France was once again good to us. We didn’t meet a rude person in France until we were on the plane leaving but more on that later. We arrived early on Sunday and I was exhausted. I slept two hours during our overnight flight. Protip # 1 Overnight flights are great with kids except if you have a lap infant. Don’t expect to get any sleep with a small child on you. Also on British airways they require parents to wear a special seat belt that attaches to your seat belt and around the baby. They also check said seat belt anytime the seat belt sign is on. Which happened a lot on our flight. Lady – Don’t wake me up to check if my seat belt is on. If am in my seat – it’s on and so is the baby’s- please let me sleep. Either way we made it, got our rental car and headed to our awesome Airbnb. Our little house was perfect except it didn’t have WIFI. Initially I was disappointed but then it felt great to disconnect especially when it came to politics!
Our first day was spent doing what we went there to do – CLIMBING! We spent the day on the rock and it was a beautiful day. We were still tired and a bit out of it but we survived and climbed some fantastic boulders
My Aunt from Florida arrived on the second day so we spent the morning and afternoon climbing but then headed to the airport to pick her up. Protip# 2 Don’t assume you’ll have service when traveling check that shit before you go. We assumed my Aunt would have service in France because she texted us when she connected in Spain but she didn’t so we wasted an hour and a half waiting for her. In addition, I got us lost on the way home and we ended up in Paris so instead of fighting the rush hour we went and had dinner in the city. It was quite lovely and we got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
We headed out to the forest again on Day Three except this time we had my Aunt in tow. My family isn’t exactly a rock climbing family while we like to go outside and do active things, rock climbing and walking around barefoot isn’t exactly how I grew up. So it was a bit of culture shock for my Aunt but also for the climbers. Some climbers are too cool for school types. They’re all about a certain look with just the right gear and god forbid you say the wrong thing. Well my Aunt tore those walls down immediately. As soon as we walked up to a climbing spot she announced herself to the world and said hello to everyone. I knew she would and I kind of reveled in it. It was culture shock all around and I was just smiling my way through the day. It was fun to see my worlds collide like that.
On Thursday we had plans to meet up with our good friends, Erin and Veasna, who were traveling from Denver. They had planned to go to Reims for a day so we decided to meet them there. Reims is the unofficial capital of the Champagne growing region. We took a tour of Taittinger followed by lunch and a hunt for more Champagne Protip #3 All Champagne is French. Don’t say French Champagne it’s redundant. We trekked through the city and finally found a spot to enjoy a couple of tastings. My aunt was tired so she volunteered to stay in the car with the kids and we enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne while they napped in the car. It worked out brilliantly.
On Friday, I wanted to get into Paris before the weekend and my husband, although itching to climb more, agreed to join us which I was ever so grateful for. We started at the Eiffel Tower and headed all along the Seine via a water taxi, Batobus. Protip #4 If you want to see the major sites in Paris get this water taxi you’ll be able to hop on and off all day and see most of the major sites in France. It was a bit chillier that day so we warmed up with French Onion soup and more Champagne (are you getting the theme here?) and met up again with our friends V and Erin. It was a great day exploring the city and seeing my Aunt’s reaction to the city was priceless. I know visiting Paris was a lifelong dream of hers and it was cool to help her make it happen.
Unfortunately on Saturday it rained, so climbing was out of the picture but we did make it to Fountainbleau and had a tour of the Chateau de Fountainbleau. Tours of enormous and extravagant castles are not really my cup of tea but it was beautiful and we went back to our favorite restaurant from our last visit. Protip #5 If you ever find yourself in Fountainbleau, France eat here: Le Grande Café, it may be a bit expensive but it’s worth every Euro. It helped that my toddler slept through the whole meal and we got some much needed peace and quiet.
Finally on Sunday and Monday we were back to climbing and all was better in my husband’s world. Our final day we spent in Disneyland Paris and although it started off rainy and cold it cleared up and ended up being a great day.
The flight back was an afternoon flight arriving in Newark in the early evening. I knew it would be challenging to keep the boys entertained for 7 hours on a plane ride but what I didn’t bargain for was the unbelievably rude women who sat in front of my husband and son. My son was sitting in his car seat because although he didn’t have to, having a 5 point harness keeping his little body in check instead of a seat belt (that he would quickly learn how to unbuckle) seemed like the better option for us. That was until the woman in front of my son found her seat. He started kicking and pushing her chair with his feet which we immediately corrected his behavior. But not before she immediately began to scream “No!” at my son. Yeah this Latina doesn’t play that. Leave it to me to correct my child woman or we are going to have problems. My husband calmly suggested they ask the flight attendants if there were other seats on the plane but there was only one seat available. Which she responded, “Why don’t you move your kid?” Yes lady we are going to move a two year old to sit next to a stranger. She didn’t take the seat, so for the next 7 hours we were on him like white on rice, anytime he kicked we corrected him and explained to him that he was hurting her. But he’s 2 and also very active being in a plane for 7 hours is not exactly his favorite. It got pretty ugly between us and our not to friendly neighbors but we did the best we could in a terribly uncomfortable position. In my son’s defense, her seat was basically on top of him because the seats were so close together (on the way there we had bulkhead) Protip# 6 – Always get bulkhead seating if you’re traveling with children. To top it off as she was leaving the plane she said, “Control your fucking kids.” Thanks lady that’s helpful. It was easily the longest flight of my life and that counts both round trip flights to Thailand. It made us feel a lot better when other passengers came up to us to let us know we were doing great with the kids and they were as behaved as you could ask of a 10 month old and 2 year old.
Other than the flight home we had a great time. It wasn’t a typical vacation because
traveling with two kids is HARD but it was awesome to spend some much needed quality time with my boys, my Aunt and friends.
Up next is Niagara Falls! Can’t wait!