There are many things that change when you travel with a toddler. One of my favorite changes, besides my little cuddlebug herself, is how the pace of travel slows down. There have been times in the past when Hank and I would race about a city in an effort to check off every last tourist stop on the guidebook list. It certainly gives you that travel high to be able to see all of the sights and move on to the next big thing, but you definitely have a tendency to miss the small things this way. Traveling with Fea means we have to fit in meal and naptimes, and we have to find places where she can run wild to compensate for the times when she is harnessed to me in the Ergo, and we have to get her to bed at a reasonable hour. So now, finding and exploring parks is higher up on the list of things to do, as is ambling about the streets, looking in windows, pointing out dogs and pigeons, and making sure she has her sippy of JOOSH and CROGGHERS close at hand.
So on this day in Paris, we headed out in
the morning to explore the Luxembourg Gardens. It was a really close walk from our apartment and is certainly worth a trip or two. The park surrounds a palace that was originally built by a Medici in the 1600s and now houses the French Senate. Upon entering the gates, there are pathways under huge shade trees, enclosing lush green grassy areas dotted with statues of nymphs and satyrs and other such mythological delights. Flowers are everywhere. Seriously, the gardens in France are INSANE with flowers. In the center of the park was a sight that made Fifi crow with joy - a giant fountain spraying water into the air, with little kids chasing sailboats with sticks and a duck house in the middle of the pond. There are benches and chairs everywhere in the park, and the Parisians (and, I am assuming, tourists) certainly take advantage of so many places to recline and lounge and soak up sun in a beautiful, calm environment. Fifi was thrilled to take part in an impromptu soccer game with another little boy who had a ball. She also shrieked with hapiness when the lady next to us started feeding the ducks (which also is
an invitation to the pigeons and little sparrows to join in) for the amusement of her little one. We strolled up to the palace and found a shady walkway in which to enjoy our sandwiches (and discovered another fountain!) and I threw a tomato into the bushes right in front of two patrolling gendarmes...! They, however, were too engrossed in gossip and cigarettes as they walked back and forth along the pathway to haul me off to the gendarmerie for littering. After lunch, we rushed Fifi past the area where they had a little water park laid out for small kids, peeped into an art gallery where they had the most amazing, spinning wooden structures, and made our way out the other side of the park. We found a little cafe that gave us espresso in teensy cups and replenished the JOOSH suuply - it was just across from the front of the palace/senate and was very cute. I spied a hotel down the street with a balcony overflowing with giant orange blossoms and we thought maybe we would stay there sometime; it looked charming and was in an ideal location. I looked it up when we got back to
the apartment and we are only staying there in the future if we win the lotto. We headed back to the apartment to rest up for afternoon adventure.
After naptime, we headed out to the Musee de Orsay, a short Metro ride from our place. It is in an old train station along the Seine and is kind of tucked away behind the other buildings. You have to go through metal detectors when you first get in and empty your pockets and all that security stuff...but if you are wearing a baby in an Ergo, they just wave you through! Entering the museum proper is breathtaking. The high ceilings and open space is truly lovely. A GIANT clock graces the entrance wall and there is an open walkway down the middle, littered with statuary. The sides of the museum are filled with alcoves of different periods of French art. We at first thought cameras were ok, as they are in the Louvre, and Hank got some cool shots. We were quickly spotted by the guards; we only got a couple of surreptitious shots after that. We did not have much time before the museum closed, but it was enough
time to make our way through the halls on either side of the central walkway. Awesome. Eventually the announcement that the museum was closing came booming over the loudspeaker - in French, English, Italian, Spanish, and German - so we exited and headed for a late lunch. We found a brasserie on the corner with a humorous and tolerant waiter. Hank and I split an amazing salad topped with foie gras and duck and walnuts while Fifi got, what else, lasagne!
That night, while I got La Feef all bundled off to bed, Hank went out and got us a feast from the local shops. We had roasted chicken, an amazing roasted potato salad with herbs and lemon, a lovely tart for dessert, and a very nice bottle of Bordeaux. Perfect ending to the day!
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