11 May 17
Elijah woke at 6:30 and Jamie decided I should do likewise. I bjorned him on my back and set out to greet the day. Always the affable walking buddy, Eli narrated the journey with sweet coos and babble for the whole hour without uttering so much as a single protest. We walked over to the 2nd and he was very thrilled every time he saw a dog or bird.
Pastry breakfast followed and then the Katoff’s set out as a family of four today. Joan opted for peace and quiet and took the time to rest. We were glad for her to have the time to recuperate but missed her company on the journey. It’s been a pleasure having her along this trip. Noah really adores Grandma and in a rather uncharacteristic moment was snuggling with her the other day.
We hopped in an Uber headed for Sacre Coeur and 3 out of 4 of us fell asleep on the ride up. At the top of Montmarte, the views swept across the city and we were glad to have skipped the walk up. Inside, SarcreCouer is magnificent! Noah was very particular about wanting to sit down. I guess he shares my appreciation for churches!
After, we walk around the corner and visit another church, the Saint Pierre d Montmartre, before wandering into more than few tour groups and a nice open square. Jamie locates a chocolatier that makes us a fresh crepe with homemade chocolate sauce that was like mana from heaven; no Nutella here! Next, She found a kind man painting streetscapes and purchases a wonderful little oil painting.
Montemarte is lined with narrow cobblestone streets clogged with the days delivery trucks and tour groups. It’s very hard to navigate with our stroller. That said, I must call out the Joovy Caboose as the hero of the trip. Not quite a double, I’d call it a “1.5 umbrella,” as it has a seat up front for Eli and a platform in back for Noah to sit or stand on. It’s a little heavy but overall very portable and has done well over broken terrain the whole trip.
Noah gambols along with us as we stroll down the street, poking into storefronts. I spot a beautiful display of fresh fish and take Noah in my arms to explain the options. Eventually, we find the tiny Square Jehan Rictue, with equally petite playground. The boys frolic while I procure a picnic, discovering a wonderful pain au jambon to pair with Orangina.
Our next stop is famed chocolatier Jacques Genin. Imagine if Tiffany or Cartier opened a chocolate store; this is what it would look like [and cost]. We made a few small purchases and took ample advantage of samples. It was impressive and delicious, but I don’t have the palette to truly appreciate the difference between $5 and $20 chocolate.
We stroll back through the Marais and Jamie and the boys turn in for naps. I hope the metro towards St. Germain de Pres and spend an hour exploring the various boutiques, but don’t make any purchases. Except a dinner reservation!
For our final date night out, Jamie insisted that I select something a bit more progressive, geared towards my palette. I snagged us an early table at Clown Bar, a casual hot spot for New-French cooking. The service was very friendly, the food only got better and better with each course. We started with the burrata salad, then moved on to the veal brains over dashi. Jamie had to look away in horow. They were soft, almost like tofu and the sweet dashi broth set it off. Next course was a beautiful langoustine crudo followed by turbot with a tiny layer of lardo over asparagus and egg yolk. That turbot may’ve been the best dish I’ve had in France. We closed with a duck / Foie Gras pie that was so decadent it was sinful. Dessert was good, but after a week of pastry it’s hard to stand out.It is so nice to just sit and laugh and talk with Jamie. I love her even more now than I did ten years ago. Three nights in a week is a treat for a couple that is lucky to do this once a month at home. We went out for coffee and to inspect the crepe’s at Briezh, known to be one of the best in the city. Truth!)
It had already begun raining which dashed our hopes of taking a city lights tour of Paris. We did however make our way to the Place du Trocadero to view the Eiffel Tower. Again, hordes of tourists holding up their cellphones detract from the moment, but it was still special to see the light show with Jamie.
12 May 17
I woke up around seven and find that Noah and Grandma had already risen. I kept the morning walk short today, but took Noah along with me. Such a great little traveler, he’s always up for an adventure! Pastry, eggs and coffee, then we’re home and serving the family.
For our final day, we hadn’t set an agenda other than to make up anything important that we missed or to repeat standouts. Grandma and Noah both really enjoyed the Jardin du Louxemberg, so we were there and playing by 9:15. The massive playground was almost empty and Noah took many laps on the big swing, easily one of the highlights of the trip. Eli wanted in on the action, and so I chanced it and took a turn with him in my lap. The little daredevil loved it!
For lunch we made a family outing to Briezh, sharing savory and sweet crepes. Eli takes giant handfuls over whipped cream with caramel like it’s his job. Noah demands seconds.
