SINGLE MOM’s GUIDE TO PARIS- (Guest Post)

FB_IMG_1513876005400As part of my blog’s first anniversary I am hosting a ‘blog party’. My first guest is Veena Rao. She blogs at Advika’s Adventures. Veena writes on almost anything and everything that is fun. Veena’s blog talks about outings, activities, festivals, art and crafts and travel. However, everything is written from the perspective of her little daughter Advika. That makes her blog quite unique. Doesn’t it? Today she has written about her trip to Paris with Advika. Enjoy!!

I did a trip to Rovaniemi, Finland with my daughter and our connection was via Paris. In the interest of the economic sense it was making, I decided to take a 4-day break in Paris. Now it’s one thing to go for a trip as part of a group but to take on a foreign city all on your own and that too with your 8-year-old can be rather daunting.

Like any other popular city, Paris has its fair share of stories of scams and thefts that I was privy to first-hand. This made me even more wary. So, I went back and forth with whether to book us on another package.Since it was not settling very well on my pocket, I decided to do it on my own.

I reached out to a few known people and decided that Airbnb would be a better option than a hotel. A tip I would like to share is that Airbnb website has a Superhost filter. Use this filter and find a place with higher number of reviews. This makes you feel secure and that you are in good hands. I searched for a place that would be close to the Eiffel Tower because to me that’s what Paris is all about!

I found a room suitable for 2 people in a neighbourhood 7-8 mins drive from the Eiffel tower in my budget of 4-5k per day. Next, I had to figure out how to take on this city with a kid while being safe and thrifty. I reached out to a few friends, read blogs on best attractions for children in Paris but my best resource was a Facebook Group called Indians in Paris/France. This group is really prompt in responding and were really empathetic to my situation. They advised me on how to be wary of tricksters and scamsters at popular Paris sights, to keep as less cash on me as possible, never to leave my coat hanging on chairs with important documents and belongings, carry only a copy of our passports while stowing the originals safely in your luggage.

Paris – Day 1

Day1.jpg

So, armed with all the information and accommodation booking, we landed in Paris on a lovely afternoon in March. We took a cab to our Airbnb room and were kindly welcomed by our hosts and settled in. My agenda for the evening was to visit the hot air balloon at Parc Citroen and the Eiffel tower after that. Our host told us that Parc Citroen was a very short walk from our room.

So, off we set walking and taking in the sights of the city. After walking for about 20 minutes and asking for directions a couple of times, we made it to Future Generali’s Ballon de Paris. The hot air balloon is elevated to 150 metres and the views are simply gorgeous. We caught our very first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, bird’s eye view of the city, flowering cherry blossoms; it was all very surreal.

Next, we made our way to the Eiffel tower. Here, I goofed up trying to figure out a train and it took me a while to make it to the Eiffel tower. Another thing I should have done is booked tickets in advance. We had to queue for over an hour, our feet were killing us and it was getting chilly. It was finally our turn to get into the elevator and we reached the top. By this time, Advika was really cold, hungry, tired and least interested in enjoying the views. She barely managed to take a couple of pictures and was really keen to go back. Meanwhile I was panicking because I hadn’t really figured out any food options and it was getting quite dark. As luck would have it, right across the road, were crepe vendors! It was like a God-sent! Advika had her favourite, Nutella with banana and strawberry while I chomped down a savoury crepe. I decided to take a cab back and after trying to explain the address to 3-4 cabbies, where one claimed it would cost 30 Euros, we got one for 7 Euros.

By 7pm, we were changed and ready to rest. I decided to get proper directions for my plans in the next days. Our kind host lent us a Metro map and even wrote down the stations where all the popular attractions were. Once, that was sorted, we called it a day and tucked in.

Paris – Day 2

Day2.jpg

We woke up nice and early. My plan was to visit Disneyland today as the weather was supposed to be the warmest during our stay.I was really lucky that someone on the Facebook group was letting go of their tickets to both parks for 35 Euros (usually 50). I quickly jumped at the offer! We picked up the tickets early in the morning and had a good breakfast at a Starbucks close-by. Our kind Airbnb host accompanied us to the closest Metro and made sure we had the right tickets. I had got an all-inclusive public transport pass valid for a week.

After a really long train ride with a couple of train changes, we arrived at the ‘happiest place on earth’, Disneyland! I don’t who was more excited, Advika or me! I decided to take it slow and wandered the park at our own pace. The queues for character meetings were very long; completely skipped them. We sat in a few rides, snapped some pictures and essentially just enjoyed the lovely warm day and beautiful surroundings. We then ventured to Walt Disney Studios Park. Here, Advika had a gala time at the Disney Junior Live on Stage show. The show was very interactive and she had a blast. There was also a Moana Meet & Greet, but again it was quite crowded, so we saw her from a distance. We explored the park, went on a couple of rides and went back to Disneyland. We grabbed a spot, settled down and waited for the parade. The parade was fantastic! It was a very enthralling experience. After the parade, we decided to call it a day. We shopped for some souvenirs, grabbed a bite and headed back.

