Paris in November

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It helped that we missed our first Halloween away by taking a trip to Paris– it’s our first family trip since moving to London. We started with a ride on the Eurostar– while Shea was a little nervous about the idea of travelling underwater in a tunnel, he named this as the highlight of his Day 1 (not the Eiffel Tower, not Sacre Coeur. . .) WP_20131031_002

I didn’t take long after arriving in Paris to draw a few quick comparisons between Paris and London:
1.) subways are a lot cleaner in London than Paris– I don’t think that it’s due to the Paris subway being older, but it definitely reeks and looks more dingy
2.) Women in London and Paris dress equally chic: you don’t see tennis shoes (called ‘trainers’ in London) worn by either
3.) there’s a lot more pan handlers in Paris than in London: while I expect this in any big city, I guess I didn’t notice that there are so few in London until I noticed how many there are in Paris. Where do all the poor people go in London?

Eiffel Tower was our first stop in Paris. Man, I couldn’t believe the long lines. I naively believed that Fall would be like going to Disneyland in January. Wrong!

As iconic as the Eiffel Tower is, you forget that it’s no longer, by a long shot, the tallest in the world. I liked this poster which showed the height of the Tower compared to the tallest skyscrapers in the world. Sadly, the Seattle Space Needle didn’t even feature in the listing.
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Back on the ground, we tried multiple tries to snap a clever shot of us leaning into the camera frame with the Eiffel Tower behind us– we couldn’t manage to get the Tower into the frame, but it was still a nice family shot. IMG_7333.blog

We visited Sacre Coeur (the Basilique), which was just next door when I lived in Paris all those years ago. It was lovely to visit it in the evening when they had just turned on the lights. IMG_7345.blog As we were descending through the winding gardens, we were stopped by a group of young men from Sierra Leone who wanted to weave a friendship bracelet . With wishes of Hakuna Matata (which I thought was hilarious as English is their national language, not Swahili) they were quite nice. The bracelets are actually going to be great mementos for the kids of their trip.

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It’s been neat looking at the Paris from different vantage points– Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Center Pompidou (and tomorrow, the towers of Notre Dame). WP_20131101_012It’s great to appreciate how the Old blends in beautifully with the New, and to see the wide, sweeping esplanades, especially the ones emanating in a star formation of the Arc de Triomphe (which is called Etoile (Star) for this reason). WP_20131101_008 We walked down the Champs des Elysees to hit the Adidas flagship store where Shea picked up a national Spain football jersey and Mei Mei a short sleeved shirt/shorts combination– she promises me she’ll wear this to soccer going forward. While I commend her fashion forward sense, her mini skirts don’t do much to convince her coach that she is serious about football (which is probably her point).

We’ve spent the most time in the Louvre, of all the places we’ve visited so far, not because we can’t tear ourselves away from the art, but because:

  • the line to see the Mona Lisa took about 40min (not the organized, ‘this group, now next group’ manner in which the British would probably do it, but the pushing, sweating crowd mentality WP_20131101_020— the crowd starts ten people deep, but finally you get a picture like this: IMG_7377.blog
  • We took our time looking at the incredible Egyptian antiquities– geez, if this is what they have collected in France– what is left in Egypt?   We saw a Sphinx that guarded a tomb IMG_7392.blog, a human mummy (look at the excruciating detail of the thin strips of cloth wrapped carefully around the head) IMG_7388.blog— I say human because there was only a single human mummy but many, many of animals
  • and because we got lost trying to exit the dang palace.  That place is HUGE.  Filled with priceless sculptures (here is Venus IMG_7382.blog), you forget to look at the palace itself.  I nearly missed the bedroom of King Louis XIV.

We ended with the Centre Pompidou, which I’d never visited when I lived in Paris, but thought the kids would get a kick out of because of the wacky, modernist design (it’s like the EMP in Seattle with architectural instruction as the pipes are colored in the exterior of the building so that visitors can learn about how buildings are put together– water pipes are green, electricity lines are yellow, ventilation shafts are white).

One of the selling points of getting the Paris Museum Pass is that you can supposedly cut the queue since you don’t have to stand in line to buy tickets are each individual museum. WP_20131101_038The line on the right is the one for “Priority pass holders, including Museum Pass holders” while the one on the left is that for the non-ticket holders. Note they are nearly the same length, and note how long they are! Again, so much for visiting during the non-tourist season. 🙂

We queued for another 30min inside to see the IMG_7400.blog special Roy Lichenstein exhibit before we decided that we’d had enough lines for one day. We’ll see about tomorrow!

My favorite part of today was seeing this nice chalk drawing Mei Mei had done in her room– Eiffel Tower with plenty of nice flowers and growing trees. WP_20131101_044

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