The Eiffel Tower: “It’s Huge!,” Reports Jasper

Sunday, July 3rd

Sunday morning begins early for me, which is good news. One key to avoiding jet-lag is to wake up early on local time. Still, it’s hard to believe it’s only 2 am in New York!

The day is bright and warm and Melisa makes the first foray out to gather croissants from the local boulangerie, and hopefully, coffee.  This is one of those errands that she is glad to do. She returns triumphant with coffee piping hot, two croissants buerre and two pain au chocolats. Why choose? I try both. Flaky and buttery; they taste light-years beyond anything similar you can get stateside. The chocolate croissant has just the right shot of sweet for the morning.

We let the kids sleep in a bit; they still look exhausted, and we could use some time to shower and get ready for the day. Finally, they are up, take their petit dejeuner, and we’re off!

More exciting trips on the Metro, this time, complete with a false start in the wrong direction. The kids love it; the train and mommy’s mistake. We ride to the other side of the city, and walk towards the main event of the day: la Tour Eiffel. Jasper spots it from a street corner. “It’s huge! I didn’t know it would be so big!” But seconds after spotting the real deal, both kids notice the legions of vendors selling miniature Tours. The tiny towers come in every color, some studded with rhinestones, some on key chains, any size you want, laid out on blankets on the street one after another. Suddenly, everyone wants to take a little Paris home. In fact, the kids can barely concentrate on our destination they are so focused on souvenirs. We convince them to wait until we get to the Tower itself (Magnolia pouting all the way).

The Eiffel Tower is amazing. I love the huge arched feet that manage to look strong and delicate all at once. We haven’t been able to make reservations to go to the top in advance (sold out!), and we eye the walk-in line with trepidation. It’s long. Jasper suggests we take the stairs up to the first level. Maybe…except even that line looks pretty long, too. We resolve to try to get a reservation when we come back to Paris in a month.

Meanwhile, the Tower vendors (now walking amongst us with their petit Tours on large metal rings) circle. We divert to one of our favorite “France with kids” pastimes: the ubiquitous carousel.

There are carousels all over the place in France, and they are great in a pinch. This one is located conveniently right across from the Tower, right on the Seine so we can enjoy the view while the kids circle on prancing ponies and miniature trains. Something for everyone.

At last, we can hold out no longer, and Melisa plays hardball (in French!) with an unlucky street vendor. We get two mid-size Towers for 2 euros, one in gaudy gold, the other in silver. Let me say that the poor guy selling them wanted 4 euros each. That’s my girl.

Off to lunch, another lovely café where we colonize our table with crayons and rosé. This is a habit that will be hard to break in a month.

We’re still navigating the “what will the kids eat here” question. Today we meet with some success, ordering a plat au jambon (comes with fries, always a crowd-pleaser) and a small cheese plate, both for them to share. The cheese is Emmental, hole-y like Swiss. “It’s mouse cheese!” exclaims Magnolia happily. I cut up some tomatoes from my salad for each of them and lunch is served. I’m not sure that the elegant glass filled with little ketchup packages will be enough for my American son and suspect that we will surprise our French waiter by asking for more. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Melisa and I dine on a salade au chevre chaud (salad served with warm goat cheese — really, is there anything better? Not much to my mind) and a jambon sandwich made with some sort of delicious prosciutto, and cornichons. This is happy eating, though about half-way through my glass of wine, I am pleasantly aware of feeling like I never want to get up again, that I could spend the entire afternoon in this seat watching the world go by. Time for an espresso.

Our next stop is the Jardin d’Acclimatation, which we will reach by metro and then by miniature steam train. Yes, Paris is so far a train-lovers paradise.

The Jardin itself is pretty fabulous, though not cheap. You pay admission to get in and then additional tickets are needed for the rides. The ample playgrounds, however, are open for your use, and are wonderful and diverse. We take the kids on the “Enchantee Rive,” essentially a toned-down log ride with no drop. The boat we are in ambles peacefully through a pretty garden, a little cool steam spray, past ducks and hanging plants. Next, the kids are introduced to the wonder of bumper cars (the same here as they are everywhere I guess) and the crazy Papillions d’Alice (Alice’s Butterflies), which is a hybrid of the old tea-cup ride and a roller coaster. We scream THE ENTIRE WAY, all four of us. I catch glimpses of people stopping below to look at the loud Americans. Who cares? Not us; we’re having a great time.

I can’t say that this part of our day is so different than if we had spent it at an amusement park at home (Victorian Gardens in Central Park comes to mind). It’s certainly NICER than most of these parks at home though, more diverse (ponies! trampolines! rides! playgrounds!) and very kid-friendly.

Finally, it’s 6 pm again, and time to start making our way back home. Big day tomorrow with the TGV train ride to the South.


3 Responses to “The Eiffel Tower: “It’s Huge!,” Reports Jasper”

  1. 1 PAT PARKINSON July 5, 2011 at 11:56 am


  2. 2 monica July 6, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Looks wonderful! Enjoy and thanks for sharing!

  3. 3 Rebecca July 6, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Sounds just dreamy – glad you are savoring every minute!

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