What to do on a weekend in Paris?

I normally blog about a movie or TV series we watched over the weekend, but my husband booked us a weekend in Paris as our accumulated points of some sort were about to expire. Obviously, our eyes didn’t see a TV screen for over forty-eight hours. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the weekend as we were both very busy, he with his work, I with my writing. We tried to delegate the task to our two teenagers, but to little avail. Our son, who is a bit of a foodie, only came up with the idea of visiting a chocolate shop. We had a quick look online for the ususal touristic stuff on Friday evening, but the Catacombes were closed (why now!!!???), and the Moulin Rouge was already fully booked. So, also because the weather was a bit fickle, we had to go ‘on the fly.’

Saturday Morning

A typical Metro station sign
A typical Parisian Metro station sign

We got up at 4am and took our KLM flight to the airport of Charles de Gaulle where we arrived at about 9am. It’s the biggest airport of Paris, but also the saddest and dirtiest airport I’ve been to. Unfortunately, there were no trains this weekend going into Paris, so we were directed to a bus that would take us to the nearest train station. We were packed like sardines in the bus, but fortunately didn’t have to wait long and could sit in the train. We arrived in Paris mid-morning.

The Sacré-Coeur
The Sacré-Coeur

At first we thought to visit Versailles but changed our mind when we found out how long it would take us to get there. With only one one-and-a-half day to spend, time was precious. The weather was good, so we decided to visit the Sacré-Coeur first. We grabbed ourselves some drinks and a bite (I got myself a croissant vanille, i.e. a pudding croissant. Yum!) at a patisserie and made the climb up. There were many people there, but not as many as I have experienced before. It was still early, and the weather forecast had been bad. We were very lucky with blue skies!

The kids weren’t very impressed with the church. More so with the view from here, and my husband could tell them what was visible from this high point.

View from Sacré-Coeur/Montmartre
View from Sacré-Coeur/Montmartre

Next, we visited Montmartre. It is a very touristic attraction that we thought our artistic daughter might enjoy. We walked around the little square with all the painters painting pitoresque Parisian scenes or drawing faces of tourists. To my surprise, I didn’t get much of a reaction from my daughter. We were lucky enough to find a table in the sunshine and enjoyed a white beer while watching the tourists go by.

A little sculpture on a fence
A booklovers’ sculpture on a fence

Saturday Afternoon

Next, we decided to do another outdoor attraction: the cemetery Père La Chaisse. The kids found this a bit more interesting. My son stood on a grave and breathed deeply three times (apparently giving him more energy, according to instructions), we saw Chopin’s grave, and of course visited Jim Morrison’s grave. The kids had no idea who he was. They were more impressed with the amount of chewing gum stuck to the tree there. We completely forgot to visit Edith Piaff’s grave.

Jim Morrison's grave at cemetery Père La Chaisse
Jim Morrison’s grave at cemetery Père La Chaisse

Walking down from the cemetery, we headed to the chocolate shop of Alain Ducasse which my son had found online. It wasn’t as impressive as we had thought although we did learn they actually have machines to cover the fillings with chocolate. We bought a little box of chocolate which set us back more than I cared for. They were very nice, but the minty ones weren’t minty enough for my taste.

The weather was turning dark and wet now, so we ducked into one of the little restaurants, called Café des Anges, in the Marais quarter and had dinner while it bucketed down outside. It was a quaint, little restaurant, and we were happy we weren’t big Americans as we already struggled with the size of the seating.

Saturday Evening

The Eiffel Tower by night
The Eiffel Tower by night

With our bellies full and our feet rested, we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. It was a long wait for the tickets and a long way up, but it was so worth it: the view up there is spectacular! We arrived at the top just as it was getting dark. Magnifique! My son made some time lapse shots with his phone and they are so cool. I’ll post one here once he forwards it to me, so check back in a day or so. It’s worth it!

Again, we were very lucky with the weather. It was dry for the time we were up there. By the time we had made our way all around and had feasted our eyes on the views, it began to rain again, and we decided to descend the multitude of steps again. We had to end the day with eating some waffles, so we walked to the Centre Pompidou and had some excellent waffles with ice cream at one of the Amarino outlets before heading back to the hotel.

Waffle with ice cream!

Just for fun, we let the kids guide us through the metro system. My husband and I enjoyed seeing them trying to figure out how the maps worked. They only made one little mistake at the end, and we corrected them as we all had sore feet and desperately wanted to lay on a bed. But, we are confident they will be able to make their way around next time they visit Paris on their own.

Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou

Sunday Morning

Our daughter woke us at 8am. She’s a stickler for plans. We had breakfast at the hotel, the Radisson Blu at Porte de Saint-Cloud. This hotel, by the way, was one of the cleanest and well-appointed hotels I’ve stayed in. We did have to ask for toothbrushes as they we about the only thing not supplied (and there’s always something we forget to bring 🙂 ).

Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil
Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

The two things on the schedule this morning were memories, both of them in the south-west part of Paris. The first one was mine alone, of the time when I stayed with my husband when he did his engineering course in Paris. I spent quite a lot of days studying in the Jardin des Serres d’Auteil. It’s a beautiful Victorian glasshouse with tropical plants. It’s warm, it’s quiet (when you ignore the huge bird cage filled with finches, canaries, and parakeets), and I just loved it. I still remembered the plants there. The kids were most impressed with the carps in the pond.

A huge flower at the tropical garden of Auteuil
A huge flower at the tropical garden of Auteuil

 

We then made our way to anthother garden; Parc Citroën. It’s a public park built on the site of the old Citroën car factory. We had visited this park in 2007, when the kids were five years old. They couldn’t remember. It was summer and hot and we played in our bathers in the fountains. Unfortunately, something sad must have happened as people weren’t allowed to play in them anymore. We were ushered out by a guard, and we heard through her walkie-talkie that there were two suspicious persons spotted in the park. I guess we’ll never find out what was going on.

Parc Citroën
Parc Citroën

Sunday Afternoon

As you can see in the photo of Parck Citroën, the weather was getting dark, so the afternoon activity was inside at the Louvre. We wanted to walk through the Tuilleries at first but then decided to spare our feet and make our way there by metro. We had a bite at the food court there (not recommendable as it is expensive and not very ‘Parisienne’) and entered the museum. As expected, there were masses of people here, but it became worse when it started to rain outside. We found the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. I was surprised that my daughter was most excited here. She recognized many French paintings they had discussed in art class and could tell us stories about them 🙂 .

As you can imagine, by now we had ‘flat-feet’ (as we would say in Dutch) and wanted nothing more than to sit down somewhere and take the weight from our sore soles. My son had seen an advertisement from Subway about a bun with Doritos on it, so we found our way to the nearest Subway outlet. After a short lunch/dinner, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the airport.

Sunday Evening

The trip was extremely tiring as we had to stay standing both train and bus ride. The Starbucks at the airport had hardly any seating, and when we decided to have a bite at the Yo! Sushi place, we were sorely disappointed again as they didn’t serve any chicken (and my son doesn’t eat fish). The staff at the airport were rude and unhappy, so we were glad to come home to find our dogs welcoming us with wagging tails!

A beautiful sunset to close off a wonderful weekend
A beautiful sunset to close off a wonderful weekend

I’ll leave you to enjoy some of the photos I took at the Louvre…

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