Paris Travel Journal: Photo Diary I

In my previous post I shared all about our trip to Paris that we took at the end of May. I gave more of an overview of my thoughts on the trip, but this post (and the next one) will be more of a photo journal of what we did each day. It’s quite picture heavy, just a fair warning. Hope you enjoy!

DAY 1: Bastille & Place des Vosges

Our flight landed at 12pm, which turns out to be the sweet spot for beating jet lag. Arthur slept on the plane, and we were able to keep him awake until the sun went down at 10:30pm. It was easy on us, too, because we only had to keep ourselves awake for about 10 hours (versus trying to stay awake from 7am until 10pm!).

We could have navigated closer to our lodging, but we wanted to come out at our old metro stop for old time’s sake. We were wide-eyed and couldn’t believe we were back in our city!

Arthur was fascinated by everything around him! Of course Whit had to make an immediate stop for the pastries he’s literally been dreaming about since we left.

After dropping off our suitcases, we took a leisurely walk to Coulée Verte René-Dumont, which is the train tracks turned walking path that inspired the NYC High Line. There was a slight chill in the breeze and the air felt fresh, like many a day in Paris that we were used to!

We had more time to kill and not much on our agenda, so we walked around Bastille, jotted down to the Seine, and ended up at the south end of Canal St Martin.

Arthur fell asleep on our walk, which blew my mind because he NEVER sleeps in his stroller at home. Praise hands!

Back near the Bastille monument, we wanted something quick for dinner and funnily enough both suggested grabbing Boca Mexa, our favorite Mexican restaurant. This location was new to us but we liked the hole-in-the-wall vibe the cave-like walls gave off. I enjoyed listening to the couple talking next to us and trying to figure out if their accent was British or Australian (or one of each?). We were going to grab dinner to go, but eating in a restaurant was a good idea so we could rest, feed Arthur, go to the bathroom, etc.

We grabbed some dessert from a couple different bakeries (#parislife), and Whit took me to the best entrance to Place des Vosges. I was happy to check off another site on my list that was new to me.

After visiting Place des Vosges, I couldn’t believe I had never spent time there before! It’s just to the east of where most of my mental map of Paris lies, but brings a whole other level of sophistication than many of the other parks in the city. It feels less relaxed and more “wear your Sunday best.” One of the apartments was featured on a show we love about French real estate (Parisian Agency). It would be classy as heck to live there.

Clearly, we started our trip off with a bang. Springtime in Paris is the best time of the year for sunsets, and the first night was the best. I lamented not having a “real” camera with me, but the sorbet skies will be forever etched in my memory.

DAY 2: Le Marais and Sunset Picnic by the Seine

By day 2, we were settling back into apartment life. We were SO THANKFUL for this elevator so we could easily take Arthur up and down the six flights of stairs. Whit, on the other hand, was excited to take the stairs (almost everything we do in Orlando is on the ground level, ha).

Arthur loves our cat, and he freaked out a little at seeing all these cats in the window of the cat cafe. We’ll have to remember to take him to one when he’s a little older.

Wandering in the north-east edge of the Marais, bordering on the Bastille neighborhood, we stumbled upon this beautiful cathedral smack in the middle of the city. A new park was built in front of it just a few years ago, and on this sunny day it was filled with twenty- and thirty-somethings meeting up with friends on their lunch break.

We spent a good amount of time checking off one of the biggest things on my list – a shopping spree at Moulin Roty, the adorable children’s store that makes me wish I was a kid again. It’s cute and charming in the most French way. My friend told me that if you look around at Parisian kids in their strollers, they almost all have a doudou (lovey) from here.

We had some birthday money for Arthur to spend from his grandparents, and we bought him a couple things as well. I literally want EVERYTHING in this store, haha. I’m very happy with what we decided on! (A truck and some wooden people, a stuffed animal, and a sleep sack).

Then we had a nice lunch at a creperie I had been dying to try in the Marais, called Breizh. It’s chic and casual, and very trendy. We sat inside the restaurant right next to an open wall opening up to the sidewalk. We very quickly realized that finding seating in Paris with Arthur would be tricky.

Tables are always TINY (think round tables that are about the width of a high-top cocktail table) and squished almost on top of your neighbors. We had figured we would put Arthur in a roll-up fabric high chair that straps onto any chair… but with 2 adults, we would always get seated at a 2-seater. It makes sense that we wouldn’t want to take up ALL the room if we took a 4-person table plus had his high chair next to the table too, just make it trickier than I anticipated.

Anyways, the set-up at this restaurant worked well because we could park his stroller right next to our table, but technically it was on the sidewalk so it didn’t take up room in the restaurant.

There happened to be a park right across the street, which was perfect for when Arthur started getting restless at the end of the meal. (One of us may have also run over there to do a diaper change before we got our food – shh!) There were plenty of kids in the park, including a pair of mom friends with their babies and toddlers, so that made us less crazy for having a little guy in such a stylish neighborhood. As we rounded the corner, we passed the elementary school, which had just let out for the day, so we dreamed a little bit about being a little family in this charming quartier!

The weather wasn’t looking impeccable, but we didn’t want to waste any time getting to one of our most anticipated activities – a casual picnic and bottle of wine on the Seine at sunset! As a couple, this was our favorite date night when we lived in Paris.

