At the end of May my kids had a school break that coincided with a long weekend for Matt, so we decided to make the most of it and head to Paris for the weekend. Since we’d done so many tourist-heavy things in Italy, much of not really child-centered, we wanted to make this weekend mostly for the kids and spend two of the three days in Disneyland Paris.
Overall the weekend was fine. We enjoyed it and all the children want to go back to Paris. But let’s just say that not every trip can go perfectly.
We arrived late on Friday night and had a car service booked to take us to an Airbnb just outside the Disney park. Since we arrived so late, the property manager had left our keys and instructions with the host at a restaurant near the apartment. We arrived, picked up our packet, and followed the directions to the property. When we got to the correct floor and looked for apartment #222 as was listed in our instructions, we found that the apartment numbers only went as high as 210. Reluctant to try the keys in multiple doors in case people were in those apartments and thought we were breaking in, we checked #202 just in case that was the typo, and were unable to get in. Unfortunately, our phones weren’t working either, despite having gone to the service provider earlier in the week to make sure we knew the procedure for getting data and cell service abroad.
It was about 10:30PM, so we found a restaurant with WiFi and emailed and texted the phone numbers for the property managers. But, since it was 10:30PM on a Friday night, we doubted we’d hear back. With no other options, we searched online for a nearby hotel. Thankfully, because we were so close to Disney, there were plenty of options. We walked to the closest one, paid double what the Airbnb had cost us for a night, and finally got into a room and put down our suitcases at about midnight. The big reason we always use Airbnb is that, with six family members, one hotel room is usually not big enough. This hotel DID have a suite that slept us all, gratefully, but we paid a pretty penny for it. At that point in the night, though, we had no other option and were just grateful the hotel had vacancies.
Sometime in the middle of the night, the property manager obviously got my message and responded saying she was sorry about the mix-up and hoped we had figured it all out. No correct apartment number included.
The next morning I saw the message and I was pissed. My response was that NO, we had not figured it all out, still had no idea what apartment we were supposed to be in, and had had to pay for a hotel room. Eventually she got us the correct info and we made our way back to the apartment building and got inside. Unwilling to let the delays destroy our weekend, we hopped on the train at a nearby station and took the 35-minute ride into Paris.
From that point, the day was lovely; the children loved the city and so did Matt, who had also never been. We strolled the banks of the Seine, saw Notre Dame, toured an underground ruin, and had a yummy lunch. We walked miles and the kids never complained.
Having checked the weather forecast before leaving for Paris, we knew the whole weekend looked very rainy. We came prepared in waterproof coats, and the temps were only in the 50s. Paris is lovely in any conditions, so we didn’t let the occasional drizzle stop us. We walked BY the Louvre, stopping outside to check out the fountains and the pyramid, but we didn’t go in. We strolled through the Jardin du Tuileries, let the kids ride the carousel and play on the playground, and had a delicious pastry-break at Angelina Paris where we drank the most delicious hot white chocolate imaginable. After our snack, we caught a ride in a giant, motorized bike taxi (that fit all of us!) down to the Eiffel Tower.
Standing under the Eiffel Tower for the first time is pretty awe-inspiring. Nevermind the fact that it’s one of the most famous sites in the world, it’s sheer size is just so much more massive than I ever anticipated. It’s just huge and incredible. Watching the kids and Matt’s amazement as they saw it for the first time was even better than seeing it myself.
Because we’d planned this trip pretty late, tickets for the Eiffel Tower had been all sold out online for the day we’d be there. But the rainy, cold weather worked in our favor and when we arrived at the base of the tower, there were no lines at all! We walked right up, purchased tickets, and started climbing. We made it to the second level, where there’s a shop and a restaurant and some really cool views, but the line to get all the way to the very top WAS quite long. With the fog and rain, we also doubted the view would be much better. Walking up the Eiffel Tower was one of my favorite adventures yet because we’d been so sure we wouldn’t be able to do it, it was a fantastic surprise when we could.
Coincidentally, an old friend of mine from high school was also in Paris that weekend, so we met him and his girlfriend for dinner. As we sat in the restaurant, the drizzle turned to real rain, and the rain turned into a downpour. We caught a cab to the train station to make our way out of the city back toward Disney, and the rain just kept on falling.
We spent the next two days soaking wet right to the bone in Disneyland Paris. We made the very best of it — we went on tons of rides and had lots of fun — but that kind of weather makes it hard to really enjoy the scenery. I don’t think I could tell you what most of the park looks like, because I spent the whole two days with my hood up and my head down as we walked between rides. We laughed and splashed in puddles and tried to remain positive, we hung our wet clothes to dry overnight, and we did it all again for a second day, but it was certainly not the trip of our dreams.
By Wednesday, after we’d been home a few days and the rain in France continued to fall, we watched the news report historic flooding in Paris as the Seine crested its bank and the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay were forced to move art from certain parts of the museums to save it from the rising waters.
In the end, it was a good trip and it proved that conditions don’t have to be ideal for us to have a good time. Not every trip can go smoothly from start to finish. Now we just need to go back to Paris and enjoy it in the sunshine!