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  • Writer's pictureJillian Thomadsen

Our Trip to Paris

My family of 5 recently embarked on an international adventure. In late May and early June, we spent 3 weeks in Paris and Italy. This being 2023, we decided to get even with the long-forgotten pandemic and join the 1 billion travelers to Europe. It was amazing. We laughed, we cried, we saw the sights. I’m here to share with you our itinerary highlights and impart some cautionary tales.

Our first stop was Paris, where my family and I wasted no time taking in the Parisian sights. We went on a cruise of the Seine River, rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower, toured the Louvre, biked around Versailles and climbed the Arc du Triomphe. We walked and took trains and rode the metro.

My first Tip from Paris is: Book your Eiffel Tower tickets exactly 60 days beforehand if you want to take the elevator to the top. These tickets sell out very quickly, especially during peak summer times.

My second tip is more of a recommendation. We took a tour of the Louvre with Avi from The Tour Guy and it was amazing! I highly recommend his tour.

Third tip: Prepare yourself for the elements! The top of the Eiffel Tower is cold and windy. I saw people in full winter attire when we were waiting for the elevators at the bottom of the tower, and I silently scorned their fragility. Imagine! Puffy, floor-length coats and wool hats in June! By the time we were at the top – stumbling around in the bitter, wintry tundra – I searched for said people so I could use them as a blocking mechanism from the gale-force winds.

Fourth tip: There is a restaurant inside Versailles known as Angelina. The food is excellent, but if it’s chocolate you’re after, you’ve arrived. Their hot chocolate is very different from what we’re used to in the states. Here, hot chocolate typically has such ingredients as “modified whey” and “hydrogenated coconut oil”. At Angelina’s, the hot chocolate is just chocolate. Hot. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to drink straight chocolate? It’s an experience.

My fifth and final tip is more of a cautionary tale: The Parisian Metro WILL PROCEED ON TIME to its intended destination, whether all of your limbs have made inside the metro car or not.

I will explain. At one particular rush-hour stop, my husband, 12-year-old son and I boarded the metro train just in time to see the doors close before my 15-year-old twins could get on. You can imagine my panic. Most people (i.e., the French people who were there) would see two capable, almost six-foot tall young lads standing on that empty metro platform. But through those cold, harsh plastic doors, I saw two diaper-clad babies, with chubby cheeks and downy hair, who toddled around in their Disney-themed rompers. Now my babies were abandoned in a foreign city with no means of communication. I could not have this. Summoning my might, I wrenched those metro doors open.

As any New Yorker reading this will know…when you yank open subway doors, the doors actually open and the train doesn’t move. But not so for the Paris metro! The tyrannical doors closed and sinched right on my arm, and then the train took off. That metro was MOVING to its next destination and if I had to lose my arm in the process, eh bien. People on the train were screaming a polite French version of, “You stupid American! Get your arm out of the doors before it gets cut off!” And I obliged, only because I had accepted defeat at the hands of the despotic, Napoleonic French metro.

The rest of the Parisian trip went off without a hitch, except that I endured taunting of my family soon after we were all reunited. My boys knew to wait at the station until we came back for them, and I guess it wasn’t worth losing an arm in the process.

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