Eddy and I absolutely love travel. This could be quite a surprising fact given that we both actually still live in the very same town we grew up in. But that’s probably more due to circumstance than choice and we both agree that there is really nothing better than waking up somewhere new.
Neither of us did the whole travelling for a year or backpacking gap year or anything and I really think that isn’t our kind of thing anyway, I’m definitely more of a luxury girl! But we absolutely adore soaking in all the different cultures of the world. Of course we haven’t been to anywhere near as many places as we would like but between us we have ticked off a fair few parts of the world. Enough to catch the travel bug anyway.
When we decided to have children we didn’t want this to stop us from continuing to strive to see as much of this world as we can. In actual fact it made me want to go even more. To show them the world and to give them experiences I never had, look at the world through their eyes and indeed experience such things together. I didn’t go abroad really when I was a child bar a couple of holidays to Malta when I was pre-school age. And even then we went to the same place with our neighbours and although I know we explored around the place I don’t remember especially learning about culture. We just didn’t have the money to do much else and when my parents separated we would holiday in the UK and once to France when I was a teenager. For that trip I mostly remember following my eldest sister around so she could secretly smoke, listening to her Maria Carey compilation tape over and over again, playing table tennis with a group of boys staying nearby and getting car sick in the back of a 7 seater!
Eddy was much the same and although he did travel abroad, it would be the same place each and every year because that’s what made his parents happy. And they had lovely family holidays. By my late teens though I was desperate to change this and my first abroad holiday was to Greece with my middle sister followed by a few more with her, and some with friends. When I met Eddy I was 21 and he worked for a company which meant he would travel to Japan for weeks on end, in actual fact straight after we met he flew off for 6 weeks. But it was clear that we shared this passion for travel – money willing. We went to lots of places together, Rome being my absolute favourite, followed quite closely by the Maldives but it really felt like in our short 3 years together we had only just scratched the surface.
For our first wedding anniversary Eddy had brought me a trip to Paris. As I was currently 5 months pregnant and suffering with Hyperemesis I was not exactly in a fit state to jump on a plane so we decided to take the trip as soon as we could once the baby was here. Fast forward to just 16 weeks after we had brought this little life into the world and changed ours forever and we were standing there in the queue at the airport. It felt surreal as we stood to the side of everyone else because we were suddenly those people who has a little baby in arms and a pushchair to fit on too.
In fact we were those people whom had such a tiny baby in arms that you could see the horror on peoples faces as we boarded the plane filled half with couples on a romantic break and half business people who probably take the same flight each week. The same flight that was about to be disturbed by a crying baby. This of course did put me on edge travelling as a parent for the first time, and made Eddy a little bit cross when the people in front let out an audible sigh as we sat behind them. Part of me actually wanted her to scream in their ear for the entire 1 hour 15 minutes, though I was very relieved that she fed or slept most of the way only crying when I assume her ears popped and I felt the same familiar sensation too. Overall the flight was fine and uneventful.
We stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand which is part of the IHG group. Having worked for their head office and still having close friends there we were still able to take advantage of the fab friends and family rate. It is one of the highest ranking hotels in Paris and you can sure see why. It is, as the name suggest, very grand and extremely beautiful in it’s traditional decor. The hotel was awash with Orchids at every turn as we walked what felt like miles to find our stunning room. Thankfully there was lift access everywhere including up to the hotel itself so we had no trouble.
The room itself was lovely, it was quite snug as you would expect in a city hotel but there was enough room for us and we had brought the carrycot part of the pram which had a mattress so Eva was able to sleep in that, very handy when we would come back of an evening and not have to disturb her. The staff were really nice too, whether that was bringing up a kettle so we could make bottles (I’m pretty sure that they thought we had brought our own tea as it came with cups and saucers!) to chatting about directions and restaurant recommendations. As we were out and about alot across the city we never actually ate in the hotel itself but we had tea in the bar one afternoon and it had such a lovely atmosphere that absolutely made you want to stay all day!
As we ventured out to explore the city we quickly realised that Paris probably wasn’t the most child/baby/pushchair friendly place. Most people are rushing around and have no concept of room for a pushchair, the metro is definitely not equipped for this either as we were left pretty much stranded in one when the lift didn’t work and the escalator had broken too. Thankfully Eddy managed to carry it down the broken escalator whilst a woman stopped to check I was ok which prevented a total new mum meltdown! But we did soon realise that the baby carrier we had thankfully brought with us was the way to go the next day.
The same can also be said for the Eiffel Tower which we visited that first day with the pushchair in tow. If you are ever going there, with a baby, just be sure that you are handsfree or that the pushchair folds down into one piece. As Eva was so little we still had the carrycot top which when dismantled is in two pieces and so we weren’t allowed to take it on the lift and there was no place to leave it either. We were a bit disappointed of course to miss our chance at going up the Tower but we sat and soaked up the atmosphere around anyway.
Obviously with a baby so young you can do practically anything and go anywhere (pram access willing) as watching the world go by is pretty much all the fascination they need at this age, mixed in with some milk and some attention from Mama and Dada of course!
In the two days we were there we visited Notre Dame, The Louvre, Arc De Triomphe and generally wandered around this beautiful city, in-between the necessary Cafe stops along the way to feed the baby and refuel naturally. And maybe to stare at the colourful collection of macarons adorning every window! Being very new besotted parents we also happened to find ourselves in many of the beautiful baby boutiques and definitely went home with more gorgeous clothes than we came with.
We did walk alot and in the day would scope out places to eat for that evening which is sort of a tradition for us wherever we go, can you tell we love food? We ate in some lovely places and were thankful that we were usually eating earlier than everyone else as space was definitely at a premium. One thing I would say if I was to go with small children rather than baby in arms I would recommend taking a portable highchair as not many places were equipped like this.
Overall it was a really lovely trip and I am very glad actually that we took our little baby girl. It isn’t the most family friendly place, it taught us alot about travelling with a baby, and if I was to go again I would definitely do some things differently. But like any destination, with enough planning I believe you can take children anywhere in the world.
Paris will always be the first place we went as parents and the first place Eva Dee ever visited. So for that at least it will always hold a special place in my heart. And maybe one day soon we will be lucky enough to take her back, and this time go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower, to look out over the city for the first time, with her right there by my side.