My older son, Boris has been asking to visit Paris since he was about four years old. It was around then that he was given a video of Disney's take on Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame - and was intrigued. For years we have told him that we would take him there, "one day", but that he would need to be at least ten; and be able to enjoy sitting in a restaurant with us and enjoy experimenting with strange food served pretty slowly! This year he met all those requirements, and so rather than a birthday present, or party or outing with his friends, we took him to Paris.
Paris is a wonderfully photogenic city (well, the historic centre is anyway), and contrary to popular myth is stocked with many friendly and charming Parisian's. On the Metro, one lady asked us if we were Irish and in Paris for the football. On discovering that my wife is indeed Irish she roundly denounced France's cheating handballed winner in the World Cup qualifier the night before - "this is not how we should win", she said. Who could disagree!
In terms of wonderful things to do, see, experience and eat - Paris is simply fantastic. Museums, galleries, history, churches, modern buildings, abound. The only negative thing about this is the exchange rate; we kept asking ourselves "how much?!?!" and moving on minus purchase. Books were the best example because many of the English language books had the price in Sterling printed on the back for direct comparison. One that caught my eye, about France under occupation in WWII was priced at £7.99 but on sale in Paris for €18- . With an exchange rate of close to 1:1, the book was duly returned to the shelf.
The photo above, is of a Notre Dame gargoyle, which family consensus maintains bears an uncanny resemblance to myself. This is the place that young Boris wanted to go to most of all - up the towers of Notre Dame, to imagine young Quasimodo clambering up over the stonework and looking out over Paris. It's a LONG wait to get up the tower, but well worth it, and one of the cheapest trips in the capital (€8, but under 26 year-old free).
The follow-up parenting task is to help young Boris appreciate that this was a huge treat requiring gratitude; not the norm generating demanding expectations!
More photos to follow - if I get time.