with granddaughters AMIT and ILAI

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It has become a tradition that we take our bar/bat mitzvah-aged grandchildren overseas. It was now Ilai’s turn and we were glad that her sister Amit came as well. It was a week filled with Paris sights and shopping and quite a few dramas.


It started at the airport when Amit went through Immigration with Ilai’s passport.
It took some time to get security to find Amit and Eitan but they did and returned Ilai's passport.
And in the end we still had to wait for the last suitcase.

We stayed at the Ibis Gare de Lyon.
The rooms were small but next to each other which was a decided advantage.
To our horror the rooms had central fans but no air conditioning,
but they did give us standing fans as the weather was already hot and promising to be even hotter.

The next morning after a continental breakfast at the patisserie opposite the hotel we went to fetch our tickets for Disneyland. We then took a metro to Arc de Triomphe and were fortunate that after a lot of persuasion and looking quite miserable they let us enter and use the elevator to ride to the top. Not only is it essential to book online for almost all the sights, very often one has to exchange that reservation at a ticket office for an official ticket, which we didn’t know. The view from the top was great and gave us a good idea of the layout of Paris.  This triumphal arch was built by Napoleon in the early 1800's. When we came down we walked along the Champs Elysees and found Starbucks which all our granddaughters favour. After that Eitan left for Ireland for bridge business and we continued shopping at Sephora and the Disneyland shop.


                                                                                                                                                        Ilai (and Eitan's head) on the famed Champs Elysees.

By the time we entered the metro for our next stop the trains were crowded. As I boarded the metro, the girls ran to the next open carriage and then to our horror Ilai decided it was too crowded and remained standing alone on the platform. With Amit in tears we got off at the next station and took a metro back to Ilai who was standing quietly on the platform. But when the girls saw each other they couldn’t stop crying. We went upstairs and sat on a bench with Ilai crying that she wouldn’t go in another metro and wanting to go back to Eilat. Immediately. When she finally quietened down we took a taxi back to the hotel to recuperate. Late in the afternoon we took a metro to the Grevin Wax Museum, which the girls enjoyed despite it being weighted to French personalities.


                                                                                                                                                       Doreen giving a royal wave next to Queen Elizabeth

In the evening we went to Josselin Creperie and enjoyed the savoury crepes, very different from the sweet Nutella ones we know.  We then walked to Tour de Montparnasse and took an elevator to the top. The Eiffel Tower is lit up at night but every half hour it sparkles with lights for 5 minutes and is a beautiful sight.

The next day was a scorcher – 42C. We took a metro to Trocadero with the idea of walking to the Eiffel Tower. The sight of people wading in the pool below among the water fountains was too enticing and we too shed our shoes and paddled.


 There were no tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower – in fact the elevator to the top was discontinued because of the extreme heat.  We took a taxi to the Louvre – even waiting in line for tickets seemed a better option that walking about in the heat. But a guard told us they didn’t have a cashier and there were only online tickets – which were sold out every day of our stay.

We had brought our swim suits and started the long ride to Aqualand, which was supposed to be pleasant. On the way Amit was pickpocketed. She was understandably devastated.  At her insistence we backtracked and spent a long time finding a police station at another metro station and although they were very sympathetic there was nothing to do.  We eventually reached Aqualand. It was more than packed and really quite unpleasant with long lines for the slides, which Ilai didn’t want anyhow. We returned to the hotel and met up with Eitan who had returned and we went out for dinner at a local bistro.

The next day was 10 degrees cooler 31C with a promise of rain. And we were off to Euro Disney by train. This is something both girls had said they wanted to visit when Paris  was suggested as a destination. They spent quite some time browsing in the shops with the idea of buying things on the way out. It was very crowded and we waited a long time to ride the Thunder Mountain roller coaster.  Disney is expert at moving crowds and supplying interesting things to look at so you don’t feel the wait so much.  Ilai who is afraid of heights and Amit both loved the ride – Eitan and I a little less so. But we all agreed the wait was worthwhile. We wandered through a story about Aladdin and a maze which looked quite simple but wasn’t. For lunch we had burgers and entertainment. Since we were in Frontier Land it was honky tonk music. Amit wasn’t feeling well so she and Eitan returned to Paris and the hotel. Ilai and I went on a boat ride of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The details of the moving figures and animals and scenery were amazing and thoroughly enjoyable. Ilai wanted another roller coaster and Indiana Jones had a short wait. To my dismay the roller coaster included a loop. Even though I was petrified I couldn’t let Ilai do it alone.  Late in the afternoon we watched the big parade with floats on movie themes. Ilai cried she was so happy.  We visited the Cinderella castle, some shopping and went back to the hotel.


On Saturday we took a metro to Ile de a Cite, the island which was the original site of the city settled by Parisi in 250BCE.  We visited the beautiful stain-glass windows of St. Chapelle and enjoyed identifying scenes from the Tanach. We then visited the Concierge where Mary Antoinette, Queen of France, -“Let them eat cake” - was jailed as the French Revolution progressed. She was guillotined in 1793.

Notre Dame is fenced off after the disastrous fire and as we walked around we could see the fire damage and restoration efforts. 


At the edge of the island is a memorial for the 200,000 French people deported to Nazi concentration camps. Many Jews were rounded up by the Vichy government and not by the Nazis. 

We crossed to the Ile de St Louis to taste the famed Berthillon ice cream. Not a touch on gelato from Italy or even in Israel.

After a short stop at a flower market and Pylones shop we went for a lunch surprise – Le Chat Restaurant.  They have some 11 cats that roam about, climb up and come to be patted. This was a surprise for Ilai, a cat lover. And the food was even good.



On Sunday we had booked to see the catacombs. While waiting, we wandered through the nearby Varenne market where the girls enjoyed the summer fruits.  The girls loved the catacombs.  In 1786 because of severe overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in the Les Halles cemetery, and other church cemeteries, some 6,000,000 skeletons were exhumed and removed to the stone quarries below the city. As one walks along the paths all you see are femurs and skulls, but they form a wall for the other bones which are jumbled behind.  The bones of Jean de La Fointaine who wrote Fables and Charles Perrault, known for fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Puss in Boots lie dispersed somewhere in the catacombs.



Afterwards we went to the Rodin Museum but I think I was the only one who found it interesting.


On Monday, our last day, we went for a ride on Bateaux Mouche along the Seine River. Afterwards we went to Manga Toys for Ilai who is an anime fan. Lunch and then back to the hotel to pack. Afterwards we returned to the Disney shop on Champs Elysees for Amit to do some last minute shopping.



Then for our last stop we went to the Eiffel Tower – up to the 2nd floor by elevator. It was all lit up as it was nighttime and we were enchanted by the boats on the Seine and Paris below. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 as an entrance to the World Fair. It was the tallest structure until the Chrysler Building was built in 1930. And that is why the Eiffel Tower has an antenna on top; so it would surpass the height of the Chrysler building It came as a surprise that the Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris was meant to be a temporary structure and taken down after the Fair. Engineer Eiffel asked for it to remain for a while so he could recoup the cost of the building, which he did in a few months. The tower, grey today, was originally painted red. It is repainted every 7 years. This time they will remove all the old paint as the layers of paint were becoming too heavy for the structure.
We were delighted to be on the Tower when it sparkled - click here or on the picture of the Tower below.
A fitting end to a holiday in Paris.


More pictures in This Week's Picture, Amit's page and Ilai's page.


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