There is no way to truly describe what it’s like to travel Europe with 8 humans, 2 of which are under 3 feet tall. Amazing, stressful, loud and hilarious are a few words that come to mind. When I first started talking about this trip, most folks were blown away by the fact that my mom, dad, sister, BIL, nieces, wife and I were all going to France. Together. For a week.
The trip began as my dad’s idea, and he threw down a ton a frequent flier miles (with contributions from my sis!) to get us all tickets. How amazing is that? He planned the whole damn thing and even sent us all guidebooks to read and pick a few sights. What came of it was NOT the trip two adults would take, but a unique cultural moment as experienced by a herd of slow-moving non-French-speaking people that love each other a lot. There were lots of snack breaks, compromises, and early bird specials.
It was pretty damn cool.
The way the trip began after our overnight flight, with all of us piled into two double beds attempting to nap, was pretty hilarious and indicative of the ridiculous things you do to make a group of people acceptably happy.
I came away from this trip extremely appreciative of the generosity of my family, feeling lucky that I actually like them well enough to want to endeavor such a ridiculous trip, and most importantly, how to use a train bathroom with a 3.5-year-old. Spoiler: With the door open, tearing streaming down a face or two and with a dismount via force.
I don’t think anyone, not even me, wants a day-by-day play-by-play, so here is the highlights of 4ish days in Paris and 3ish in Sarlat-la-Caneda:
- Lighting candles in Notre Dame for Heather’s dad
- Thundershirting Louisa into a nap during our first dinner (No sleep = losing it, and she can’t have wine so…)
- Aubergine + pesto + goat cheese
- 24 Stomach flu (Mom)
- One cane and lots of knee pain (Heather)
- The comfort of a seated Museo d’Orsay tour (Heather + Lousia)
- Watching Louisa add stars to her drawing while studying Starry Night
- NOT making it inside the Louvre
- Wandering Pont Neuf with my sister (There’s a shit load of locks, y’all)
- Watching the 5-minute sparkling Eiffel Tower light show, a glorious accident!
- Realizing Van Gogh’s self-portrait is really only two colors: Maize and sky blue
- Drinking wine and melted Camembert with my wife, in the rain
- Taking the longest, muddiest route around the UNESCO border at the Eiffel Tower, in the pouring rain
- The most amazing Indian meal of my life, complete with free carrot dessert
- Stressing out about train switches with Heather’s hurt knee (we made it)
- Evaline sleeping on my lap while riding the slow train through Bordeaux
- Louisa sleeping on my lap on the way back to Paris from Bordeaux
- Recalling Waking Ned Devine as we trucked all our luggage from the rural train station to the closest restaurant we could find
- Hilarious and crazy hotel rooms (lofts, outdoor staircases, staircases) in Sarlat
- Cheap grocery-store wine in hotel rooms while babies slept
- Being surprised that an all-carb croissant breakfast could hold me over til lunch
- Seeing Lascaux (and a dog with the same name) and wishing I was the 1940’s teenager who discovered it
- Almost getting locked inside a medieval castle with a million tiny stairs and Louisa
- Running through a field to catch a photo of Beynac-et-Cazenac before sunset
- Wandering through medieval city planning at night
- Dance parties with tiny people who pee on the floor
- FRENCH ONION SOUP
- Finally leaving the country with Heather!
- Running straigh into a plate glass window while trying to snap a pic (This still makes me laugh so HMU if you want the story.)
- Late-night crepes
- Trying to fathom all the lives of those who are interned in the Catacombs
- Touring Montmartre with my cousins
- Having every meal with my favorite people, with our favorite food
Just look at these nuggets that made it all happen! They are the cutest and I will remember this trip forever!!