> The Beesley Buzz: Paris 2015

Paris 2015


Over half term we decided (pretty last minute) to have a few days away in Paris. These are my notes written up mainly at the time. If you're looking for a quick read, click away now, this is NOT a user friendly blogpost and breaks all the rules about maximum word count.

It is a diary of our holiday for the kids to read and look back on - so it is loooong and I don't expect anyone else to read it all the way through.

Wednesday 18th February 2015
We decided to fly as it made it more of an adventure for the kids and cost less than Eurostar.

Remember to pack light with Easyjet because even though we'd paid for 1 piece of baggage hold luggage, it would have cost £20 extra for going 2kg over the 20kg weight limit. We just popped a couple of pairs of shoes across to hand luggage instead.

When we booked our few days away, we didnt realise that Miss T's foot was a long term problem. Neither had we banked on her getting a deep gash to the head needing an amblance trip to A&E only two days before our holiday. And nor had we banked on her getting a random nose bleed at Gatwick airport and dripping blood all over my jeans.

They all enjoyed the flight and we felt a sense of satisfaction navigating our own way to the hotel using the trains and metro. The boys also loved the 'double decker' trains you get in Paris.
The kids loved the novelty of double decker trains in Paris
The boys had really wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and although it had been a long tiring day and it was way past their bedtimes, there was a hugely enthusiastic 'wow the eiffel tower' as we exited Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel metro station to see the stunning sight of the Eiffel Tower at night.

And as D had pointed out that Paris was supposed to be a romantic city, there was time for a quick kiss.
From there it was a short walk to our hotel where we picked up some sandwiches for dinner at their on site snack shop and then got to bed exhausted.

Thursday 19th February 2015
Woke up to a promising sunny day in Paris. It was cold but sunny. We went for a little explore and found the nearby Parc du Citroen and the Paris hot air balloon. This is very weather dependant and thankfully we had not included it in our plans as it wasn't flying today.


We picked up some sandwiches for lunch from the Monoprix around the corner and bought some swimming trunks for the boys at M&S in the nearby shopping mall. Upon checking into the hotel we'd been told that swimming trunks as we know them in the UK (i.e. swimming shorts) are not permitted in the pool and only what they consider to be proper swimwear is permitted.

Afternoon involved seeing the Eiffel Tower close up and then looking down on it from Tour Montparnasse which is taller and far less busy than the Eiffel Tower.

at Tour Montparnasse
from the top of Tour Montparnasse
Upon returning to the hotel the boys were looking forward to their swim and were extremely disappointed to be told that the pool was closed until 8.30 pm for aquaerobics.

This came as a huge surprise as we had checked the pool opening hours prior to booking and again upon arrival and told it was open until 10pm weekdays.

Not only is it closed regularly throughout each day for classes but also has a maximum capacity of 15. The hotel has hundreds of rooms (over 800 apparently) and so a maximum of 15 was another disappointing surprise. Even though the pool is located within the Novotel hotel grounds, it turns out that it is run by a separate organisation.

That's where a further swimming pool disappointment came... The main reason we booked Novotel was for the pool. Having stayed at Novotel hotels in the UK with stunning pools, we were expecting the same Novotel standard here but the pool is more like a run down public pool rather than the stunning luxury pools that Novotel hotels that we had stayed at previously boast.

Due to the changes in swimming plans, we ended up with a room service dinner. It's not worth splashing out on the Benkay bento meal but the other meals were fine albeit the 25 minute timescale we were advised of becoming a 50 minute unexplained wait.

Friday 20th February 2015
Woke up to a rainy day in Paris so we decided to do an indoor activity. We headed off to the Palais Decouverte for a day of science discovery. We'd read that the planetarium and lectures were in French so didn't bother with these but there was still plenty to see and do and there definitely was a whole days worth of activities there.


