Months ago, we booked a long weekend in Paris. As part of his Ironman training, David was going to run the Paris Marathon on the 15th April. Then, due to injury, he was unable to run but we decided to spend the weekend in Paris anyway. It had been a few years since we were last there, and it was a good excuse to be back.
We couldn't quite make our minds up about how to get there and when we finally decided to take the Eurostar, prices had sky-rocketed so we fell back on our original plan to drive there via the Eurotunnel. We were both not very keen on this option because Emily had recently begun being very impatient in the car and we didn't want to have to listen to her moaning for over 3 hours. Still, we didn't want to fly there either, so we decided to risk it.
Turned out we had nothing to worry about. She was perfectly fine getting to Dover, spent the crossing out of the car, and spent the drive from Calais to Paris asleep or blowing us kisses.
We were the last car on board the train so she had ample room to roam.
Once we'd checked in to our hotel, we moved around the furniture in our room (we must be every hotel's favourite guests) to ensure we could actually have a quiet conversation once Emily was asleep. Then we headed out for a stroll down the Champs Élysées and to get some dinner.
This was when reality kicked in. Stupidly, we'd done no "Paris With Toddler" research. Since we'd been before and done all the sights then, and we're not big on much sightseeing anyway - we much prefer to take it easy and just soak up the essence of a place, we figured we'd just chill and let Emily roam around while we do, as we'd do in England. We'd take a few walks, perhaps a boat ride, a spot of shopping, nothing stressful.
It was at this point, looking for a place to have dinner, that we realised that we might be in for an interesting weekend. Most restaurants and brasseries we attempted to have dinner in had no highchairs (and we'd stupidly left our portable booster seat in the hotel room). Emily was looked at as if she was some sort of alien fallen out of the sky. A child in a restaurant?! When we did eventually find somewhere that had a highchair (one without a harness so she spent the entire time climbing out of it), and after I was almost run over by a very rude waiter carrying a tray of empty glasses and got shouted at for being in the way while we waited to be shown to our table, Emily was given stainless steel cutlery, a plate and a glass. And the waiter seemed taken aback when I moved everything away from her.
From where we stood, it seemed like no Parisian had even the slightest concept of an infant. Playgrounds (we found quite a few) include slides, see-saws and monkey bars. Emily loves swings, but there are no swings, anywhere. Signs state that playgrounds are intended for children over four years of age.
Even shopping started out feeling hopeless. In Zara, we tried to get to the first floor. We spotted a lift. Good, this was progress. After what seemed like an eternity waiting for the lift to arrive, it was packed with boxes and clothing rails. There was no way more than one person would fit in there, let alone a buggy. The sales assistant close by looked up, then carried on doing whatever he was doing. We walked out. (We were more successful in other shops, but it was at this point that David looked over to me and, laughing, said "I can actually see the blog post writing itself in your head." He wasn't wrong.)
By the morning of our second day, Emily was bored out of her mind and we were becoming slightly concerned as to how we were going to keep her entertained, and feeling very bad for having brought her all the way there to have no fun whatsoever. I said to David let's find some grass and let her roam around for a while. But there on the grass was a fresh delivery of dog poo. Back to square one.
She was getting increasingly impatient to not be allowed to move around anywhere (remember, she still just crawls!!) until David spotted a sign. There was an Aquarium. We ditched the Eiffel Tower and made a bee line for the aquarium.
I'll tell you all about that in my next post, and I promise it does get more positive after this!
[Read Part II]
This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for reading.