Wonderful trip to Paris, while pregnant and with a toddler

Visiting Paris is a memorable experience, right?

Having done it with just my husband (when there was just us two) and having previously lived in Paris for seven years in my student years, doing it with a toddler in tow and pregnant was a (totally crazy) different experience.

Only joking, it was still wonderful, and not more stressful because, hold tight, we didn’t cram in too much during our 3 days there.

Packing too many things during the stay can make it stressful, so we wanted to have a relatively free and spontaneous programme, while also having a list of things to do/see. Having one key attraction per day was the perfect amount we found.

So on to what worked well for us?

Stay close to the departure/arrival station

Well, first staying somewhere close to ‘the point of entry’ i.e. for us the Eurostar arrival station, Gare du Nord. We booked an AirBnb apartment about 10 minutes walk from Gare du Nord and that was brilliant. It meant that we could ‘check-in’ first and drop our bags and have a quick refreshment/put my feet up. Also for our toddler it was exciting to discover a new place and enjoy some quiet time before we set off for an outing again.

Beautiful Canal St Martin area

The second good thing about the location of our apartment was that we were quite close to the beautiful canal St Martin, with its many coffee shops, bars and brasseries. So after a quick rest we headed out again and stopped for a late lunch in one of the canal facing, brasseries. Along the canal there is a playground, an additional attraction for our toddler who still had some remaining energies after all.

Being in a different country is interesting when you observe your own child trying to interact with other local children. And before you ask, no I wasn’t providing any kind of translation, to questions, such as “can i have a go at the swing”, that doesn’t need any translating, does it?

Balloon adventure at Parc Andre Citroen

The definite highlight of our trip was the “balloon” adventure. During my years of studying in Paris and working intermittently as an ‘au pair’ I had gained a good ‘children related’ knowledge of playgrounds and adventure parks.

One I was very familiar with was Parc Andre Citroen, in the 15th arrondissement. It is a little bit out of the way and not a main tourist attraction but for kids it is magical. 

The park has a number of gardens and a great fountain court with water jets that can be such great fun, in hot weather. You can sit on the grass and enjoy a picnic while you look at the balloon, which is not a “hot air” but a “tethered” balloon that goes up to 150 metres. The views of the Seine and the Tour Eiffel are splendid and it is not as crowded as the Tour Eiffel or Sacre Coeur Cathedral.

‘Toujours dans mon coeur’ Quartier Latin

Another favourite area I always love to visit when in Paris, is the Quartier Latin or 5th arrondissement, perhaps because I love to go back to the ‘student streets’ of la Sorbonne where I spent many splendid youthful years.

Jardin du Luxembourg cannot be sidelined and hidden in there, is another great adventure playground for kids, “Les Poussins Verts”.  This one was way too busy than the quiet and relaxing Parc Andre Citroen but it is centrally located and you also have to pay a small fee.

One thing we had not noticed on our previous trips, was the lack of escalators or lifts in the “Metro”. If you can manage not to have a buggy or can take with you a collapsible one, underground journeys will be less tiring.

By the end of the third day in Paris, while also quite pregnant, 7th months precisely, I was starting to feel the heat of the streets and the underground and it was soon time to leave.

Eurostar here we come!

Heading towards Gare du Nord and the exciting Eurostar journey, was extremely pleasant and another adventure for our toddler, the train and the tunnel under the sea!

Some photos from the trip, unseen before, enjoy!

I would love to hear if you have been to any of these places in Paris or have any others to share.

Love

My first journey into photography

I recently started a photography course, Encouraged by a friend, but also following an earlier passion of mine. I had always wanted to be good at taking pictures and perhaps a few many times I had lived in the dream of being a photographer. This is when I was a student in Paris studying Economics which I used to find boring and un-interesting. Contrary to that dull theory of numbers, photography seemed a much more exciting and creative option. And so seemed to me all other humanities subjects from social studies to history, literature and art.

Photography though held a special place in my subjects ‘pantheon’ – that of being accessible, anyone can be a photographer, all you need is a good camera. I had a great desire to be spending my time doing photography stuff, documenting faces, particular happenings, people on the margins, unusual interactions. I wanted to photograph the beautiful but not only, also what was less attractive and striking. I didn’t get very close on this first journey, but it is still work in progress.

Meeting similar people and being part of artistic groups was interesting but not really. From my limited experience of artistic circles my impressions had been of self-blown snob artists that talked with an air of superiority. They didn’t gain my trust so being part of their company wasn’t very inspiring. For some reasons conversing with people that write, rather than artists has been easier.

So back in those student days I invested in a semi professional Nikon F65 film camera. That was in 2001 when digital photography had just started. I didn’t think of the digital option as I wasn’t aware of it. I also believed I wanted to be a proper artistic photographer taking film camera photos, developing myself (which I did at various occasions in a squat on Rue de Rivoli) and taking such good pictures that the doors of the photography world would one day open and welcome me.

Of course being a student is often a phase in life when we have lots of dreams and ideals. And mine were plenty and varied.

I made a good use of that first camera. I bought two second hand photography books and embarked on a self-discovery journey of photography. I used to love going out in the streets of Paris and later Tirana, documenting things that I saw and struck me.


In front of Centre Georges Pompidou on a snowy day


Old couple resting in Pont Neuf

Street fun at Île Saint-Louis 


Grand father with grand children near an Italian restaurant ‘Casa della pasta’ where I used to work

But the self discovery journey didn’t prove easy. Photography is quite technical and I couldn’t quite turn into practice what I read about in the books, various focal lengths and depths of field.

Then things changed, my time in Paris came to an end, back home in Tirana I felt like a fish out of water. Passion for Photography was still there but I embarked on a different journey, closer to literature. I translated from French to Albanian a book from George Bataille, an eccentric french writer of the first half of 20th century. His books are about the dark side of human beings, their sexual desires and perversions and the neurosis and unusual behaviors of his characters resulting from the suppression of their dark side. I translated ‘La littérature et le Mal’, which will be the subject of another blog post.


So photography passion was superseded by Bataille and later on when I returned to Paris by my Master’s in Epistemology and Philosophy of Economics, a re-visit of my economic studies but under a much better angle. Major finding – I realised what I didn’t like was finance and not political economy!

Last stop for my first photographic journey was an evening in Paris on ‘la Fête de la musique’ in 2006 when my dear Nikon F65 was stolen from me. While I was celebrating and dancing to the sound of music in front of the fire station in ‘le Marais’ some very agile young men managed to isolate me from my camera bag by standing between me and the corner where I had put it. They won and I lost and so ended with tears and anger my first photographic journey.

Some other pictures I took back then are here


L’Île Saint-Louis one of my favorite places in Paris back then – we used to sit on the river’s banks, drink beers and chat to everyone


Men fishing in Île Saint-Louis 


Boy selling cigarettes in Tirana


Boy under the statue of the Albanian national hero Skenderbeg

Five years later in a very different place and context I embarked on my second journey into photography… To follow on next post.