Travel Adventures: Denver to Paris

the Eiffel TowerExactly a year ago my family and I were doing the unthinkable- traveling overseas with a 9 mos baby and a 3yr old toddler!   We originally were going to go this year for our 10yr anniversary but then we remembered how challenging it was to travel with a 1.5 yr old vs an infant that can be easily carried around and will still sleep anywhere.  And then when we came across plane tickets roundtrip from Denver to Paris for only $420 we decided to just do it!  It was still a challenge, especially trying to sleep on an overnight flight with a baby on your lap…but at least he wasn’t a big 2 yr old!  And while our daughter may have had some bouts of toddler tantrums, overall she did amazingly well and was a total champ for all the long flights, train rides, and other obstacles that come with such a huge trip.  Of course we also would have never considered the trip if it wasn’t for my mom whom now lives in France.  Since having kids we actually haven’t traveled anywhere for more then a weekend unless there are grandparents either at the destination or coming along with us.  Because not only do we like vacations that are fun and adventurous, but honestly we need a break for at least a few hours away from our kids to get some real rest and relaxation.   So anyway, my mother and her husband met us in Paris where we got to also visit with some other family, and then we met them back in the small town of Monterblanc where they live.  We had about 5 days of city life in the heart of Paris and a week traveling around beaches & castles of the West coast, also known as the Brittany region of France.

For the Moms- How did we do it with kids?
Slowly, with lots of stops at playgrounds and lots of patience.  We skipped going inside all the most crowded places like The Louvre & the Notre Dame.  But my daughter had been looking forward to going to the top of the Eiffel Tower for months, so there was no skipping that.  We booked a time slot in advance to try to avoid the lines, but little did we knew that you still have to wait in long lines to get up the elevators to the top.  That part was honestly a nightmare.   Nolan was fussy and hungry, so once we finally got to the top we looked at the views as quickly as we could then got back in line to head down, and thankfully a couple of sympathetic tourists let us cut them in line.  Screaming babies in extremely tight and crowded lines 108 stories high is not fun!  But we survived, and drank a lot of wine afterwards!  We also knew we would be spending a lot of time in our room with naps and early bedtimes.  So we made sure to find a place that had a full kitchen, a balcony (even though it was tiny one) with a view that we could enjoy while sipping wine while the kids slept.  Quite a few days one of us would walk down to La Boulangerie (typically me since I speak a tiny bit of French) for quiche and pastries for breakfast and bring it back to the room to enjoy.  By the time we figured out what we wanted to do that day Nolan was ready for his morning nap so then one of us would go to the market to buy fresh bread, cheese, charcuterie, and wine for a picnic lunch in one of the many nearby parks.   We would pick a park close to our daily destination so that after a long walk we could take a break and eat.  Then we would keep going, to the art museum, shops, or whatever we could fit in, till the kids would start to pass out.

For the Photo Geeks- How did I do it with cameras and kids?
I knew that traveling with all of the necessary baby and kid gear that it would be tough to also add a heavy professional camera and set of lens to my bag too.  But I was going to France, I couldn’t rely on my cell phone to document this trip successfully.  So what did I do?  Well I left home all my huge heavy lens, left behind my flashes, tripod and everything else that wasn’t essential.  But I did bring one of my pro digital camera bodies along with my favorite travel lens the 50mm 1.8, 10-17mm fisheye, and the 105 mm 2.8.  I love the 50 mm because its a tiny lightweight lens and works great in low light.  I love the fisheye because its also small and shoots really wide shots, which allows me to capture the whole scene such as tiny hotel rooms, or the entire Eiffel Tower from up close (see picture above and first two pictures below).  I almost left my 105 lens home because its not as tiny and light, but I knew we had a view of the Eiffel Tower from our Airbnb and I knew I would regret it if I couldn’t get any close up shots from our room.  And while I ONLY took it out for those pictures of the Eiffel Tower, it was so worth it.  We were about 3 miles away from the Eiffel Tower but with that lens it looks more like we were only 3 blocks away (scroll below to find those shots).  And compared to my other telephoto lens, the 70-200mm (that huge monster only comes out for weddings), the 105mm is actually pretty small!   I also brought along my mini travel waterproof camera, but the battery died before we even made it to the beach.  And of course I had my cell phone with me for all those times I just couldn’t carry anymore heavy stuff.  Anyway, so much I could say about our trip but I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking and I’ll try to add more details with the images.  Enjoy!