We walk back slowly through the Marais, yet again, just loving the narrow streets and shops, and still finding new treasures. Jamie and the boys rest, while I decide to talk my last solo tour over to the Louvre. How could I visit France twice in my life and miss this?
It was a zoo this afternoon but also magnificent. The building itself would be worth a walk on it’s own and the collection really is worth all the hype. The Mona Lisa wasn’t all that special when viewed through a crowd of cell phones and behind two pieces of glass. I did enjoy the sections I visited, but when I sat down I noticed something. It started with my feet, then my legs and my back: fatigue. I’ve walked 80 miles this trip and it has caught up to me. I ache and want to rest.
On my way home, I stop for a snack and sit a table for some people watching. I’ve been so focused on walking, photographing and caring for the children that I didn’t really take much time to people watch. Parisians are fantastic! So stylish and unique; I imagine a story for every individual. I pause and relax, so grateful for this experience.
I return home and rest in bed, trying to get Eli to nap. I swipe at my iPhone. Eli gets the other iPhone from the side table, climbs on top of my stomach and begins hopping up and down while waving the iPhone in my face. He can’t say it, but his eyes convey how proud he is of this physical comedy.
Our closing banquet was at La Rotisserie D’Argent, the casual side of the famed La Tour D’Argent, the oldest restaurant in Paris dating to 1582. I start with escargot and Eli loves sucking the garlic buttter out of the shells. Jamie again has the best order, selecting a chicken stew with morels that was out of this world.
After a spread of desserts we head home to finish packing, glowing from what was one of the best trips of my life.
13 May 17
The return trip couldn’t have gone any better. Easy uber to airport, bypassed the line for customs with the kids and flight left just a few minutes late. Over an 11 hour flight neither child cried! Noah slept the last hour, through the US border and the while uber home. The whole journey went very well.
I’m left to reflect and conclude that this trip was a fantastic success. I’m so glad we did it. Don’t wait until your kids are old enough because good habits start young. Don’t wait until you h
Best Moment of the trip:
Noah – Riding the swing! [at Jardin du Louxemberg] Joan – Standing on the Eiffel Tower with Jamie and saying “I’m in Paris!” Jamie – Just walking around the small side streets in La Marais, exploring shops and parks. Chad – Seeing how the boys embraced travel and the city of Paris. Noah would exclaim “I love France!” and refer to our AirBNB as ‘home.’
Low Point of the trip:
Noah – I didn’t like; I wanted to go on the carousel two times [as opposed sometimes only going once] Joan – I could’ve done without all the sirens all night long. Jamie – Being awake with Eli at 2AM…Several times during the week. Chad – The boat ride. I felt like I was taking a schivtz! You know it had to be rough if I was willing to forfeit 51 Euros and get off after one stop.
Best thing you ate:
Noah – That big chocolate, the whole thing!
Joan -Probably my Pollack (at Le Fumoir). The fish was cooked perfectly and served with fresh peas, white asparagus, dill and a delicious sauce. I wanted to lick the plate.
Jamie – mmm – Probably the Porc en Croute at Chez L’Ami Jean.
Chad – Can I do top 3? 1. Trapezione pastry at Hure 2. Turbot w lardo and egg yolk at Clown Bar 3. Every morsel of food on the table at L’Ami Jean.
Worst thing you ate:
Noah – Why did they burn the cream? [creme brûlée was not his thing, but Eli liked it] Joan – That salty quiche, it was inedible for me. Jamie – I would agree with Mom about the salty quiche. Chad – Day 1 – Trout Almandine. I think it had been deep fried; dry and terrible. I refused to eat it and instead got street meat around the corner.
Noah – He smiles cunningly but reveals nothing more. Joan – After girls night, we were explaining our evening to Chad, and Jamie was describing how every ingredient had a distinct flavor. She commented that the Peas, had a delicious flavor that really evoked pea-ness! Pea-ness… Jamie – At our closing banquet when Chad ordered a Caraffe De Ouff to drink; a bottle of eggs. He thinks he’s so smart, yet every time we are in a foreign country he reverts to Spanish even when it’s not the local language. Chad – Besides Grandma’s rain coat? I know what I’m buying her fro Christmas this year.
Where do you want to go next?
Noah – In 10 year and 10 days he wants to come back to France. Joan – Panama Canal, Iceland. Jamie – Costa Rica, Australia & South of France. Chad – Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Japan & Amsterdam.