My Mom and S-Dad arrived from the U.S. on Friday the 3rd. They managed to make their connecting flight from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand even though their first flight got into Paris late. However, the airport didn’t have ANY of their luggage when they arrived, but they delivered it that night. Mom and Mike wanted to come to France in May so they could come to Brooklyn’s birthday party, but they were both too sick to go. Mike had MAJOR jetlag with nausea and mom was a little jetlagged and stayed home to take care of Mike. Note for the future: Never travel halfway around the world and expect to go somewhere the next day. On Sunday we went to the weekly Flea Market right beside our apartment. Mom got a really neat small table that we will bring back to her when we move back to the U.S. and we got two old French chairs for us. They both are supposed to be from the 1800’s, but we have no idea if they really are or not. They probably aren’t, they knew we were just dumb Americans! Later, we took Brooklyn to the park in her new Mini Cooper she got for her birthday from us. She lasted about a block before Michael had to take it back home and get her Hello Kitty motorcycle. We also wandered around Clermont and took Mike to eat at McDonalds’ so he could get a Royale (Quarter Pounder in the U.S.).
We left for Paris on Monday and took the train from Clermont-Ferrand to Paris. From the Paris train station we took the metro to the apartment we rented for three nights. The rental agent that we booked the apartment with said Carla Sarkozy (The last French President’s wife) lives in that area and we might see her, but we didn’t. The area was very nice, quiet, and safe. The area was really beautiful because all the buildings seem to have the beautiful French architecture. The apartment was really neat and had beautiful French furniture. It was on the 2nd floor of a house that a family lives in. It was two big rooms, a bathroom, and the smallest kitchen I have ever seen. The beds were true French beds and were short and narrow. When my head was on the pillow, my feet would touch the bottom of the bed so I know poor Michael and Mike were uncomfortable. They also only had a fitted sheet and a duck down duvet. No flat sheet and those duvets were hot! I’d wake up drenched in sweat but when I would take off the duvet I would be too cold because I was sweaty and my pajamas were soaked. How do the French do it?
We don’t have many pictures at the Eiffel Tower because we had professional pictures done while we were there and it will be about two weeks before we get them back. We had professional pictures taken at the Eiffel Tower, the outside of the Louvre, and Alexandria Bridge. While we were at the bridge, Poland’s President arrived by helicopter and they had lots of men on horseback in fancy riding clothes (maybe a sort of military?) riding through the streets like a parade. On this day, we also went and saw the Arc de Triomphe. After that we ate at a neat little French restaurant next to the Arc de Triomphe and Mike and Michael ordered cheeseburgers that they said were REALLY good even for American standards (It’s hard to find a good burger in France. McDonald’s doesn’t count.) Mom and I had steaks and ice cream in éclairs. Yum!
The next day we spent the morning at the Louvre. We probably spent about 4 hours there, but you need about a week to be able to see everything since the Louvre is 652,000 square feet. The Louvre is also beautiful with painted ceilings and fancy molding and light fixtures. We made sure we saw the popular things like the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, and the Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory), and my favorite painting, The Consecration of Napoleon that is huge and is just so beautiful. The detail of the fur on the girl’s dress is amazing and I think I could stare at it all day long. The Mona Lisa is smaller than we imagined and tons of people wait in line to see this one. After we saw these, we just wandered around until we felt like we had seen enough. Next, we shopped in the stores at the Louvre and Michael and Mike bought us each a Pandora bracelet for Mother’s Day. Mine is the “Fairy Tale” theme and Mom is going with a pink and flowers theme. Have I mentioned I have the best husband ever? And how perfect is the Fairy Tale them for me? I could never decide on a bracelet and beads and when I saw the huge poster they had up in their store I knew it was for me! After our Pandora experience, we had to use the restroom and the only one nearby cost $1.50 and said it was “The world’s cleanest restrooms.” They would clean and mop the stall after each customer. It was very clean, but I still think it is silly to have to pay for a bathroom at the museum. There were bathrooms at the entrance of the Louvre and a few in the Louvre but they were too far away (Remember 652,000 square feet). Next we walked along the Seine River and went and saw the Notre Dame Cathedral, where a bread festival was going on. They set up a grain sandbox for the kids’ to play in and we, of course, munched on lots of different pastries. Beside Notre Dame, a man had taught the birds to eat cookies out of your hand and Brooklyn and I fed the birds, which she really enjoyed. Next, we walked through a huge park called Jardin du Luxembourg. It is the second largest park in Paris and the French Senate is housed in the humongous, beautiful building. There we strolled among the beautiful statues and flowers and let Brooklyn chase the pigeons and ride the carousel. Mom and Mike were amazed at the number of people at the park just sitting and talking and taking in the scenery. The French are very much into conversation with friends and enjoying life. Then we went and saw the Pantheon and finally went home to eat and go to bed! We ate at a Thai restaurant that was really good!
The funniest part about Paris was all the places Brooklyn got to use the bathroom. It is ridiculous that there aren’t more restrooms. When a toddler has to pee, it means now! When we are in the subway there is no way to carry her back up the stairs and down all the hallways to the street level in time. And even if we could, you probably can’t find a restroom and we would have to buy metro tickets again. So I hope it isn’t illegal, because Brooklyn got to pee in a drain by the subway tracks, while we were waiting on the train and in a hallway on our way up from the Subway (that already had pee in it and smelled awful!), and on many sidewalks in Paris. Awful I know, but what else could we do? I’m very glad we don’t live in Paris because it is very difficult taking Brooklyn’s strollers up and down the many stairs to the Subway. It also doesn’t fit through the turn-styles. They have doors for strollers, but can only be opened if a subway worker is there.
The train ride back to Clermont ended up being very eventful. We had to take a Bullet train (Very fast train) to another city, not in the direction of Clermont-Ferrand. When we got there we realized they were working on the tracks so we had to take a bus back to Clermont-Ferrand. Ughhh…my least favorite way to travel is by bus. Luckily, they let me and Brooklyn on the bus first so we all got front seats which was nice, especially for Brooklyn to be able to look out the window. The bus still had to make all the stops like the train so there were about 10 stops and of course ours was the last one. It was kind of nice in a way though, since we all got to see lots of French towns and countryside. While Brooklyn was sleeping on Michael’s lap, she peed on him, A LOT! His pants and the seat were soaked! Just after this happened we had a stop and someone got on the bus and asked Michael for his seat because she got motion sickness and he had to tell her no. She surely thought he was mean, but he didn’t want to say that Brooklyn had peed in the seat! And all of this happened when we still had two hours to go! So Brooklyn sat on my lap the rest of the way back. When we got back it was raining so we stood in the rain while we waited for the bus and had to walk the 10 minutes home in the rain because we didn’t want to wait 30 minutes for the tram. So after we all took a hot shower and ate a pizza we were all happy again!
Today was our rest day because we were exhausted from all the walking and traveling we have been doing. I am used to the walking now, but all the walking around Paris made my calves hurt. My mom and I did a little shopping near the square in Clermont, we ate lunch at the Venetian, an Italian restaurant. We got the Formule Midi Menu which was an appetizer (salad and mini-quiche), meal (veal marsala), and dessert (Mom got a chocolate cake with cream and I got a Pear Sundae, which is my new favorite dessert), and we went to the grocery store. And wouldn’t you know that I forgot the one thing I went for, chicken!