As we’ve been to Paris once before we didn’t want to do the crash tourist course of Paris this time around preferring to leave our daily itineraries unplanned and only a rough idea of certain things we definitely wanted to do.
I still had a few touristy things in mind- a picnic with Harley in front of the Eiffel Tower; climbing the Eiffel Tower and having dinner there; and a boat ride on the River Seine. Apart from that, I wanted to go shopping, explore the streets of Paris and pick up yummy baked goods at the deliciously smelling boulangeries and drink lots of coffee while people watching.
As romantic as it all sounds to be one with the streets and get lost as they say, there was also doing this in the reality of having a limited number of days with a 10 month old baby that needs to be fed, changed, entertained, napped then sleep and repeat. So ‘exploring’ and getting lost meant doing so where there were practical places to take care of little miss Harley.
On our first day we basically walked all around the 11th, 3rd, 4th and 9th Arrondisiments, being horrendous with directions I can’t exactly track back our path, my hubby probably could but anyway I know we were generally heading toward Les BHV Marais at 52 rue de Rivoli following a street map the hotel provided and we mainly shopped around the Bastille and Marais area along the Rue du Temple, Boulevarde Beaumarchais;
Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Rue de Turenne. This is probably not going to be helpful to anyone looking for specific shops to check out as I completely forgot to take note of the stores we went into and also given the price point I mainly window shopped. The only regret I had was not hunting down Merci concept store given we were in its general vicinity. But I was just so distracted by the beautiful stores with the stunningly crafted clothing it completely skipped my mind.
After plenty of walking and window shopping it was time for Harley to have a feed and nap. We dropped into the closest cafe called La Brasserie du Pied de Fouet for a quick coffee and something sweet. We had a coffee and chocolate crepes whilst I fed Harley a bottle and put her to sleep for a nap. Back home she naps in the complete dark, with white noise on and will rarely sleep when we’re out, far too interested in what’s going on and suffering from a fear of missing out so I’ve been pleasantly surprised that so far on the trip I’ve been able to get her to nap in random places in the carrier with so much going on around her. She truly surprises me every day. Mind you she hasn’t been napping as long but she normally does and has been taking three shorter naps a day instead of two she does back home.
Once she was fast asleep I strapped her into the carrier and we continued into Place De Vosges and once she woke up, we changed her nappy while sitting on the grass and enjoyed the shade, the gorgeous weather in this beautiful park in an amazing square surrounded by residencies that were once inhabited by French nobility throughout the centuries. Harley loved chasing the birds, wanting to play with other kids and adults around us. We didn’t bring a picnic blanket, so we sat on the park bench for the most part, but Harley was determined to have a crawl around ans I surprised to see so many cigarette butts in the grass so I was a disconcerted with Harley’s getting amongst it as for sure one of those would end up in her mouth as with most things at the moment.
As we’d been walking along we didn’t find any parents rooms similar to what we have in Sydney, but generally just the change table in a disabled toilet or a change table room on its own. Anyways, after enjoying Place De Vosges we made our way to Les BVH / Marais. This incredible store is unlike other department stores. Whilst it carries the same sort of categories as other department stores the women’s fashion section feels like a bazaar of the most beautifully made, uniquely designed and luxurious women’s clothing, shoes and accessories ever. I actually found the choice of so many gorgeous items overwhelming, it was almost too hard to choose just those few treasured pieces that I could lovingly call my own. By this time Harley was due for another feed and nap. Like most department stores we had expected some seating to be spread amongst the different departments but we couldn’t find one chair. We couldn’t believe it. We ended up feeding her and putting her to sleep in the shoe department whilst ladies were trying on shoes around us. Harley didn’t seem to mind so once she was fast asleep in daddies arms, I went for a power shop around the floor and found some beautiful and affordable pieces from the Galleries Lafayette brand. We also stopped into one of the cafes located within the store for a coffee and water to reenergise before we made our way back to our hotel. Before leaving, we got the tax free claim form sorted in the department store and we were off. We learned that the stores have a minimum spend before you can qualify for a tax free purchase here it was 175€.
We headed back to our hotel, freshened up for a dinner we booked at Le Chemise which happened to be around the corner from our hotel. We arrived at Le Chemise expecting a full house as this was recommended by our hotel manager as one of her favourite restaurants but we remembered that dinner time usually started to get busy here around 8:30pm onwards so we were pleased to have gotten in early and to get a table. The restaurant felt relaxed and warm. The host was so welcoming and even accommodated us with translating the entire menu in English. He recommended a white and red wine to be paired with our starters and mains and he was so lovely and warm with Harley. It felt like a genuine French dining experience, a place where the locals would eat.
For starters we had Duck Foie Gras with fruit chutney & toast and a crab salad with celery and Granny Smith apples. For mains we had a chateaubriand-thick cut of tenderloin fillet steak medium rare with a grilled apple salad and caramelised eshallots and duck breast with sweet potato and a spicey peach jus. The entire meal was delicious as well as the paired wines he recommended. This was definitely one of our favourite meals on our trip so far. Harley enjoyed the side of bread which has been her favourite so far on this trip. We discovered that the bread has kept her calm enough to sit in the baby seat or carrier for the length of our dinner time along with random things she can fiddle with.
After a lovely dinner we made our way back to the room to put Harley down for the night whilst we enjoyed watching a bit of Netflix. Lionel fell asleep straight away, the poor guy wore Harley in the carrier for most of the day whilst I had her basically when she napped. We’d been debating all day about getting the stroller and he insisted keeping on with the carrier. It was a good work out between the two of us I suppose but I worried about the days to come and the more walking around we had to do in the hot summer sun.
Anyways I switched off my stroller worries with binge watching the new season of ‘Orange is the New Black’ and I had a much later night than I should have whilst my babies were sound asleep. I’ll be needing a cafe fort the next day that’s for sure.