Although I had made many trips to France before now, for many reasons, this trip was the first time I had traveled as a family, with Chouchou and Mon Cœur (MC), our toddler.
For me, this trip was not only about introducing them to people and places close to my heart, it was also about helping me heal by spending some time with our adopted French families for the first time since the stillbirth.
Although we did not speak much about it at all (that wouldn’t be very French, I’ve been told), the time we were able to spend together helped me to heal.
I know that sounds silly, but it’s one thing to share news over the phone, and it’s another to truly embrace another person who feels the same grief and share it together, physically.
After almost a year, I am still healing in this regard, seeing family and friends for the first time and sharing a long hug.
But what this post really is about, is some personal and family firsts.
First AirBnB booking:
I have researched bookings on AirBnB before, but we had never booked a place. For our stay in Paris, we spent three days at a lovely AirBnB in the same neighborhood, near the Eiffel Tower, where I studied years ago. It was a wonderful experience and a cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel.
We also felt “at home” since we came back every evening and made a meal. The neighborhood was quiet at night and conveniently located to many different grocery stores, the metro, and a fresh air market.
The host, Nicholas was excellent about getting back in touch with any questions we had.
First Uber trip:
I really didn’t think I’d ever use Uber, but after our metro adventure with all of our luggage, I investigated. For 20 Euros more than what we spent taking the metro in (and only a total of 47 Euro), we had an Uber driver pick us up and take us door to door from our Air BnB to the airport terminal. Totally worth every centime (cent). Plus, our driver, David, was amazing. Courteous, kind, and punctual (I was so worried an Uber wouldn’t come at 4:30am).
The ride to the airport was a nice calm way to say adieu to the city as we passed by the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks in the dark of the morning, with only a few hints of street lights. Had we taken the metro, we would not have had such a smooth exit from the city and start to our next leg of the trip.
Between the AirBnB and the Uber experiences we had as our firsts, the bar for expectations in the future has been set high. Both were such positive experiences that as we plan travel in the future, we will definitely be using them again.
What I loved most about this trip was Chouchou’s wanting us to experience new things together. In Paris, among other places, we visited the Catacombs, the Palais Garnier, and les Invalides. While with friends we all experienced Lourdes, Chambord, and the Cathedral and town of Bourges together for the first time.
Mon Cœur’s Firsts:
MC had many firsts on this trip too, and it was so amazing to watch her reactions to each. As an adult, I take for granted many aspects of my life, so it was so refreshing to see her experience something otherwise banal to an adult.
Airplanes, trains, metros, and buses!
It was MC’s first plane ride, train ride, bus and metro rides. The plane ride was non-eventful just as I wished. She was entertained by the in-flight movies or her tablet, and aside from some walks around the plane, and some normal toddler restlessness, she was absolutely fabulous.
She kept her nose pressed to the window, watching the countryside zoom by in the train. It was so nice to travel this way – we could walk up and down the aisles to stretch our legs, and we got a close up view of the country. An added bonus, since MC traveled on my lap, she was free!
MC is enchanted by school buses, and so any bus is a school bus to her. We decided that we would take the bus whenever we could to see more of the city. Watching her face as we went through the city and she saw everything, her enthusiasm for everything was contagious. From dogs being walked to monuments we passed – she pointed it all out.
First trip to the beach:
The first evening we were in Biarritz, we went to Socoa, a little beach/bay area. MC wanted to run out on the sand and so Chouchou went out there with her. They ran around to all the drawings in the sand, then made their own baby shark drawings.
Her face lit up to be on the beach, with other kids, running around, playing soccer, and giggling. It did my heart good to watch her and Chouchou out playing. When she came off the beach, she wanted to take me on the sand and share this new place with me.
We enjoyed just watching her run around on the beach in February, but I am looking forward to this summer when we can take her to the beach and experience it in a different season.
This is part of a mini series of stories shared from our recent trip to France. Visit my Instagram for more pictures from the trip. Previous posts include:
- Three lessons: What I learned traveling internationally with our family
- Preparing to leave: Tips I found on the internet for traveling with a young family.
Do you have questions about our trip? Please email me or share in the comments section – I would love to answer them!