One thing to know about travelling to and around Europe as a mom with two very adorable and well-behaved little girls: PEOPLE WILL LOVE YOU. You will be brought to the front of the hour+ line at immigration, so that your wait will only be five minutes. You will be given seats on trains, metros, buses, and the like. Incredibly long line at the Musee D'Orsay? No problem - just get in line, and two minutes later, very nice people will see to it that your darling girls don't have to stand in line for a single minute more. Teach the girls to say 'Merci!' in their cute, high-pitched voices, and those people will smile.
In fact, the only place where we stood in line was for the bathroom, because when a girl's gotta go, she won't let the two little kids, who will most assuredly take too long, go first. Plus, all the people in line for the bathroom seemed to be tourists, and they're not as nice as the French.
With that said, getting around Paris was a breeze. I do know enough French to get by in a country in which many, many people speak English. I did, after all, take 7th grade French. And, since the boy I was massively in love with at the tender age of twelve sat in front of me, and I was too busy doodling our names together on the front of my Trapper Keeper to actually pay attention to my teacher, I passed the class with these important phrases:
Je ne comprends pas - I don't understand.
Je ne sais pas - I don't know.
Parlez-vous Anglais? - Do you speak English?
And survived our trip to France with this one:
Un Big Mac et deux chicken nuggets, s'il vous plaît - Yeah, I took my kids to McDonalds whilst in Paris. It was delicious.
Unfortunately, my pronunciation is just as bad as it was in 7th grade. I could try to pronounce things better, but honestly, when I try to pronounce things the right way, I feel like I'm making fun of the French, and then I feel like a terrible person since they're all just so nice.
Gracie found Paris just as delightful as she hoped it would be after watching Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale and listening to MC Solaar and Claire Diterzi for years. She was thrilled to discover she understood people everywhere we went!
GRACIE [looking around Paris in awe]: Mom! I can UNDERSTAND PEOPLE!!
ME: That's because they're Americans and they're speaking English.
GRACIE [deflates]: Oh.
Another thing to know whilst travelling with two little girls: don't assume the walk from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower is as short as it appears on the map. TAKE THE METRO. Especially if you plan on walking up to the second tier of the Eiffel Tower. That's a lot of walking.
Luckily my girls are walking pros, and they didn't complain once. My legs, however, were killing me.
Our trip was lovely! Paris looked like this:
In the park at the Tuileries Gardens
Orangina and cuppuccino - yay street cafes!
The Sacre-Coeur Basilica
Paris, from the Eiffel Tower
Dancing in Montmartre
French bread.... *drools*
French pastries... *drools*
Gracie's future chandelier
(in the Napoleon apartments at the Louvre)
Gracie and La Enfanta Margarita
Gracie going armless, with her pal Venus de Milo
But the highlight of the trip, if you ask the girls, was saving a Parisian hedgehog, crossing the street.
It went something like this:
At crosswalk along the outskirts of Paris.
GRACIE: Look, Mom, a hedgehog is crossing the street! Look, Mom, the light is green and the cars are coming. THOSE CARS ARE GOING TO KILL THE HEDGEHOG!
[Driver in front of long stream of cars stops when he sees our looks of horror and hears mass amounts of shrieking]
[hedgie waddles in front of his car tire and goes up onto hind legs to inspect tire with his paw]
[build up of cars in intersection, all honking and honking and honking - girls shrieking even louder]
DRIVER [gets out of car, inspects cause of traffic under his tire]: It's a PIG??!
ME [runs into intersection, smiling apologetically while everyone in stopped stream of traffic glares]: Um, yep. [grabs hedgehog with jacket] Merci! [runs back to kids at side of road]
I put the hedgie in the bushes and had to wiggle leaves against his adorable little hiney to get him to run away from the road. Also, perhaps not everyone - entire long lines of Parisians in traffic, for example - love moms with very adorable little girls, after all.
And that concludes our trip to Paris!