We had a slightly stressful journey back with customer service on the Metro leaving a lot to be desired. The gate which Miss T's pushchair fits through at the metro station was locked and unmanned (as seems to be the norm). There is a call button where they are supposed to open the gate. I got hung up on several times despite my increased panic in my voice as J and D had already gone through to the other side of the barriers with their tickets. Even when a helpful local lady buzzed and explained in French that we needed to get through as we had a buggy they hung up on her too!

With everything going on with Miss T's foot, its not to easy to get her in and out the buggy as her swollen foot doesn't even fit into a shoe at the moment. She is still having to wear the 'shoe' that she had when she had her plaster cast but we had to find a way to get through and ended up having to do lots of lifting the buggy over and lifting Miss T over. It seems a ridiculous situation to have this system where buggies and wheelchairs cannot get through when they need to and yet plenty of people evading fares are hopping over and under barriers all the time.
Miss T still not in proper shoes so makes walking really hard
Back at the hotel the boys enjoyed 20 minutes of free internet access in the lobby and a free crepe which was to celebrate school holidays if I understood correctly. The Novotel staff were great (it is such a shame about the swimming pool let down and I have since emailed them showing them photos of the mould thinking they would like to know to improve the standard to match other Novotel pools but they didn't seem too bothered so perhaps that is the norm for the standard of Novotel in France which differs hugely to the UK which had suberb pools). It's also a shame that there is so much smoking wafting through the lobby area as people stand just outside and smoke.

Another success for today was managing to place an online order for Dominoes pizza in French. We had a bit of an uncertain wait not even being sure if they would take the delivery address to the hotel seriously but we were all pleased when our pizzas did indeed arrive.

Saturday 21st February 2015
More rain today so we thought a trip to the Pompidou centre would be good. D is really creative and into art so we thought he'd love it but he'd decided that today was the day to get homesick. That today would be the day to moan and shout at the top of his lungs that he hates Paris. He hates the dog poo in the streets. He hates everyone smoking. And he wants to go home. It wouldn't have been so bad if his shouts hadn't echoed throughout the entire escalator corridor system of the Pompidou centre. A visit to their coffee shop and 1 cookie and 1 apple juice later and he was feeling back to himself again.



We ended up just getting the tickets for the view and not the galleries at the Pompidou Centre. Kids are free anyway so it makes a great value activity but the coffee shop is pricey. You can get into the building without tickets so you can have a pitstop at the coffee shop and a toilet break even if you don't want to see the rest of it.


The weather just got colder and wetter as the day went on. We showed the kids the Louvre but the queues were too long to contemplate going in. We always have to consider queue length because of J's asperger difficulties. We also saw Place de la Concorde and spotted l'arc de Triomphe in the distance.

Making our way back to the hotel we found the free crepes happening once again which was perfect go tide us over until dinner.

Dinner was a selection of sandwiches and salads from M&S.

Sunday 22nd February 2015
At last better weather today. It turns out I stopped writing notes at this point so the rest is from memory.

We had heard about the Pet and flower market on the Ile de la cite so we headed over there after a leisurely breakfast. It is the same area as Notre Dame. Again avoided going into Notre Dame because of queue considerations.

I'm not sure if it was due to the sunshine or weather this really is a beautiful part of Paris but we really enjoyed just seeing the scenery in these parts.




Then we headed across to Ile Saint-Louis where there are some lovely little shops, tea rooms, gift shops, galleries and chocolate shops.

Although the famous Berthillon Icecream parlour was closed, the kids got Berthillon ice creams from another tea room which they really enjoyed.

Then a swim at the Novotel pool. Although as already mentioned, the pool was a huge disappointment overall, this was the first day Miss T was able to go swimming after the cut to her head so she enjoyed it. We had to wear swimming hats and when she saw herself in the mirror she said 'I wear chefs hat like Daniel' as she often sees D in his chefs hat for cooking.
Sunday evening was a BIG night for us...It was the evening that I had booked Eiffel Tower tickets for. It was cold. No it was bitterly cold. And windy. And I wish I was somewhere warm and not high up. And the queues were long. Very long.

