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August 9, 2007

Our Mother-Daughter Trip to Paris (Thursday)

Kelly and I took the 10:09 TGV train from Avignon to Paris. We were excited about having a couple of days in Paris before heading home, and I was looking forward to our first-ever Mother-Daughter overnight trip. But it was sad to say goodbye to Charley and leave him there on the train platform as the doors closed and we started on our way. I won't see him for five weeks, and he and Kelly will be apart for seven weeks. Suddenly that seems a very long time.

I also left my digital camera with Charley, so he can take pictures during his travels. Kelly became the official photographer for our trip to Paris, and as you'll see in these entries, she did a wonderful job. This is the first time I've ever traveled without a camera, and it was a very strange feeling-- I felt empty and a little bit powerless!

The sun was shining in Provence, but as we sped north to Paris, the world outside us changed and the sun disappeared behind us. We arrived in Paris to overcast skies and cool temperatures-- in the upper 60's and low 70's. I was nervous about my wardrobe. I had packed only for summer and hadn't planned for the possibility of this type of weather. I only had cropped pants and open toed sandals and only a few things for days like this: a long-sleeved hiking shirt (that I've been using as a robe), a raggy-looking black sweater, a multi-purpose wrap, and two scarves. You could tell who the locals were on the streets because they were properly dressed. Some people were wearing heavy jackets! I thought I might have to buy some other shoes and a jacket.

We took a taxi from the Gare de Lyon to L'Hôtel des Grandes Écoles . I was very pleased with my choice of a hotel-- it was convenient, economical, interesting, and in a very good location in the Latin Quarter. We really liked the arrangement of the hotel-- almost on its own private street with a pretty courtyard and lots of flowers. We were five minutes from the busy Rue Mouffetard, a street full of shops and restaurants that Kelly found especially appealing.

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The pretty courtyard at L'Hôtel des Grandes Écoles (photo by Kelly)

Despite the strange weather, it was great to be in Paris again. This was my sixth trip to Paris: three days in 1991 with two girlfriends (six months before Charley and I got married); a week in 1994 when Kelly was 14 months old; four days in 1999/2000 for the big millennium celebration; two weeks in 2004 during our long trip; and four days in 2004/2005 (also during our long trip) when we came up from Provence for another New Years. I know this city, and I like it. I've forgotten how very much I like it. But I have to say that it was culture shock to arrive in the midst of Paris after our month in the quiet Luberon countryside.

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August 10, 2007

Friday in Paris

It was another cool and overcast day in Paris. Can it really be August? I wore my black sweater and my blue knit wrap (along with my capri pants and sandals) and hoped I didn't look too much like a bag lady.

We decided to have breakfast at a cafe instead of at the hotel and walked up the street to the place de la Contrescarpe, a tiny park in the center of a traffic circle surrounded by cafes.... a really delightful spot. It was too cool to eat outside, and our croissants and hot drink turned out to be much more expensive than I expected. We will eat at the hotel tomorrow. I'm drinking tea right now instead of coffee... at least until my stomach is back to normal.

After breakfast we headed down Rue Mouffetard once again. The street is really a bit touristy, but Kelly loves it. This has been a very good choice of location for her. At the bottom of the hill there are beautiful fish stands, butcher shops and cheese shops. (If we had an apartment, I would love to shop here.) We caught the Metro at Censier-Daubenton and ended up across the river at Sully Morland, right next to the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, the architecture museum. We discovered this museum on our last trip to Paris, and Kelly has been intent on visiting again. We thought we would have time to visit the museum before meeting Dave at the Place de la Bastille at 11 am.

Unfortunately the museum didn't open until 10:30, so we shifted plans and decided to go there after our get-together with Dave. With some extra time, we wandered down the street and discovered a beautiful old church, St. Gervais et St. Protais. This was a lovely very medieval area of Paris, and the church was magnificent. It seemed almost undiscovered-- just a few people inside praying and a man sleeping on a pew.

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The St. Gervais et St. Protais church (photo by Kelly)

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August 11, 2007

Kelly and Kathy in Paris (Then and Now)

On Saturday morning Kelly and I found ourselves at the Champ de Mars, a large and very green park that extends from the Ecole Militaire to the Eiffel Tower. This area brought back some very special memories.

