We’ve all been before (because it’s my favorite, and I book the flights), but there is always more to discover in Paris. We had three days before we had to head out to the far-away Beauvais airport for our next flight and we (of course) stayed in our favorite hotel, ate our favorite crepes, and bought shoes.*
This trip included visits to: L’eglise de Saint Julien le Pauvre, Picasso Museum, Sacre Coeur, Dali Museum, and the Marie Curie Museum.
We also discovered the perfect pizza joint, an amazing little ride near St Paul’s metro stop just north of La Cite, enjoyed an ideal courtyard/cafe at the Swedish Cultural Center, and visited one of our favorite comic/toy shops in the world, Album.
Saint Julien le Pauvre
One of the oldest churches in Paris, whose courtyard has the oldest tree in the city – a 419 year old locust. I’ve always wanted to go inside this church (yes, because of Highlander), and we finally made that happen! It’s gorgeous, historic, and came with hands down the coolest priest I have ever met.
It was alright – Wes loved it, of course (Picasso is his spirit animal), but it was nowhere near as good as the one in Antibes or Barcelona. Oberon threw a huge fit in the giftshop, to the point where even when I took him outside he was annoying the museum guests (probably impacted my overall experience of the place, tbh, but Antibes and and Barcelona Picasso museums are still way better).
Institut suedois (courtyard cafe only)
With Oberon in full meltdown mode at/after Picasso, we stopped in at an inviting little courtyard between the Swedish Institute and their associated cafe. The coffee was great (so was the hot chocolate, even though Wes did not like it). As I sat in a discrete middle-of-the-courtyard picnic table, Wes ordered our drinks and I nursed his brother to sleep (took about 30 seconds – the little jerk was tired). Another patron sat nearby and struck up a conversation – he is half Swedish half French and splits his time between the two countries with his wife and son. It was just a really nice, quiet little courtyard with friendly everyone where we could sit and unwind after a stressful (but totally normal and anticipated ‘travel-with-a-three-year-old’) moment at the museum. I definitely recommend this place if you are in the area and need a spot to sit and destress.
I was surprised at how much both Westley and Oberon both really liked Sacre Coeur. I’ve never been before (it’s just so inconvenient, and there are so many stairs), but with the Dali Museum around the corner and it being one of the few super touristy attractions in the city we had not seen, it was time to cross it off the list. And (despite all the stairs, which were actually my favorite part) the kids loved it!
Fittingly, the Dali Museum was weird. Awesome, but weird. And it holds the unique honor as being the ONLY museum I have ever been to where there was no gift shop.** Except maybe the whole museum was a gift shop, as some things had price tags but it was totally unclear what the purchase process was. Kind of surreal, actually… 😉
Marie Curie Museum
The opening hours are pretty limited, but it was one of our favorites – especially Westley! Ever since he got the I Am Marie Curie he has been interested in learning more about the Nobel Prize winning scientist, and this little museum did not disappoint. He even got to explore it and do the Curie-related scavenger hunt independently while I tried to entertain Oberon outside in the courtyard. The staff at the museum was wonderful, and they really went above and beyond helping Westley learn everything he could about the Curies.
FYI, the entrance is kind of wonky, to get through the gate you have to go down the street a ways and into the university, then double back toward the Curie Museum main doors.
Just around the corner from our favorite hotel(s) is Brava Pizza. It is run by the nicest family and gave us the first pizza (probably ever) that all three of us really loved. Casual joint, clearly does more delivery/pick-up than eat-in business, and therefore the perfect family-friendly location. The mom/dad/son combo behind the counter and in the kitchen were lovely – all of them! They chatted with us, humored Oberon, and remembered us each day when we passed by (or ate more pizza).
What an amazing find. A little carousel right outside of the Saint-Paul metro stop, run by a nice man*** who kept giving the kids free ride tickets (admittedly, he did this as I kept buying them more rides). This was definitely Oberon’s favorite part of Paris**** and possibly Westley’s. They had a blast, and I got some much need chair-sitting time a solid 20 feet away from my kids. Perfect, I tell you.
Bus to Beauvais
This stupid bus ride. Man, it was like the one misstep in an otherwise brilliantly planned out epic adventure. After a few days in Paris we were headed to Malta, but to get there (cheap) we had to first navigate our way to Beauvais – an airport roughly two hours outside of Paris. I did a lot of research, and the two realistic options were bus or train. I hate buses generally, but both sides had pros and cons (on paper). Most of the internet and the hotel staff insisted the bus was better, so against my better judgment we took the stupid bus.
Long story short, take the train***** and then shell out for a cab to the airport (or hotel, or whatever). The bus is miserable, the people running the bus are miserable, and we were all miserable as a result. It took over 2 hours, no bathroom, no wifi, and more expensive than the (faster) train. So this is my probably futile attempt to warn the world – take the train to/from Beauvais!!!
But we made it, the hotel was nice, and we woke up in time for our flight to Malta. So it all worked out.
*Hotel Familia in the 5th arrondissement, 2bis Panini (and crepes) across the street, and long story short — I try to only buy shoes in France, and have officially initiated Westley into this tradition. 😉
**This actually kind of messed with my entire sense of reality – that is the one truth I’ve found to be 100% consistent, and Dali shattered it in an instant.
***My definition of nice person in France is basically anyone who will humor me in my pathetic attempts to speak French.
**** This or the digger working outside the Dali Museum.
***** Technically I’m recommending something I have not done, but I cannot imagine any SCNF train ride to be worse than that stupid bus.