Day one in Paris with a nine year old and friend
Exploramum, Explorason, and Explorason are excited !
Today we are off to explore Paris !
(I love this beautiful photo of my friend too).
I’ve been put in charge of getting us to the centre of town on the Metrolitain – I love the challenge, so here we are working out coloured lines, numbered tracks, directions, train changes and destinations.
We decided to purchase a five day pass. It is way cheaper. It also gives discounts to some tourist attractions we later find out. We change trains and pop our heads out of the ‘Citi’ Metro and are right in the heart of Paris. Right by the garden markets so in we go for a look. Explorafriend comments at how half the stuff is from other countries, and how much cheaper it would be in Indonesia – her favourite place to visit, but of course we are in Paris, and not Bali, so we just look and leave. One of the keys to shopping overseas is making sure what you buy is a genuine ‘souvenir’ and as we have more countries to visit, there is no point buying it here for ten times the price unless it holds a special memory.
The sun is shining as we cross the River Seine and there are parts of my body that have not seen the sun for a long time. Is the world ready for this white skin? I joke.
Notre Dame was on our list and we wanted to go up to the top (side entry) but the line up was over 2 hours, and it is really hot, so we might come back and do that another day.
Next stop is opposite the Hotel de Ville for a massage!
Whilst we had a massage, Explorason started drawing, and I looked up and people were taking photos of HIM! I guess Paris is seen as the city of art too!
By now we had done a few hours walking around Paris.
It was really hot, and we were really tired. There are free water fountains for drinking all over Paris so you can refill your bottles for free, like this one here outside this famous bookshop.
So we sit, and wait to be served, but the lady ignores is, so after a while we leave. By now Explorason has just about got heat exhaustion and he really needs a cool drink and a break.
So we end up heading to the Latin Quarter and sit in a bar. Virgin Piña Coladas all round. Very fake and sweet, but the sugar and ice does the trick. It is here Explorason starts to get a handle on where we are in Paris. He has a great sense of direction, and we encourage this as part of his travels. So he plans with me how to get us to our next station.
Once outside, I cannot believe how much he has revived! He is racing around and climbing poles. Prior to our break he was just about in tears with tiredness. When travelling, it is important to give kids breaks. They do not have the stamina of adults.
The building below is actually covered with scaffolding, and over that is a mess protection. Can you believe this advertising banner gets changed?! Today it is Badoit. Tomorrow or next week, something else.
So next off we head to Sacre Coeur. We have to chance from below ground to an above ground train to get here. As we walk up the street we buy a few gifts. We are told this is one of the cheapest areas for souvenirs and I have to agree. Avoid the Notre Dame area as it is way overpriced!
Then we all go “ahhhh” in unison and laugh. It is a sight to behold. Explorason races up the stairs, and I race after him. There are throngs of people on the lawns as we walk up. Many are having picnics, cuddles, or playing games with kids. It is lovely. We get to various levels and each time we head up, the view of Paris becomes more evident.
We head inside and Mass is on so we sit in the back section for a short while. There are beggars outside and one is crying and counting her money. It is hard as we have seen a lot of beggars in our time, and I have learn some are sent out by the family, and they take turns, and they are not all poor. But this lady touches my heart, so I empty out my coin and go give them to her. She gives me a huge smile. That makes me want to get back to giving more again. Only God knows their real personal situations, conditions, and their hearts – I don’t. So I walk off, and think to myself that I love to give, and am pleased I can.
As you leave Sacré-Cœur if you head to the side and walk up the lane, you will find Montmartre.
A bustling area of souvenir shops, over-priced cafés, restaurants and artists.
Explorason stops to look at some of the art. I think you get to know genuine artists, and ones just selling paintings. The ones just selling look bored, and have very clean hands. No paint in sight.
We do see one or two genuine ones at work on their art which is nice. But even then, you do wonder if they are just putting the finishing lines on something done a while before.
However, this artist is genuine.
Next thing I knew he had offered Explorason paper and a paintbrush and was offering for him to paint.
Now many of you might know the Explorason loves his art. His passion is actually cartooning, and he loves to draw. He really hasn’t done any painting but he has wanted to come and have art lessons in Paris, so even though this artist spoke no English he gave him a few tips. It was hard, as he also gave him a thick paintbrush, so style was limited, but he enjoyed himself.
We ended up buying one of the artists paintings in the same size, and we will eventually frame them as a set.
Explorafriend was then nabbed by a silhouette maker. In one minute he had snipped her outline of her profile.
Next up Explorason decided he wanted to have his done using his pocket money. He gets the equivalent of $1 for every year of his age, so $9 a week.
Of course, then the pressure was on for me to have mine done. We wanted to see how he was going to snip the curly hair.
So at the end, we felt like the profile of Explorason was the best. My hair looked a bit ratty. Explorafriend’s wasn’t bad either.
We wanted to head back to the base of Sacré–Cœur. Here the restaurants are not so crazy priced as the top f the hill. We contemplate the steps.
Then we see the cable car and we discover we can ride it any time for free with our visitor pass we bought for the Metro. Bonus!
We sit and have a crepe, and Explorason sees a couple enjoying wine and the view opposite of Sacré–Cœur. He goes up and asks if they would like a photo, and next thing he is talking to them deep in conversation for ten minutes. I was pretty pleased as a parent about this as it shows he is confident and can communicate well.
We hear music coming from above at Sacré–Cœur. So up we head via the cable car again. The view is fantastic as the sun sets over Paris.
Hard working Indians and guys from Bangladesh bombard us trying to sell super cheap Eiffel Towers, key rings, and beer! Now if you go – haggle. Pay One Euro, fifty cents for a beer and make sure it is icy cold. You can get a light up Eiffel Tower and a stack of key rings thrown in for about eight Euro.
We sit on the steps near a guitarist and start to enjoy the music. We are close and talk to him, and he asks if anyone can harmonise. Well I can!
So next thing I am up with him singing in front of hundreds of people. I absolutely loved it. I felt so free. I felt the happiest tonight that I can remember being in a long, long, long time. Life is fantastic. I love our journey. I love my life.