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Paris 2016 Aurora's First Trip Abroad

Friday 8th January

On Friday 8th January 2016 we embarked upon Aurora's first trip abroad—a long weekend in Paris.

The first order of business was getting on the Eurostar. We'd chosen an 08:00 departure and with two night owls in the party this made the morning slightly fraught. Fortunately we'd had the sense to sleep over in a hotel a stone's throw from St. Pancras International—this also had the fringe benefit of a hearty Premier Inn cooked breakfast to kick-start the day.

Despite the early start we made it in plenty of time for the train, however, and soon we were zipping along toward Paris.

All aboard the Eurostar!

Our main concern was whether we could keen Aurora entertained for the whole trip. At first she was very good, but she did start to chafe at her inability to run round like a loon as the trip wore on. In the end we got to Paris without any major hassles however, and trudged our way through the metro to the hotel.

Unfortunately I'd forgotten what a pain it is to get to the Eiffel Tower from Gare du Nord on the metro, so we had quite a slog on our hands. Dragging heavy luggage up and down endless staircases in long, hot underground tunnels never was my idea of fun. Eventually we made it, however, and as we opened the door to our suite the journey all seemed worthwhile.

Aurora dived gleefully into bed as soon as we arrived.
The suite was very certainly well appointed.

Tired from the journey we primarily chilled out in our room for the rest of the afternoon and enjoyed a meal in the restaurant in the evening, where their fusion of French and Californian cuisine was a little unusual but for the most part very tasty.

The view from just outside the hotel.

Then it was off to bed for a very welcome sleep.

Saturday 9th January

The following day we had a late start. A very late start. We'd already decided that this was going to be a holiday for relaxation, as opposed to rushing around cramming in as much as possible; but I feel we rather pushed our remit to its limits.

We'd already arranged to meet up with Gill and James for the day, but as neither Michelle nor Aurora were awake before 10:00 I had to rearrange plans and we eventually decided we'd turn up at their flat whenever the ladies were ready.

Once bathing, breakfasting and all the other minutiae were taken care of, we eventually ended up leaving the hotel after noon—rather a far cry from the 10:30 we'd originally agreed with Gill and James. Oops. Once we'd located the nearest RER station we headed over and found their flat without too much issue.

Fortunately Emma was late having her nap so she was still awake when we arrived and we had a wonderful time chatting with Gill and James while the girls played together. We then enjoyed a delicious lunch while Emma took her nap and then James and I headed over to a nearby playground to let Aurora burn off some of her energy. Once Emma was up we headed back and then finished up the day with a tasty crêpe at the local café.

All in all it was a wonderful day, but unfortunately I completely forgot to take any photos except this one!

Heading home from the café

We caught the RER back to the hotel and Aurora, exhausted from the day, fell fast asleep next to me. This meant I had to carry her back to the hotel—who needs a gym when you have a 20kg toddler?

After we got back we were all so tired that we napped until around 22:30 at which point we headed down for dinner (the restaurant opening thankfully late). Once we got back to the room around midnight we all went more or less straight back to bed.

Sunday 10th January

Another very late start—this holiday turned out to involve a lot of relaxation. Unfortunately this was also motivated by Michelle feeling rather unwell, which isn't the sort of reason you want to have a lie-in on holiday.

Around 14:30 I realised that debatably dry weather was becoming rapidly less debatable the longer we waited, so I took the opportunity to stroll over to the Eiffel Tower with Aurora and leave Michelle to get some sleep.

Aurora was terribly excited as got closer to the tower.

Aurora was quite excited, especially as we got closer and she realised the true scale of the tower. As we walked underneath it she kept asking me whether we could go up it, and as we queued up for tickets it was all I could do to hold on to her to stop her trying to jump the queue.

Fortunately given the season and the poor weather there were relatively few people around and we cruised through to the ticket offices in a few minutes. I'd been wondering whether to get tickets for the top floor, as I wasn't sure how Aurora would take it, but as it happened the decision was taken out of my hands—it was closed for repairs. Soon after getting the tickets, we were waiting with everyone else for the lift to arrive.

