Way back at the end of May the day started like this:
Early and beautiful with sun streaming in my bedroom window (please ignore the pre-trip mess). We got going and out the door by an insanely early time in the morning to try to beat the rush hour traffic and make it down to Dover with plenty of time to catch our car ferry to France. We did great for about 10 minutes and then we stopped on the motorway. Literally stopped. We turned on the radio just in time to hear that there had been a huge tanker explosion on the M25 (major London beltway) and that they had to close the road to resurface it. We thought we were going to be stopped there all day long, but were happy to find that after about 20 minutes they let us get on the M25 going the opposite direction. With the help of my iPhone and Google maps we slowly made our way back past our house and towards Dover on smaller, more traffic roads. That sun that had woken me up was the strongest sun we had had since we arrived in the UK which was great, except that it was the only day we were stuck in our car with broken air conditioning for hours and hours as we slowly made our way south to France. To make a sort of long and not very funny or entertaining story short, we made it to Paris by dinner time. We planned on it taking us about 5 hours to get there but after missing our ferry and hitting lots of weird traffic, reality got us there in 12. We were hot and all a bit frustrated once arrived, but (as reminded by Hazel) we chalked it all up as part of the adventure and moved on. The Ferry ride was the best part of the trip. The kids loved being on such a big boat and thought it was super cool that our car could go on it with us. They had a dinky little play area for the kids which kept them pretty darn happy so that Jeff and I even got to do a little reading . Once we got close to Paris everyone was tired and wired and hungry and we were stuck in even more traffic (and were trying unsuccessfully to navigate around it while driving on the right side of the road but the wrong side of the car) so we stopped at the first randomly grand place we came to to eat and absorb something of this new country. I’m not sure what this place even was….but it all looked and felt grand and Parisian to us so we were happy. We found a funny little Falafel café and ordered the only French sounding thing they had on the menu….some savory creeps. To be honest, they were pretty horrible. We should have known not to order creeps at a Falafel stand. Duh. It was fine though because we decided that while in Paris we were going to eat lots of little meals so that we could try as many different crepes, Monte Cristos, chocolate croissants and pastries as we could. After dinner we found an amazing little bakery just down the road that totally satisfied our cravings for fine French food. Isn’t this a glorious castle? It was closed for the day, but we had fun running around the grounds, blowing off some steam. We finally rolled into our hotel at about 9pm. We had a glorious reunion with Grammie and Grandfather when we arrived (they were on their way home from a speaking engagement somewhere in Europe). I was dying to go and see something in Paris to redeem the day so even though it was late and the responsible thing to do with children would be to go to sleep, we went into see the Eiffel Tower sparkle instead. My mom had a cold and happily offered to stay home with Em and Peter while Jeff, Grandfather, Hazel and Charlie and I went into central Paris. It was spectacular. How could it not be? The kids were so excited to see the Eiffel Tower and as soon as we hopped off the metro it started sparkling. It was magical. Grandfather treated them to a ride on a carousel. Hazel fell in love with her horse.Grandfather, Hazel and Charlie nearly knocked the Eifel Tower down. We walked across the river to the Trocadero to get an awesome view and ate some crepes while we waited for it to sparkle again. Magic.
Paris at night totally made up for traffic and heat and frustration during the day. At least I thought so (not sure if Jeff agrees).