Middle Days: Up and Down

Nobody is sleeping well, the adrenaline excitement which had powered us through the early jetlag days now having worn off. Ben and I both have sore throats, and he also complains of a stomach ache. He’s draggy, not his usual self. But we’re in Paris! We want to see things! So these are days of old and new, up and down.

First, we aim to return to places we enjoyed last year. We start here:

The appeal for the boys is the funicular train ride up the hill. Last year, we didn’t even go inside, but this year I want them to understand it’s a church. We walk a lap around the nave; there’s a service in progress, and we pause to listen a moment before heading, blinking, back out into the sun.

We make sure not to miss a ride here:

Then we take the metro to the Luxembourg Gardens, where we’d had so much fun last year. But this year, the carousel is closed and the man renting sailboats is nowhere to be seen. The zipline, which wasn’t even so easy last year, is crowded with kids jostling roughly for their turns. We go to the playground together:

Before getting back on the metro to meet our friends at a park, by which point the boys are ready to just hang out like this:

And like this:

It’s a lovely park, with a fun-looking playground, and we’ll explore it more another time, I hope. Soon enough, we head back to the apartment, cook a little pasta, toss together a salad, and call it a day.

The next day we head off to La Villette, which sounds amazing: a hands-on science museum, a music museum, a submarine, and a variety of different, themed playgrounds, including one with a giant dragon slide. We don’t have reservations for the science museum, though, so we can’t go in; we have a good time at the submarine, but when we are about to leave, a guard shouts at me for trying to take Eli to the bathroom via the exit door, rather than the entry. The dragon slide is closed as are all the playgrounds; we walk past them, past what feels like miles of chain link fencing. It’s like a museum of playgrounds, all carefully guarded by security. Maybe if the playgrounds were open and full of children, the whole place would warm up for me, but it feels cold; every angle is too sharp, the precise green lawn too strangled by the miles of concrete. Later, I read that the park is on the site of the former Paris slaughterhouses, and was designed in consultation with Jacques Derrida. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it. The whole place makes me cranky about Paris and all its arbitrary rules. We don’t take any pictures.

So it doesn’t make any sense, after that, to sign up for a metro ride clear across town to stand on line for the Eiffel Tower, but we do, and it is perfect. Last year, we spent a long time planning our ascent; this time we just go for it and this works, too.

We ride up, we snap pictures (especially Eli, whose interest in a place can always be rekindled by looking at it through a camera), we eat ice cream, and at the bottom, for good measure, ride the carousel.

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