Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Kids' First International Trip: Paris, Part 1

When we found out that Drew was going to be speaking at a conference through his work in London, we decided that would be the perfect opportunity for our family to visit Europe together.  The last time that Drew and I were in Europe, was on our honeymoon in Switzerland.  I can't believe that was 10 years ago! Switzerland is by far my favorite place I have visited in the world so far.  We were so excited to visit Europe again, but this time with our kiddos.  We found out that Norwegian Airlines offers direct flights from Austin to London at very reasonable rates (less than even traveling to a lot of places in the US.).  Also knowing that Drew's flight would be covered by his company, his food would be paid for and the hotel stay would be covered as well, it would be a great time for us to go expense-wise.  When we were researching travel in Europe, we discovered that flights from London to other parts of Europe were extremely cheap.  In addition, children flights are less expensive than adult flights in Europe.  After we found this out, we decided that we would fly to London about a week early and then fly from there to Paris.  We would spend our 10th wedding anniversary in Paris!  Dreamy, right?  So we booked our flights from Austin to London, where we would immediately catch a short little flight to Paris.  We booked our stay in Paris from June 13-18, and then scheduled a train ride back to London, staying until the 23rd before finally flying back to Austin.  Drew actually had more work to do in Madrid, Spain after London, so I would be flying home by myself with the kids while he traveled on to Madrid.   

Getting Passports for the Kids:
Luke was 8.5 during our visit and Abbey was 6.5 during our visit.  Our kids are used to lots of walking and hiking so we weren't concerned that all of the city walking would be too much for them.  Getting their passports was easy peasy.  For those of you in Austin, I highly recommend getting your passports at the University of Texas International Office.  We arrived around 9am on a weekday morning and only had to wait a few minutes before being called back to begin the process.  The whole process only took us about 30 minutes and we were donee.  Drew paid extra to expedite his passport renewal but we didn't.  We got our sent off a couple of days after him and yet ours came in the mail only a few days after his expedited passport.  In total it took about 3-4 weeks to receive ours after visiting the International Office.

Our First International Flight with the Kids:
Our flight on Norwegian departed Austin at 4:15pm and we arrived in London at 7:20am the next day.  We really hoped that the kids would sleep on the airplane, but unfortunately that didn't happen.  They were so excited for the trip, that they were riding on a huge plane and that they could watch whatever movie they wanted on the seat in front of them.  When we arrived in London at 7:20am, it was only 1:20am in Austin.  Surprisingly though, the kids showed no signs of being tired.  It affected us adults more.   We grabbed some breakfast and then caught a short little 30-45 minute flight to Paris.

We stayed at the Hostel, Le Montclair Montmartre, which was perfect for our family during our stay in Paris. The private family room that we stayed in had a separate room (with a doorway but no door) for the kids, which included a set of bunk beds and even their own little sink. Our bed was in a separate room that was connected and included a queen bed. Our little "suite" also had it's own bathroom with a shower. The hostel cost us less than $100/night and the location could not be beat.

We loved staying in Montmartre! It's a very artsy community and has gorgeous streets and buildings, with cute little shops, markets and delicious food. Montmartre is the highest area of Paris, so there are great views of the city here and lots of steep hills. The first night we were there, we enjoyed some absolutely delicious pizza near Sacre Coeur.
‘Sacré-Cœur’ means ‘Sacred-Heart’ in English and is a reference to the heart of Jesus, which is the representation of his divine love for humanity

...Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at .

Sacré-Cœur’ means ‘Sacred-Heart’ in English and is a reference to the heart of Jesus, which is the representation of his divine love for humanity.

...Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at .
After dinner, we walked up to Sacre Coeur to take in the beautiful sunset on the hill above the City. We also explored the inside of Sacre Coeur.  Sacre Coeur means "Sacred Heart" in English and is a reference to the heart of Jesus, which is a representation of His divine love for humanity.  We climbed 300 steps to visit this beauty.
Sacré-Cœur’ means ‘Sacred-Heart’ in English and is a reference to the heart of Jesus, which is the representation of his divine love for humanity

...Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at .
Sacré-Cœur’ means ‘Sacred-Heart’ in English and is a reference to the heart of Jesus, which is the representation of his divine love for humanity

...Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at .

Sacre Coeur on the hill in the Montmartre area of Paris
We learned the subway system very quickly.  Near the subway entrances there were often little carousels.  It was so whimsical.  Also, there were some very artistic subway signs at the entrances.  We found out very quickly that riding the subway system in Paris involved climbing and descending many, many stairs.  No wonder most Parisians seemed so fit!  We averaged 30,000 steps a day in the city--and many floors as well!

The next day was our actual 10th wedding anniversary and first on our agenda for the day was to visit the Eiffel Tower.  Y'all--the Eiffel Tower was way more impressive than I thought it was going to be.  No matter what angle we viewed it from any part of the city, it always looked so cool!

Here is a photo from underneath the Eiffel Tower, taken while we were waiting for our turn to travel up into it.

 Here we are from on the 2nd level of the tower.  There were great views of the city from there.

We even found a place to kiss on our anniversary up on the 2nd floor!

Also on the second floor of the Eiffel tower were some cute shops with gifts, as well as a bakery.  Outside the bakery Luke found an Eiffel tower made of macaroons.  The kids were super excited to try their first macaroon, but we encouraged them to wait to get one at a cute little Paris bakery, rather than at the touristy cafe in the Eiffel Tower.


More photos of the Eiffel tower from different angles.  Sorry--we just couldn't get enough of it--it was just so cool and photos don't do it justice.


Happy Anniversary!

After visiting the Eiffel Tower, we crossed a bridge where lots of love locks had been placed.  Here, lovers place their lock (sometimes with a message on it) and then they toss the key into the River.

We grabbed some crepes for lunch near the Eiffel Tower and then headed to the walk along the River Seine, play at the Tuileries Garden and explored the outside of the Louvre.


For dinner, we enjoyed french onion soup (apparently a must when you visit Paris) and then we checked out Notre Dame.

Notice in this photo that Luke (in the top) is eating a ham baguette.  Baguettes are very popular in Paris.   Every day at lunchtime, you will see locals walking around with a huge baguette in their hand-that's their lunch.  Most often, it doesn't even have anything else in it---just the bread.  Luke and Abbey absolutely loved having all the bread each day.  They really enjoyed the ham baguettes, since we don't eat ham at home.
This is Drew's salad.  We shared it and the soup.
Just in case we didn't get enough bread with the ham baguettes for Luke and Abbey, they brought more.  :-)
Outside Notre Dame
Inside Notre Dame
It was very impressive.


It was being renovated in some areas.
On our way back to our hostel, we stopped by a bakery, thinking it would be a good idea to enjoy some chocolate on our anniversary.  We ended up not getting anything, but enjoyed looking at all the yummy pastries.
Speaking of pastries, we began the next morning with our favorite spot for breakfast--Pain Pain in Montmartre.  Oh. My. Goodness.  This place is amazing.  I looked forward to breakfast each morning thanks to this place.  Pain Pain means "bread bread" in French.

Each morning we enjoyed freshly squeezed orange juice, and a couple of favorite pastries (that we just couldn't resist missing) and a couple of new ones to try.  As I am typing this blog post, I am literally salivating thinking of these amazing pastries. I have truly never had anything like them in the United States.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, where I continue to document our fun trip to Paris.  After breakfast, we rode a train to Versailles to check out the Opulent Chateau Versailles.  Check out the next post to read all about it!