Excited to finally make it to our Airbnb in Paris!

Excited to finally make it to our Airbnb in Paris!

baby crawling around our Airbnb in Paris

Nolan loved roaming around our Airbnb in Paris

 wine, cheese, and bread and macaroons

more wine, cheese, and bread please! oh and don’t forget the macaroons!

discovering Jardin du Luxembourg

discovering Jardin du Luxembourg

daddy and daughter at Le Jardin du Luxembourg

daddy and daughter at Le Jardin du Luxembourg

family picture at Le Jardin du Luxembourg

my turn to be in a picture, at Le Jardin du Luxembourg

perfectly trimmed trees at the Luxembourg Gardens

perfectly trimmed trees at the Luxembourg Gardens

boat ride on the Seine River

a relaxing boat ride on the Seine River

boat ride on the Seine River

boat ride on the Seine River

emotion of sculptures in the Rodin Garden

I love the emotion of these sculptures in the Rodin Garden

pigeon frenzy at the Notre Dame

pigeon frenzy at the Notre Dame

street musician and gothic doors of Notre Dame

street musician and gothic doors of Notre Dame

raindrops over Paris Eiffel Tower

watching the rain over Paris from our room

baby boy looks up to window

Nolan wondering what we’re doing out on the balcony

Paris balconies and rooftops

Paris balconies and rooftops

view from our airbnb

view from our airbnb on our tiny balcony

Eiffel Tower light show

the sun didn’t set till 9:30pm, so we had to stay up till 10pm to catch the twinkling light show that comes on every hour after dark

exploring art at the Pompidou Centre in Paris

exploring art at the Pompidou Centre in Paris

daughter holding mom

“come on Mommy, there’s more art to see!”

view from le centre pompidou

view from le centre pompidou

a stroll with the family in Montmarte

a stroll with the family in Montmarte

serenaded on the streets of Montmatre

serenaded on the streets of Montmartre

Parisian picnics with the kids in the many parks

we enjoyed lots of Parisian picnics with the kids in the many parks

 

up to the top of the Eiffel Tower

our day arrives to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower

little girl top of Eiffel Tower

she finally gets to the top of the Eiffel Tower

little girl top of Eiffel Tower

looking down from the top of the Eiffel Tower

view of the Seine River from the top of the Eiffel Tower

view of the Seine River from the top of the Eiffel Tower

view from under the Eiffel Tower

view from under the Eiffel Tower

no more walls, and wine

we definitely needed some wine after the stressful trip up the Eiffel Tower (read those details top of blog)

 quiche

such good quiche

baby boy books and window

I really enjoyed not having a TV in our airbnb, we had a ton of books and a great view to look at instead

sunset over Paris

sunset from our room was magical

sunset over Paris

sunset over Paris

So one of my favorite parts of our vacation was our photo shoot with professional photographer Elena Usacheva.   I wanted to look back at pictures from our trip and know that I was there too!  Since I’m always the one taking the pictures on our adventures I am hardly ever actually in the pictures, so sometimes you can’t even tell that I was there with my family.    Its also extremely difficult to get pictures of a baby and a toddler, even when they’re your own children, so I wanted to hire someone that specializes in family photography to capture these memories of our trip to Paris.  Elena was so great to work with too.  After a long day around Paris I was afraid my kids would be grouchy for pictures but she made it such a fun experience that they were all smiles the whole time!  She also knew exactly where to go for pictures that wouldn’t be crowded with tourists and she had our pictures edited and ready for us before I even finished unpacking my suitcases upon our return home!  When I can I’m now determined to hire a professional photographer for all of our big vacations.  And while we may not be able to go somewhere as far as France every year, I hope we can take many travel adventures together as a family.   Here are just a few of her pictures below.

professional family photos by Elena Usacheva

family photos by Elena Usacheva

professional family photos by Elena Usacheva

family photos by Elena Usacheva

professional family photos by Elena Usacheva

professional family photos by Elena Usacheva

 

Next it was time for us to embark on the 2nd half of our journey from Paris to the Brittany region on the West coast of France where my mom and her husband live.  We took a 3hr train ride from Paris to Vannes and then it was only about a 10 min drive to Monterblanc from there.

