I have to admit, I was a little nervous about our Paris trip. We have been in Europe 18 months now and have traveled around our “home base” of Germany. We had our first BIG trip to England in March but that hardly counts as foreign travel for two reasons: The first being the fact that the language is ENGLISH and the second being that Jessica Hill planned, organized, and guided us around the whole time. We just had to follow the leader (and keep up with our brood) and all was well. But our trip to Paris was our first outside of Germany to a country with a completely foreign language. But let me assure you… there was more American English in Paris than we heard in England! The language barrier was not even an issue! So, if you plan on going to Paris, you do not need to worry about the language issue. (Especially if you plan to stick to the main tourist attractions like we did. Having only 3 days we wanted to see the big things and those are populated with more Americans than any other nationality. You will have no trouble finding help in English either by other tourists who are obviously American or by employees of local establishments who speak fluent English.)
The moment we decided to drive rather than take the train I began to get excited. That was one adventure I don’t think the Hamricks are ready for… carrying everything we need in hand rather than in the trunk of the car. And now, I begin my journal of our trip…
Without stopping Paris is only a 5 hour drive from our house. For some reason that fact still amazes me. I guess I’m still in awe of the fact that I live in Europe. Of course, we had to stop a few times, but one way we make traveling fun is to expect and plan for these stops. We decided to pack a lot of food so we could picnic on the way there and back, and so we could have snacks to take with us around Paris. On the way down we stopped first in Saarbrüken to get gas one last time with our Esso card. (My poor friends in America are paying a whopping $3.50 for gas while we are paying closer to $4.50… and that’s using our Esso card or filling up on post. Before we left Paris we had to fill up on the economy. $180. And the tank wasn’t even completely empty when we filled up. I do not complain about paying $4.50/gallon.) Our second stop was at a rest stop for lunch. By “rest stop” I mean it had bathrooms and picnic tables. Nothing more. We ate sandwiches and stretched our legs before getting back on the road. If you’ve never use a French-style toilet in a rest stop, you really are missing out. I’ve put a picture of this toilet in my Shutterfly Photo Album. You should check it out! (And if you need the password, just let me know.)
We arrived at our hotel (B&B Malakoff) around 2:00, unloaded, and packed up to see the main attraction (in my opinion). We bought our Metro tickets (3-day/3-zone) at the station 2 blocks from the hotel and got on the train. (We spent our time in Paris toting the stroller with Parker strapped in up and down flights of stairs. We found this to be quite sufficient in all places except for the Louvre. I wish we had used the back-pack carrier while inside the Louvre.) As we got off the train we followed the masses of people we correctly assumed were heading toward the tower. Our family was walking in a line and out of the blue, there it was. It literally took my breath away and Bailey jumped and screamed, “THERE IT IS!!” followed by, “I was the first to see it!” I noticed locals (the people NOT carrying cameras) grinning at Bailey’s enthusiasm. We walked on and spent the next 30 minutes admiring Gustave Eiffel’s masterpiece from the ground. (Eiffel also designed the wrought-iron framework of our Statue of Liberty.) I think I had prepared myself for its size, but not for the color. I guess I always expected it to be black, not brown.
In true “Black Bear Coffee, Colorado Springs” style, we were taking our ChapelNext coffee cup around and taking its picture with famous monuments. Below is Hayden with the beautiful tower and his very own CN mug.
Our whole goal for the first day (aside from arriving safely) was to see the tower in both the daytime and in the evening. Because we ALSO wanted to see the city by boat, we got BatoBoat Hop-On-Hop-Off tickets. Our first hop-off was at Notre Dame.
We hopped back on and then back off again at the Louvre. I was amazed at the breathtaking view. The light hitting the building was so beautiful as was the ominous sky behind it.
We had to take one silly touristy photo!
I turned around to see the source of the light and this is what I saw. Fire-red/orange sunlight streaming through the trees. I could see the base of the Obelisk (who knew that thing was over 3000 years old!).
While I was taking the picture above Matt called my name. I walked over to where he was standing to see a most amazing sight. Our backs were to the Louvre and we were looking through the small arc at the Obelisk and then, beyond that, the Arc de Triomphe.
We walked around the pyramid and I snapped a few more pictures of the little arc and the sunset. Again, more photos are in the Shutterfly album.
Once it was sufficiently dark, we got back on the boat and rode back toward the Eiffel tower. We were tired and I knew the boys were ready for bed. But I also knew that seeing the tower sparkle was on the TOP of my list of things to see. And, I knew they’d appreciate it once they were witnessing it. The tower did not disappoint!