Last week (mid March 2022), my daughter and I went back to Paris, a city we had longed to return to since visiting about 5 years ago when Chris and I took the kids to Europe for two weeks. That time, we only had a 36 hour stop-over on our way to Barcelona via London and it wasn't enough time to see all we wanted to see. In January, I was looking at potential places for rent on AirBnB for Spring Break and the cutest Paris apartment popped up in my suggested places to stay, so I offhandedly joked that I should take J to Paris. (Spring break week falls just two weeks shy of her 17th birthday, so that would be a memorable way to celebrate her birthday and a fun girls trip for us).
When I mentioned it to my husband, he immediately thought it was a great idea and encouraged us to go, and said he and our son would have a fun "boys week" skiing and boating. So I began looking at it a little more seriously and because it was off season in Paris, (and we luckily booked before gas prices really sky-rocketed) the whole trip was really affordable. Everything I booked was fully refundable right up until I left, so I felt comfortable booking it.
And then the completely unjust war started in Ukraine (!) and I began to second guess us going. It felt odd going at such a tumultuous & unpredictable time, and we watched the situation all the way up until the day before we left. A week or two out, everyone in our immediate sphere said, “Still go; don’t stop living your life.”
My “resolution” this year (I don't really do resolutions but usually have a word that comes to me for an over-arching goal for the year) was to stop making decisions from place of fear or hesitation after these past two years. We have all been living with constant disappointments, on top of everything else Covid related, and I had been feeling as hesitate to book an overseas trip as many have. My reassurance was that I was able to cancel our trip (hotel, airfare) literally up to the day before we left, but in the end, I'm so, SO thankful we went! It was 1000% worth it, and the mother daughter time priceless. A dream come true for both of us!
Ironically, the day before we arrived, France dropped their mask requirement as well as the need for us to convert our vaccination cards into their QR code to show them at all restaurants and museums, so it was easy traveling there as far as that goes. We did still have to get a rapid Covid test to come home (within 24 hours) so we did that Saturday morning at the pharmacy right next to our hotel and it was also fairly easy. Thankfully, almost everyone speaks English in Paris and it was very easy to get this done.
One of our favorite things while in Paris was just exploring the streets and finding charming cafe's, vintage stores and beautiful shops to go in. We walked over 6 miles a day exploring on top of a few key things we wanted to do.
A few blocks from our hotel (more on that below) was the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the second largest cathedral in the city, just a little smaller than the Notre Dame. We didn't go in, but instead enjoyed the beautiful square outside of it, on our way to dinner and a shopping.
It was definitely chilly with lows in the 40's and high's reaching mid 60's on certain days.
Jordan's #1 to do was the Louvre, and she loved it! We walked more than 7 miles that day so Mama's feet were hurting big time. I somehow got Plantar fasciitis the first travel day so I was able to buy some Dr. Scholl's foam inserts which helped, but if I could recommend packing one thing, aside from ibuprofen, that would be it.
You know me; I just love amazing light more than anything so I made her stand here :-)
We did not wait in line to see the Mona Lisa close up :-)
My favorite museum there was the Musée d'Orsay, originally a train station built in the late 1800's. A truly gorgeous building, with a ton of impression paintings, photography, sculpture and much more. We did this on our first day and brought (lugged) the good camera.
A vintage collection by Saint Laurent.
My art loving daughter
My art loving daughter
This is the Church of Saint-Séverin - we stepped in as we were walking to the Shakespeare & Company bookstore. Beautiful.
Book lovers and history lovers, I definitely recommend stopping here!
More random outtakes and street captures
Several people have asked me where we stayed and if we recommend, and I do! We both loved the charm and location of the Bonsoir Madame hotel right next to the Luxembourg Gardens. I booked the adorable & very comfortable Les Ruches room - that we called our Bee Room. The hotel was right in the heart of the Saint Germain area (6th Arr) and very walk-able to so many parts. But, if seeing the Eiffel Tower from your hotel is a priority then this one will likley be too far, so you may want the 7th Arr, or the much busier 1st or 2nd. We loved the slower, more local feel of the 6th. We got treated to this beautiful sunset one evening and enjoyed the views from our hotel room doors.
I liked that we were right next door to the Jardin du Luxembourg and only wish she was in full bloom, except for this blooming cherry tree we both loved! I really want to go back one day in April or May when everything is in bloom, or early fall.
One of the highlights for us was a dinner cruise on the Seine one night that started and ended (8:30-11:00 PM) here at the Eiffel Tower. We both really enjoyed it and the 4 course meal, and the people watching, not to mention seeing everything along the Seine from the glass boat. Not a bad seat!
I would say this is an excursion better for older teens and adults and not something I think kids under 15 would really enjoy that much, and certainly not young children.
Packing List Recommendations
When we took the kids to Europe in 2017, I brought the only flatiron I had at the time, thinking it was dual voltage since it was a $100 "good one." Turns out, it was NOT dual voltage and because the voltage is 220 in Europe compared to our 110 voltage in the US, it got so hot that I literally singed and burned my hair the second I touched it to one section. I had to cut off all the damage when we returned -- lesson learned!
So this time, I bought this Hot Tools dual voltage Flat Iron and made sure to turn the heat way down from what I normally use here since I knew it would get hotter over there. I was able to use this as a curling iron when I wanted a few waves so it was all I brought. (My dual voltage blow dryer got too hot on high, so I do recommend using the one the hotel provides if you are able.)
I bought these updated travel adapters and they worked great with plenty of USB plugs for all our devices.
When I came back home, I bought another pair
of gel cushion shoe inserts that I like even better than what I found over there in a local pharmacy (it took about 5 pharmacies to even find a pair that would work with my shoe size). I'll never travel without these again - anywhere!
Speaking of shoes, I only brought two pairs: my Veja's that I absolutely love. They are extremely comfortable and have a similar padding inside as noted above (I just needed an extra layer thanks to the Plantar fasciitis I was experiencing). I have tried on a few different styles, but the Veja Esplar style are what I liked the best.
And the second pair was a set of lace up black boots since it was still quite chilly there in March. Mine have a light fleece lining (super warm!) but these are similar.
I will say its much easier to pack in summer since you can get away with a smaller suitcase, so I did check this 25" medium size suitcase. I love this Samsonite! Im not a fan of the hard case shells because I feel like I can fit a lot more in a deep, expandable soft side roller, but that's just me. I know a lot of folks prefer the clam shell hard cases.