Paris is everything I imagined it would be. And more. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world some and have to agree that Paris, truly is, one of the most beautiful places in the world. We saw Paris by foot and by ambulance.
We arrived in Paris at the crack of dawn and instead of resting the kids were all like, "We want to see the Eiffel tower" and "Mama, where is the Eiffel tower?" and "Are we at the Eiffel tower yet?" and "I don't seeeeeeeeee the Eiffel tower" and "I really WANT to see the Eiffel tower, now!"
So guess what we did first? Before resting. Before breakfast.
We set out to see the Eiffel tower. Without a map of Paris, by foot, that is.
On the train, into the city, we borrowed someone's map which helped us decide where the closest stop was to the Eiffel tower. "Should we buy a map?" I asked my husband. "No. We should be able to see the Eiffel tower and we can walk toward it."
Sounded okay to me, the sleep deprived mother of three, after an overnight flight across an ocean. The Eiffel tower IS rather large and we CAN follow it and everyone KNOWS the best way to explore a new city is by foot. And. I reeeeeeeaaaaalllly want an awesome picture of us in front of the Eiffel tower. How classy would that picture look on the wall of my house?
On our mapless walk through the narrow and uneven cobblestone labyrinths of streets we unexpectedly stumbled across many quintessential French icons.
Jay taking a rest in front of the Lourve. The poor guy allowed his sisters to ride in their strollers while he kept up with us on foot.
The place where the train stopped and we got out. Still don't know what church it is. Anyone? Anyone? It was not Notre Dame. That was the next stop. I would love to know just how far THIS place was from the Eiffel tower.
Finally stopping for a breakfast baguette. When in Paris, eat at Paul's. Paul's was like the French equivalant of Panera. Delicious. The husband and I took turns sitting and eating while the kids chased the pigeons with their freshly baked pretzels.
Lola's first glance of the Eiffel tower from a FAR distance and yet another 1.5 hours of walking ahead of us. At this point, just seeing the Eiffel tower, gave all of us the extra endurance we needed for the last leg of the walk. And I still WANTED that picture of us in front of it.
Still walking toward the Eiffel tower. It is not true. You CAN NOT see the Eiffel tower from every point and the streets do not run parallel and you WILL walk around in circles before noticing you are back where you started and then you become pissed that NO ONE in Paris speaks English. You become so angry that you almost want to forget about ever seeing the Eiffel tower.
Yes. This is us back again at the church with no name. Yes. We made a big huge circle and came back to where we started. Yes, I know... we should have purchased a map at THIS point. But. We. Were. So very tired.
By now, Fifi had woken up from her stroller nap and was screaming to be released. At this point, it was nearly lunch and the Eiffel tower was no where in sight. "Do you want to stop for lunch?" My husband asked me, "No. I just WANT to get to the flipping Eiffel tower already." We released the wild Fifi and allowed her to chase some more pigeons before continuing forward. Not even the pigeons in Paris speak English. Apparently no one does.
We finally found a business man and stopped him for directions while the kids played in a manicured topiary maze. "Do you speak English? I asked him. "Oui, yes I do." Finally, I smiled. "How do we get to the Eiffel tower?" He looked at us and smirked, "Are you really walking there?"
By the time we FINALLY reached the Eiffel tower by foot, at 2pm in the afternoon, every single person in our family needed to use the restroom. We tried to find an English speaking person for directions to the Eiffel tower's restrooms.
The Eiffel tower is a busy place. It is a VERY busy place in the middle of the afternoon and the ONE bathroom facility is even a busier place.
After we did what we needed to do, I rounded up the gang to do what I wanted to do. I wanted THAT picture. As we walked away from restrooms, Jay tripped and fell and howled in the gravel walkway.
I scooped him up and surveyed the damage. Clean knees, a tiny scratch on his elbow, some pebbles in his mouth, and a bloody forehead.
Shit. Excuse my French.
I looked around and screamed out my husband's name. A woman, a mom, whom spoke no English, rushed over to me with a fist full of tissues. I held Jay in my arms while sitting in the gravel. I soaked up some blood with the tissues and surveyed the damage again. It was a rather deep wound, an uneven wound, a wound where I could see some of the white fat tissue squeezing out.
Shit. So sorry.
I screamed out my husband's name again. The woman, who spoke no English, found security. I saw my husband and security approaching me and I tried not to look at Jay's wound because I could not let my children see that I WAS FREAKING OUT inside. I was not only on the verge of tears I was about to vomit from tiredness, from hunger, from the sheer ugliness of the wound.
Security whisked us away to a secret door that led to the basement of the Eiffel tower. The main command station where the French army men with very huge and very real machine guns hang out protecting Paris's most famous icon.
Not every six year old boy has a picture in the command station underneath of the Eiffel tower. Jay was not happy when he learned that we were waiting for the ambulance to take us to the "Hopital Necker Enfants Malades" on rue de Sevres street in Paris for stitches.
I totally FINALLY got THAT picture of one of us in front of the Eiffel tower. Jay in his sister's stroller with an ice cream cone and wrapped head wasn't the picture I envisioned hanging on the walls of my house. But it will do.
The ride to the hospital was rather uneventful because Jay was calm and it was a free ride through the city. It was no double Decker tourist ride. But it was a ride through some of Paris's most famous places. GAH! I saw that church again. The one we saw twice on our walk.
Jay was so awesome and did not shed a tear while getting two stitches. "We give him some gas, yes? Oui, oui? He will like the gas. He will like it, yes, yes?" The doctors informed me. I don't know what gas he got, but the kid was relaxed. He was very relaxed. And he was very proud.
Today, at our local grocery store in Cleveland, Jay stopped the lady filling the olive cart. "I got stitches, see? Right here." He pointed to his forehead. "I tripped at the Eiffel tower and fell and sliced my forehead right open." He proudly explained. "Wow. You fell at the Eiffel tower, in Paris? What were you doing at the Eiffel tower?" She asked. "We were getting ice cream." Jay smiled.
The kid is so proud of his war wound he won't let me hydrate it to prevent from scarring. "I want a scar, Mama." He begs. "You have one of the best stitches stories ever, Jay." I admit. "I know, Mama. Better then yours or Daddys." He exclaims with a smile.
"BUT. But, when I was two, I got THREE stitches. That is one more then you got, Jay." Lola interrupts.
Just got an email from a reader, "I am certain the church is indeed Saint Eustache... Here's some supporting evidence in case you are interested...
Thanks Kristen for the heads up. It took us just over four hours to walk those 4.8 km. Counting the circles we made... how many true kms did we walk that day. Any math teachers out there??