My family and I traveled to Paris, France last month and it was absolutely amazing. We went to celebrate my eldest nephew’s birthday, which also turned into a surprise wedding. Him and his then fiancee surprised everyone by getting married. (Congratulations to them two. May your marriage be blessed with many years of love and happiness.)
Although it was cold, we still enjoyed touring to many of the famous and not so famous sites. If you prefer warm weather over cold and windy weather, I recommend you and your family travel to Paris in the warmer months such as May through August. We traveled to Paris in March and the weather reminded you that it wasn’t quite springtime yet. Let’s just say it was so cold when we went out on the last night, the man-child had winter gear equipped with scarf, gloves, winter hat and heavy coat. Oh and he was wrapped in a blanket while he slept in the stroller. If you didn’t get the message yet, Paris, while still beautiful, is extremely cold in March.
However, we fought through the cold weather and explored the city to take in all it had to give us. My wife and I actually meet in our high school french class so we were very excited to see the city. We visited several sites such as the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, walked the Champs-Elysees, the Forum des Halles, a museum, and the zoo. And we weren’t disappointed. These places were absolutely amazing.
The Uber ride from the hotel to the location was interesting to say the least. The French have a very unique way of driving. The traffic and traffic jams at intersection never seem to end and they drive with a lot confidence as making bold maneuvers through traffic that many may think twice about or not take over here in the United States. We literally watched a major traffic jam from our hotel window which forced a bus driver to get off the bus and ask the other drivers to move. My suggest… skip the rental car unless you have a lot of patience and your driving is up to the French standards. Instead, you should take a Uber or a taxi to your destinations. For those of you who like to save a few extra dollars, a taxi is much cheaper than an Uber also.
After my nephew’s wedding, we went to Musee de Quai Branly (translation the Quai Branly Museum) to get away from the cold while waiting for night fall. The Quai Branly Museum has artwork and collections of many indigenous cultures from the Americas, Oceania, Asia, and Africa. Though the museum wasn’t ideal for children, my son enjoyed looking at the different masks and sculptures from the different tribes across the world. The kids would point to different Samurai attires and mask in amazement and say if they were a ninjas that particular outfit would be their outfit.
Paris is very beautiful at night. If you can, I would suggest getting out and exploring the city at night as well. After the museum, we walked down to the Eiffel Tower to watch the light show that happens every hour on the hour beginning at sundown until 1 am. If you happen to get to the Eiffel Tower at the end of an occurring light show, I suggest taking this moment to indulge in some of the yummy desserts and sweets the city has to offer. You can purchase a crepe, coffee, or any other snack from the vendors in very close proximity of the Eiffel Tower. I will admit the prices for some of the food and drinks was expensive, but it was worth the experience for me and my family. We got the Eiffel Tower in time to enjoy the light show, but our son seen the beautiful caruosel and had to ride it. Could you blame him though? How often does he get to ride a carousel in Paris? Right? Make sure you keep a close eye on your children though. A man, who’s shirt read Paris Tourism, walked up on my son and started taking pictures of him. I had to ask him not to take pictures of him without asking me first. He respectfully walked off; unfortunately, he had already snapped one or two pictures of my son without any explanation given.
The street vendors, who are walking around or have their merchandise in front of the Eiffel Tower, are very aggressive. Oh and they don’t mind using the children to get you to spend your money with them. One guy told my son he could have a ball, then the vendor turned to my wife and I asking for cash. We quickly gave him the ball back and asked the rest of his colleagues not to give anything else to our child. And yes, you read it correctly that the street vendors have colleagues. It seems as though if one can’t persuade you to buy something, then the others think they can. Don’t fall for it if you aren’t interested.
We explored the city’s night life again by seeing the Arc de Triomphe and taking pictures standing in the middle of the Champs-Elysees. A dangerous move on our part but the pictures came out beautiful. (My son remained on the sidewalk with my mother and sister as we took these pictures.) There weren’t any street vendors. The avenue, however, does have a variety of stores from the higher end to mid-price to electronic stores such as Apple. The stores were closed because it was pretty late at night when we went to see the famous site. We did take the steps under the street to get a closer look at the Arc de Triomphe. You don’t realize how massive this site is until you are standing underneath it. Make sure you take plenty of pictures.
Another place to visit is the zoo, Parc Zoologique de Paris. I know I know… but we can visit the zoo at home. Our son went to visit these sites with us without complaining so we thought it would only be right if we took him some where he would enjoy. And that was the zoo. I am sure there’s other places for children in Paris, but our son loves seeing animals so why not the zoo. Even though it was cold, many of the animals were out in the habitats. The zoo had a large variety of animals. Some I wasn’t sure was in our zoo back in the states. Nonetheless, he enjoyed it as did the rest of the family.
Usually, I’m not a coffee drinker or dessert eater but I made it my business to try the cafe (coffee) and the pastries. I dragged my family to almost every pastry shop within five to ten block radius of our hotel. (And there were plenty around.) I even tried macaroons for the first time in Paris. Why not? I mean we are in Paris where many chefs attend pastry school. And let me tell you, the pastries and coffee wasn’t a disappointment. I indulged in strawberry crepes topped with whipped cream by the Eiffel Tower. And sipped a cappuccino while waiting for the hotel to finish preparing our room.
All in all, Paris was nice. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Before I forget, make sure you get to the airport at least three hours before your schedule departure time from Charles de Gaulle airport. The lines getting to get through the various security check points can be extremely long. However, Paris is definitely on our list of places to visit again. This time we will visit during the summer months so we can enjoy more of the beautiful city without being on the brink of hypothermia or battling the strong wind.