Thursday, April 8, 2010


E loves ice cream! And she spent tons of time in the backpack, thanks to big, strong Daddy. All the museums we visited had strollers for rent, or just to borrow. We just traded our backpack in for a stroller and off we went. By the way, if you want to get into Paris museums quickly, borrow yourself a baby. Having a baby along lets you use the handicapped entrance, bypassing all the lines! We happened to attend the Louvre on the monthly free day, meaning it was even more of a zoo than normal. The line curved around the courtyard where the pyramids are, through to the next courtyard, around 3 sides of that one, out onto the street and down 2 blocks. There was someone with a sign informing visitors how long the wait was from that point. Loooong, but at least they didn't have to queue for tickets as well. Our bigger kids were fantastic museum visitors. M loved following the map of the museum, and both kids liked the artwork. The Musee d'Orsay was especially fun, because we have a lovely series of board books using impressionist artwork. So they got to see several paintings they are already familiar with. E loves those books right now, so even she had fun. Unfortunately, we always had to leave the museums earlier than the big kids would like due to little bit's need for a (food) break. Child needs her snacks. She even got worn out at the children's museum (rather the children's section of the science museum) after a while. We're huge children's museum fans, and this is a great one. The main science museum is really cool as well, but we didn't manage to see it this time, since it's really aimed for much older children. The complex includes a 360 degree movie theater, a submarine, and lots of other amazing things. It's out at La Villette, which isn't as bad a hike as you think. The museum is directly in front of a metro stop, so all is well. It was V's favorite stop in Paris.
Here is V, standing in the very center of Paris. This spot is in front of Notre Dame cathedral, walking distance from the (rather bachelor-pad-ish, don't-look-at-the-bathroom-tile but otherwise OK) apartment we rented in Le Marais. The Le Marais area is a fantastic place to stay in Paris. It's quiet and residential, but has lots of funky, artistic shopping (salad tongs shaped like crescent wrenches), restaurants, and an unbelievable number of food shops. Such a perfect place to rent an apartment, because when you see food like this, you just want a kitchen to cook it in. Absolutely gorgeous produce, cheeses, bread, pastries, we didn't even make it to the meat shops but I'm sure they're fantastic, too. It was Easter weekend, so lots going on at the chocolatiers. I think there were about 20 in a 5 block radius. I'm not sure if that's the chocolate center of Paris, or if Parisians really love chocolate! Why can't I get food like this in Prague?!? Of particular note was a cupcake and cheescake place called Berko. Although cupcakes are their primary business, I think they are much more successful on the cheesecake front (cupcakes were fancy and beautiful, but I found the cake a bit too dry). I know that cheesecake and cupcakes are not exactly classic French food, but I swear I ate the best New York style cheesecake I have ever had (and I love cheesecake). A crunchy, cookie-like crust, perfectly creamy cheesecake with whole blueberries, and to top it off? A particularly soft-set meringue with whole, uncooked blueberries. Divine.
The kids' favorite food? Crepes. Seriously messy.
These are the fountains next to the Centre Pompidou, also very close to our apartment. M called it the Inside Out House, and claims it as his favorite site in Paris. Nathan took the big kids into the museum and also watched a huge street performance in the sloped space at the entrance. Checking off another classic Paris experience. The kids loved the street performers in general. Of course, we have them in Prague, but mainly on the Charles Bridge, and we don't go down there too often (too many tourists, hah). M's favorite was a 5-piece jazz group, including a sousaphone, who seemed way too good to be busking. V preferred a soprano with keyboard accompanist. She was American, which was funny, and she was OK on her jazz pieces, but totally compelling singing an Edith Piaf classic. She stopped all the foot traffic on a bridge during that one.
Doesn't Notre Dame look great? She's all clean and beautiful right now, with tulips out on Easter Sunday. M liked the flying buttresses and gargoyles, of course.


Q said...

Looks fabulous! We'll definitely have to make that a destination as well.

Susan said...

You know that if you stand on that marker in front of Notre Dame cathedral you get to come back. So go Viv! But even without the marker, I have no doubts she'll go back again. I always, always, stand on it when I visit Paris.