Back in the Easter holidays we took our two over to France again. As I hold a degree in French, and spent the best part of a year there while at University, we do like to go over frequently. It helps that holidays with Eurocamp are loved by all of us and don’t break the bank (which is equally important)
So, once again we packed up our little Golf and set off to France. We stopped for two nights just outside Paris, and then spent seven nights near Sarlat in the Dordogne before returning to another campsite on the east side of Paris for another couple of nights before heading home.
On our second Paris stop, we decided to spend a whole day in the city. We’ve been there a few times with the boys now. This time we chose to stay away from the key tourist areas, as we’d been up the Eiffel tower with the boys only last year, and they are still a little bit too young to appreciate museums (or to let us appreciate them!) We wanted to go at a slower pace and really enjoy the city, rather than rushing around trying to see everything.
I therefore present our plan for a lovely day in Paris, without ever getting cross about the tourists!
Morning – Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur
After a narrow miss with a near pickpocket incident on the funicular car leading up to the basilica (note, always be alert!) we didn’t join the queue to go inside the Sacre-Coeur this time (see note above about kids being small!) but we enjoyed the view and Elliot loved looking through the binoculars to see what landmarks he could spot.
We then walked through to the main square in Montmartre and enjoyed a coffee outside La Mere Catherine (my mum’s name is Catherine too, hence why we like it!) whilst watching the street artists. It’s such a busy and bustling place – and we’re not naturally people who enjoy being amid the hustle and bustle for any length of time – that it was nice to go in the morning when it is perhaps slightly quieter (?) but then have plans for a more sedate afternoon.
Afternoon – picnic in Le Jardin du Luxembourg, bookshops and memory walks
Hopping back on the metro (we had day passes) we stopped off to pick up essentials for lunch (baguette, boursin, brie, crisps, fruit and cake!) and headed to the wonderfully parisian Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement.
We found a bench and laid out our picnic, and then realised that several locals were busy playing a lunchtime game of petanque nearby. We did wonder if we could get any more parisian 🙂
A key point for families is that the Jardin du Luxembourg houses a most wonderful play ground, which you do have to pay to enter but is well kept with areas for children of all ages. The boys had a wonderful time and we honestly could have stayed there for the rest of the day.
We walked through the Jardin, finding a boating lake which we will have to explore next time, before finding our way to Shakespeare and Company bookshop on the Left bank. This is always on our list of places to visit in Paris. I can’t really explain why, other than the fact that we are definite bibliophiles in this house, both boys included. There’s just something about it which attracts us again and again. We noticed the cafe next door too this time, so perhaps we’ll be tempted to stay even longer next time.
We were on a bit of a mission though as one of the places we visit without fail each time we go to Paris is the Ile St Louis – a small island which I fear is often overlooked next to it’s neighbour Ile de la Cite with the famous cathedral, Notre Dame.
Several years ago now, however, Ile St Louis was really where our story began. It was here, on a Saturday evening in January 2008, that we got engaged (using scrabble tiles – that’s another story!) We always go back there when we visit and each time remark on how lovely it would be to visit a) with no kids, b) with more money, c) for a week! You never know, it’s nearly 10 years ago now so that’s worth a celebration!
Anyway, we normally stop for a coffee at the St Regis. This time we opted for a light dinner as it was approaching that time of day. I can say with confidence that the burrata and tomato salad is amazing!
We then walked through Le Marais, before finding ourselves back on the RER to our campsite.
I will never get tired of Paris. It is a truly special place for us, and one which I hope our boys grow up to love and enjoy too.