Hot chocolate at Café Angelina
I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they can’t wait to take their kids to Europe. “A few more years, and she’ll be able to appreciate Paris,” is how the conversation usually goes. “It would just be a waste to go now.” How Paris could ever be a waste is beyond me. When we travel, we learn, we grow. It doesn’t matter whether we’re 8 or 80.
Traveling with a child is a different, not impossible. Check out my recent post on getting creative when sightseeing with kids.
My young daughters, ages nine and 11, have already done more traveling, than some people will do in a lifetime. Their passports are impressive. France, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, China — the list goes on and on. Ask either to name her favorite places in the world and Paris is a guaranteed a spot on the list.
Why the love for Paris? It’s not the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or the Champs-Elysees. They fell in love with the delicious Paris. And who can blame them?
One of our first mornings in the City of Light, we stopped in Café Angelina. Not far from the Louvre, this café is the perfect reward (or bribe) for any kid (or adult) who’s just finished a required stretch in the expansive museum. One look in the stunning glass display filled with perfectly prepared pastries and macaroons and your mouth will be watering. But if you ask me, and my kids, it’s all about the hot chocolate. The best we’ve ever had. So thick, it’s hard to pour. Think a melted chocolate bar in a cup. It comes with its own side cup of freshly whipped cream. Expensive? Incredibly. But the smiles will get bigger with every sip. At about $8-$9 a cup, it’s worth every euro.
Endless treats in Paris
Besides you can save money on the next meal. There’s no shortage of fabulous restaurants to satisfy an appetite in Paris. But some of our best meals were on a blanket, lying in the grass. Neighborhood markets abound in France. I was once told, that by law, every arrondissement or neighborhood in Paris, is required to have a neighborhood market. Streets lined with everything you need and more. Wine, cheese, bread, some of the most incredible fruits and vegetables I’ve ever tasted, and chocolate. You can’t forget the chocolate. With dinner in our backpack, we’d find a park and spread out. We had the best table in town. Our favorite spot had a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower and a playground just yards away.
As much as we enjoyed our Parisian picnics, part of seeing Paris is enjoying its restaurants. On the advice of British friends we headed to Relais de Venise L’Entrecote. The unique restaurant has a history that goes back 50 years in Paris. No menu. They serve only one dish. A green salad with walnuts, topped with a mustard vinaigrette followed by steak frites, served with the restaurant’s secret recipe sauce. All you do is tell your waitress how you would like your steak cooked. Your steak is delivered to the table in two trips. You start with half, they hold onto the rest to keep it warm. Servers circle the restaurant with tongs and huge containers of freshly made frites constantly refilling empty plates. It’s a kids’ dream. L’ Entrecote is one of those comfortable restaurants. Once you sit down, you can relax. My youngest daughter was bragging about how comfy her padded booth seat was. The next thing you know, she was sound asleep. (We enjoyed the moment, but woke her for dinner.) After 50 years, the place has a following. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait for a table.
Not ready to go to bed? Go for a ride on the metro. The mostly underground, public transit system offers tired legs another option of getting around town. If you just happen to get off at the Pont Marie station, you can end a perfect day with an indulgent visit to Berthillion.With flavors like white chocolate, coconut, caramel and cinnamon, the French landmark is renowned for its all natural ice cream and sorbet. I have to confess, we did this more than once! The ice cream is available at select cafes in Paris, but consider yourself warned, the main location closes for a stretch in the summer for vacation.
Bike tour of Paris
But we burned off all the calories as we biked our way through Paris.is an incredible family find. One day we pedaled seven flat, fun-filled miles in four hours. We liked it so much, we reserved a different ride the next day. We covered an incredible amount of ground. More than we ever could walking. No one complained about being tired. We were having too much fun. Our rides took us to all the “must-sees,” but it was the surprises that really made our trip.
On a break in the Tuileries Garden we discovered a summer carnival. Imagine the sounds and smells of a carnival, complete with Ferris wheel … then drop it in Paris. Curious, huh? What parent could say no? I couldn’t. After indulging in the world’s biggest cotton candy, my girls discovered a candy truck that made our mouths water. Sugar rush aside, the candy combination formed a stunning burst of color. Food for the mouth and eyes.
Travel Magic at the Louvre Pyramid
Wandering while we munched, we met an older French gentleman out for what we later learned was obviously a routine afternoon stroll. He was getting ready to feed the birds. What happened next was absolutely enchanting. As if on cue, the birds arrived. Not on the ground. Not on a bench. They landed in groups of four and five on his hand to have lunch. He didn’t speak English, and my daughters do not speak French, but it did not stop him from teaching them how to make a few new feathered friends. For the next hour our world stopped so we could feed the birds. The Louvre Pyramid in the background, it was what I call “travel magic.” The moment is etched in my mind. And maybe more importantly, it’s etched in my girls’ minds.
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