Mom-and-Dad-Time: our weekend in Paris
Dare to leave the children alone – the important role of grandparents
In February, my husband and I have spent the first mom-and-dad weekend together since the birth of our second child (1.5 years ago). We are very lucky that my parents-in-law live nearby. They like having their grandchildren around and are still very fit for their age. Every Friday is grandparents day, in case they are not traveling or staying in their apartment at the Cote d’Azur. Therefore, both children have a good bond and a lot of faith in their grandmother and grandfather. Nevertheless, it took us more than a year to dare to leave both children for more than one night with them while we were not around the corner. I think it’s important to wait for the moment when you’re ready and the kids are ready, too. Only if you can be completely sure that the children are in good hands and will hardly miss their parents, you can actually enjoy the precious time without them.
Our little son and his big sister (4) were really looking forward to this weekend because we prepared them accordingly. I have repeatedly told them that parents need to spend time alone, so they can recharge their batteries. We also practiced sleeping at the grandparent’s house before. First only one night and with mom and dad nearby. My in-laws do their job really well. Both children feel completely safe and at home with them. So the anticipation of a long weekend with grandma and grandfather was secured, and we were able to start our little journey completely relaxed.
I often wonder how parents master their lives without the support of their own parents or parents-in-law. There are now in many cities initiatives that convey so-called loan grandmas and grandfathers. Older people, who have no grandchildren themselves, offer their support and gladly take on the role of grandparents for a particular family. For example, my father’s best friends, who unfortunately have remained childless, do so enthusiastically. I would recommend anyone to take this opportunity. It’s worth a try.
Finally time – only for us
What drove me to plan this weekend in February? It was just time for my husband and I to take care of each other again. To us as a couple, without children and away from our own usual home place. It is often the case that everyday life wins over. At some point, small but important rituals such as the Good Night Kiss can get lost, without being noticed. You get to the point where you wonder if everything is still okay. One hopes it. Since I will go back to work again as of April, I wanted to spend our weekend before the end of my parental leave time. With a reasonably free head. In addition, my in-laws are always in southern France for 6 weeks as of Eastern. In mid-May, when the rhododendrons are in bloom in their large garden, they return home.
Paris of course – always worth a visit
A place of yearning for us is always Paris. Also not too far away from home. The decision had fallen quickly. Actually we wanted to go by Thalys train, but those have to be booked quite in advance. Flying was much cheaper. I had chosen our flight times carefully so that we had enough time to take the children to the grandparents house after breakfast on Friday morning. We only traveled with hand luggage, which saves a lot of time. No sooner had I sat in the plane than I closed my eyes and had a great nap. Fantastic. With the Roissy bus we drove directly from the airport to the Place d’Opera where out hotel was located. In order to find the departure point of this bus, we had to interrogate a lot and walked quite a bit. The signs at the airport were catastrophic. Depending on what time you want to go, it is probably better to take the train and then continue from Gare du Nord by metro to avoid traffic jams. I used the time during the bus ride to organize our Friday night. We had left it open so far since Saturday and Sunday was already fully planned. As a joke, I looked for tickets on the website of the Moulin Rouge. I always wanted to go there. And to my surprise there were actually still tickets left for that night. I love my husband for directly giving it a go when I come up with those kind of ideas. One ticket cost 150 euros, but we did not care. We wanted to take everything with us. Who knows when we will have another chance to visit Paris without children? I was happy as a little kid, as the debit from the credit card was through and I had two Moulin Rouge online tickets on my phone. The performance should start at 9 pm.
Our hotel – right next to the Opera
I had booked our Hotel Richmond, a three-star establishment within walking distance of only 5 minutes from the Opera, via booking.com for only 100 euros per night. I found this unusually favorable for this central location in Paris.
It was February, but still it was the Valentine’s weekend and Chinese New Year. I was a bit nervous, but in vain. The hotel was a really decent house, maybe from the 60s with nostalgic, aged furnishings. It had the charm that I really like. Our room was relatively large and clean. The reception was very friendly.
Just in time for the blue hour we were on the Champs Elysee. There we looked at shop windows and then had a comfortable and very good dinner in the Brasserie d’Alsace restaurant. I thought it was great that I did not have to deal with the metronetwork, but just follow my husband.
He always understands the plans very quickly and knows his way around Paris well anyways. He lived there 20 years ago when he did an internship at Cerruti.
An evening at the Moulin Rouge – with champagne
At 8 pm we stood in front of the red mill of the real Moulin Rouge in the Pigalle entertainment district in Montmartre to watch the Ferrie Show. If you do not know the eponymous Baz Luhrmann Moulin Rouge movie with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, you should definitely take a look at it. It was awarded with two Oscars. The organization of this variety theatre of 1886 impressed us very much. Each performance is usually sold out. There are 850 seats and the show performes each night at 9pm and 11pm. Between the first and the second performance, the theatre team has exactly 20 minutes to get the audience out of the way, clean up the place and let in the new audience that is already waiting in line. There are no reserved seats.
With one hour lead time we still had very good seats in the middle of the hall. The front rows were already occupied by the spectators who had booked dinner at 19 o’clock. Until the show starts, a band and two singers entertain. For 10 euros you could book a bottle of champagne when buying the online tickets. The champagne was very quickly on our table and tasted fantastic, although usually I rarely drink alcohol. 😉 The Moulin Rouge and champagne belong together.
