Continuing to look back at our first unaccompanied trip to Europe with our preschool-aged children, we spent our last three days in Paris visiting the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre. We had intended to day trip to Versailles on our last day, but rain and illness got in the way and we made alternative plans.
Day 5: Musée d’Orsay
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I love art museums and wanted to spend some time enjoying a few. Unfortunately, small children tend to put a damper on this. Their attention spans are short, and you need to keep an eye on them.
The solution is to simply go much more quickly through the museum than you might prefer, and not worry if you miss something. As they get older, they will be able to behave for longer and longer periods of time.
The d’Orsay Museum is one of my favorites. Built into an old railway station, it houses a significant amount of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art dating from 1848 to 1914. Some of my favorite artists in this museum include Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh.
This particular visit, with preschoolers, was fairly short – maybe an hour or so. We also learned the wisdom of keeping them in the stroller so we could focus on the artwork, rather than on them.
Lunch and Afternoon
Afterwards, we had lunch by Les Halles. My cold was getting worse, so we went back to the apartment to rest. Some days we just had the boys nap in the stroller, but today they would have a real nap with me.
Jeremy went out to browse some of the bookstores, then returned and brought the kids to the Luxembourg Gardens for some play time.
I think everyone was happy with the day.
Day 6: The Louvre
Thursday, April 19, 2012
On our second to last day in Paris, we decided to go see the Louvre. We weren’t sure how long the boys would last, but to our surprise, we were able to stay much longer than envisioned. The boys also asked to go back to the trampolines that we had found earlier in the week, so we decided to humor them in the afternoon.
If you go to the Louvre, you really need to see the Mona Lisa. Be prepared to be disappointed. It is tiny. It is crowded. It really isn’t all that impressive.
But the rest of the museum is really cool. Really, really cool!
I could spend days in here, but with two little boys, that isn’t practical. We arrived at 10am, took a break for lunch and ate at cafeteria, then continued looking around until about 2pm, when the boys started melting down. If you want to spend more than an hour or two here with small children, seriously consider timing your visit so that you can take a lunch break.
The boys were really good in the museum and even got into the art a bit, so we rewarded them with afternoon ice cream cones and trampolines that were set up by a playground in the Tuileries Gardens.
We continued walking to the Arc de Triomphe, then walked down the the Trocadero, saw the fountains, and continued back across the river to the Eiffel Tower.
The boys enjoyed building model Eiffel Tower sand castles in a playground in the shower of the tower.
On our way back, we walked through the market on nearby Rue Cler, then hopped on a train back to our apartment.
Day 7: Day Trip Plans to Versailles Cancelled due to Rain and Illness
Friday, April 20, 2012
On our last day in Paris, I was starting to feel a bit better from my cold, but now Jeremy was starting to feel sick. In combination with predicted rain, we decided that it would be best to cancel our day trip plans to Versailles and have a lower-key day. Fortunately, we were able to return in 2017 and visit this amazing palace!
Wandering Around the 5th Arrondissement
For the morning, we decided to simply wander towards Rue Mouffetard in the 5th Arrondissement, which is a lively area full of shops, restaurants, cafes, and pastry shops.
Mmmm…Pastry shops. One of the best things about France are all the pastry shops. Some of the most mediocre pastry shops in France are so much better than great pastry shops in the United States. So delicious! We skipped several meals in favor of pastries.
We had a delightful time exploring and eventually stopped for lunch.
In the afternoon, we decided to head towards the Opera, making sure to take a slightly different route than we had taken before, then up to Les Halles, where we got the boys some chocolate lollipops.
Of course, we had to stop to get some nice pictures of the fountains! There really is something about little boys and fountains.
We still weren’t ready to be done so we headed towards the Marias neighborhood and eventually caught a train back to our apartment.
Even though we were fighting colds and didn’t do exactly what we planned, it was a great last day in Paris!