PHOTO: Artists at work in Place du Tertre (All photos by Janeen Christoff)
There were two things that HAD to be accomplished during our visit to Paris: seeing the Eiffel Tower and tasting a real French macaroon. Neither of which were too hard to achieve within our four-day window.
We booked a stunning Airbnb on Rue du Notre that is across from the Eiffel Tower, so we can see it all of the time, right out of our window. And we headed to the artsy neighborhood of Montmartre for a history lesson, a stroll through the Sacre Couer and to taste the coveted macaroon.
We exited the metro at Anvers, right at the foot of the Sacre Couer and were welcomed by coffee shops and patisseries that beckoned the sweet tooth. We strolled through one shop that welcomed us with free biscuits filled with chocolate before crossing the street to another with a line of colorful macaroons in the window. The Maison Georges Larnicol is lauded as one of the best places to get macaroons in the city as we discovered later — and my daughter found them to be delicious. Our only regret is that we should have purchased more.
We continued up the road to the Sacre Coeur where, for fun, we road the funicular to the top. It is worth coming here just for the view alone. My kids had no idea how large Paris was, but peering out at its vast expanse was an awesome moment. It was made even more exciting when they spotted the Eiffel Tower, giving them a true sense of place.
We next headed down to Place du Tertre, which was once a haven for modern art at the beginning of the 20th century and home to famous painters such as Picasso and Utrillo. Now, it’s much more touristy, but still artists come and paint and sell their artwork in the square. One woman, who paints the Eiffel Tower adorned with hearts and musical notes and modern designs, spoke to my kids and we picked out paintings perfect for their rooms at home and took pictures with her. They loved the experience — and the chance to practice their French (un petit peu).
We popped in and out of souvenir shops to warm up (It was just 39 degrees) and then we stopped for a late lunch (jet lag, ugh) at a local pizzeria where they had piano music playing at the bar inside. Then we began to stroll home, which is when things got a little … interesting (and possibly inappropriate for younger readers).
Yesterday, my youngest daughter bought a souvenir snow globe with Paris landmarks on it. One of them was the Moulin Rouge and I told her we could walk by it as we got on the metro. I completely forgot that Moulin Rouge is in the heart of Paris’ red light district (I blame jet lag), but the way I had planned to walk, it would hardly have mattered. However, the GPS on my phone is broken and we got completely turned around and ended up about three blocks away from the Moulin Rouge at the Pigalle metro stop, instead. As we started to walk down the street, lined with sex shops and because my kids can both read, they were reading the names of all the signs very interested in why they were in English, not French, and why there were so many “toy stores.” Then there was a store that said “p__y” and my youngest said, loudly, “Hey, that’s what Donald Trump grabs,” which definitely turned the heads of strangers on the street. I guess “Donald Trump” is now translatable in any language.
Not sure whether to laugh or cry, I hustled the children quickly down the street and that’s why our picture of the Moulin Rouge looks like this…
Instead of like this.
All in all, it was an awesome day but let’s just say there’s one mom who hopes that some memories don’t last a lifetime.