Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ditching the guidebooks!

One of the things I love about Paris are all of the hidden treasures to be found around the city and outside the guidebooks. We are so well located in the city that we can easily walk just about anywhere. I love being able to step out my front door and into the Marais which is a gorgeous part of town full of boutiques and cafes. If I walk down the street instead of across the street we find ourselves in the Bastille. The infamous place where people were imprisoned during the French Revolution. Remnants of the Bastille prison can still be seen in places in the metro station that resides underneath the chaotic and death-defying roundabout above. It is also said that there are markings on the road to indicate the original structure of the prison. Either way, it is a pretty cool sight despite the tourists and the cars trying to clip your rear end.

If you walk past the Place de la Bastille and follow signs for the Viaduct des Arts you will be rewarded with a wonderful two part walk. Just beyond the Bastille is an old viaduct that has been restored into l'ateliers (artisan workshops) below and a well cared for garden above. Les ateliers range from dressmakers, to hand-painted bone china, to doll restorers, to umbrella makers. There are hats, glass jewelry, home decor - some of the most amazing home decor- and lots more.

This is a shop selling very old toys. So old they just plain look creepy!

Not going to fall for the wolf in bourgeois clothing.

After walking along the shops, we found a park to play in as a reward for shopping with mommy. The yin and yang of our Parisian summer.

I probably have said this here before but ALL Parisian playgrounds are totally different. They have such completely different play structures that it no longer becomes going to the playground that is closest. We go to the playground with the items we feel like playing on that day. Sometimes this will require us to bus over to the Jardin du Luxembourg for the zip line, or metro to the Tuileries for the swingie thing and large metal ball, or walk up to Arts et Metiers for the playground that is all sand like a beach. Forget the museums- Paris has crazy ass playgrounds to hit!

Anyway, I was able to capture here what is a very common occurance here in Paris. The mystery thing at the playground. We arrive, we see something new. We don't know quite how it is used and we sort of play around it until we see the French kids use it and then we are all over it!

So below to the right you see Buddy climing up the structure and Sweet Pea trying to figure out what those bars are for.....

You can almost hear her saying "what the heck?"
Well watch and learn my dear, watch and learn! Here come the French kids....

Ahhhhh that is what those bars are for!!! And they're off....

Mom, if I practice on these can I get a skateboard??? - Buddy

So after an hour or so of playing and the requisite ice cream cone afterwards, we head back to the viaduct to walk along the garden path home.
No complaints here!

Oh, I took this picture to the left because it seems they are digging up all the streets at home to lay cable and I think they are doing it here in Paris too. Although you wouldn't know it from their shitty internet service.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Men in tight clothes!

I never really paid much attention to Le Tour de France before. It just seemed like some bike race around vineyards and frankly I don't like riding bikes. This year since I would have the opportunity to see the live finish of this well respected athletic event I thought I would try to get into it. The race began on July 4th in Monaco and ended today, on July 26th in Paris. Le Tour took its bikers through every imaginable kind of terrain and though many of the countries bordering France. Their website had a great little video of the routes for all the stages and frankly if you were like me and didn't have all that much interest in a little bike race- just watching that video of the routes will command your respect.

This afternoon we went down to a point near our apartment to see the race go by. We waited for about 45 minutes until we saw the preamble to the bikers which included the following silly marketing theatrics.

It seemed that some of the costumes on these tiny euro cars might actually tip them backwards. But none of them did.

Team Busses

Here they come!

.....and there they go!

Clicking as fast as I could on my camera they were by us in a flash. All at once in a huge group. It was crazy!

We walked home over Pont Sully and watched the live finish on TV with some wine and cheese. I couldn't bear fighting the crowds at the Place de la Concorde and likely not be able to see over those "in the know" French who bring ladders to such events. Le quatorze Juillet has scarred me!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Amis a Paris!

You can't even imagine the counting down at our house for this visit from good friends from home! Sweet Pea's good friend S came with her mom J to spend 4 days with us playing in Paris.

J was planning on flying over to Europe anyway this summer to meet up with E and I suggested they all rendez-vous chez moi for a nice long playdate!

S is a trooper. The morning that they landed we did some unpacking and refreshing and then we were off to the market and a playground. Sweet Pea and Buddy were excited to show their friend where they have been playing for the past few weeks.

Can't you just hear them? Little girls arm in arm walking through this amazing city.

Later that afternoon we went to Les Places des Vosges and hung out in the late day sun while the kids played.

The next day we went down to Paris Plages for a walk along the Seine with some ice cream. The kids found this potable water station and had some fun on a hot summer day. Paris Plages is set up every year (4th year running I think) to provide some fun and entertainment for city residents to beat the heat during July and August.

There are several Petanque courts set up and you can borrow a set of boules to have a bit of fun while you stroll along the Seine.

After the Plages we headed straight for Gare du Nord to pick up E from her long train ride! Doesn't she look beautifu!?!

The kids were so excited to see here. They were leaping all around the platform. It was so cute.

After the grabbing E at the train station we headed over to the Eiffel Tower to see if we could head on up to see the sights of Paris. Sweet Pea has been so excited to get to go UP the tower with her good friend S.

Unfortunately the lines were so long that it wasn't worth it. It was a gazillion degrees and the line for the elevator was about 2-3 hours long. Grrr. The kids were very disappointed.

We did get some cute shots though!

And a mediocre family one...

Gosh, he's getting big.

The other reason we could not wait in line at the ET for so long this day was that it was GNO time! J, E and I headed to Chez Janou for dinner and then bar hopping and finally to a dance- or rather dance-ish club. It was a great night out and apparently my French gets better with booze.

Sunday we watched the final leg of the Tour de France wiz by but I'll do a separate post about that....

Monday it was time to have our final day in Paris so we had to get it all in. Here are the girls in their matching Paris T-shirts.

and yes we finally made it up the Eiffel Tower. Despite leaving the house in 90 degree weather and arriving to rain, cold wind, and thunder storms, we waited for nearly 2 hours to get up and got some really cute shots while we were up there! Making memories is what it is all about!