Thanksgiving in Paris – Day One

Bright and early, we loaded up on the Eurostar for our Thanksgiving weekend in Paris.  With Lynn having the time off and Europeans that don’t, we thought it would be a great time to go.  We planned to see the best sights in Paris for a day on a hop-on-off bus tour and then head over to Disneyland for two days in the parks.  I’m so glad we chose to go now because the weather was decent and Disneyland was all decked out for Christmas, which I didn’t even realize would be the case.  It was so gorgeous!  More on that later…

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Gratefully, the train ride is a quick two hours and we arrived right in time for lunch.  We wandered around all the delis and cafes and found the busiest one, assuming it was the best.  We ordered grilled Panini sandwiches to go, which no one ended up liking, except Cade.  Seeing all the crepe places, we had to try one.  We all got Nutella crepes filled with whip cream.  I love how they roll them up like an ice cream cone.  So delicious!

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Check out the mountain of Nutella behind Tyler

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We walked the streets for a while, just taking everything in.  The architecture here is so beautiful; I love all the wrought iron and stonework.  It has a more feminine feel than England, it’s interesting to compare.  We were surprised by their public transportation system though, now appreciating the cleanliness, modernization and ease of the UK’s more.

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Our first destination was Notre Dame.  It’s unbelievable to think this Catholic cathedral is 850 years old.  It did take nearly 200 years to complete.  We marveled at its size and French gothic architecture,  the gargoyles, statues and stained glass windows.  The detail was incredible.  We decided not to wear ourselves out right away by climbing the 387 steps to the top to see the famous bell and views of Paris.

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Once we finally found our red bus tour, we hopped on and set out to see the other 8 major places.  We bundled up and got a front row seat up top with great views of the city.  It was almost too much to take in and process with spectacular scenes all around.  Half the time we had no idea what we were looking at, but it impressed nonetheless.

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We walked along the Seine River and looked at the cool street artists, which Tyler loved.  We happened upon the “Love Lock Bridge” and of course, had to get one.  We had all the boys write their names on it with ours and surprisingly found a spot to attach it.  We locked it up, kept a key and tossed the other key in the river.  It was a moment to remember and my heart was so full of love for this family of mine.  Nathan ended up with his own lock; some guy gave him so he and Jace signed it and locked it on the bridge.  Brotherly love.  At least for the moment.

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Next up on the tour was the Musée d’Orsay (a museum of French art) and the Opera (for ballet, operas and concerts).  We opted not to tour the inside due to time and lack of interest from the boys, and just rested our legs and kept on moving.  This would be such a different experience without kids and more time, but we did our best to see as much as possible without completely wearing the kids out right before Disneyland.

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One of the main sights we wanted to see was the Avenue de Champs Elysées.  It is the most famous street in Paris.  The streets were lined with darling Christmas markets and lights and then there was all the retail, cafes and luxury stores right up to the Arc de Triomphe.

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The Place de la Concorde is also there, which the boys loved learning about.  It’s a large open square with fountains and statues.  During the French Revolution, statues were torn down and replaced with a guillotine which was used on thousands of people, including kings, queens, princesses and many others in front of cheering crowds.  Hard to imagine.

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The giant Luxor Obelisk stands in the center of the place.  It was a gift from Egypt, originally at the entrance of the Luxor temple there with its twin. It is 3300 years old and marked with hieroglyphics honoring their ancient king.

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The most impressive monument was the Arc de Triomphe, which shines at the end of the long Avenue.  Napoleon ordered it to be built to honor the French Army, which had been successful in conquering most of Europe at that time.  He wanted them to return in victory passing under the Arc.  The names of battles, armies and generals are written on the stone walls.  We watched a French army march out with a band for some type of memorial.

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The kids were freezing at this point so we decided to warm up with some hot cocoa at McDonald’s.  The boys like checking out the different menus there wherever we go too.  They had a separate bakery counter with macaroons (yes, I had to try one) and all sorts of pastries.  We went upstairs and found a table and unloaded all our backpacks on the chairs next to us.  Since we weren’t checking into our hotel until later that evening at Disneyland, we had to wear our backpacks all day through Paris.  What we didn’t notice were the guys behind us plotting to rip us off.  At one point, Tyler noticed Cade’s backpack on the ground and the guys acted like they were helping return it, but looking back it was their first attempt at stealing it.  By the time we were warmed up and ready to get back on the bus, we realized Cade’s backpack was gone and so were the guys.  We looked everywhere, but never found it.

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We wanted to minimize the shock and sadness for Cade so we immediately found a Gap store and got him all new clothes.  The only thing we weren’t able to replace was his swimsuit (they’re nowhere to be found this time of year).  I wish I could have seen the thieves’ faces when they opened his bag and saw it filled with kid’s clothes.  They did get his Nintendo DS too, which is a bummer.  But of all the bags they could have taken, at least they didn’t pick the one with the passports, cameras and iPads.  How do people live with themselves stealing from children?

That little snafu put us way behind schedule, so we zipped through the next site without stopping so we could make it to the Eiffel Tower before the bus tour ended.  We admired the Grand Palais along the way.

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Our favorite moment of the day was arriving at the Eiffel Tower and watching it sparkle like diamonds.  It was stunning with the fountains below and seeing the view from above.  It was the perfect ending to our Paris tour.  We got suckered in to buying a bunch of light up towers for the boys.  They want to use them in their Lego sets!

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We jumped on the train and made it to Disneyland right after closing.  We found our hotel and ordered dinner from the hotel restaurant and brought it back to our townhouse, eating at 11:00 pm.  No turkey dinner for us.  It definitely didn’t feel a bit like Thanksgiving, but it will be an unforgettable one!  We have so much to be grateful for.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

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