Bonjour Paris!

This past weekend I got a unique chance to take a break from full time mommyhood and have a weekend all to myself. Jamie often travels to Paris for work and Patrick is actually going in October for this class’ fall trip. We briefly drove into Paris last fall when we went to Paris Disney but other than one evening I hadn’t been yet. Jamie and I were talking about what a shame it is to have such an amazing city so close but it really offers so much for adults and little for kids so we haven’t gone yet. Living out here we also see great deals to go visit cities but once you factor in 5 tickets instead of just 1 or 2 suddenly it’s a little too expensive for a weekend. So this last weekend I went to Paris on my own.
I flew out on Friday afternoon, eager to have some space and time to myself. I think I have only left Kellen overnight 3 times, once on our anniversary just after he turned 1, once for work, and then to stay in hospital when I had Ella. There may be one other night he spent the night at Grandma and Papa’s but I don’t think so. Up until now I had never left Ella overnight. I have been trying to wean her over the last few weeks but she has been resistant so this was also a good way to physically get some separation and finally wean her altogether. So as we drove to the airport I was feeling super anxious about leaving the babies, I know that Jamie is good with the kids and perfectly experienced and capable of taking care of them, but there must be a mothering hormone that kicks in when faced with the reality that we were going to be separated that made me extremely uneasy. The amazing thing is that once they dropped me off at Heathrow and I got through security I somehow relaxed in a way that I haven’t in 3 years. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something but no it really was just me. I got a coffee, sat quietly and read a little before the flight, it was amazing.
Once I arrived in Paris the fact that I really should learn French was painfully highlighted. I flew into Orly so I was able to take the train directly in to the city and my hotel was actually on the same train line so that was easy enough. I checked in, browsed my Paris book and decided to head towards Notre Dame for dinner. It was on my train line so it should be easy to hop on the train and be there within 15 minutes or so, it was already around 8:00 so I was hungry. I walked down to the Metro stop and confirmed with information where I needed to go, somehow I got this totally wrong because once I was on the train I realized that not only was I headed the wrong direction but I was essentially headed directly into the ghetto. I found myself at some random station, it was dark, it was full of young men in their 20’s that were a tougher crowd then I would chose to be thrown in with on my own with ipad and camera in my bag… So at this point I’m genuinely scared, this rarely happens, and I’m trying to figure out the trains. At one point I thought I needed to wait another hour, I was so frustrated, and finally I found another train and was on my way. I finally got to Notre Dame around 9:30, starving and not exactly in love with Paris yet.  I walked around the area taking in the brasseries and bars. It was packed with people, the food looked great and you can’t beat a view of Notre Dame lit up at night. I sat and had a long meal then chose to treat myself to a taxi ride directly back to the hotel.
One benefit to my mix up the night before was that Saturday morning I was much more aware of how the trains worked, how to read the screen, and what directly I wanted to be heading in. I decided to head as far west as I planned on going that day then spent the rest of the day heading east in a roundabout way. It’s amazing how much you can see without 3 kids in tow. I started at the Eiffel Tower and then walked toward the Champs-Élyséeswalking along the Seine and taking in the alleys and vendors as I made my way along. When I reached the end of the Champs-ÉlyséesI started walking up toward the Arc de Triomphe. The view looking up the street was impressive but lining the street I reached an Abercrombie and Fitch with a line outside and looked across the street to see a Quicksilver store. At that point I turned around and jumped on the Metro to head to the Louvre, regardless of how dressed up it is I wasn’t interested in shopping at Abercrombie this weekend. The Louvre is massive there is so much to see. I got one of the audio guides and it was really nice because you could set it to give you general information on the areas you enter then select specific works of art you want more information on. As usual the sculptures were my favorite. I don’t know what it is about them that I find so amazing. I think it is the ability to make stone look light, and soft and pliable, the figures are beautiful and sad. I can spend all day going through the sculptures in detail. But of course you can’t go to the Louvre and not see the Mona Lisa. The difference in crowd size in the hall containing the Mona Lisawas amazing; it was also a bit concerning that throughout the museum there were pick pocket warning signs.
After about 2 ½ hours I was exhausted and looking forward to sitting for a while. I first took a little break in the gardens outside of the Louvre while I planned my next stop. I decided to head back towards Notre Dame to grab some lunch then tour the cathedral. After my quick brasserie stop, which confirmed my long held belief that anything is made better with a fried egg on top, I queued up to enter the cathedral. It was wonderful. It is an active church so there was service taking place in a small chapel towards the back, there were confessions taking place, the windows were striking and as with most cathedrals there were beautiful statues throughout. I think this was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. I enjoy cathedrals, for many of the same reasons I enjoy sculptures. They can be joyful but always feel somewhat sad because they are so sombre; I also find the signs of faith throughout to be beautiful and comforting.
At this point I was exhausted and decided to head back to the hotel. This is where being alone can be such a luxury, I was able to put my feet up and read the paper uninterrupted. It felt so indulgent and restful that by 7:00 I was ready to go again.
I decided to head to Montmartre for dinner. I saw the Moulin Rouge; at €175 for dinner and a show all I did was see it from the outside. It was crowded with people taking pictures and I’m sure it gets full but I didn’t see many going in. I went a few blocks up the hill and found a brasserie for dinner. An older French woman arrived just as I did and we had a long conversation, she spoke no English and I speak no French so we didn’t cover much but we gave it our best shot. She is from Paris and lives in Montmartre and seemed to know half the people who walked by. She left after having her drink but I enjoyed the company.  After a relaxed dinner and a brief walk around the neighbourhood I headed in for the night. It was my only full day in Paris and I felt like I had seen a lot. My legs ached and my feet were done for the day.
The next morning I actually got to sleep in uninterrupted which is an unheard of experience these days. Once I was up I felt ready to be home with the kids. One day away felt free and exciting and the long nights sleep were definitely welcome but I missed my crew. When Jamie said that Ella and Patrick weren’t feeling well I was even more ready to be home. My flight was early that afternoon so before heading out I went to the Left Bank where I walked around had a crepe from a sidewalk stand and enjoyed my last few hours in Paris.
 Getting off the flight I was so excited to see the kids, Jamie and Ella were waiting for me at arrivals. I hurried over expecting Ella to light up at the sight of me, instead she waved and kind of snuggled me as I held her but this was not the reaction I was looking for. Once we got home I hurried in to see Kellen and Patrick. Again they were both happy enough to see me but the enthusiasm level was low. So the lesson of the weekend was first, some time to recharge and check out by myself is much needed every few years (hopefully sooner next time), once the kids are old enough Jamie and I can go together. My second lesson was that I missed all of them way more then they missed me. So the next time I’m sick of someone hanging on me, interrupting me, hovering around, I should be thankful. Turns out they do better without me then I do without them.
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