Having pre-booked tickets meant we didn't have to queue to get our tickets but that was just about the only benefit as once you are through, the queues were horrendous. It was the height of inefficiency.

Buggies had to be collapsed and so daddy had to carry Miss T for ages. And because of her foot and the crowds she couldn't stand herself so needed to be carried.

J and D were brilliant despite how difficult the queuing is for J.


Was it worth the queues for a few minutes at the summit of the Eiffel Tower? In my view not. But for the kids it was a huge thing ticked off their bucket list.

On the way down we stopped at the first floor because the boys wanted to see the glass floored sections. It was VERY quiet on the first floor and the stairs were empty. Miss T needed to go down in the lift but the boys did the steps down. My advice for anyone thinking of doing the Eiffel Tower...forget the summit, avoid the lifts, just do steps to first floor. It's still high up and you get to see lots but avoid the queues.

Monday 23rd February 2015
Our last day. Our flight wasn't until the evening so we wanted to make the most of the day with a visit to the Chocolate Museum.

The Chocolate Museum was probably the first place that we came across that was truly geared up for tourists and had the sort of customer service standards that we take for granted in the UK.

It is a little out of the way, with the nearest metro station being Bonne Nouvelle, but definitely worth a visit.





It was educational, interesting, and fun. There was a trail for the kids to do. There was a lift for the buggy to get to different floors. And at the end there is a short demonstration and you get to taste chocolate!

Excellent demo
 The demo was really good with the chocolatier making an effort to explain things in English especially for our benefit. We were worried about missing our flight so got a bit worried when the previous demo overran but instead of having our final hot chocolate drinks at the museum, we brought them home with us to have later (it was one of those cubes of hot chocolate that you stir into hot milk and they had various interesting flavours).
tasting chocolate!
I'd probably put the Chocolate Museum as number 1 on my list of things to do in Paris so I'm really glad we ended our trip to Paris on a high with lots of chocolate involved.

I know this is an incredibly long blogpost...but a few words more....It was hectic doing Paris with kids in tow but I'd packed my Alive! multivitamins I've been taking to help keep up my energy levels. I know Alive! are keen to hear about all our adventures whilst taking the multi-vitamins so they'll be pleased to know they helped me in Paris.

Gatwick airport deserve a huge thanks as they were amazing in providing Miss T with special assistance upon arriving back in the UK. Because the buggy only arrives back this end with our baggage, they sent a wheelchair and airport electric buggy vehicle for Miss T to take us right through to the baggage reclaim. Superb service - that was such a big help!

We were upset to see that Miss T's stroller had got damaged on the return flight home. I thought for a moment that the savings we'd made by flying Easyjet would now have to be spent on a new buggy but we had awesome service from James at Damagedluggage.com in sending out a new stroller for Miss T to replace her broken one. So our faith in Easyjet has been restored.

If Miss T's condition turns out to be a long-term one then we may well have to look into getting a special-needs style buggy for older children as the footrest on her new one isn't quite in the best place to support her foot. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Final pic of the Eiffel Tower - we really were staying pretty close to it which delighted the kids.


Linking up with #AllAboutFrance linky at Lou Messugo:


Lou Messugo

Linking up with Coombe Mill Country Kids (ok so Paris isn't countryside but we did spend a lot of time outdoors):

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

and with the next #Pocolo at Vevivos if I remember to link up as has been too long since I last linked up:

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18 comments:

  1. Glad you had a good time in spite of metro & pool problems. No pics of the rest of you in your swimming caps?!

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    1. no way - we looked awful in swim hats. It was only Miss T who still managed to look adorable!

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  2. Wow you did so much with the kids. Well done, especially on the walking! Thanks for the tip about the Eiffel tower. We will try that

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    1. I don't like to sit around and get bored on holiday so we did have a list of things we wanted to do and we managed to get round to a lot of it so that was good. x

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  3. Oh wow! You managed to fit so much in! We are going to Paris in October and the Chocolate Museum is now on my to do list!

