Friday, June 24, 2016

Paris with a toddler

There are lots of "firsts" on our Paris trip this time. It's the first time my husband and I came back to Paris since baby, it's the first time babygirl flew on her own plane seat (no longer a lap child), and most importantly, it's the first time we travel without diapers (yup, she's potty trained, by herself).

Unlike my previous Paris trips, this time we didn't have itinerary. We didn't have high expectation about our sightseeing coverage, and we didn't plan anything special to do and to see. Mostly because we had visited most of the things, been in most of the museums and climbed all things tall. Other reason was because we wanted babygirl to lead the trip as she wishes, and of course, it was because we were going to Paris for being part of the UEFA EURO 2016.

We traveled very light, because we were flying Ryan air (a low-cost carrier with no allowed checked-in luggage, unless you pay). And we had to bring a potty at all times. Babygirl only wants to pee and poo in her own green potty, so we had to carry it with us -which later caused lots of questions during security checks :)

We spent day one around the Eiffel tower, of which she was fascinated. I don't think she'd seen anything so tall so close before, so she called it the "big tower". We started from Champs de Mars area (which was closed and made the fan zone of the Euro) and walked towards the tower. She wanted to see the "water" so we went along the Seine river while she enjoyed the sights of the cruising boats. We walked on the Pont d'Iena, to Trocadero, where we decided to enjoy the sunset on the grass, with ice cream, crepes and beers while waiting for the "big tower" to lit. We wanted to take her to the Paris aquarium -CineAqua which is located nearby, but she was too happy running around on the grass and singing, so we thought, why bother and spend €50 for something she might not enjoy more than this one now?

Feeding the pigeons at the Notre Dame
We started early on the second day, walking in the light rain toward the Arc de Triomphe. We had no intention to climb it again, so we just rested underneath it while waiting for the rain to stop. Once it stopped, we walked along the Champs Elysees, which babygirl enjoyed a lot. We got fresh brioche and coffee and enjoyed the sights of people walking around. We tried to enter some shops but the security check asked me to take out her potty every time from my backpack so we just gave up. We entered the official Disney's store though, which babygirl enjoyed, and had flammkuchen for lunch. Flammkuchen (or Tarte flambee in french) is a dish we tried in Strasbourg and loved since, a mixture of French and German culture, something like quiche but with very thin and crispy crust that is actually grilled on the barbecue. Babygirl didn't really like it, but she sure appreciated her gaufre with chocolate sauce.

We continued to take the metro from Champs Elysees to Notre Dame. Of all that she experienced, I could probably say that metro was the highlight of her trip. She wanted to go to the metro all the time, and called 'em "the train in the tunnel". We spend quite some time in the front yard of Notre dame to play with the pigeons (and fed them) despite my husband kept telling us "they're basically rats that have wings!"

Because of babygirl's interest in metro, we decided to walk less on the third day and take more of the metro. We started day three at the Montmatre area. Our destination was Sacre Coeur (or the Sacred Heart Basilica), but instead of getting off at the Anvers metro station that we normally would, I decided to get off at Abbesses stop. I wanted to take babygirl to see the "Le mur des je t'aime", a wall in the park with a mural of I love you written in 250 languages. Of course the wall itself wasn't too interesting for her, but I knew she'd like the little playhouse with bridges and slides inside the park. After spending some time there, we started to walk the small streets of Montmatre toward the basilica, stopping in a post office to send some postcards to friends and family (we always send postcards when traveling).

Going up to Sacre Coeur, one step at a time
At the bottom of Sacre Coeur, we thought taking the funicular would be interesting for babygirl. But she surprised us one more time. She was fascinated by the stairs leading to the basilica and insisted to climb the stairway, all by herself. Of course, after spending some time on the playground with the slides and carousel on the bottom of Sacre Coeur. On the way up, the fountain took up all of her attention and we stayed longer at the fountain than we did in the basilica. And she was happy. We got the little miniature of the "big tower" so she can have it everywhere, and we head to the metro station to go to Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

Pere Lachaise was much more about my husband, as he didn't manage to visit Jim Morrison's grave the last time he was in Paris. By the time we got there, babygirl was asleep in her carrier, so we took a walk to enjoy the beautiful graveyard, before finally finding his grave.

The top of the trip, was, of course, the night of June 21st when Croatian national team was playing Spain on their last group matches of the Euro. The match itself was in Bordeaux, so we decided to go to the Fan zone in Paris to watch the game with other fans. The fan zone was, as I said, in Champs de Mars, looking at the Eiffel towers. They had food and drink stalls inside, official merchandise store, toilets, children playground, and plenty of big screens to watch the game. We started by meeting an Indonesian friend living in Paris, enjoying gaufre and crepe, playing in the playground (lots of slides and playhouses) before the game eventually started.

Watching the Croatian game at the Fan Zone in Paris

Croatia won the game and ended up at the top of the group placement, everyone knew that. But it was a hard game for me. Some people know that Spain has a special place in my heart. Spain was the first European country I visited (I was 19), I was even living in Spain. Spanish was the first foreign language (except English) that I learned, way before Croatian. But we did enjoy the good game. We did enjoy the attention we got. Everyone was basically in awe that we took a baby to watch a football game in the fan zone, lots of people asked me if they may take a picture with her!

Sadly we had to leave already on the fourth day. I did regret that I didn't get to take her to Jardin du Luxembourg, Louvre and Versailles. But there's always next time. We'll always come back to Paris.

When we got to the airport, babygirl was excited to see the plane. She asked "we're going to fly again?", which my husband answered "yes, we're going home". After a long silence, she said "I don't want to go home. I want to go to see the big tower." It was the sentence that gave us a confirmation that she did enjoy the trip. My tips for you, if you travel with a toddler, let him lead the way. Don't force a planned itinerary and visiting targets on him. See what he enjoys, and let him enjoy it the way he wanted to. And bon voyage!

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