Ah Paris, the city of love. Unless you go there with a slightly grumpy northern husband who hates being made to stop every two minutes to pose for a photo. Grumpy husband aside, we had a fantastic weekend in Paris last weekend and I couldn’t let it go by without a post here all about the trip. I had to have some excuse to share the photos, didn’t I?
We stayed with the NLM’s cousin who lives in a Parisian suburb called Saint Germain-en-Laye, to the north west of the city. It’s a beautiful place in its own right, with shuttered houses dripping in blooms, a smart chateau and many Instagrammable shops (seriously, if you love trendy boutiques and stylish interiors shops, this is your place). I think that, even if we didn’t have a relative here, I’d still choose to stay in this area because it’s far less hectic than central Paris, slightly cheaper (although still pricey) and gives you a good glimpse of how “real” Parisians live.
There’s a brilliant market here on a Sunday morning, which we visited, along with a stunning park that has incredible views across the Seine and into the city. Oh, and it also boasts a very good kebab shop which we naturally visited after the pub on the Friday night when we arrived (!).
On Saturday, with slightly sore heads, we ventured into central Paris to take in all the sights. I’d been to the city once before (15 years ago with my parents and sister), but this was the first time the NLM had ever experienced Parisian life. It was hectic, we walked miles and we saw SO much. For me, this was one of the best things about the trip without children. There’s no way we’d have been able to take in so much in such a short amount of time if the girls had been with us. That’s definitely something worth thinking about if you plan a trip to Paris with kids – don’t over-stretch yourself and try to tick too many landmarks off your Paris list or you’ll suffer burnout pretty rapidly.
(Yes I know I look pregnant in this picture. In my defence, I’d just scoffed a Five Guys burger. Five Guys on the Champs-Elysées is about as intense an ordering experience as you can get in a fast-food joint. The burger and shake makes it worth it though, in my humble burger-loving opinion.)
After walking from the Arc de Triomph down the Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde and into the Tuileries Gardens we headed over to the bridge looking out onto the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t get a chance to go into the Louvre or up the tower (I mean, we could have, but that would have been the whole day done) so we hopped on the Metro to Montmatre. Another warning if you go to Paris with kids – the red windmill (i.e. Moulin Rouge) is worth a look, but beware it’s surrounded by seedy sex shops.
Behind the Moulin Rouge, we walked up the steep hill into Montmatre and over to the Sacre Coeur. This is one of my favourite parts of Paris because the windy streets are so pretty. Although it’s busy, it feels less intense than the huge open spaces of the Champs-Elysées and the Place de la Concorde. Watch the video below for Simon’s honest reaction…
I barely took any photos in this area because a) I was too busy drinking it all in, b) I was struggling to keep up with Si and his cousin who both have legs which are at least double in length to my short little ones and c) I couldn’t get my camera out of my bag quick enough. Bad blogger.
We ended the day in a bar in Saint-Michel next to the Seine, drinking a beer by the river, looking out onto Notre Dame. As views go, this one wasn’t too shabby. Again, I didn’t take any photos because, well, I couldn’t really be bothered by that point to be honest.
Sunday was all about the opulent palace of Versailles, although we didn’t actually go inside the palace (the queues were INSANE), opting instead to wander around the gardens and row a boat on the lake.
(Me, photo-bombing the palace, right there.)
If the kids were with us we’d have probably taken a picnic and eaten it by the water, but as it was just us and we were enjoying some adult-only freedom we chose to go back into Saint Germain-en-Laye and enjoy a rare restaurant lunch and cold beer looking out onto the market square. It was perfection (and the best goats cheese salad I’ve ever tasted, ever).
I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a weekend in a very long time. The NLM and his cousin are linked by two mums who are identical twins, which makes them more like brothers than cousins. They’re so similar, with the same sense of humour, love of beer (well, in the NLM’s case, cider) and spent much of the weekend like they are in this photo above.
Monday was home day, but with an evening flight we had the freedom to spent part of the day in Paris again. We headed to the Pompidou Centre for a wander around, a browse in some of the cool shops and some lunch. This is where we saw a pretty awe-inspiring street dance performance (am now obsessed by Street Dance Paris – honestly, Diversity ain’t got nothing on them!).
And with that, it was time to fly home. Exhausted, elated and ready for a cuddle with the kids, back to reality and a mammoth load of washing.
Paris, you were a blast.
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Linking up to All About France at Lou Messugo for this post!