At the station, it was surprising to find Hindi-speaking peddlers selling souvenirs. Advika got herself an Eiffel tower model and some other souvenirs. Haggling in Hindi in an otherwise French speaking city was rather comforting.

On our way home, I picked up some bananas and strawberries to sustain us till the next day. Advika, a huge fan of strawberries, was over-the-top excited to eat strawberries from Paris. (So much for Eiffel tower and Disneyland, eh)

Paris – Day 3

Day3.jpg

After 2 days of back-to-back rushing, today was a day of leisurely exploring. After getting dressed, we went straight to the bakery that we’d been eyeing the previous 2 days. I’d been told that pain au chocolator chocolate croissant is a specialty and went for it. And it was delectable! It was so good that Advika had one more of it and refused to share even a bite with me!

With beaming smiles, we took a bus to Champs Elysees. After a 10-minute bus ride, we reached one of the most popular avenues of Paris. Champs Elysees is flanked by stores of some of the most impressive brands. We strolled along the avenue to the end where Arc de Triomphe stands. On our stroll, we were greeted by Laduree, one of finest bakeries of Paris. We decided to go in and treat ourselves to some macarons. Laduree is so pretty, its like walking into a dessert dream. We bought some macarons and took a train towards Tuileries Garden.

We sat around a fountain and Advika decided to make a game out of the macarons. Once we devoured them, we walked a little further towards the Louvre and here was one of our best experiences in Paris. There were like 20 dogs being trained and we could pet them and frolic with them all we like! I struggled to get Advika away from there.

My next endeavour was to locate Pont des Arts find at least a few love locks. It wasn’t a very successful one, but we managed to find a few along the bank near some trees.

Next, we made it to the Louvre. Being a huge fan of the Da Vinci Code, I was really psyched to be here. I had checked online that there was an English guided tour at 2pm and timed my visit accordingly. The tour was quite interesting and learning about the Mona Lisa was the highlight of the tour. Post our tour, we headed to the food court at the Louvre and found ourselves some nice vegetarian Moroccan food.

The evening was spent in exploring Beaugrenelle mall and supermarkets near the apartment.

Another beautiful day in Paris came to an end.

Paris – Day 4

This was our last day in Paris and I wanted to make the most of it. By now Advika was clear that she didn’t want to see any more museums or buildings! First things first, we simply had to go back to Eiffel Tower and enjoy those crepes again. So, we got dressed and headed straight there for breakfast. We got there and enjoyed every bite of our crepes. It was a rather windyday and post breakfast, we rushed back to add some layers. Once we were appropriately dressed, we headed to Jardin du Luxembourg. Advika had a blast here; she made a friend at the playground, had a whale of a time on the zipline and enjoyed a pony ride.

We returned and had a late lunch at a pizzeria close to the apartment. We then went back to the Eiffel tower to pick up some souvenirs. On our way back, we stocked up on chocolate croissants for the night. We also enquired if we could take some back to India and they asked us to come back at 7am next morning for a fresh batch.

 

The next morning, armed with a sense of confidence in successfully accomplishing my maiden trip as a single mother and re-realising what a fantastic travel companion Advika was, I set off to the airport…

 

This post is part of ‘Wanderful Wednesday Travelogues’. If you have a travel story to share do link up. Link your post to this post and just leave a comment with your post link and I will get back to you.

 

21 thoughts on “SINGLE MOM’s GUIDE TO PARIS- (Guest Post)

  1. Esha M Dutta says:

    Wonderfully narrated travel tale by Veena. Thanks for taking us along on this adventure and sharing so many memorable pics! I can say that Advika has a true adventurer in her mom and I wish they have more journeys to take in 2018! Paris has always been on my bucket list…hopefully, will make the trip happen someday soon. Thanks for sharing this lovely post, Balaka.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Parul Thakur says:

    Veena, reading you for the first time and absolutely enjoyed your travel adventures with Advika. You both make a fun travel duo and let me tell you, I was stuck at all that food. 😉 Wishing you both more travels in 2018 and of course lot of happiness.

    Thank you Balaka for introducing me to Veena!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the bespectacled mother says:

    I enjoyed reading the detailed account of the 4 day Paris visit by Veena with her daughter. It had insights for me about Paris – tricksters and all and there was something to eat for a vegetarian apart from the information about the attractions. I have been hearing a lot about Airbnb too, will have to explore it.
    Balaka, your description about Veena’s blog that it has stories from her daughter’s point of view has intrigued me and I am off to follow her.
    Keep the guests posts coming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Veena Rao says:

    Hi Balaka, thanks to you, I have been introduced to all these warm and wonderful people. I don’t know if I can ever return the favor, but please do let me know if I can be of any help. Cheers!!

    Liked by 1 person

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