a day out in Paris

We have been to Paris a lot. Especially me, back in my young and single days. So we are very familiar with your typical sites – Eiffel Tour, Notre-Dame, Sacre Coeur, Louvre, etc. They are awesome sites, and they never get old, but when you’re traveling with young kids, seeing the same thing trip after trip does get a little old. Especially since, whereas J and I could spend days in the Louvre and never get bored, the kids are more likely to knock over Winged Victory that to appreciate her. So this time we decided to explore a bit further afield, and visit the area around the Jardin des Plantes.

We left the house for the station at 8AM. The train to Paris takes about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Harry is never happier than when on a train.

After arriving in Paris, we hit the streets. We decided not to take the metro, as we brought the stroller for Harry, and metros and strollers are an awkward combination. This was a decision we were later to regret. I’ll spare you the details, but in short, we greatly underestimated the distance from Gare du Nord to the Jardin des Plantes. And we got turned around and probably walked an extra mile or so than was necessary. We stopped a number of times en-route to give the kids, (and us) a break — Harry from the stroller, and us from the constant plodding. Did I mention it was hot? It was hot.

The boys burning off some energy in one of Paris' many parks.

Long before arriving at our destination, we were all starving. We hunted for an acceptable (read: veg-friendly) restaurant and finally gave up and picked a place at random. Ironically, after ordering our decidedly non-vegetarian meal, we looked out the window and saw an Italian place on the next corner. And once we were on the move again, we encounter a Korean restaurant just a couple blocks away. My husband loves Korean. Next time, next time.

The Grande Galerie de l'évolution, inside The Jardin des Plantes.

We finally arrived in the Jardin des Plantes. We opted not to enter the museum sections – I think all of us would enjoy the Grande Galerie de l’évolution. But by now we were all hot and sweaty and exhausted: attention spans would not have been at their best. We wandered the gardens instead, including a labyrinth to the top of a hill.

Inside the Jardin des Plantes. Look! A nearly full body shot of me - and I'm smiling! Liam is squinting into the evil-bright Parisian sun.

Harry catching a free ride from Jesse in the Jardin des Plantes.

After resting on a well-shaded bench for as long as the boys would allow, we took off to track down the Pantheon. Luckily, this was a relatively easy find. We really wanted to see Foucault’s Pendulum, which resides inside.

My man of learning and science, outside the Pantheon. That's the hero shot.

Liam, goofing off on the steps of the Pantheon, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Harry was not impressed at the grandeur around him.

Detail of the columns on the Pantheon.

And another angle.

After the Pantheon, we made our way to Luxembourg Gardens for the boys to let off yet more steam. Where do they find all this energy? No pictures from this park, as we’ve been here so many times. The hotel we usually stay in while in Paris is just around the block. I found myself wishing we’d booked a night, so we could go back to the hotel and get a rest!

From here, we made our way back to the Ile St. Louis with one objective — the best ice cream in the world. Supposedly. We decided that we’d have to test that statement for ourselves. As the line to the actual Bertillon stretched down the block, we went to the brasserie on the corner that served the same ice cream. Two scoops for 9 euro — that’s about $11.25. Yeesh. We ordered two two-scoops — I split with Harry and Jesse split with Liam. People. These we not scoops. These were melon-baller size balls of ice cream. I think we got ripped off. But, umm, I actually do think this is the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Better, I dare say, than the gelato in Italy. I may have to have Jesse take me there next so I can do a comparison. After all, it’s been a few years.

After the ice cream we decided to start heading back to the station. We found ourself in the middle of a little drama in the seedier section of town you have to pass through to get to the station. It didn’t involve us, of course; it was just a neighborhood brawl playing out while we were passing through. Still, very uncomfortable. I don’t like having my kids anywhere there’s potential violence. Luckily, the situation diffused itself and we made it to the station without incident.

Back on the train, Liam took a few pictures to finish documenting the day.

Self-portrait. As you can see, Liam is very happy to be on the train and headed home.

As am I! Me, sans makeup, after having walked around Paris for nearly ten hours. Not bad, actually!

Harry? He's just happy to be back on the train!