I’ve been smitten with all things Parisian since I first stepped out of the Metro station at Place de la Republique in 2003 and zig-zagged toward the tiny studio apartment that would be my study-abroad home that year.  Juliette has inherited my Francophile-ness by osmosis; she took up French lessons on DuoLingo of her own accord and has decorated her room with miniature Eiffel towers.  Shane and I said that we would take her there someday and show her the real thing.  Someday.  Once her brother could hang through the trans-Atlantic flight and sit calmly at a restaurant table for more than 45 seconds.  It would be a few years.


Shane all but pushed the two of us out the door, booking flights only for Juliette and me, assuring me that he was more than happy to stay home with Buddy.  I didn’t fight it and Juliette and I spent all summer looking forward to our big adventure.  Go-time arrived in October and we said our tearful goodbyes to Shane and Isaac, Juliette in particular having a real curbside sob – that girl loves her papa.  Once we stepped through the doors of the airport, though, we both flipped into travel mode, navigating passport check and security with determination.  We missed our guys already, but we were going to PARIS!

That determination waxed and waned over our 16-hour journey.  There were times when the inability to sleep comfortably on the plane was almost too much to bear and we whined with fatigue.  And then there were moments we sang the tagline to Taylor Swift’s “Cause we were in Paris”, then squealed with excitement.  There was a brief 30 minutes near Iceland when Juliette finally slept soundly and I stroked her hair, realizing how infrequent it is that she gets my undivided care anymore. 

We landed in Paris around noon and endured our hour-long RER ride into the city (standing, no less) and I about kissed the filthy floor of the Bastille Metro station, having completed our grand tour de transit.  Ah, that first climb out of the Metro tunnel – it’s a MOMENT.

We headed to the market where our apartment key was supposedly stored in a key locker, only to find the market closed, but our AirBnB host was responsive by text and met us at the front door to our building 10 minutes later.  Our apartment was tiny and sweet with fresh macarons and a bottle of rose on the table.  NOW we could relax!

We took a little cat nap, not allowing ourselves more than a 30-minute doze in an effort to save bedtime till 9pm, splashed a little cold water on our faces, and then headed out.  Our apartment was just a couple of blocks from Place des Vosges, one of my favorite squares in the city, so we joined the hundreds of other people catching those late-day October rays and stretched out on the grass for a bit.

She settled in quite nicely.

A short wander through the Marais landed us at the terrace of Les Philosophes, another old fave, and we promptly ordered a white wine and a Coke.

Welcome to cafe life, Kiddo!  It’s the best.

Recharged and raring to go, we paid our bill and set off toward the river in search of ice cream and sunset vibes.

Berthillon for the win!

We picked up a deck of cards from a tourist shop across from Notre Dame and spent the rest of our daylight minutes playing Rummy next to the Seine.  I’m not sure we even kept score – there’s no losing with this view.

Dusk…we’d done it!  We had earned a proper night’s sleep.  Time to head back.

We crashed hard Sunday night but our internal clocks roused us before dawn and we spent the wee hours of the morning tossing and turning while we sucked on melatonin gummies.  We both fell back into a deep sleep at sunrise and leaned into the luxury of a sleep-in (Mama missed you, Isaac!).  By 10am, though, we were ready to seize the day.  Time for breakfast!

We polished off our pancakes at Cafe de la Poste and then took the Metro over to Galeries Lafayette to enjoy the rooftop view and get the lay of the land.  Here in Seattle, Juliette and I do ninety percent of our shopping at Trader Joe’s and Target, so it was fun to be in a bona fide department store for a bit.

From the rooftop, we spotted the Opera and the Eiffel tower and plenty of bustle on the street down below.

I had planned on a walk through Montmartre after this, but I hit a wall as we were leaving the Galeries and asked Juliette if we could head back toward the apartment for a bit – I was fatigued and a bit nauseous and eager just to crawl back into bed.  She sweetly obliged, hopping back onto the Metro and giving me the only free seat on the train.  I collapsed on the bed and woke a couple of hours later to find her eating macarons and reading quietly in the window seat.

When she poured herself some water in a wine glass, I wondered…am I sure this kid is ten?  Did I miss a couple of years somewhere along the line?!

My nap did me a ton of good and I was ready to hit the streets again by mid-afternoon.  Call it jet-lag, I guess.  We hopped into our building’s teeny-tiny elevator and set back out.

I love that we walked through Place des Vosges on our way to so many of our destinations.  You know, no big deal…just passing through!

We walked the streets of Ile Saint Louis and I pulled Juliette through a wooden door in a non-descript facade.  She oohed and ahhed when the dark vestibule gave way to the bright interior of Eglise Saint Louis en Ile.  I love this church.

Back to the streets!

We walked to the Jardin des Plantes, surprised by how much was still blooming in October.

Bench break.  Prior to this trip, I told Juliette that we’d be walking a ton, but we’d never be far from a perfect place to sit and rest.

From there, we walked the couple of blocks to the Grande Mosquee de Paris and drank iced and tea and lemonade in their brightly tiled courtyard while munching on Moroccan treats.

We popped into L’Epee de Bois on our way to the Metro and each picked out a toy car for Isaac.  We really did miss that boy.

Though we’d just walked several miles, Juliette wasn’t too tired to surf the Metro on our way back to the Marais.  “No hands, Mama!”

Back on Rue de Rivoli we did a little shopping (given the 80-degree temps, Juliette wanted a pair of shorts!) and then we grabbed a terrace meal at La Cooperative.  These 5pm Cokes were clutch in seeing us through to bedtime.

These terrace chats were far and away the favorite part of my week.

Seeing the Louvre lit up at night was high on our list of must-sees, so we walked over there after dinner and whiled away the dusk hours with a stroll to the Tuileries and a game of cards.

The street lamps bloomed bright – it was happening!


We lingered till it was good and dark, satisfied that we’d soaked in the full effect.

We Metro’d back toward our apartment, strolling through the buzzy Marais and deciding we had enough left in us for just one more stop…

We grabbed dessert at Creperie Suzette and I treated myself to a Cote de Provence night cap – I mean, it was my birthday after all!

There’s no one I would have rather shared that tiny table with.  Juliette and I recapped the highlights of our day and I apologized that my little episode had derailed our morning and foiled our Montmartre agenda.  She wisely reminded me that there are no wrong plans in Paris – it had still been a very very good day.  Cheers to that, Kiddo.  And Bon Anniversaire to me!