The Eiffel Tower at Sunrise

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After we got to our hotel from the flight, we all fell asleep right away, which means we woke up at 4 and were ready to go!

We decided on a walk to the Eiffel Tower, just for the heck of it. We bundled everyone up and away we went. It was so romantic walking along the Seine with nobody else there!

 Outfit selfie. Alex mocking me.

Outfit selfie. Alex mocking me.

We were looking for food the whole time but nothing was open! We were starting to get desperate when we finally found a boulangerie near the Eiffel Tower. We ordered and waited and waited and waited. The food took forever! Finally, we just canceled our order and moved on. I felt bad, but Lorenzo was done. The next thing we did was admire the sunrise over the Eiffel Tower. This was an experience I won't soon forget! We were in shadow still as the Eiffel Tower lit up with the sunrise.

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After we got our fill of Eiffel Tower pictures, we filled up on croissants for us and Pom Potes (squeezable baby food) for Lorenzo. We hopped on bus #69 and took a driving tour of the city. Unfortunately it was still dark so we couldn't see much. We got off at the last stop which was Pere Lachaise cemetery. Alex was apprehensive about touring a cemetery but I talked him into it. What better place to feel dead from jet lag than a cemetery?

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It ended up being an OK experience. We were all really tired by this point, so we quit the walking tour after Jim Morrison's grave. We took Lorenzo out for a pack break in a highly trafficked area of the cemetery. He was being absolutely hilarious. Every time someone walked by he would give a little fake cough and then light them up with a huge smile. Probably my highlight of the whole day. He is such a charming baby.

 Probably the most hardcore place I've ever breastfed. 

Probably the most hardcore place I've ever breastfed. 

We went to find food before taking the bus home. It was then that I ate my best Croque Monsieur of the whole trip. It was a double layered Croque with cheese in each layer and cheese on top and bottom of the bread. What really made it excellent was the pepper throughout. Yum.

We got back to our hotel and conked out for a five hour nap. Whoops. When we woke up, I was panicked that we slept half the day away! All we could handle that night was a walk around our neighborhood and dinner at a French restaurant during which Lorenzo looked like this:

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We ate in shifts. There were some boys playing soccer outside the restaurant and Lorenzo really enjoyed watching them. The menu was only in French so neither of us had any idea what we ordered. I ended up eating pork with some delicious apple glaze and polenta. Alex got a steak. It was fantastic. I need to take up French cooking. More butter. I think this was the only time we really sat down to eat an actual meal. In retrospect, I wish we had eaten more French food even if we did have to eat in shifts.

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Why Paris

I love learning about why people go on trips. Is it for an anniversary? For fun? Did you get a raise or a promotion? Feeling tired of your life? A reward for something? What spurs people to travel?

In this case, I wanted a reward for completing the first year of motherhood and breastfeeding for a year. I was adding bits of my old life pre-motherhood in bit by bit. The last element that needed to be added was travel. I had also just gotten a new job. Throw in Lorenzo's first birthday and our fifth anniversary and it was time to celebrate! 

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I looked for deals for the whole months of September and October which are my favorite times to travel. It's still warm but there aren't a billion tourists everywhere. 

Little did I know that we would buy our first house before the trip came around! I actually contemplated canceling it because the house buying process was so stressful and expensive. But I am glad I didn't because time away from the house was exactly what we needed. 

We decided on Paris because I had planned a few trips there and was dying to go. I figured it would be a good place to take Lorenzo because it's known for being family friendly and there are lots of parks. We signed up for a fancy credit card and cashed in the points for the hotel. I decided on staying in a super central hotel over an Airbnb this time because our credit card had deals with hotels. I cared less about being in a realistic Parisian neighborhood and more about being close to everything so we could come back if the baby fell apart. So far the only annoyance was that we don't have a refrigerator! Having a 24 hour concierge is super nice however. 

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I planned us a detailed itinerary giving scheduled breaks for naps and wiggle time between activities. We brought our stroller and our baby backpack and I researched each place to decide which will be better for each attraction. I probably prepared what we brought for a good two weeks to make sure we would use every item. We managed to pay no extra luggage fees which I was proud of.

We packed SUPER light. I only packed 5 shirts so we intend to do wash once during our 10 days. I rented warm clothes for myself because I have no use for them in LA. I wish I packed warmer clothes for the baby but we don't really have them and I intend on buying them in Paris. I brought a million snacks to entertain him on the flight. I also bought a bunch of toys at the dollar store and wrapped them each in crepe paper to provide maximum entertainment per toy. Also we can just toss them when we are done. I gave the baby Tylenol which didn't work super well. He wanted to wiggle for the whole fight. He didn't scream for more than a few minutes at a time though so I consider the flight

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The flight there went OK... the baby was teething. He sprouted three new molars that I found a few hours after we touched down. He didn't have any huge meltdowns, but he didn't sleep the whole flight and it was a red-eye! 

Let Them Eat Cake

This was hands down my favorite day in Paris. That's surprising because we almost didn't go to Versailles. Doing a day-trip meant poor Lorenzo would miss his long morning nap. I also despise crowds and everything I read about Versailles said that Versailles is worse than Disneyland when it comes to crowd management. However, my love of palaces won out over my disdain for crowds, so off to Versailles we went.

 Hi! i still haven't gotten over my childhood princess fantasies.

Hi! i still haven't gotten over my childhood princess fantasies.

My original plan was to leave the hotel by 7 and be at the gates of Versailles when they opened. What ended up happening is that we all slept in until 8:30. Whoops. Luckily my guidebook had a tip that said another good plan for crowd management at Versailles was to arrive in the late morning after everyone else and start with Petit Trianon and Domaine du Marie Antoinette's first. Best tip ever.