The show was spectacular. One highlight chased the other. At first I only saw glitter and breasts (half of the female dancers are naked around the top). In addition to the constantly changing costumes and stage sets in the dance acts, there were also performances by acrobats on roller skates, dwarf ponies and Tigerphytons in a large aquarium. The vocals should make it appear that they were live. But we’re pretty sure it was playback. That did not bother us at all since the rest of the show was just amazing.
Flea markets at Port de Clignancourt – a little adventure
It was great to have a good night’s sleep on Saturday and have breakfast in a sidewalk café. We spent half the day on the flea and antique markets at Porte de Clignancourt. By metro it took us about 25 minutes from the city center to get there. My husband and I can dawdle for hours (even without buying anything). After all, we bought two prints from the 20s as a souvenir indulged. The elderly lady who sold us the pictures was a bit confused. Instead of two pictures, she packed us only one (and then a very wrong one). Unfortunately, we did not pay attention to what she packed, but continued to browse in time.
We had an excellent lunch around the flea market district at Chez Arnaud – a small family business, where only locals stoped for a bite to eat. In the afternoon we went back to the Place de la Madeleine in order to meet three older ladies. Those ladies were the former bosses of my husband during his internship at Cerruti. He had organized this reunion already at home. When sitting all together in a café we proudly wanted to present our treasures from the flea market.
Thank God we already noticed that we actually had received a wrong picture. So after a very interesting conversation with the ladies, who got all sentimental and said that my father in law was the best boss ever, we drove all the way back to Port de Clignancourt.
Luckily the same woman was still in the shop and gave us the right prints we had actually paid for. She was visibly ashamed and even wanted to pay us a taxi. We did not make use of that offer, but still made it on time to the Opéra Garnier – dressed up of course. Without a little adventure, city trips would be boring.
Ballet in the Opéra Garnier – the créme de la créme
At the Paris Opera – I already got tickets for the ballet Onegin at home – we then happened to bump into the COO of the company my husband works for. What a little world we live in. The COO works in London but has his home base in Paris with his partner. A really nice gay couple who invited us for champagne during the breaks. Again champagne for me! 😉
The performance was incredibly beautiful – as I had wished. I love ballet, and I just like the classic productions with big sets and opulent costumes.
If you do not know the story of Onegin and you like dramatic book adaptations, I recommend the eponymous film starring Liv Tyler and Ralph Fiennes. Incidentally, we dined quickly at Exki that evening – right on the line before the performance. Exki is a Belgian, healthy, quality fast food chain.
Souvenirs for the kids – the passage de princes
For the children we have bought souvenirs in the passage of the Princes. This passage from 1860 is one of the most beautiful of the famous covered Parisian passages. There you find almost exclusively toy shops: for girls on one side and for boys on the other side. My daughter has some baby dolls of the French brand Corolle. In my opinion, the prettiest baby doll in the market. I could do without the vanilla fragrance, but the faces are so beautiful. So for the dolls we have chosen new oufits (including a dungarees with Eiffel Tower). For the little one there was a hammer game in the form of a crocodile made of wood from the French brand Djeco. I’ve been a big fan of Djeco toys for a long time, because the design is very tasteful.
A long walk and the museum – at the Seine river
On Sunday we took a long walk through the Tuileries Garden at the Seine after a beautiful breakfast in the Grand Café Capuzines.
The sun was shining and we had spring feelings. At Ladureé we bought Maccarons for the parents-in-law and for me (I have a real sweet tooth). Actually, I find Pierre Hermé’s even better, but a store was not on the way and the packaging of Ladureé is more fun. For lunch, we had an appointment with a cousin of my husband, who lives in Paris with his girlfriend. Cousin Christopher had chosen the very nice Nola restaurant in the Two Stories right next to a canal – an insider tip.
The food was outstanding, the service extremely attentive, the audience mainly young locals and some families. My husband was especially happy about the live piano music. Then we walked quickly through the beautiful Musee d’Orsay, where there was also a special exhibition about Edgar Degas, independent of the Renoirs, Monets and Manets. Degas is famous for his dancer pictures, which I always wanted to see in original. So, the exhibition was a wonderful, round end to our Paris weekend full of dance. Incidentally, the museum itself (an old station building) is well worth a visit. There is also a very nice café / restaurant with a great view. For the permanent exhibition of Art Nouveau furniture we unfortunately had not much time left. Only two rooms we could look at. These shapes must have been so crazy and modern back then. I’m very excited about it and wonder if this style will not someday experience a renaissance.
Back home – all good
At the end of our trip, it got a bit hectic, because the Rossy bus was very crowded and took a long time to get to the airport. Good thing we only traveled with hand luggage. At 9:30 pm we were back home, where the grandparents were waiting with the sleeping children. Actually our daughter was still awake. She was allowed to talk about the exciting weekend with her grandmother and grandfather and unpacked her presents. I was happy she wasn’t sleeping yet and to have her back in my arms again.
We all did enjoy this weekend very much. Of course I missed the kids a bit in between, but they were fine. My husband and I had really in love moments, and we are still living on the beautiful experiences. Get more mom-and-dad time whenever possible or when the opportunity presents itself. Even the children can feel it and benefit from parents who are closer together again.
Blog Recommendation (german) – Paris in a different way
In case you visit Paris soon and understand german, I can highly recommend the german blog ‘Paris with a difference’ to which I have already linked in this article a few times. Here you can quickly find help on relevant topics such as Metro and also get great secret tips.
Where did you spend the last mom and dad weekend? What short trip can you recommend for parents who want to travel without their children for once?