We made it! Our two weeks in Paris – the trip we’ve been planning and anticipating since September – has officially begun! Our daughter has been on many planes in her short 18-month life, and it was the utter joy and ease of our trip last summer to Mexico City that inspired this Paris trip. However, a seven-month-old and an eighteen-month-old are very different, so needless to say I was a little nervous about such a long overnight flight with a full-fledged, mobile, opinionated toddler! We arrived mid-afternoon after an easy-enough flight experience – “easy enough” in that despite a 1+ hour delay on an 11:55pm flight, and baby girl not falling asleep until at least 1am, she DID sleep most of the time (with minimal fussing), though I did NOT.
Our flight schedule actually worked out very well. Because it was so late, once we arrived in France, it was already mid-afternoon. That meant we only had a few hours to remain awake until we could pass out at an appropriate local bedtime. And after a taxi journey to our Airbnb in the 20th arrondissement, a trip to the grocery store, and a quick dinner of ready-made ravioli, we did just that.
Thursday was the real Day One. We’re staying in a neighborhood that’s off the tourist path of Paris. The 20th is on the eastern edge of city central, and it doesn’t get much non-local traffic, which is exactly what we wanted for our two-week stay. On recommendation of our host, we ventured out on our first full day to a nearby neighborhood that is out of character in terms of Parisian architecture. On top of a hill, requiring a steep climb up one of several staircases, Rue Jules Siegfried and Rue Irenee Blanc are two quiet, cobblestoned streets that comprise “La Campagne a Paris” (the country in Paris). It was originally a working class community built at the start of the 20th century, but now it remains a quiet village of (naturally) upscale houses tucked away in seclusion.
Perhaps it looked a bit more like a stroll through England of yore, but the company was entirely French – stylish older women out for a chat, elderly men in cardigans ambling through the streets. Naturally, bébé charmed them all as she excitedly chased pigeons and pointed at airplanes overhead.
After our stroll and a brief rest back at the apartment, we meandered down our street, just in time for “Happy Hour,” as advertised by many of the local cafes. We stopped in for a drink at a couple of spots before settling in for dinner – arugula salad with tomatoes and beef, gazpacho with peas, and asparagus and mushroom risotto (Cheerios for the toddler, who has decided to be picky for this trip). A steady stream of pedestrians kept baby girl entertained, as did the pigeons and a couple of local girls also dining al fresco who shared their toys. The sun does not set here until nearly 10pm, so we are adjusting to a shifted schedule that keeps us up later with the sun. The effects of jet lag have seemed to be minimal in this household; hopefully this “summer schedule” proves equally as conquerable!