As I sit here on a train, Dijon bound after Easter weekend in Paris, I thought it would be a good time to fill you all in. I know I have been such a slacker recently but after a week and a half with my family (reunited after 6 months of my being here) I have plenty to talk about.
They came in on a Friday afternoon, which now seems like ages ago. Funny how that happens when you pack your days with sightseeing making each day seem like 35 hours long. It was the first time my parents had been out of the country (they got passports just for this trip) so I felt like we needed to do it all and do it right. This tends to be my attitude when I am a “host”: I want people to have a great time and enjoy doing whatever I am planning. But these good wishes tend to make me a bit anxious and stressed (especially when we are 5 people being tourists). But even though the typical family feuding showed up here and there, looking back on this week I think we had a great time together exploring France.
We began in my neck of the woods: Burgundy. We drove the Haut Côte, tasted a lot of wine, visited castles, went to markets, tried foods, which nobody recognized and just enjoyed the extraordinary weather we were blessed with. Thanks to a rental car we even ventured to the Rhône Alps region for a day in Lyon. Although we were busy it was nothing compared to the ground we ended up covering in Paris Easter weekend…
We stayed in the center of the city at Hôtel des Carmes (recommend it to anyone visiting Paris). Our first day was a half-day since we arrived at Gare de Lyon in the afternoon. After traversing the city charged with baggage in a freak rainstorm we hit the ground running. We took a long walk seeing the Panthéon, Luxembourg Gardens, St Sulpice, Notre Dame, Centre Pompidou and ending with an ice cream on the walk back.
The next morning we woke up early and did the touristiest thing you can—stand in line for hours on end. We went to Versailles and arrived at 9am (opening time). Although the line was long we were lucky to arrive when we did because only 20 minutes after we staked our spot the endless “snakes” began to form creating over a 4 hour wait! We got in there after a bit of bi-lingual crowd control on my part (nobody is butting in front of us thank you very much) and enjoyed the elaborate displays inside the palace.
Being a European Resident under the age of 26 I get free access to many museums including the Versailles palace. What I didn’t realize was that didn’t include the Gardens. So as my parents and sisters entered that area I got back in a line that was luckily only about 30 minutes of a wait.
By the end of our afternoon we were hot and tired so on arrival back in Paris we lounged on the Eiffel Tower lawn for a quick nap. From someone who thinks this area of Paris is dirty and overrated it was one of my favorite moments. I really felt Parisian.
Afterwards as the sun was setting we took our Bateaux Mouche tour on the Seine. As if to tell us congrats on an exhausting day, the Eiffel tower lit up for our tour just as we passed under the last bridge putting us face to face with the monument. With sore feet and legs we metro-ed it back to the 5th arrondissement and hit the sac.
The next day I woke up exhausted and a little pissed to be heading to the Louvre for the third time in my life. This museum is big, exhausting and not really filled with things I want to see multiple times. But I wanted my parents and sisters to see it because everyone has to if they come to Paris. I mean how can you leave Paris and say that you didn’t se the Mona Lisa? You cant.
Although I was a cranky bitch at the start, it ended up being great and unlike my past visits. My parents were totally taken back to the years of standing in lines super early at swim meets as we arrived an hour before the place opened. What a great idea though because we got in by 9:10 (10 min after opening) and saw lots of the museum without the crowds!
After 2 short hours (it always passes quickly in that museum) we walked down the Champs Elyssees, took a photo with the Arc de triomphe. Our last stop was Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur. We ended up buying lunch and picnicking on the lawn at the Sacré Coeur. We really had the best weather ever!
That night, our last together, was ended and topped off with a birthday dinner for my mom. We drank good wine, laughed a lot and enjoyed being together as a family.
Now I am alone again and its weird. I love being here in France but I’ve also found it true that it’s who you’re with that matters. So alone in Paris after my family left I couldn’t help being a bit depressed. On the positive side though, I have a wonderful family to go back to in Burgundy and only 6 more months until I am again reunited with my own 🙂