Last Day

After a late night at the Eiffel Tower we slept in on our last day. The night before Peyton lost a tooth and she was visited by the French tooth fairy, Little Mouse!  Little Mouse brought 2 Euros.DSC_3484v2We had a low key morning hanging out at our apartment and after lunch went to the Picasso Museum.  The Picasso Museum in Paris houses the largest collection of Picasso work in the world.  We all learned new things about Picasso (for example, he  liked to paint in nothing but his boxer shorts – we saw the pictures to prove it!) and enjoyed the art.

Then it was on to discover a new park.  It feels a little like this trip was one big park tour!DSC_3534v2

DSC_3539v2And finally, we went our for our last dinner in Paris.  We went to an intimate French restaurant and it was fantastic.  We walked home down Champ-Elysees and and enjoyed the beautiful evening.  It’s hard to believe the trip has come to an end.  We have enjoyed all of the places we have visited and feel like we have gotten to know each other better.  It was an awesome experience and we can’t wait to take another international vacation!DSC_3567v3DSC_3581v2DSC_3586v2

The Worst and the Best

The long awaited day for our trip to Versailles came and we were up early to be there as soon as it opened at 9am.  When we arrived, however, we were told that the workers were on strike and Chateau Versailles would not open any earlier than 10:00 am and maybe not at all.  We had made the trek to Versailles so of course we got in the very long line to wait it out.  Ten o’clock came and went.  Fortunately as time passed people ahead of us gave up so we moved up closer.  The line got longer and longer though while hundreds of people waited for the palace to open.

At 10:30 the gates finally started to open.  At that point all hell broke loose and a mass of people descended on the gates attempting to cut the line.  To make a long story short, there was a lot of pushing, shoving and yelling.  The entry process was a complete disaster and the one security guard positioned at the gate was doing very little to help the situation (and they needed more man power to correct the problem anyway).  We finally made it inside the gates at 11:30 and only after some near fist-fights.  It was ugly.  And there was a second line inside and it only got worse.  People were getting  physical and it was very chaotic.  It’s pretty difficult to explain such mass bad behavior to your children.

At that point the day was tainted.  We toured part of the palace but it was elbow to elbow and since our moods were already pretty off we decided to bail.  While we were there we also heard of the terrible events in Brussels, darkening the mood even more.  After a short visit to the grounds we headed back to Paris.

That night we had planned to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  After dinner we headed out ready to brave the long lines.  To our surprise (and probably because of the bombings in Brussels) the line was very short.  We were quickly at the summit enjoying the beautiful views of Paris!DSC_3441v2DSC_3451v2

The Eiffel Tower was lit up in black, yellow, and red to show solidarity with the people of Belgium.  Though the motivation for the unique lighting was sad it was very cool to see the tower lit up this way.  DSC_3466v2 It was a really long day filled with some of the worst and best experiences of the trip!

Paris!

It’s been a dream of mine to take the girls to Paris.  The Eiffel Tower!  Notre Dame!  The Louvre!  And now here we are in the City of Light.

Our first few days in Paris  were a whirlwind.  One of our very first stops was the Jardin de Tuileries to enjoy the playground.DSC_2971v2

Then we were off to the Arc de Triomphe for a view of the city skyline.DSC_3045v2.jpgAnd of course we couldn’t resist stopping by the Eiffel Tower.DSC_3098v2The Eiffel Tower is soooo pretty at night!DSC_3141v2We visited Saint-Chappelle, a church with incredible stained glass, and it may be our favorite church of the entire trip!  The girls’ reactions  as they walked into the cathedral were priceless.

We took the sewer tour.  The girls were hoping to see rats (a.k.a. Remy).  I can’t recommend this tour.  I was so overcome by the stench I had to walk quickly and couldn’t stop to read any of the information on the history of the sewer.  Yuck!

We also visited Les Catacombes de Paris, a fascinating place where more than 6 million people are buried.  The catacomb started as an underground limestone quarry and was later converted to a burial site when the city had run out of places to bury the dead.

Another highlight of the trip was a tour of Notre Dame.  We climbed all the way up to the bell towers.  It was very loud when they rang every 15 minutes!  We all thoroughly enjoyed  the belfry and seeing the last remaining original bell – all of the others had been melted down to make weapons during the war.DSC_3208v2We could imagine Quasimodo swinging around the Belfry!

The views from the tippy top of the church were unbeatable!DSC_3298v2

DSC_3252v2We also visited the Louvre where the girls took us on a scavenger hunt to find the Mona Lisa.  They studied Leonardo da Vinci at their last art camp and were very excited to see her!

In a much anticipated meal we had crepes for dinner.  The girls were not into it but Matt and I loved both our savory crepes and the sweet ones.FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRender-3

It’s been a great couple days and still a couple more to go!

Disneyland!

There is something for everyone on this trip and Disneyland was strategically planned for the time we thought the girls might have some homesickness.  They are getting homesick and our two day stay in Disneyland, complete with a hotel that had an indoor pool, was a big hit!  It’s no Disney World but Disneyland Paris has some unique rides that we all enjoyed.  Our favorites were Crush’s Coaster, Pirates of the Caribbean and Ratatouille.FullSizeRender-4

We also had some relax and recharge time at the hotel.  We even went to the fish spa!