Arriving in Paris (and What Not To Do on Arrival)

Bonjour les amis! We're in Paris! This is my first trip back to France in eight years, and It's great to be able to share this city with my husband and children. (He and I were last in France when I was two months pregnant with our first child.) I hope to write more frequently about our experiences here, so Intentional Mama will be more of a travel blog for a while, d'accord? Here's how we're adjusting, and what we've learned the hard way:

  Hôtel de Ville, Paris  

Hôtel de Ville, Paris 

Our trip started with a mistake: we brought too much stuff. I honestly thought I'd packed light for the kids and myself, but we also decided to bring my daughter's violin, two car seats, and an inflatable booster seat (because we borrowed a car in Iceland and we'll rent a car for two weeks in rural France). Too much stuff led to my next mistake:

  La Conciergerie, Paris  

La Conciergerie, Paris 

Mistake #2: Taking an unlicensed taxi from the airport to our Paris apartment. We'd planned to take the train to the Metro, but it quickly became apparent that we couldn't get everything and everyone through the necessary turnstiles and long hallways and then on and off the train and metro without a fair amount of physical agony. Plus we'd forgotten to retrieve the car seats at the luggage area. So we went back to get them and when someone asked, "Taxi?" I just nodded and followed, weighed down and exhausted.

Later I remembered Rick Steves' reminder that official taxis in Paris have a red light on top and should be parked directly outside the arrival area, not down in the depths of the parking garage. Thankfully our driver was a nice guy and his rate was reasonable (well, equal to the ridiculous rates of any taxi), but after he left we realized he hadn't unloaded our grocery bag of food and snacks (along with my favorite new collapsible water bottle), and we had no way to contact him. That's when I realized that he'd made up the taxi agency name when I asked, and why he only took cash. 

Lesson learned: always get the business card of your taxi driver up front in case you leave something behind (and in case he's a phony!).

  View from our apartment in Paris

View from our apartment in Paris

Otherwise, our séjour is off to a good start--well, minus the washing machine which gushes water on the kitchen floor every few loads because it didn't drain properly. Living in America, I'd forgotten how convenient our household amenities are--conveniences such as air conditioning, garbage disposals, and dryers aren't common in most of the world. But I'll always appreciate being able to stay in a small flat (even with five flights of stairs) in a great part of Paris. I'm still in the honeymoon stage of cultural adjustment, as are my daughter and husband. In contrast, my three-year-old son has asked twice to go home, but only when it's past his bedtime and he hasn't fallen asleep. I hope he learns to love it here--we're trying to make this a great experience for us all.

  My son riding an American-style motorcycle at the carnival in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

My son riding an American-style motorcycle at the carnival in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

Have you ever traveled long-term? What do you appreciate most about where you live?

Soon I'll share more about what we've been doing here in Paris. A bientôt!

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Related Post: A Family Visit to Paris' Jardin des Plantes & Ménagerie