Thursday, April 06, 2017

April in Paris: Voyager Avec Enfants (Day Four)

I had a whole itinerary for the Day 4, though what we ended up doing was…slightly different. But we’ll get there.

Breakfast in the morning was a relaxed affair chez-nous again, and by the time we left the apartment, around 10:30am, we had plans to walk across the bridge at Passerelle Debilly to take 72 line of the city bus up to the Centre Pompidou. The Pompidou Center is architecturally unique, of course, and between the modern art and the robust children’s programming I’d read about, I figured we could spend most of the morning there into the early afternoon.

The bus ride was fine, and easy to negotiate. We’d bought a ten pack of tickets (for, I believe, 14 Euros) at the tabac across the street from our apartment beforehand, so after navigating how to get to our closest bus stop, the hardest part was just figuring out how to feed the tickets into the pay meter up by the driver. Per Google maps, that particular bus at that time of day comes every 20 minutes, and while we must have just missed a bus by the time we got there, the wait didn’t seem too bad, and the ride was smooth.

The fly in the ointment came in the form of this announcement. And, to be clear, I had checked the website for the Centre Pompidou the night before to make sure it was open, not wanting a repeat of yesterday’s missed visit to the Natural History museum.

(“Due to a strike, the Centre Pompidou is actually closed. Thank you for understanding.”)

It’s the “actually” that gets me. Why you gotta be all bitchy, scrolling sign?

So anyway, modern art was apparently not happening today. After weighing our options and seeing what was nearby (-ish), we decided to walk to Luxembourg Gardens, where word had it there were magnificent grounds to stroll, as well as (this part was key) a pretty big children’s playground. The thing with kids is that you kind of have to strike while the iron is hot, which is why we tend to front-load our more intense activities towards the beginning of the day. Once that early timeframe is thwarted, we tend to get a lot more whining, a lot more, “What are we doing no-ow? Why do we haaaave to?” and so much more foot dragging. So making the Plan B location a playground was a reaction to this inevitable blowback, though since it was located within a larger historical site, this was kind of like making a nice bed of spinach on top of which we set a big mound of ice cream. Something for everyone.

The Jardin de Luxembourg was magnificent as expected, and the playground was truly very nice, and much more extensive than the one at Jardin des Tulieries. One thing you do need to know about it, however, is that it’s a pay-to-play playground. Kids over a certain age (I’m sorry, I should have paid more attention, but once I saw all my kids were over the cutoff I kind of didn’t care anymore) cost 2.50 Euros to get in, and their corresponding adults cost 1.50 Euros. YES, ADULTS HAVE TO PAY TO GET IN, WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT. That said…it really was a great playground, and for almost two hours of nonstop fun, the 10 Euros was well worth it in my mind. But to give you as much information as possible to determine if the trip is worth it for you, here are some pictures and panoramic video, including video of what I thought was the standout piece of playground equipment there, though technically for ages 7 and up. (I think some younger kids were riding on this thing, and no one was enforcing this age cutoff in particular. Really, I think that, within reason, most kids five and up would do just fine on this, though obviously you know your own kids, and are the best judges of how firmly they’ll hang onto the zip line thinger.)

There are some nice snack stands close to the playground, peddling foods ranging from your basic kid impulse buy sugar bombs (sweet crepes, ice cream, candy) to some more substantial fare, like hot and cold sandwiches, salads, fries and drinks. After the playground we refueled for a bit before deciding that we were not going to be thwarted by museum closures TWO DAYS IN A ROW, BY GOD. So we were going to head back to the Natural History Museum at the Jardin des Plantes to see what we missed yesterday.

Now, on this plan, I'll fully admit that I was on the fence. Go back to Jardin des Plantes? This late in the day? It seemed like a recipe for overtired children and science-whining to me, which is worse than any other kind of whining because I take it personally somehow. But I acquiesced, and I'm so glad I did. Because the Natural History Museum? 100% worth it. These are some shots from the Grande Galerie D’Évolution, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Natural History Museum mounted and presented so exquisitely. And you were able to get so close to everything. There was hardly any glass, very few ropes—the exhibits were cordoned off, but way down low, so they didn’t block your sight-line, and so while it was grand, it all felt very intimate as well. It was amazing. The kids loved it.

There was a pretty good children’s exhibit on the side of the gallery too (an extra 2 Euros on top of the price of a regular ticket)—all hands on stuff, well done—but at the point that we reached that part I think the kids had kind of hit the wall stamina-wise, so we started to think about heading back towards home for dinner. Being rather too lazy to think of something new (and me rather too risk averse to chance having a bad meal), we went back to Les Cocottes, where I actually managed to get pictures of some of the food this time.

We have an early morning planned for Day 5, so we headed home in anticipation of bedtime, picking up some baguettes on the way for breakfast in the morning. I entrusted Mack to carry the goods, which was…maybe a mistake. But he left us with half a loaf, at least.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Thank you for writing!

    While in Paris, you have to try macarons, they are delicious, and they come in so many different flavours. You don't need to go to one of the fancier famous (and expensive!) places, even the McDonalds McCafe version tastes pretty good.

    On your last day, please give us a photo tour of the apartment, with the clever storage nooks, and compact layout. Would be really handy as ideas for those of us in city centre small space living. :-)

  2. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Just wanted to say that I'm appreciating the write-ups! I have a one-year-old and while we aren't planning any big trips soon, I'm enjoying imagining what we might do in a few years by reading about what you're doing with your family.

  3. I'm looking for Playgrounds in Paris. Thank you for your useful information.