 

train ride from Paris to Vannes

train ride from Paris to Vannes

Rue Claude Monet

I love the street names around here

girl in grass fields

playing in the fields…so much open space compared to Paris!

fish market

first thing we did on the west coast? go to the fish market!

snails

snails

crab

crab

west coast of France

seashell hunting on the west coast of France

windy day on the coast

windy day on the coast

a coastline full of mussels

a coastline full of mussels!

house of vines

house of vines

castles in France

so many castles in France

grounds of a castle and some dancing

touring the grounds of a castle and some dancing

 beach of La Baule

our 1st day on the beach of La Baule was too chilly for bathing suits, but our daughter was wanting so badly to play in the water

kids playing at the beach in La Baule

finally a warm sunny day for playing at the beach in La Baule

mom and daughter run up the beach

sometimes I remember to give my husband the camera

the gorgeous coast of La Baule

the gorgeous coast of La Baule

town of Vannes

I love the little town of Vannes

downtown Vannes

downtown Vannes

la boulangerie

la boulangerie

self-portrait

some time to ourselves. self-portrait using a timer and the wall as a tripod

Vannes

Vannes

oyster farm in Cancale

oyster farm in Cancale

oysters in Cancale

oysters in Cancale

Le Mont St.Michele

a day around Le Mont St.Michele

walking on top the border walls of Le Mont St.Michele

walking on top the border walls of Le Mont St.Michele

daddy and daughter play around  in Mont St.Michele

daddy and daughter play around in Mont St.Michele

Le Mont St.Michele

Le Mont St.Michele

a view from the peak of  Le Mont St.Michele

a view from the peak of Le Mont St.Michele

Le Mont St.Michele

our baby loved to hear his voice echo in the old castle of Le Mont St.Michele

Le Mont St.Michele

Le Mont St.Michele

girl around Le Mont St.Michele

she loved running around Le Mont St.Michele, but she certainly wore herself out

another day hanging out in Vannes

another day hanging out in Vannes

 a pirate ship

we caught a boat festival and got to explore a pirate ship

you can find fleur de lis all around France

you can find fleur de lis all around France, even on pirate ships!

 a pirate ship

a pirate ship

fun on the playground

fun on the playground

carousels around France

lots of carousels around France, now my daughter’s favorite thing to do

fun with Nana on the carousel

fun with Nana on the carousel

Moules-frites in France

we ate lots of Moules-frites in France

kids on  the coast

a day on the coast, we forgot to bring bathing suits, but that’s OK

Oystering in France during low tide

Oystering in France during low tideOystering in France during low tide

Oystering in France during low tide

 

 

oysters

our catch was our last dinner in France

little girl with escargot

and one more serving of escargot as well, she loved them!

French cheese

and so much cheese, oh how I miss the cheese!

sad little girl

a sad last morning at Nana’s

saying goodbye at the train station as we head back to Paris

saying goodbye at the train station as we head back to Paris

one more night of our family vacation at the Paris airport hotel

one more night of our family vacation at the Paris airport hotel

one more night of our family vacation at the Paris airport hotel

last night of our family vacation at the Paris airport hotel

having fun in his crib

having fun in his crib

touching down back in Denver

touching down back in Denver

 

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Kara - You captured great memories! We did Italy with kids the same age. It can be done (and parts of it can be fun – ha!).May 17, 2018 – 2:06 pm

Jennifer K - OK I really want to go on vacation now!! This is such an evocative and wonderful visual journal of your family’s experience! LOVE the pigeon frenzy photo (so full of life!) and I love the “light” lens perspective on Paris. Wonderful!!May 17, 2018 – 2:05 pm

Brooke - WOW these are just stunning. I love the pigeon photo and your daughter’s expression!!May 17, 2018 – 2:05 pm

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