movie, etc. and I think she was satisfied.

We then took the Metro up to Montmartre. We were going to ride the Funicular up to the top but somehow missed the turn, so we ended up walking up the steps. It was hot. The girls were not happy. We decided to look in the church, but one daughter got turned away at the door for having spaghetti straps (which was fine -- I warned her that she might not be able to go in). We took pictures. I had them pose and told them to make their most p____d off faces so that we could remember the moment. Then we wandered down through the streets of Montmartre, shopped in some of the (air-conditioned) tacky tourist shops, and by the time we got back on the Metro everyone was in a good mood again. I write this just to make the point that traveling with teenagers (and kids, and husbands, and probably almost anyone) is not always pleasant, but usually when it isn't going well it has to do with physical comfort (hunger and heat are the two that come to mind).

We then went back to our "neighborhood" and bought fresh peaches and a bottle of wine to take to our room. Everyone rested. Then we walked to "Cafe Constant" for dinner. The menu was in French and we were confused about some of the entrees, but our waitress translated ("beef", "pork", etc.) so that at least we knew the main ingredient. My husband and I both do a lot of cooking and we didn't think that we'd have trouble with a menu, but we learned that just having our phrase book would have been very handy. Anyway, nobody ordered the head cheese (at least I knew what "tete" was) and dinner was very good.

After dinner we wandered up to the river again, and the girls took the boat cruise that we had taken the night before. My husband and I found out a little sidewalk cafe (Chez Francis) and we sat and had beers and watched the city go by with the Eiffel Tower in the background, while the girls enjoyed their cruise. The joke by the end of our three days in Paris was how many pictures we had taken of the Eiffel Tower. I still haven't edited them, but know it's going to be hard to choose just a few. On the way home we stopped for crepes at the little stand again. Did I mention how much we loved our neighborhood?

Day 3:
This was Bastille Day. We got up early enough to walk down to the Champs Elysees to watch the parade. We started out right at the intersection of Avenue Montaigne and the Champs Elysees, as one poster had recommended. It was crowded, the parade stopped several times, but it was great. Each group of the military had their own individual uniform. Some had pom pom's on their hats. One group carried skis and huge backpacks (parachutes?). Some had huge feathers in their caps. Some were on horses. There was lots of music. The fly-overs (there were probably 10-15 waves of these) were very impressive.

We eventually got bored and started to walk down the Champs Elysees (toward the Arc de Triomphe). The most impressive thing about the whole parade, in my opinion, was when it came to the military vehicles. Now, in the U.S. these would probably crawl down Main Street and everyone would cheer, but the French are much more dramatic. What they did was wait until a large space opened up in front of the group of tanks, for example, and then the tanks threw it in high gear and went bombing down the street as if they were going to battle. It was very loud and much more exciting than I expected it to be. Anyway, in walking backwards along the parade we got to the fire engines and knew that things were winding down so we turned off back towards the river.

On our last trip to Paris we had "done" the big museums -- the Louvre and the d'Orsay -- so on this trip I only insisted that we see the Rodin Museum. Fortunately, this was open on Bastille Day. We actually only went in the gardens, but it was awesome. It was very peaceful after the excitement of the parade and the sculptures were impressive. The girls got goofy and started doing poses, so we have some funny pictures from this stop.

On our way back to our neighborhood we stopped in to see Napoleon's Tomb. Our tour guide on the Segway Tour had told us some of the history of the building and the tomb and this had sparked our interest. The museum was closed (renovation?) but they had some of the artifacts out on display. For some reason I was impressed by seeing his coat and famous hat. The tomb was huge and impressive too.

At this point we met up with my husband's sister and her husband, who were stopping in Paris for a few days on their way to a business meeting in Brussels. We had lunch on Rue Cler at Tribeca Restaurant, next to Cafe du Marche from the night before. Again, we ate outside and the food was great. After lunch our plan was to shop for our picnic for the evening. We quickly found out that many of the shops in the neighborhood had already closed (it was around 2:00) for the holiday. However, we did manage to piece together a respectable picnic.

We then walked over and scoped out the Parc du Champ de Mars, just to see if there was anything to see. There were people staking out their picnic spots, but not much in the way of entertainment or even food. I expected that there might be vendors lining the grounds, as there probably would have been in the U.S., but no such luck. We wandered around, wandered through the gardens of the (just opened) Musee du Quai Branly, enjoyed a beer in one of the cafes, and finally decided that it was time to go have our picnic.

By this time it was around 8:00 p.m. and the whole lawn area was pretty well packed. We found a spot at the very back, behind the Peace Monument, but also away from the main crush. Our picnic was fantastic -- we enjoyed several bottles of wine (and "Champomy" -- sparkling cider -- for the girls) and the food, as it was consistently in France, was fabulous. I can still taste the baguettes we had there -- why don't they taste as good anywhere else? We sat next to a group of younger French people that became friendlier as the evening wore on. The feeling on the lawn was very communal, much like a 4th of July event in the U.S.

The fireworks themselves were good, well choreographed to music, and probably best seen from the Champ De Mars area. I think if you were watching them from another vantage point in Paris you would miss much of the show because a lot of it is almost ground level. When the fireworks were over the crush of people was almost frightening. Fortunately, our hotel was only a few blocks away and we got there pretty quickly. I think you should plan on walking home if you go to see the fireworks.

The Bastille Day fireworks made it to our daughters' favorites list for the trip. I think Bastille Day in Paris as a whole was something worth seeing, at least once. Our whirlwind trip to Paris was ending, and tomorrow we would board an early train for Switzerland. I know we'll be back to Paris, for the food if nothing else.
lady_di is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2006, 09:32 AM
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Can't wait to hear about Switzerland? I am taking two teen sons and so anxious to hear as we are doing Swiss passes and I want to know where you stayed and how expensive you found Switzerland compared to London and Paris.
Thanks, Gail [email protected]
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Old Aug 5th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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Thanks, caduke -- my Swiss report is the last one, but you've given me incentive to get it together. I'm still printing pictures which is fun because I can relive the trip and remember how beautiful Switzerland was. I promise my trip report will be soon.
lady_di is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2006, 05:17 PM
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Great report - thanks for taking the time! My family and I must've been very close to you during the fireworks, we were just behind the monument as well. The hectic thing about leaving was the scooters trying to weave through the crowd!

I agree that Bastille Day is definitely worth experiencing at least once.

John
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Old Aug 5th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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I really enjoyed your report. I always wonder how trips with teenagers will work out. Yours sounds fun.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Old Aug 5th, 2006, 06:06 PM
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Thanks for posting your report. Now I have to go back and find Part 1.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Old Aug 7th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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Excellent report! Thanks so much. I found the Switzerland report first, then read London and now Paris....we travel with our 2 sons, currently 12 and 15, and went to London in December and Switzerland (Wengen with a day in Lucerne along the way)in June so I smiled with happy memories reading your report. You are right, Switzerland is breathtakingly gorgeous - we were awed.

I really appreciate the Paris report as we have not gone there with the kids (in fact, DH and I have never been together - I went once in 10th grade for 2 days and he went for 2 days in college). I think it may be time to go to Paris!!

Anyway, thanks for sharing your trip. I always especially appreciate hearing from others who travel with teens. Sounds like a marvelous trip.

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