Also, one of the ways we had decided to keep costs down on our vacation was to eat one restaurant meal per day and keep the rest low key. That really did help us save money in the end. The food for this picnic was finished off later in the week for snacks or other picnics.

This was *our* spot!! They covered up the grassy area we used to picnic on, so our seating area was a little grungy, but this spot has the best people watching, views of the Eiffel Tower and stately bridges, and wasn’t too far to walk to.

Arthur and his long-awaited first taste of a French baguette. The verdict? 10/10! He was bouncing and yelping and cooing he loved it so much. It made his dad’s heart proud.

DAY 3

Our first two days had been so laid back and gone so well, and we were starting to get more energy back from not sleeping on the plane the first night combined with figuring out a good groove for taking care of a baby AND navigating a city, that by day 3 we started to get more ambitious about how much we could do.

We walked all the way from Bastille to Arenes de Lutece, a Roman amphitheater from the first century that had been on my list the summer before we moved. This was much further than we had walked thus far, but the weather was beautiful and we (I mean I) didn’t want to relinquish the laid-back pace we had been going the previous days, stopping to take pictures and stroll down streets we hadn’t been down before.

The route we chose took us around the back of the islands in the middle of the Seine, and straight through Ile-St-Louis, which was the first time I had ever explored the island. Whit gave up on us keeping a fast pace and let us amble a bit and take lots of photos, since I finally had my camera with me AND the light was good. But our slow pace combined with all the walking caught up to us later in the day.

But see?? How could you not just be in AWE of the lighting on these historic buildings!!

On the corner where the two islands meet, we grabbed a table overlooking the Seine and the back of Notre Dame. This is one of the most touristy spots imaginable, but I always envied the people sitting here because you’re right in the middle of everything happening in Paris! It’s probably the best cafe spot for people watching if you ask me.

I do love seeing other tourists go by, wondering if they know where they’re going and how much internally they’re dying of joy being in the heart of Paris! And there are plenty of locals you see, too, with their look of I’m-on-my-way but with a contentedness of knowing they’re in a storybook location, too.

Our journey continued on the left bank, with the Latin quarter to our left, Notre Dame to the right, and the bouquinistes with their vintage treasures straight ahead.

Taking a left and heading south (but up a hill, which confused me greatly! haha), we made a stop by the steps Gil gets picked up from in Midnight in Paris. A little cheesy, and we’d been there before, but that movie is even more nostalgic for us after living there (that’s sort of meta… since the movie is about nostalgia… I digress). And they were on the way, so there!

We took a peek at the Pantheon which is just around the corner, and made a good decision not to buy tickets to go in. Whit had done it before and I knew we were running low on time. And here’s where one part of our trip didn’t quite live up to our expectations. Realistically, we had wanted to go to the Louvre and to one other museum, which we did accomplish. But after the first couple of days we thought we might be able to do more than that. Yes we had Arthur with us, but he was doing great in the stroller, so we figured strolling through museums would be a nice way to pass the time.

However, our other ambitions and Arthur’s schedule didn’t line up with actually being NEAR a museum that we wanted to at a point in the day when we had TIME to go in. So, while we had thought we might get the Paris museum pass and museum hop each day, it turned out that buying it would have been a big mistake, because we wouldn’t have ended up using it. We *almost* bought the pass to use for the Pantheon, and I’m so glad we didn’t because we struggled to make it to the 2 museums we actually went to.

Our theme of having Arthur with us on the trip was to hold things loosely, so fortunately we leaned in to the looseness of our schedule and let flexibility guide us in what we did.

As I mentioned, Arenes de Lutece was our goal. Stopping at parks where Arthur could cruise and crawl, I could nurse him, and we could rest was part of our plan for taking a baby to a big city. Fortunately the parks are plentiful. But if you make the mistake like we did of taking a long time to GET to the parks, then by the time you get there, everyone will be exhausted and needy. So we did finally make it to the ancient ruins, which was very cool – it’s a modern-day park, with kids playing soccer in the arena and families celebrating birthdays in the stands, but we were tired and cranky when we finally sat down.

Note for parents: It looks cute, but it actually wasn’t stroller friendly at all, surprise surprise – I don’t think the Romans had strollers ;). We carried the stroller up a windy stone staircase that I was a little nervous about.

We took a bus back to our friend’s apartment we had been staying at, which was the winning move of the day, but then we had to transfer our belongings to the Airbnb we were staying at for the rest of the week. This was, in a word, brutal. We were on a time crunch because we were meeting up with friends for dinner, and we were feeling exhausted from the day already. In the end, it was worth it to be able to stay a couple extra days from the money we saved, but not having to move everything (with a baby) would have been way easier.

After getting the key, Whit carried our luggage up while I nursed Arthur, and then we all had a short rest. Arthur clearly needed this nap as he didn’t wake up after I had been holding him to sleep and then set him down haha.

In the evening, we skipped back to our old neighborhood and met up with friends at one of our favorite restaurants. It was great to catch up with our friends in person and made us feel like we were just doing daily life again. We kept imagining doing life there now but with a baby ! But man, the Airbnb apartment would not be a bad place to live. It had a nice-sized, clean bedroom, lots of natural light, a balcony with a fantastic view, all in what I would consider to be the best location in Paris. *Sigh.*

After dinner we walked around and found ice cream. I was wearing Arthur which was a big mistake because he kept leaning backwards and stealing mine!!

Part II coming soon!

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