The slender 300-metre Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline as does the mysterious dome of Sacred Coeur; the Batobus meanders up and down the Seine; the cafes are full of sippers and people watchers, reminding us, we are in the world's most visited and romanticized city. On a recent family holiday to France, we took the time to savour this wonderful city, and with a nine-year-old in tow, we worked to maintain a simplified daily itinerary.
First, we rented a self-catering studio apartment for four nights in the Marais District, which allowed for a homey atmosphere and flexibility to enjoy undisturbed food and wine at our leisure. Even in our jet-lagged state, my husband's daily visits to numerous wine stores satisfied his wine cravings. For our daughter, awakening to the fresh smell of baguettes from the corner boulangerie and practising her French, while munching pain du chocolate were a thrill. And I enjoyed the local market at the Bastille on Thursday morning, where Parisians and visitors arrived basket in hand to shop and feast on all the culinary delights.
Second, to create harmony on this trip, our family made a to-do list and prioritized the top three sites to include a mix of history, art, and architecture. The Eiffel Tower was top of the list, and we chose a beautiful sunny morning to visit Paris's most photographed icon, built in 1889 for the World's Fair. Instead of taking the elevator with its long line-up, we paid 4 Euros and climbed stairs to the first level. Unfortunately, heading up to the second level, my husband got vertigo and had to stay behind. But mom and daughter climbed to the second level and then took the elevator to the top. Quelle belle vieux! We also enjoyed Notre Dame with its gothic gargoyles, Auguste Rodin's garden home and bronze statutes, and a boat ride on the Seine.
Finally, we didn't try to do everything. Instead, it was the little things close to home where we soaked up the Paris ambiance—sipping fresh strawberry juice and cafe cremes at our local cafe, a picnic at Place de Voges, and practicing our French at our local boutiques.