Everyone was pretty exhausted, as evidenced by our not terribly enthusiastic wait at the train station, while Martin figured out the Metro tickets.
After settling into our hotel room, we headed out for our first Parisian dinner. Martin had done his research and found a well-reviewed creperie. We walked what looked like a short distance on the map, but turned out to be a 30-40 minute walk, only to find that the creperie was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (it was Monday). With two tired and hungry children, we quickly reviewed the restaurants we had passed en route, remembering a particularly nice looking Thai restaurant.
For some reason, after a few days in Germany, I start to crave Thai food, so in my opinion this was a perfect change of plans. Plus, they had chicken satay and sticky rice, two of Otto's most favorite foods, and since Otto had not been eating much during the trip, this was a welcome sight.
We returned to the hotel, exhausted and ready for bed. Martin turned on the television to see what was on French TV, and we got sucked into the season finale of the French Top Chef. It was exciting to see all the food preparations and to watch the drama unfold. It's funny because we have never watched Top Chef in the states, or any reality television show.
We could barely understand what was happening and had to turn the subtitles on to follow as best as we could (Martin and I were doing our best to translate what we were reading, and between the two of us, we got the general gist of it). It was a three hour finale (we tuned in close to the end of the first hour, not realizing it would be drawn out for more than two more). But we hung in until the end, which was at midnight, to learn that Jean was the declared winner.
We spent our first morning in Paris doing the mundane task of laundry. It turned out to be a fun adventure. We found a laverie libre service (laundromat), where there were actually available washing machines. We started our loads and went searching for some breakfast. We saw that they were doing some sort of film at a little shop, and we walked by and gawked to see if we could figure out what it was. It seemed to be a commercial, since everyone in the line in the shop was holding a four pack of Tumult.
We went across the street to a little bar for some coffee and hot chocolate. The bar was relatively empty when we got in, but then people from the film shoot started to filter in. I looked up from my coffee to see that one of the judges from Top Chef was sipping a coffee at the bar. At first, my family was not convinced. They were sure it was merely wishful thinking, that I was confusing him with some other Frenchman with a similar look. But after a few more film people trickled in, we realized he was, of course, with the crew, and that they were probably doing a commercial that would run during the next season of Top Chef (many of the commercials had a tie in with Top Chef, and this was one of them).
I tried to convince Martin to ask him to pose with the kids, but it was too touristy and embarrassing (and complicated to figure out how to ask in French), so we settled for this shot of him, just to the left of Martin's head (I was pretending to merely take a photo of my dear husband, enjoying his morning cafe).
We went back to the laverie to find it empty, all the dryers available (there are only four dryers, and usually it's a wait for them). The whole thing went so smoothly we had to laugh, and we realized the task led us to and actual celebrity sighting in Paris.
It was cold and rainy, but we decided to forge ahead and get some of the big plans out of the way. The boys were excited to visit the Catacombs, since Martin and I had both told them about our previous visits to them, and because we had read a book which featured a section in the "maze of the catacombs." So we made our way to the Place Denchfert Rochereau, the stop just outside of the Catacombs. We emerged from the station to see a huge line, wrapping all the way around in a spiral. An official told us there was a three hour wait, but that the Catacombs closed in less than two hours. That was a bit of a head scratcher. But we saw no reason to test the validity of the statement, as it seemed clear it was a very long line. Plus, it was cold and raining. Oh, wait, did I already say that?
We did what anyone would do when faced with such a disappointment. We stopped for crepes at a streetside stand.
If you're saying to yourself, "that crepe stand doesn't look all that promising, I'm not sure I'd stop there for my first Parisian crepe," well...you'd be right. We regretted the decision almost immediately, but at least we enjoyed the walk through the park while we ate them.
And then we wandered through some of the markets near the Catacombs, wishing we had waited to eat from there.
And then we hopped on the train and headed for the Arc de Triompe, with a bonus blur of the Eiffel Tower, seen here as we sped past it on the train.
At the Arc de Triomphe, there was a very manageably sized line.
We climbed to the top, and took in the views of the city from above (and another view of the Eiffel Tower behind us, somewhere in the mist).
Looking down at the traffic below.
We took off some of the chill by stopping for tea and coffee and hot chocolate and sweets at Musee Jacquemart Andre. Martin had been very excited to take the boys here, a place he had run across accidentally a few years ago. You can sip your tea next to 300 year old tapestries. And they offer one of the best tea services in the city.
Since we were in full on tourist mode, we then headed for the Eiffel Tower. We walked with it in view, taking pictures as we got closer and closer.
Very close now, and the lights have just turned on.
It was sunset, so it was the perfect time for visit. The tower looked so lovely. The only downside is that all the other tourists agreed, and the line was extremely long, and the air was extremely cold. The best tip we can give anyone who visits is that they should buy tickets in advance, and thus line up in a separate line, which is probably about half the length of the other line. Our wait was a bit more than an hour, but the other line was at least two.
Otto was really interested in taking photos, and I think he took most of them. He kept grabbing the camera away to get a particular shot, and at one point he wanted to lie down on the grass (i.e. mud) so that he could get a good angle.
Afterwards, we walked back to the train and took more photos as we got further and further away.