"Paris is always a good idea" Audrey Hepburn hit the nail on the head with this one.
Being fresh off a terrorist attack (November and we were booked to go 22nd December), its safe to say my excitement about visiting this amazing city had dwindled. I was actually scared. So many around me were cancelling their trips, but others that were there and who I met on Instagram who are expats there assured me it was the safest time to visit. Which I agree, it was.
As soon as we arrived we were confronted by armed soldiers patrolling the streets, which while was a little unsettling at first, was quite comforting. Soldiers were everywhere and we got used to seeing their huge guns everywhere we went.
Driving from the train station to our apartment, I had a few tears in my eyes. This was a place dreams were made of, and I, and my family were here. It was an incredible feeling! My 6 year old sons dream was to see the Eiffel Tower and I will never forget his face when he first got a glimpse. That was worth every single penny in my eyes.
Our apartment at the Residence Charles Floquet was unlike anything I have stayed in before. It was a traditional Parisian style 2 bedroom apartment with kitchen bath and a living room window that would show off this amazing iconic structure in all its glory. Yep, thats our view! Sitting in the living room with a wine, watching the hourly twinkly light show was a nightly pinch myself moment. Just beautiful! If you come to Paris, do yourself a favour and book here, even just for 2 nights like we did. We managed to get it on sale as it can be very pricey, but its well worth it.
For our 10 year wedding anniversary we decided what better way to celebrate than to renew our wedding vows in Paris , with the kids there with us. The ceremony we booked through Viator and took around 2 hours, and the photographer emailed us through around 200 photos. He was fantastic and made us feel very comfortable with the hundreds of people watching on. Defnitley something I am glad we did as we have some absolutely beautiful photos and sharing it with the kids was very special.
Seeing the Louvre for the first time was, well pretty spectacular. Having seen it in so many movies it was pretty cool to be standing right in front of it. I'm not going to lie, I found the actual museum inside extremely boring, but art is just not my thing. Especially when your chasing a boisterous toddler hyped up on sugar (bribery in the line !) through a museum lined with millions of dollars of artwork.
Other places we enjoyed in Paris were the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens (this has a fantastic playground but will cost you a few euro so take coins), Versailles Palace which is around half an hour out of Paris city - the gardens here were spectacular. You can catch the train but we decided to just use a taxi as it was a bit wet that day. We also spent 3 days out at Disneyland but will write that up in a separate section. I could have walked the streets of Paris all day, the coffee shops and patisseries (chocolate crossaints were delish and super cheap) are beautiful and the French people, despite their reputation were so friendly and welcoming. It is one place I cannot wait to go back to.
Transport - We either walked everywhere ( we walked ALOT, even the kids) or used taxis. I am very nervous on public transport with all the terror attacks so decided this wasn't an option I was comfortable with.
Accomodation - We did 2 nights at the above mentioned apartment then airbnb apartment for our other 3 nights. We had a smallish studio apartment with two double beds and kitchen, bathroom and washing machine which was perfect for us. It was a fantastic price and the hosts were very helpful. I recommend checking out airbnb as you can get some great prices which are much cheaper and roomier options than hotels.
Food - when we arrived our taxi driver told us to only eat at places that say BRASSERIE on them as these are better for tourists. We did try a few of these, however we found the normal restaurants just as good. Prices were fairly standard, for 5 of us each night we would be spending around $70-$120AUD for dinner and drinks.
For breakfasts we usually ate crossaints from bakeries which were normally only around $1AUD each, and ate as we walked. One thing we found in France is the coffee is terrible - and most times is in a "shot" size cup with pure straight coffee. Grocery shops had lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which we bought for snacks, aswell as other items like nappies, biscuits, wine etc.
Places I recommend to visit - Louvre, museum entry was around $15 euro for over 18 and the rest are free. I couldn't tell you the best time to go as it seemed to be a huge line at all times, but luckily with a baby in tow they take you straight to a different entrance and bypass the lines.
Luxembourg Palace & Gardens - We just wandered around the outside of the palace and the kids had a great time playing in the little wood like areas. I had no coins on me so they couldn't play in the playground.
Versailles Palace - Beautiful gardens and the palace itself is incredible. You can't take strollers into the palace, so if you have a little one prepare to be chasing them through crowds of people whilst trying to listen to your audio guide.
Champs Elysse - Being Christmas time when we were in Paris, this strip was filled with Christmas stalls, lights, food stands and rides. It was incredible, but so busy. The giant hot dogs there were absolutely delicious. Further up the street were all the upmarket stores (which I didn't bother entering !)
LoveLock Bridge - the old one was removed as the weight of the locks were damaging the bridge but they have built a new one just past the old bridge. You can buy a padlock off the vendors at the bridge for $5 euro.
Take a walk along the river Seine - lots of cafes along the way for coffee (or a shot of coffee)
Arc De Triomphe - defnitley worth a visit
Disneyland - we stayed at the Explorers Hotel which was great for the kids and a 10minute shuttle bus away.
Notre Damn Cathedral - inside this building was breathtaking. It absolutely blows my mind the workmanship and detail put into these buildings!
There are so many other fascinating places and I could write all day on this amazing city, I will defnitley be back to visit Paris one day soon. ! xx