Above Par(is). Midway through our Paris week, we have walked many miles, seen much fabulous art, soaked in the vibe and endured un peu de tween moodiness and brother-on-brother violence. Just a mom’s perspective, but I feel like we’ve given them plenty of liberté, yet they constantly imagine a lack of égalité, leading to an utter lack of fraternité. When this occurs in public, Mama has un peu de trouble not feeling mortified….
That said, they have been troopers. Literally, we’ve trooped many miles around this beautiful city and its sites – with thousands of other tourists. This is where my key tip comes in: the Museum Pass! We bought ours right at the airport, and it has meant ZERO waiting at museums thus far. We cruised by suckers waiting in a two-hour line at the Louvre; I almost felt guilty. There are exceptions; for example, the Eiffel Tower doesn’t take it, so instead I woke up at 2am exactly 90 days ago to get reserved tickets for the top. Other exceptions include Nôtre Dame and Sainte Chapelle, both of which accept the Museum Pass but don’t let you “cut the line.” We are braving both of these notoriously long lines tomorrow.
The boys have really done quite well with art museums so far. On Sunday, they were surprisingly into the Louvre (thank you, Rick Riordan!), but don’t kid yourselves – we pretty much stuck to the Greatest Hits (Mona, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and Liberty Leading the People), taking note of assorted other awesomeness as we went by. We then dashed (well ok, trekked across the hot, dusty Tuileries for what seemed like hours) into the Orangerie. One of my favorite places, it is completely designed to showcase Monet’s massive and gorgeously peaceful Water Lilies, which go continuously all around an oval room. Unfortunately, the male Hatches didn’t seem to have the same appreciation (“uh, yeah, Mom, cool; can we go now?”). I made them linger an extra three minutes to show them who was really in charge. The reward for so much suffering was a surprisingly scary and fun amusement park swing ride in the Tuileries, yielding terrific views from high above. We hadn’t even really planned on doing all that on our first day, but by the end, we had walked about six miles. Whew.
A fun aspect of the week has been visiting with two different sets of American friends who were in Paris this week. We had dinner with one set the night of our arrival and then yesterday met PapaHatch’s college art history professor at the Centre Pompidou. Her delightful French husband met us for dinner. My children, unfortunately, were not quite as delightful. Ahem. They actually did enjoy themselves at the modern and contemporary art museum; they described it as “kid-friendly.” They were just having the mid-point-of-trip tireds. I get it.
Today was the big Tour Eiffel day… really fun for all of us, as none of us had ever been to the very top. The multiple never-ending (even with tickets!) elevator lines were bearable just because of the thrill of being up high. Even my cynical nine year old, Ernest, said it lived up to his expectations. He REALLY loved the glass floor on the “second” floor, goofing around above the snaking lines of the poor saps who didn’t have advance tickets.
Aside from the obvious, we had several other highlights from today: Fritz HAD to have a Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) soccer jersey (let’s just say that traipsing around the Champs Elysée was NOT a highlight for me… but it made him really happy), both boys LOVED the cool (but weirdly controlled, timed, and staff-supervised) playground at Les Halles, and best of all, we adults pulled off the ultimate in Romantic Paris clichés: wine and charcuterie on the banks of the Seine. Our boys were safely tucked away in our Île St. Louis apartment, delighting in their well-deserved bit of screen time, while we delighted in some Médoc and treats from the treasure of a fromagerie around the corner. It was just lovely.