Actually, this is our second trip within Europe as a whole. In February we visited London. I'll do another post about that trip soon. But, to get them enjoying the pattern of traveling around us, the trip to Paris was important to set the mood. Who knows, maybe some day one of them will suggest a trip. That is, they might come up with an additional trip suggestion. They have proposed one already. They would like to go to Sorrento, Italy in search of the alleged hot pizza vending machine. As Hillary has just visited Sorrento and tried to track it down (unsuccessfully), I feel that they boys need to branch out a bit in their trip planning. In any case, back to the Paris trip.
Day 1: Travel by Train
PARIS! It's the world's top tourist destination. And we got to visit it. To get from Toulouse to Paris, we took the train. We signed up with the SNCF train child discount card for each kid. This gave us half price tickets for the boys and a discount on my ticket as a person accompanying a minor. It normally costs 75 euro for the discount card, but the day I got them there was a sale so they were only 60 euro each. Completely worth it! The trip duration was about the same as it would be to drive, about 6 hours. Convincing the kids was easy, I told them that instead of staying inside at home to play with their electronics, they would have an outlet and a comfy seat on a train from which to engage in electronics use.
|Will with iPad and Alex with DS|
|The table is for chin resting|
|Rest your chin. I will photobomb!|
|Considering crushing Alex in babyfoote|
The train trip was really smooth and other than picking the wrong train car and therefore the wrong seats (oops). We made it without too much trouble. The boys were not interested in the sandwiches on board, so we decided to bring our own for the return trip.
We went over to that side where we saw the long line for day-of entry and the non-existent line for reservations. We opted to return to Paris at a future date after booking tower reservations so that we could avoid the line.
|Crazy Line Behind Us|
Next, we decided that it would be a good plan to find a restroom for a break. However, due to the fan zone craziness and the general lack of public toilets in Paris, we were not very successful. We ended up at Cafe Le Dome which is a little bit of a walk away from the Tower. I ordered the breakfast which was a croissant, coffee, and orange juice for 9 euro. I also ordered the boys orange juice which came in at over 5 euro each. So check on experiencing tourist trap and paying more than 20 euro to use the restroom.
|Dome des Invalides, Tomb of Napoleon|
|Dan wants to go to here|
|It's on an island|
|How do we get to the center of the traffic circle?|
|Not tired from wandering around Paris? Pool!|
|Park Behind the Cathedral|
Ever on the lookout for spinning disks, the boys spent quite a bit of time playing on the spinning disk nearby and also doing some climbing on the other thing.
|The other thing|
Filled with food and fun, we split ways with our friends and walked over to the Pompidou Center. It is a place that I have always wanted to go. There was a picture of it on the front of my high school french book.
Getting kids involved in museums makes the trip better for the adults on the trip too. It's a tricky thing to do, but there is a great book that gives practical advice called "The Gallery and Museum Survival Guide for Parents." The boys and I had talked about going to see some art before our trip and during the trip. They were interested to see some art of artists who they knew and also those they had recently studied. Prior to coming to France, they were familiar with Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, and Renee Magritte. Since arriving in France they had studied some more about Matisse and Magritte. So, we knew we would see some works by these artists.
We started out at the infamous fountain, and then walked by a Calder sculpture on our way in.
|Will contemplating: If I could just go INTO the fountain, that would be great!|
We were able to successfully check the scooters at the coat check. And we only needed to buy a ticket for me since kids 18 and under are free. To get started, we rode up all of the escalators to the 5th floor of the Center.
|View from the top|
The kids really seemed to like this fountain, coming back to it multiple times. It has a Max Ernst sculpture in the middle of it of what looks like a mermaid bull family.
We found the Matisse cutouts room that Alex's teacher this year told him about.
|Different than the ones at LACMA|
|Escaping from the Cutouts|
|Le double secret|
|The Red Model|
|Hmmm... Optical Illusion|
|Alex also contemplates|
|Is it moving?|
|Hmm... Impossible Object?|
After lots of interesting and sometimes bazarre art, we headed back to our apartment to meet friends for dinner. We took takeout back to the apartment from a restaurant that they boys saw as we got off the metro upon our initial arrival in Paris.... PFC. Paris Fried Chicken.
Day 4: Another Park and Departure
On day 4, we found a really awesome park called Parc de Villette. We visited two playgrounds. One was the Jardin du Dragon which had a sculpture/play structure shaped like a dragon with an 80 foot tongue slide.
|Alex trapped in the dragon's throat|
|Tongue Slide descending|
The other park was called the "Jardin des vents et des dunes" which means the garden of wind and dunes. It had turf covered hills which the boys raced up and down. It also had nifty kid sized hamster wheels.
|Run Children! Run!|
Also included were some fun zip lines.
After some fun at the park, we headed over to the store and boulangerie to get sandwich meat and bread for the return trip. Then we went to the train station, found the correct train-car-and-seats, then headed home.
We had a fun time and will return to Paris sometime in the future. Maybe we will take Dan the next time.