The 5 of us were biking along the canals behind the palace at Versailles when my 8-year-old followed my detour off the main path to see where a hilly dirt path that went into the nearby woods might lead, as it seemed more exciting than the wider main trail. He looked ahead at the dips and turns ahead of us and yelled, “You’re the best Daddy in the WORLD!”
June 15, 2017, the penultimate day of our French vacation: the day I became the best Daddy in the world to the only boy whose opinion matters.
We’d taken off from Atlanta on Monday, June 5. Originally, the discount fare I’d found went from Miami, so we’d bought a one way ticket down there (planning to get off the plane during a layover in Atlanta on the trip home), but when I called Delta to see about an earlier flight (since 1. our traveling companions were already at the airport and had an earlier flight to Miami than we did, and 2. I was worried about approaching bad weather), I learned our flight from Miami to Paris had been cancelled. Luckily, the agent was able to get all 10 of us on a direct flight later that evening, and since I happened to be on the phone with him when the flight was cancelled, we beat the presumed throngs of folks trying to get on the same plane from Miami upon learning of their flight’s cancellation an hour or so later.
We landed on June 6, securing the beachhead at Charles de Gaulle airport, leaving only a carseat behind. Kia sent one of its troops who, armed with an ipad with my name on it, led our squadron to the local motor pool, and issued us a fine utility vehicle: the Carens. Once I returned the necessary requisition paperwork, we set off for our quarters on Rue Leonard de Vinci. After grounding our gear, we walked a few blocks to where my once fraternity brother/now DEA agent lives with his family and had dinner.
The next morning–June 7, 2017–I turned 42. I walked a few steps outside our apartment to Cafe Victor Hugo (which would be how we’d start every subsequent morning we were there) for coffee and then led the family on a long walk through Paris in search of what I thought would be a great place for breakfast but turned out to be a good place for dinner that just happened to open early (note to self: select “brunch” on Yelp when looking for breakfast, not just restaurants open at 9am). Instead, we stopped by a patisserie and had macaroons for breakfast (and, since it was my birthday, I also had a chocolate chip cookie–one of the best I’ve ever had).
Then, we walked to the Rodin museum. I enjoyed learning how he created his bronze statues from molds so that they could be replicated in varying sizes. We saw the Gates of Hell, the Thinker (and the Munch painting of it), the Kiss, and his other famous works while learning about his relationship with Camille Claudel and how he designed his future museum while still alive. It was a great first museum for our trip; I loved that it was both indoors and outside and gave us insight into the artist’s life as well as his work.
Next, we went to the Eiffel Tower for our pre-purchased lift ticket to the observation tower with our travel companions, the McAllisters.
Then, we had lunch and visited the Army Museum, which was called National Residence of the Invalids (I could make a joke about the French army here, but I’ll refrain; it’d been used as a military hospital at one point). Next to it was Napoleon’s tomb. I loved seeing the WWII exhibits in the Army museum and how Napoleon’s tomb was basically an enormous matryoshka doll of metal and wooden coffins. The building that housed it featured an enormous rotunda that our U.S. Capitol mimicked.
Shortly after that visit, we dropped the children off at my DEA agent friend’s apartment (his oldest is in high school, so she could watch the youngsters) so the adults could have a delicious steak dinner at Sacree Fleur.
And such concluded a great birthday and our first couple days in Paris!