In September 1994 we visited Paris for the first time as a family. Charley and I had only been married a little over two years, and Kelly was 14 months old. We weren't experienced European travelers at all-- I had been on a whirlwind two-week trip a few years before with two girlfriends (including three days in Paris), and we had honeymooned in London. We rented a studio apartment for a week on a tiny side street (Rue Herold) near the famous market street Rue Montorgueil. I didn't know it at the time, but this was our first experience with Slow Travel! It was really a wonderful week, and we saw so much of Paris... mostly on foot, pushing Kelly in a large stroller or carrying her in a backpack. We had no idea that this would be the beginning of our love affair with Europe and that we would end up so connected with France.

On that trip we also found ourselves one morning on the Champ de Mars. There was a little playground, and Kelly had great fun there. She had just begun to walk, and she was so cute in a little hat we bought for her at a department store.

I spotted the same little playground on this morning. And I think we even found the same helicopter bouncy-thing... just painted different colors. So here's my beautiful daughter in that Paris playground then and now: 14 months and now 14 years.

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Kelly in Paris (14 months old - September 1994)

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Kelly in Paris (14 years old - August 2007)

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Saturday in Paris

We're enjoying this little trip to Paris very much. Paris is familiar and comfortable to us, but there's always so much more to discover. We've visited pretty much all the "first tier" tourist destinations before-- in fact, we've visited most of them more than once. We visited the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs d'Elysées on our earlier trips when Kelly was small. But then she didn't remember them, so we did it them all again when we were here for two weeks three years ago. We've visited the Musee d'Orsay five times, I think. I never tire of the Impressionist painters. Kelly and I talked about going to the d'Orsay again this trip, but we decided to focus on places we haven't been before, take it easy, and experience another layer of Paris.

We had breakfast this morning in the little breakfast room at the hotel. Unfortunately, it was just too cool to eat outside in the pretty garden, which would be a lovely way to start the day. The breakfast was simple: a hot drink, a croissant, a baguette with butter and jam. We really didn't need anything more. Then we were off, again to catch the Metro.

We decided to begin our day at the Hôtel des Invalides, a large military-related complex that includes several museums and Napoleon's tomb. This is a new place for us, and I was sorry Charley wasn't here, because he has a very strong interest in Napoleon.

We didn't plan our Metro route well, and we ended up getting off at a stop closer to the Ecole Militaire and had to walk several blocks to Les Invalides. This was a wonderful mistake though, since it took us right by the Champ de Mars, the large park leading up to the Eiffel Tower. We probably spent half an hour taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower, and we even re-visited the park where Kelly had played as a toddler almost 13 years ago. If the day had been clear, we would have gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower-- I've been, but Kelly's only been to the second level.

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An interesting view of the Eiffel Tower (photo by Kelly)

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August 17, 2007

And headed home...

I had booked our flight home at 1:40 on Sunday afternoon so we wouldn't be too rushed leaving Paris in the morning. We had breakfast at the hotel and then took a cab from the hotel over to the Opera House. Paris was very quiet on a Sunday morning, and the weather was still overcast and cool. It would have been a great time to go for a walk or take some photos without hundreds of other tourists in them. And actually, we would have had plenty of time to go for a walk. We could have left the hotel at 10:30 and still had plenty of time. Well, now we know for next time.

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A quiet Sunday morning at the Louvre

I was proud that my luggage was still very manageable, though I did leave a few things in Provence. Kelly and I also shipped two small boxes home from Provence. Kelly's bag was huge, too big. She says she's really learned the importance of packing light and beginning with a smaller suitcase. When your suitcase is too big, you just keep filling it with stuff. On the other hand, she's had lots of different clothes, plenty of reading material, and was better prepared for the cooler weather in Paris. After two months I am really, really tired of my four pairs of capri pants, five sleeveless tops, four shirts, and two pairs of sandals.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The Trail's Our Thing in the Paris category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Our Lives at Home is the previous category.

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