It’s been a wonderful 7 days in Paris. Thanks to Diana’s college friend, Mary Lewis, we’ve gotten to experience the city through the eyes of a local.
Here are some of the things we loved about Paris, small and large:
- Visiting the Musée Curie. Maddie has been obsessed with Marie Curie for the past couple of years—she loves reading her story from Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and asks me about how she won the Nobel Prize all the time. The museum is a wonderful little gem—they’ve left Dr. Curie’s lab and office just as they were when she worked there.
Marie Curie’s office
Maddie writing her name in the guest book at the museum.
- Incredible playgrounds and parks everywhere you turn, each of them with wonderful water spigots for refilling water bottles on warm days.
This is the beautiful Beuttes-Chamount Park, which had this wonderful water feature that ran all the way down a steep hillside to a large pond.
- Having every piece of playground equipment marked with a maximum and minimum age. Maddie and Ada seemed to pay no attention, but I’m glad Paris pays this much attention to detail.
There’s even a playground in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
- Of course we went to the Louvre, and of course, it was gigantic and overwhelming. It was super hot, and Maddie and Ada weren’t all that excited to explore on this day. You can see our official portrait, with Ada refusing to be photographed in the back.
- Numbering the floors of a building starting with 0 (and if you’re the science museum, labeling the basement with negative 1).
- The subway—it’s hot and much dirtier than the pristine public transportation system (honestly, most operating rooms are probably dirtier than the Oslo T-Bane), but it goes everywhere, and the trains run on tires, which is just amazing.
- Simple lunches—sure, it takes separate trips to the Boulangerie, Fromagerie and the fruit stand, but the result is incredible—a picnic with the best bread, cheese and fruit you’ve ever tasted.
- Getting to know a neighborhood: we spent most of our time around Square Saint-Medard near the Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement. This is advice I took from Tyler Cowan, and it was right on the money.
In this square, we found all sorts of fun, including:
- Dancing in the square on Sunday, when a few local musicians turn out after church to play French classics.
- Eating lunch in the playground in the shade of Saint Medard Church, that dates its origins back to the 7th century.
- Enjoying delicious ice cream and macaroons from a beautiful patisserie across the street from the playground.
- Exploring the wonderful shops along Rue Mouffetard, and finding a favorite Boulangerie and Fromagerie, that we went back to again and again.
- Exploding all those stereotypes I’d heard about French people being rude. Every person we met was kind, welcoming and doted heavily on our two Maddie and Ada. It made really wish I’d kept up with my high school French so I could do a better job communicating with people we met.
In the end, Paris felt like a wonderfully livable, enormous city steeped in a deep history composed of layers upon layers. We’ll have to come back sometime.