The kids are currently on their Toussant holiday -a one and a half week vacation that gets pegged to All Saints Day (Nov 1). Since I have a flexible schedule -and Susan’s mom is here we decided to drive to Paris for a few days.
Don’t let any one say that Paris is not for kids. We dragged our 4 all over the city of lights for 4 days -and it was great.
The first thing we did was the only thing that the kids would entertain starting with – la Tour Eiffel.
We saw it from the train riding into the city. At first when I realized how big a deal it was to them – I almost wanted to reset their expectations a bit. Let them know – ‘it’s just a bit metal tower’ – however two things happened – it exceeded their expectations -and I forgot just how fantastic it is. I forgot how impressive it is to stand at the base and look up.
Since Susan and her mom are not really all that fond of exceedingly high places – I took three kids up and they kept the baby down on solid ground.
Needless to say it was a pretty big hit – not bad for the first thing we did after getting off the train!
After a while we wandered around and found a fantastic boulangerie where we had some amazing sandwiches for lunch. Refueled and ready to go – we headed back out.
We decided to take a hop-on/hop-off boat up and down the Siene. We had never actually seen Paris from the river before – and this may be hard to believe – but it’s a significantly better view than the one you get from the Metro. We got on right by the Eiffel Tower and headed up past the Musee d’Orsay, under so many amazing bridges, and got off just next to.
…la Cathédral Notre-Dame de Paris
We wandered through the church for a while – then it was time for Susan to feed Alma again – so I took the 3 big kids and we hiked the 400+ steps in an ever narrowing spiral staircase to the top of the bell tower. Since they started building it in 1163 – and it hasn’t fallen yet – it should be solid, right?
Pretty spectacular views – and Matea even tried to ring the 17th Century bell “emmanuel” – but seeing as it weighs over 13,000kg (the clapper itself is over 500kg) and it normally takes 16 men to make it move – she was not so successful.
All Micah wanted was “a model Eiffel Tower.” I handed him €2 and he got it from a little stand across the street from Notre Dame. I’m pretty sure that we could have gone home at that point and he would have been content. I’m also pretty sure that’s the most value you can get for €2 in Paris
We headed to the river -and got back on the boat and sailed down the Seine to where we had started.
We got there just in time for the sparkling lights that cover the Eiffel Tower for a few minutes at the top of every hour. For the kids seeing it lit up was already more amazing than looking at it in the daylight – then watching it light-up like a 324m tall disco ball was even better. La Dame de Fer did not disappoint.
We finished the day the way we started it – below la Tour Eiffel.
Day 1 with 3 kids and a baby in Paris: success.
Back on the train to get home around 9:00- oh yeah – we should probably feed them supper when we get back.
There are a few signs that have caught my attention since arriving here in France a bit over a year ago – allow me to share some of my favourites with you:
Sign No. 1
Found:On the wall in a TER (regional train that I take to school)
Nothing too funny about this – I just think dude sitting down is really fat – but at least he’s not leaning over and dumping his drink on the floor like the skinny guy in the seat in front of him.
Sign No. 2 Found: in the one of the cheap university cafeterias where I often eat lunch. There are two of them close to my school- one with an outdoor patio and one that feels like a Soviet-designed 1960’s mental institution.
Translation: “I always prefer fresh fruits and vegetables over grilled (meats)” -Joan of Arc
Sorry – there is just no way this is not funny
Sign No. 3 Found: on the door of the train
Just think it’s funny that 1) you have to tell people to not open the door of a moving train 2) isn’t this the same danger sign that is used for ‘the floor might be a bit slippery – I just mopped” ? Seems like this might be a bit more grave of a situation.
Sign No. 4
Found: in the train (hmm -sensing a a theme here)
I just think this is a funny way of saying “turn off your phone here”
Sign No. 5
Found: in the classrooms of my business school.
Why it’s funny to me: 1) the ‘no food’ sign is a hamburger and a soda – not really the typical icon of food that you would use in France 2) there is a ‘no cell phone’ AND ‘no smoking’ sign together. Which is funny as it means that when phones were common enough to warrant their own mention – smoking in public places was also still common enough to need a mention. I’m thinking in Canada these two missed each other by almost a generation
Sign No. 6
Found: at the ancient walls to the town of Aigues-Mortes, southern France
Meaning: you can walk your dog buck naked by yourself – but no couples roaming around holding hands in their underwear
Sign No. 7
Found: on the road heading out of Uriage
Meaning: Pegasus crossing – I guess. And also “Slippery when Wet” (as in the road condition – not the 1986 Bon Jovi album )
Sign No. 8
Found: Université de Grenoble campus
Meaning: “slippery wood” Seriously though – look at that guy. I’m thinking it’s more a ‘caution – drunken students crossing ahead’ sign
Sign No. 9
Found: Pont-du-Gard (Roman aqueduct down south – we stopped in last fall)
OK – so it’s not really ‘a sign’ – but stone-carved graffiti from the early 1700’s seems funny to me for some reason.
Seems strange but it was one month ago that our little Alma was born. It is strange to think about how someone who really does nothing brings so much joy into the lives of others. The kids are still just as infatuated with her as when she first came home, perhaps more.
She is a great baby so far, she sleeps great, eats great, doesn’t really cry, and is really great to have.
I remember thinking this when each one of our kids were born – but I think having a baby gives me a bit of a better idea of God’s love for us.
We didn’t do anything to deserve that love. In God’s eyes – my accomplishments are probably almost as impressive as Alma’s ability to fill diapers and her capability to sleep are – in my eyes. Sure it’s good – but that’s not why I love her. I wouldn’t stop loving her if she suddenly stopped sleeping through the night.
I wouldn’t really be able to love her more if she started walking this afternoon. Sure I’d think it was cool, and I’d be proud of her – but it wouldn’t really fundamentally change my love for her. If a broken person like me can love a little bit like that – I can’t imagine what God’s love for us truly is like. Quite shocking to me whenever I think of this.
The other day I realised that we have probably shared a lot of the new things that we have experienced living here- but it dawned on me that the kids are getting a lot of new experiences as well. Things that are unique to them – and unique to them living here.
Obviously there is the language, and so many other fundamental changes that go with living in a foreign country – but I was thinking more of the incidental things that are not part of living in France per se, but more an outcome of our particular experience of it.
A few that came to my mind are
learning fencing at school
all 3 sharing a single bedroom
seeing deer in our yard
knowing something better than their parents (spoken French)
watching the Tour de France go through our village