Queueing in Paris

Part of a collection of travelogues by Trevor Hopkins.

Work has taken me to Paris, and Tracey and Sebastian were able to join me. Naturally, there are some restrictions on what you can do with an exceedingly energetic 8-year-old boy in tow! So, your choices about what to do and where to go are not necessarily those one might otherwise make - especially on food, since Sebs in still quite difficult to feed sometimes.

Tracey and Sebastian arrived mid-morning on Friday, so by the time I caught up with them (6pm Friday), they had already done Notre Dame and environs, and walked around a fair bit. So, they were both quite tired, and frankly so was I, after last week's work. Early dinner in local Italian restaurant and early to bed. The place we stayed was a suite hotel not far from the Eiffel Tower. We were on the 16th floor - about half-way up, but still good views over the city. Breakfast each morning was croissants and coffee (grown-ups) and milk and pain au chocolat (Sebs), purchased locally and eaten in the room.

First thing on Saturday was the Eiffel Tower. This was the first batch of queuing for the weekend, but Sebs liked the Tower. It took ages to get to the top; much quicker to get back down again. Much of the local area was closed off, including parts of the Champs de Mars, since this was the day that the Tour de France arrived here! So, lots of TV and film crews, not to mention large numbers of vehicles advertising the sponsors' products.

Later, we caught the Metro (first time on the Underground for Sebs!) to the Latin Quarter. Tracked down a seafood restaurant ("Le Bar a Huites") that I'd been to before. Tracey and I decided to share one of the Assiette de Fruit de Mer: two kinds of crab, two kinds of oysters, mussels, prawns, shrimps, whelks and winkles. All served in huge metal flat bowl, piled high with ice. Quite a spectacle. Also came with the usual large set of strange cutlery for dismantling seafood, including the crackers for crab claws and high-tech safety winkle pins. Astonishingly, Sebs decided he'd like to try this dish, too, and agreed to try everything. He wasn't so keen on the oysters and whelks, but loved the shrimp and crab. So, you'll just have to imagine this little boy, wielding the crackers, sucking on the crabs' legs, etc. Grown-ups enjoyed white wine (and peace and quiet!) for two hours.

More strolling around the Latin Quarter - always enjoy wandering here. Bought a few provisions - bread, cheese, chocolates, red wine - oh, and chips for Sebastian, then repaired back to suite for dinner (bread, cheese, etc.) The cheeses were astonishingly good - later on, it was necessary to open windows, fumigate mouth, etc.

Tracey and Sebastian at EuroDisney Sunday: EuroDisney. Up early, Metro and RER - about an hour. Arrived early enough to get in quickly, and first few rides were more-or-less queue-free, but this got worse (much worse) later in the day. Rides varied - the rock-n-roll roller-coaster was brilliant (I like this kind of thing!), but Tracey and Sebastian refused to go on it a second time. Shows good, too - the live-action stunt car driving was really astonishing - think of the wear-n-tear on the tyres! Lunch in Planet Hollywood; Sebs stuffed himself on ham and cheese sandwiches.

I was quite impressed by the way they handled the language thing in EuroDisney. The shows and rides where scripted in English and French, but without obvious translation - indeed, the English and French words were often in conversation, and you got more if you understood at least some of the French, too. So, not stilted at all.

Tracey at EuroDisney Left EuroDisney around 6.30pm. We were all exhausted - Sebs fell asleep almost immediately on the RER. (He's really quite a good traveller, since he can entertain himself with books and the inevitable GameBoy, and seems to be able to sleep on any kind of transport (cars, planes, etc.). The trouble is, of course, on long flights, is that he sleeps really well, while the grown-ups get rather less sleep - so he's up and raring to go when we arrive, while I'm shattered and jet-lagged. The resilience of youth!

Monday morning, I packed and then went off to work for a rest (by taxi - I transported a huge suitcase, mostly containing used clothing for three people), while Tracey and Sebastian went off to do more touristy things, and then take a flight to Liverpool in the afternoon.