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    1. Yes - the Chocolate Museum is definitely worth a visit. x

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  4. It seems I know where you were! I spent several months moored on the Seine at the Quai de Grenelle, by the Hotel Nikko. This seems to have been transformed into your Novotel.....it was rather better in 1980/81 !!! I used to get up in the morning, go for a 5 mile run around the circuit of the river bank and the Allee des Cygnes (the small island with a model of the Statue of Liberty at the downstream end)...then I would grab a towel and a change of clothes and go into the hotel through a back door, use their facilities to shower and shave, and exit through the front door...being saluted by the doorman on duty!! I did this every day for a month in 1980 and again in 1981..he must have thought I was some species of eccentric millionaire...rather then a boat bum on a free mooring sustaining himself by busking!! I used to busk on the plaza outside the Pompidou Centre, and on the Left Bank by Odeon...half an hour was enough to finance the next day! I got to know the bar staff in the Hotel Nikko..the Bar Apollinare..and they had an impromptu champagne cocktail contest, with me as the judge. Happy days....the pool was at the top of the hotel and had a small weightlifting gymnasium too; used to swim about and chat to the air hostesses who frequented the place. In those days, nobody seemed to bother about anything!! Did all my shopping at the same Monoprix you mentioned! These days, when "Trillium" goes to Paris, we moor in the Bassin d'Arsenal...close to Notre Dame in your photos. The old free public mooring at the Quai de Grenelle was closed years ago...it used to be a very cosmopolitan bunch of boat freaks, everything from a mob of young Swiss on an outboard powered raft with a tent in the middle to an American architect from Hawaii. Glad you enjoyed Paris...as you say, the locals can be stupendously rude...but they are rude to everyone, including non-Parisian French people, so it's not as if you were being singled out!!

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    1. this is hilarious - I love the idea of busking your way through Paris and showering at the hotel. x

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  5. What a lovely idea to go to Paris. My kids keep talking about seeing the Eiffel Tower too after I went with some girlfriends for my 40th. Despite the pool and poor Miss E;s foot it looks like a lovely family escape. Thank you for sharing some lovely photos on Country Kids

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    1. my boys kept going on about the Eiffel Tower which is what prompted us to go. Once we got there it turned out they were more interested in buying a snow globe souvenir of the eiffel tower rather than actually enjoy going up the eiffel tower but i'm glad we've done the summit now so next time we won't feel the need to. x

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  6. It seems that despite some disappointments (shame about the pool) you had a very full and active visit to Paris (one of my favourite places ever). You certainly packed in a lot with three young kids. Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

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    1. Yes it certainly was a busy few days with lots to see and do. x

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  7. OK, I must admit I didn't read EVERYTHING, but I came over here from #AllAboutFrance and enjoyed seeing what a British family with young children would choose to do in Paris. I have actually never been to the Cité de Sciences, and only have a vague recollection of there being a chocolate museum in Paris.

    I'm glad you had some nice weather -- I think going to Paris off-season, even if the weather is iffy -- is truly worth it.

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    1. ha ha i didn't expect anyone to read EVERYTHING as it is mainly a bit of a diary for the kids to look back on. I think the great thing about a city break is that there is plenty to see and do whatever the weather. x

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  8. Wow - I am impressed ow much you crammed into a weekend - far more than we did when we last went! #AllABoutFrance #Pocolo

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    1. thanks - There is so much to do that we would have liked to have done more even! x

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  9. I really enjoyed reading your blog. We went to DLP last Christmas with our kids. Having been to Paris before, we had been pondering whether to lose a day at Disney and go into Paris. We decided against as we have decided to take them when they are a bit older. Thank you for the Eiffel Tower tip, I don't think we will bother going up! The Choc museum looks fab and having experienced the customer service for myself on the metro I was not surprised about what happened to you! We loved the area around Notre Dame also, fabulous nooks and crannies! :0) #countrykids

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    1. thanks for your comment. Would definitely recommend the chocolate museum! x

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