Exactly 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!
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.
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.