We were able to go to Paris for a week long vacation in January, and it was such a blast!
This trip celebrated a myriad of things: Kyler's graduation from his JD-MBA last year, his passing of the Utah Bar last March, our graduating DEBT FREE (🎉) and our 5 years of marriage!
We took our two young children (Henry age 2 and Rosemary age 7 months) and it went much better than I could have hoped. (I'll have a blog post specifically about traveling with young kids in the near future so stay tuned.) So many people act like traveling with kids is the worst, but for us it was a fun time! Not necessarily relaxing per se, but who goes to Paris to relax?! :)
Our trip started with an early flight from Salt Lake City to LA, California at 7am. This meant we were up by 3:30am to do last minute packing and to make sure we were at the airport with enough time. We landed in LA around 8:30am and our flight to France wasn't scheduled to leave until 8pm that night, so we had a loooonnng day ahead of us.
We rented a mini van at a nearby location from the airport and went exploring! We ate at In & Out burger and then walked all along the Santa Monica Pier and played at the beach. Rose got some little naps here and there in the double stroller and both kids slept a bit in the car. Kyler and I were pretty tired though with having only slept a few hours the night before. Then our flight was delayed until 11:30pm, so that was a bit rough. However, we just watched some shows on Kyler's iPad and the kids just played and laughed together so it worked out great. Our flight to France was 10 1/2 hours. Luckily the kids slept amazingly on the flight and Kyler and I were able to get some sleep as well! I was sitting next to the aisle and decided that if I wanted rest I had to forego caring how I looked while asleep (I'm unfortunately a "mouth open and drooling" sleeper 🙈) and I was able to get about 6 hours. The flight also had movies available, so that was very nice!
When we landed it was 5 pm France time which felt a little funny since it would have been 9 am Utah time! But since we hadn't gotten much sleep the previous two nights, we fell asleep easily once we got to our Airbnb. To get there from the airport we used the metro. We used that and buses to get around for the whole trip and it worked out great!
The next morning (basically every single morning of our trip 🙈) Kyler got us some delicious pastries from a local bakery and we set out to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Next we set off to see the Eiffel Tower! I don't think I even realized how much I wanted to see it until it was standing in front of me. I literally felt butterflies. We grabbed some delicious crepes and ate them at a park right next to the Eiffel Tower. We then rode a tram up to the middle section (any higher was closed for construction) and looked out over the city. It was beautiful! We then took a boat tour on the La Seine river and heard some history about the various buildings and areas of the city and got to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night. It was truly beautiful. After night fall at every hour, for about 5 minutes, the Eiffel Tower would sparkle nonstop- it was so magnificent! I took pictures but it doesn't come close to how it looked in person.
The next day I hadn't gotten to sleep much so after some more yummy pastries I took a long nap while Kyler took the kids to the Sacre Coeur. When they came back we got some dinner and then tried to go to bed early.
The next day we went to Versailles to see the Palace and it's gardens! It was so beautiful there, I can only imagine what it looks like in warmer weather! It was much cleaner and less hectic than the city so it was a nice change of scene. Afterwards we went to see Notre Dame and we watched our Stake Conference while sitting on a bench next to the Lock bridge. We were bummed to miss out on stake conference so it was nice to be able to stream some of it while we were away!
The next day we went to the Louvre, an amazingly huge museum, and we had fun looking at so many beautiful pieces of historic art. We even got to see the Mona Lisa which was pretty wonderful! After the Louvre we saw the Arc de Triomphe and then went to get some delicious gelato. My only regret for this whole trip is that I didn't eat near enough gelato! We then went back to Notre Dame. We hadn't been able to go inside the previous night so it was nice to get through the doors and see the beautiful architecture within! There was a woman singing while we walked around and the acoustics were amazing. It's truly mind blowing what talents people possess! We then ate at a delicious restaurant across the street and the waiter there was so incredibly kind and accommodating with our massive double stroller. The food was delcious and then we naturally had to get some more gelato before heading home.
Our last full day in France we headed to Normandy. We went to a museum there but unfortunately didn't have near as much time as we'd hoped to look around before we had to catch our bus back to Paris. It was still a fun little adventure though! It was also funny to see that their perception of World War 2 and the Cold War was quite a bit different than ours in the States! I don't think they think too highly of us Americans 😂
The following day we packed up, cleaned up after ourselves from our Airbnb and then headed off to the airport! This flight was harder than the one to France because we were leaving at 3pm France time, so our kids were awake for the entire 10 1/2 hour flight. Rose slept for maybe an hour total. We were all so tired! We landed in LA at 1 am France time but 5pm LA time so we got some dinner and waited for our last flight home to Salt Lake City. Once we boarded our flight, they had to do some maintanaince which delayed us about 45 minutes. At that point we hadn't slept in about 30 hours so we were dying. Luckily Kyler and Rose were able to sleep almost the whole time on the last plane which was nice! Poor Rose is used to sleeping 16-18 hours a day and she had no where near that amount on this trip. Then our pilot flew a little faster so we ended up landing when we should have originally, but now our gate was occupied by another plane so we had to wait an additional 45 minutes until we could get off. Poor Henry was dead tired as well and just started wailing for about the last half hour of our time on the plane. He woke up Rose and she joined in. Besides that last half hour everything went so well, but we were so glad to finally get off of that plane!
We then found our car, drove home and rolled into bed around 1 am.
It was an exhausting and fast paced trip but I'm so incredibly glad we were able to go! I hope I can be there again one day, perhaps in the Spring or Summer! We really enjoyed staying in one place for the whole week instead of trying to go to neighboring countries. It was nice to take our time and really enjoy our time in Paris without feeling too rushed. Even though it was winter we felt plenty warm walking around in our coats. It was definitely warmer there than it was in Utah! Also people were so kind there, and almost everyone spoke English. They were all so humble about it though and would say they only spoke a little, but then they'd rattle off beautiful English! I was nervous people would be unkind to us because we had our kids but only 4 people acted annoyed with us during that whole week and 3 of them were American tourists. 😂
People loved my kids hair color and blue eyes- I didn't quite expect the fan-girling Rose and Hank would receive from the crowds- we got attention everywhere we went. (Plus we were pretty much the only people that had two young children so close in age so we really stuck out!) I had never realized that people from Paris were darker in complexion! Lots of dark hair and eyes, so we stood out for sure!
It was wonderful to be in such a beautiful city with so much history, but it also made me miss America too. I quite enjoy how convenient and comfortable everything is in the states :) But it's so fun to get to travel and learn about different ways of life! We truly loved our time in France and hope to make it there again some day!