"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A breath of Paris preserves the soul...

Place de la Concorde @ Sunset

Bonjour Mes Amies!

I'm back from Paris and I have so much to share with you. For the next few days (weeks?) I will share individual stories with you (avec photographs, of course!). For my 1st installment, I'll begin with traveling to Paris...

The actual travel part of our trip went well - this is where the OCD in me paid off big time! Planning the Paris part of our trip was easy. Traveling with three children (9,7,5), a 5lb poodle (Coco), Dorothy (my 81 yr. old mom), and a hubby is the challenge! So, the vast majority of my Paris planning revolved around packing as lightly as possible for 6 people and a dog, and ensuring the comfort of my mom and the kids. Surprisingly, it didn't take much: a stroller, a travel chair, and a firm packing ethic.

We took a MaClaren Triumph Stroller (@ $100). It weighs @ 10lbs and is made of the same stuff that they use to construct airplanes - that means, for the relatively light weight and sleek design, it holds up to 60lbs. The stroller doubles as our mini-suv: there's a great large mesh basket underneath that easily holds the souvenirs and such that one picks up while strolling the city. I also took a large canvas bag (folds up small) and filled it with family cold weather essentials (scarves, hats, gloves, and 2 car blankets, I got for $10 each @ Walgreens) it goes over one handle bar. I know that the thought of lugging a stroller seems like a pain, but it is SO worth it! A child 5, and under, just cannot overcome jetlag. He/She will sleep most of the time that you're in Europe. And you can keep it with you until you literally enter the plane (the attendants take it and store it under the plane for the trip, and it's waiting for you when you land - at the door of the plane no less).

Peter & Never @ Charles de Gaulle Airport

Our second travel essential was the GCI Outdoors Quick-E-Seat Stool with Padded Back - it weighs @ 5lbs, but you don't have to carry it if you've got a stroller, but it wasn't a pain to carry it if Peter or I or even Rory had to (amazon @ $40). It collapses to the size of a small tripod and easily slides into the MacClaren's basket (and didn't bother Never at all). During last year's Paris trip, we learned that baggage check-in lines are long (usually @ an hour) and there are no seats nearby. This was especially a hardship on mom. Yes, she could sit but her seat would be really far from the actual line, the seats are few and usually filled. So, after a careful search, I decided on the GCI - and I'm so glad that I did! She used it constantly, in the airports, museums, outside and all over Paris!

Never sleeping peacefully all snuggled up and mom in her GCI
The fam on a crepe and cafe creme break at the Tuileries
 As for luggage, we took 3 large suitcases and two wheeled carryons filled with essentials (travel documents, portable dvd player, movies, toys, books, crayons, diapers, wipes and sanitizing spray). As soon as we arrived at the airport (O'Hare and Charles de Gaulle) I put mom and Never (in his stroller) in an out of the way place and grabbed a cart. After we checked our 3 big bags, Rory and Sage pulled the carry-ons and Pete or I pushed the stroller - this really worked well for us. If you try this, let me know if it works for you...

The flight itself was easy. We paid a bit extra for the Economy Plus seats. Let me tell you, that extra 5 inches of leg room is wonderful! A tip: go to the check-in desk at your gate and ask to be seated before anyone else. Once I told them that I had 3 children, and 81 yr. old mom and a dog they were more than happy to allow us to board first! Thus, we were able to get the kids settled in their seats and our carry-ons stowed with no pressure, and we're completely settled in before the throngs of other passengers boarded ;-) Oh when traveling with kids, the portable dvd player is your best friend.

So, there you go. I'm not sure what will be in my next entry, but it will be good!

Vivre, rire, aimer!


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