I mostly talk to two people these days.
One of them is just eight years old and the other is someone I’ve already been talking to for 15 years.
Although I still love talking to them both; I was looking forward to our next stop because it meant having new people to talk to!
After five weeks in Brussels, it was time to move on. We were all quite excited to go back through the Chunnel to see one of my oldest friends and her family in Portsmouth – a port city in Hampshire, England.
E and I met when we were just 14 years old in a high school class called Skills 2000. We built an ill-fated toothpick bridge together and got caught passing a note that made fun of the teacher's tie, bonding us for life.
Of note, I don't think I've used any "skills" from that class since I took the class in 1995.
Anyway, E and I were friends throughout high school. She went overseas after we graduated but we've managed to keep in touch.
It was a lovely visit.
I don’t get to see E often and when I do it’s sometimes only for a few hours, so it was nice to have a few days to catch up. Despite the time and distance, we picked up right where we left off. And her daughter and LJ were instant BFFs.
During our five days in Portsmouth we visited Portchester Castle, let the kids burn some energy at a trampoline park, explored a free natural history museum, passed by the birthplace of Charles Dickens, played at the park, and wandered the waterfront of the South Sea (where LJ took her first ocean swim of the trip). We also chatted and laughed our way through some great meals.
We left Portsmouth feeling filled up with food, friendship and special memories.
Next, it was time to check something off of LJ’s bucket list.
The kid wanted to climb the Eiffel tower and eat a croissant underneath it.
So, it was off to Paris for three days!
Both L and I had been to Paris twice before but had never gone up the Eiffel Tower. We were really glad we waited and did it with LJ because seeing her reaction was the best part!
Upon seeing it for the first time her mouth dropped open and she yelled, “I can’t believe I’m here. I just can’t believe it. Seriously, am I dreaming?”
I went ahead and pinched her.
We ended up spending several hours at the tower, climbing the stairs to the second floor and then taking the lift to the summit. Croissants were eaten not underneath it but IN it!
LJ declared it one of the best moments of her life!
Other fun stuff in Paris included a delicious dinner at Café Chez Pierre (chosen because we were starving and it was near our hotel, and because my France-born late father’s name is Pierre); the playground in Luxembourg Gardens (which is huge and even has a zipline that is a bit like a roller coaster); wandering around Les Invalides; walking the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe; and a picnic along the Seine. Having enjoyed a hop-on/hop-off bus tour in London, we decided to do a similar budget tour in Paris as well.
But my favourite part was simply a lazy afternoon spent on the gardens in front of the Louvre. L and I played cribbage and sipped wine, while LJ worked on some postcards to friends. Cheap, relaxing and fun!
To save a bit more money in what can be an expensive city, we stayed at the Ibis Budget Paris Porte d’Italie Est. This was perfect for our little family as it had a double bed with a single bunk bed overtop. It was also near a Metro stop and close to shops, restaurants and grocery stores. To save money on food we opted for the hotel breakfast, picked up sandwiches for lunch and finished the days with hearty salads from the salad bars of Franprix.
It was a fun three days and just the right amount of time. Toward the end we were anxious to leave the busyness of the city, take a break from salad and have more space.
We were also excited to hit the coast…of Portugal!
Paris with Kids
How to get to Paris:
Ouibus (we took it from Brussels)
Where to stay in Paris:
Ibis Budget Paris Porte d’Italie Est
What to do in Paris:
Climb the Eiffel Tower or just hang out nearby
The playground at Luxembourg Gardens (€2.50/child)
Wander around the outside of Les Invalides
Walk the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe
Have a picnic along the Seine
Take a Foxcity bus tour (much cheaper than the city’s other hop-on/hop-off tours)
Eat at Chez Pierre in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre
Make your own salad at Franprix