Our first full day in Paris was Easter Sunday, a holiday that we basically skipped celebrating for our vacation. We are not ever the most pious folks, and though we visited several churches throughout the week, we attended no services. I also warned the girls that the Easter Bunny had advised us that international basket delivery was well nigh impossible, and so we should instead just be extra-indulgent whenever we happened to encounter chocolate throughout the week. The girls readily agreed that this was the best course of action.
If you take your chocolate indulgence seriously, it is helpful to have a dad/husband who will wake up early in the morning to locate a boulangerie and bring home some pain au chocolat for everyone. Hooray for Cute W! Meanwhile, I was less successful in my morning efforts. For example, I attempted to blow-dry my hair with the dryer I’d brought from home and converters for the plug, but instead I managed to trip a circuit breaker and cause a teensy hand-held fire. The smoking blow dryer was set aside, ne’er to be used again. Luckily, it turns out that the apartment had provided us with one. Perhaps it would have been smarter to use that one from the start.
Anyway, we headed out for a 40-minute walk across the river to Place St. Michel to meet up with our Blue Fox tour guide at 9:45 am for our Amazing Race Family Bike Tour. It was super-fun! J and I were a little bit nervous about biking around Paris, but our lovely tour guide Camille made it very easy. I wrote about the tour in this KidsOutAndAbout Review of Blue Fox Travel Tours in Paris (you’ll see more pictures there, too), but I’ll also say that this was probably our favorite of the three tours that we took while in Paris. I think that the biking was also especially easy because it was Easter Sunday. There was a huge color run going on downtown at the same time, so a bunch of streets were closed to cars but still open to us.
We biked all over the place for our various challenges.
The girls really liked competing against each other, and Camille did her best to make sure that we were all having fun at every stage, like when I made a little sound of dismay that we might be running and she gave M and me the challenge that was light on running, or when she’d try to invent ways to ensure that there wasn’t a blow-out. (Sure, I was a liability in the running challenge, but my French art trivia knowledge was an asset).
When it was time to break for lunch, Camille brought us to Rue Cler and gave us an hour to walk around and get some lunch. We ended up going to a sit-down place to order some tasty crepes.
One of our challenges involved meeting and talking to other tourists, and Cute W made up for his lack of French skills by speaking some Spanish and Russian.
Camille would also take us along the loveliest routes, like when we biked through this tree tunnel.
At the end, the adorable Camille presented the girls with medals for completing the challenge with just enough giggling, goofy pomp to make the girls feel accomplished but not patronized. That takes some finesse, yo.
After saying good-bye to Camille, we took a walk over to Ile Saint-Louis, which is the charming little island next to Ile de la Cité. Along with checking out street performers and little shops, we went in search of the famous Berthillon ice cream. We tried our best to follow Rick Steves’ directions to the original shop, but it was closed and we had to content ourselves with knock-offs. This was further complicated when the various stands had slightly different flavor options, so we ended up stand-hopping to ensure all the girls had their preferred taste sensation. Cute W, meanwhile, had decided to limit his ice cream consumption to once per 24-hour period. Apparently he doesn’t listen to the Easter Bunny. As it turns out, it may be sacrilege, but we liked Amorino better. We walked around a little bit more, mulling over what to do next.
We wanted to do a nice dinner, not too late, that evening, which didn’t leave us much more time for our afternoon, so we decided to hit l’Orangerie. I had spent the first weeks planning our Paris trip under the false impression that l’Orangerie wasn’t open anymore. I think that’s because it was closed for a while, from 2000-2006. Which had made me sad, because I love that museum! My favorite are the two Waterlilies rooms, which Claude Monet basically planned out and designed. You can see them and take a virtual tour here.
Anyway, it would have been a long-ish walk from where we were, and emboldened by our recent biking successes, we decided to try to borrow bikes from the bike-sharing service in Paris. Cute W was super-excited to try it out. It went. . . okay. We didn’t know exactly where we were going and we didn’t know the calmest streets for biking. It turned out to be a little stressful, at least for J and me. We made it to the museum and breathed a sigh of relief. It was an excellent visit. We hardly had to wait at all with our Museum Pass, and then it was a completely manageable size to feel like we could conquer it all. Along with the Waterlilies, there are a bunch of other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. When we came out of the museum there was a huge political march flowing by, a bunch of people demonstrating against Marine Le Pen. So, yay.
We walked home and changed into slightly nicer outfits before walking over to a nearby restaurant that was supposed to have a great prix-fixe menu that was too expensive for us, but still less expensive than the other great prix-fixe menus I’d found, Le Madeleine C. We were the very first customers for dinner–those French folks dine late–and we scored a table at the front window. After a bit of pondering we decided to go with appetizer, main dish, dessert, and a bottle of wine–whoop, whoop! How often are you in France? This was my favorite meal of the trip. It was lovely, the people serving us were friendly, the food was yummy, and it was just excellent and relaxing. I think we were there for almost three hours and nobody was bored or unhappy, we were totally just talking and laughing and having a lovely time. And those, girls are awesome with the food! For appetizers M ordered smoked salmon, J and I ordered escargots, and Cute W had fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. There was sharing around, as usual, but it was tough to share, because these were the best escargots we had all week, already pulled out of the shell for us and swimming in buttery garlic goodness. I didn’t take a picture of them, but there’s an image of them in their special little snail-plate on the web site. Here are M & Cute W’s appetizers, though.
No one felt adventurous enough for duck (I am not a fan–I wish they’d had rabbit), so M and Cute W ordered beef while J and I ordered prawns with risotto. Yumma.
Between us we tried all the dessert options and shared around again; here’s my lovely crepe with ice cream.
We rolled strolled back to the apartment and headed straight to sleep. We had a whole lot more touristing to come.