We got on the train and Lorenzo fell asleep. A point in our favor. When we got off, we tried to take Phebus straight to Petit Trianon, but we missed it thanks to a non-helpful bus attendant. So we began to walk. We walked around the side of the whole palace. I think it was over a mile in all. Eventually we needed to stop for a break to breastfeed and regular feed. We made it to the Grand Trianon first. The interior was ok. My favorite thing about it was the pink marbled exterior. Lorenzo's favorite thing about it was the stairs.

 these are the most luxurious steps i've ever climbed!

these are the most luxurious steps i've ever climbed!

After we finished that palace, we tried to go to Marie Antoinette's palace but got lost in the hedge maze on the way. It was actually really fun to walk where there was absolutely no one else. Life goal: own a hedge maze. Probably not consistent with my other life goal to live out my days in California.

 another directionally-challenged family followed us in here. First we told them they were hopelessly lost. then we had them take our picture.

another directionally-challenged family followed us in here. First we told them they were hopelessly lost. then we had them take our picture.

Next was the gardens and grounds around Petit Trianon. I loved all the details and the carefully maintained gardens. Lorenzo enjoyed the rocks. Literally. He kept putting them in his mouth.

I have a new fascination with landscaping now that I have an area to landscape myself. As I get older, I accumulate more interests. I guess that is a good thing, but it also means that there are no sections of Target where I don't want to buy things.

We continued on to the part of Versailles I was most excited to see, Marie Antoinette's Hamlet! While the peasants were starving around her, Marie Antoinette yearned for a simpler country lifestyle. She had a working dairy farm constructed so that she could enjoy the "simple country life." So it is a fake fairytale village. There is much historical debate on whether Marie Antoinette deserved her fate or not. How clueless was she about what was going on around her? Was she a victim of her circumstances? Whether or not she actually said her most famous quote about "Let them eat cake," is even disputed. Much of it may have been propaganda or yellow journalism. Also I learned that "cake" is not actually what we think of as cake, but it's the burned parts of the bread crusts. That statement is even more offensive than previously thought. I've read a few books about Marie Antoinette (one silly YA novel about her ghost and a very well done historical fiction novel) and I would love to read more. She is a fascinating historical figure.

 definitely a witch's garden filled with magical herbs.

definitely a witch's garden filled with magical herbs.

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 parisian donkeys. 

parisian donkeys. 

Marie Antoinette's motives aside, her Hamlet was every bit as charming as I thought it would be! Everyone loved the fish and the farm animals. Yes, we went all the way to Paris to see farm animals. I also enjoyed the Korean family passing by exclaiming over the baby. Alex loves to surprise Korean tourists (there are a lot) by answering them in their native tongue. This was a good one. He told Lorenzo to bow to the family (a typical greeting in Korea) and the grandma was absolutely floored.

 petit bebe with petit trianon.

petit bebe with petit trianon.

We ventured back to Petit Trianon. So the story of Versailles is this: Louis XIV built this amazing palace dedicated to himself. He called himself the Sun King. He moved the capital outside of Paris and basically "domesticated" the nobles by giving them leisure pursuits outside of the city hubbub. He was then free to run the country as he pleased without much meddling from the pesky nobles. His plan worked well, he ran the country for 70 years. At this time, Paris was the epicenter of European culture. Anywhere in Europe when you said "The King" you meant Louis XIV. He reigned through two successors and eventually Louis XVI took the throne. He did not have the ruling power his predecessor had. He married an Austrian princess Marie Antoinette and they retreated further from court life to Petit Trianon. Meanwhile, revolutionary fires simmered. The king spent lavishly while the commoners became more poor. Eventually, they stormed the palace (it was a group of storming ladies that got Marie Antoinette) and captured everyone. They then beheaded the whole royal family, as well as anyone else who got in their way. It got kind of crazy for a while, they were even beheading people on their own side for minor offenses. Marie Antionette accidentally stepped on the foot of the executioner as she was lead to the guillotine and apologized. Ever the lady until her last breath. From this madness, Napoleon took power and began to conquer Europe. One thing I found to be a total mind-trip was that Louis XVI actually met with Benjamin Franklin before the French revolution. This guillotine madness was not that long ago! American Revolution: 1776, Louis XVI and American diplomats meet: 1778, French Revolution: 1789-1799. They must have gotten some ideas from us. I hope the guillotine wasn't one of them.

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After seeing where royalty retreated, we were ready to see where they lived. We went in through the side entrance to the right of the gates when you are facing the palace directly. No wait! Compare that to the two plus hour we walked by that morning. We let Lorenzo wiggle in the courtyard as we switched off touring the different parts of the palace. We decided to take him with us when we went to the Hall of Mirrors. Big mistake. He loved his echo in there and it was so packed we couldn't move quickly. We exited and allowed him to play in the courtyard some more. The courtyard ended up being my favorite part of Versailles, so it worked out. Although you could see less with a baby, I ended up enjoying the things I did see even more because I got more time there to inspect.

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 what lorenzo thinks of the palace.

what lorenzo thinks of the palace.

One mantra I always try to remember while traveling is to pretend you will return. This allows you to maximize your time and energy in each location. If something is closed or will take too long, that's find. Now you have a reason to return! There is just no way you are ever going to see EVERYTHING in any city, even if you live there. So take a deep breath, put your itinerary away, and enjoy what you do get to see.

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We then left Versailles and got back on the train. Lorenzo fell asleep on the walk there. We had a funny moment where he was sleeping on the train and he woke up facing the row across the way from us. At first he didn't see anyone he recognized and he made THE saddest face I've ever seen. I will never forget that face. When we got home, we fed him and let him wiggle on the bank of the Seine. Alex was so tired after this day, so I ventured out to get Asiatique, which is to-go Asian food buffet that is very popular in Paris right now. A trend I can get behind.

 my family!

my family!