So we went to Paris for two days before going on to Provence, where we were having a family reunion and celebrating my mother’s
seventieth twenty-ninth birthday. Two full days to revel in the city of light, stroll the tiny cobbled streets, marvel at the enduring romance of a river spanned by bridges, discover sweet little cafes tucked into quiet courtyards, sip chilled rose on the tiny balcony of our apartment and watch the sunset over the Paris rooftops.
Oh. Wait. That would be a two-day Paris vacation with my Husband, or by myself.
Actually? We were on a two-day family trip to Paris.
The last time we were in Paris, Liam was still in a stroller and Caleb wasn’t even the proverbial gleam in our eyes. Maybe because now, in comparison, both boys seem more grownup, Husband and I forgot that family trip is not a vacation (thanks to Cousin Sarah for pointing it out to me). Thus Day One of our trip was filled not only with cold wet weather (more Novemberish than Julyish) but tag-team whining of the first order. If there were a Olympic whining event, my kids would definitely medal.
In a kind of French version of the Bataan death march (their version) we trudged from Notre Dame to Musee Cluny, to Musee D’Orsay. It rained. It was cold. Caleb was, variously: hungry, bored, thirsty, persecuted by his brother, TIRED. Liam wanted to know the French word for pretty much everything , which was charming for the first vingt minutes et puis tres aggravating because then he whined in French: je suis faim, je suis froid, je suis fatiguee, je suis HATE MY BROTHER. (Yes, like Caliban, in The Tempest: we taught him the language and he learned how to curse).
You know where we ended up? The carnival. Yep. Missed the Louvre—why would you go see the glass pyramid at the Louvre when you could ride the Pirates of the Caribbean for three euros a pop? Well, actually, in this picture you can see one end of one wing of the Louvre, just behind the tall arm of the Ferris Wheel.
Day Two, Husband and I threw our Paris desires out the window. Husband and Liam left early to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, while Caleb, Grandma, and I meandered more slowly to the Tower, where Caleb (who insists he dislikes heights) rode the carousel and ate soft-serve ice cream. I tried not to be disgusted by the fact that the ice cream came from a dispenser that had been, a few short minutes before, crawling with bees.
After the Eiffel Tower, le batobus: the aquatic equivalent of a double-decker tour bus. We went from boat to lunch (pizza, of course) to the courtyard of the Louvre, to the boat, to Les Invalides (armor! guns! swords! Napoleon’s huge tomb!), to the metro and home. Ice cream and small souvenirs were applied at judicious intervals in a way that never would have happened at home. We are now the proud owners of a small blue Eiffel Tower, any number of commemorative “gold” coins, two small notepads, and a small plastic horse-and-knight. Plus post cards.
But the boys went to sleep that night saying that they loved Paris, so maybe it was cheap at the price.
I guess Rick and Ilsa were right: we’ll always have Paris…and one day we’ll come back for an actual vacation.