It turned up none too soon, as Aurora was getting increasingly restless in the confined quarters, and we quickly boarded and headed up. Within minutes we were enjoying the spectacular views of Paris that I'd seen many times before, but never had a daughter with whom to share them.

Looking north-west toward the Trocadéro with the skyscrapers of La Défense on the skyline.

I must confess, it was a little hard to hear what Aurora thought of the views, however, because it was windy up there. I kept a firm grip on Aurora, slightly fearful she might get whisked away over the edge if I didn't.

It was windy, but we weren't about to let that stop us enjoying ourselves.

As we made our way around the tower, the views unfolded before us, still impressive despite the ominous grey clouds and the fog of distant rain.

The Sienne flowing off to the southwest under the Pont de Bir-Hakiem, renamed from the Pont de Passy in 1948 to commemorate the Battle of Bir Hakiem, fought by the French against the Germans in World War II.
Aurora was less interested in the view than in keeping her hood from blowing down. Can't say that I blame her. Did I mention that it was windy?
The view south east along the Parc du Champ de Mars towards the Ecole Militaire and beyond to the monolithic black Tour Montparnasse, standing in ugly contrast to the rest of the city around it.

We had quite a good look, but Aurora was rapidly becoming dissatisfied with the weather and plaintively asked if we could go down again. So we caught the lift down to the first floor for a quick trip into the gift shop.

Aurora was far more interested in the view than a silly selfie with Daddy.

The gift shop being housed opposite the lift, we did take a little time to stroll around and peer down at the tiny people scurrying around below us.

As we reached the gift shop we hurried gratefully inside, out of the wind and rain. After perusing it for a little while, we decided we'd seen enough of the tower and headed down for the ground. Via the lift I hasten to add.

There's a surprising amount to see on the first floor, including a skating rink of all things.

Safely on the ground once more, we took a few more minutes to take some pictures from the ground and then it was time to head back to the hotel to warm up and dry off.

The tower doesn't look quite so massive from directly underneath, but it's certainly not lacking for symmetry.

That was more or less it for the day—Michelle was still feeling like taking it easy, and none of us were particularly keen to head back out into the howling wind and rain. I did end up popping out to bring back a few snacks to the room, and captured a few more pictures on the way.

I never get bored of taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower. How boring of me.

One thing I was slightly shocked to see was that the Wall For Peace sculpture that I remember from my very first visit to Paris had fallen into disrepair and was at risk of being torn down—it was already closed off due to the danger of collapse. I thought it was a sad metaphor for the state of the world these days.

The Wall For Peace may not be around by the time Aurora is old enough to understand it.

We enjoyed the remainder of the day resting in the room and, after a late dinner, we retired to bed.

Monday 11th January

Monday was checkout day, but our train back to Britain wasn't until just after midday. Fortunately Michelle was feeling rather better than the day before, so after the earliest breakfast of the week we headed out for one last visit to the Eiffel Tower.

No, it's behind you!

We didn't fancy heading back up the tower, especially as time was shorter than the queues, but we strolled underneath it and towards the little carousel that's located just beyond. As soon as Aurora spotted it, of course, nothing would do but to have a ride.

Aurora taking good care of Mummy's purse. Perhaps that won't be such a good idea once she's old enough to buy clothes.

Shortly after, however, it was sadly time to leave. We collected our luggage and this time rather more sensibly decided to take a taxi across Paris—a trifle more expensive, but oh so much less hassle.

The Eurostar home was fairly uneventful, although as usual Aurora had trouble remaining entertained for the whole trip—but that's not too surprising for a three-year-old on a three hour journey, to be fair.

The Eurostar toilets had some entertaining artwork on the walls.

Overall it was a very enjoyable little trip and I think whenever we next decide to head abroad, Aurora will be more than ready for it.

Created By
Andy Pearce
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