I think THE most important rule of travel is being willing to go with the flow. Sometimes, a lot of times, plans change or things don’t work out. Being able to go with the flow will save you a lot of stress but it can also open the door to plenty of magic.
Some of our best times in Paris are because we went with the flow. Back in 2014 we traveled here with the Shorties for the first time (back when they were both shorter than me). On our first day in the city of light, we wanted to make an early start of it. We couldn’t wait to see the sites. We woke up the Littles and plied them with croissant and made our way to the Eiffel Tower. Both of them groggy and jetlagged and underslept, we made it to the Tower just as the skies opened and it started to pour with rain. In those days you didn’t pre-book tickets online in advance but you could walk right under the tower. Trying to seek shelter from the downpour we were standing under the centre of the Tower, the line-up to buy tickets was long and the kids were in full meltdown mode. There was yelling, there were tears, there was drama. Just then I received a text from our friends J & K who were also in Paris. We were planning to meet them for lunch. The text said ”Text us when you’re done and we’ll meet you at the Cafe de Flore.” Guess what, we were done. We went straight to the taxi stand and piled the kids, the stroller, the diaper bag and our soggy butts into a taxi and went straight to the Cafe de Flore. Do not pass go, do not collect €200. The Eiffel Tower would wait 8 years until our kids had enough sleep to properly enjoy it.
When we arrived at Cafe de Flore in the pouring rain, the very kind waiter took pity on us (French waiters are generally not rude, this is an apocryphal. If you do your best to try speaking French – a simple bonjour and merci goes a loooooong way – they will take very good care of you and Les Petits.) and helped us up the stairs to the awaiting J & K. Nestled into a cozy corner table with chocolat chaud and petits pots de confitures at the ready, les enfants were satisfied. The littlest even had an hour long nap on my lap. We drank coffee and talked and visited for hours that day. When it was time to go, the skies had cleared, the sun was out and we learned that experiencing a new city and culture is sometimes better left to these impromptu moments. It was a true French repas, we learned that meals should be savoured and enjoyed at a leisurely pace. We also learned that ”Never wake a sleeping baby” is NOT in fact an old wives tale.
Fast forward to 2022, and J & K are back in Paris and so are we! We decided to meet for dinner at Georges located on the top floor of the Georges Pompidou Centre . The restaurant isn’t anything to write home about, but it does have an incredible view of the city of Paris from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower and at night its spectacular, especially for the 10 minutes every hour that the Eiffel Tower puts on its sparkly show.
As is usually the case, we enjoyed plenty of great dinner conversation, laughs and party tricks courtesy of J. After a quick trip to the loo after dinner, we were surprised to come back to the table to find that the entire restaurant was now a dance club, hosting a corporate party. This was especially surprising as it was a Monday night! Well, the DJ was pumping so we decided to dance. And we danced and we danced and we danced. It felt like we crashed someone’s wedding. The host came by with a bottle of champagne, refilling our glasses as we cut a rug! I can’t even remember the last time I danced. The kids loved it, especially the The Little Kid; ”Mom, I can’t believe you brought us to a nightclub!” We got home around 1am and lets just say that home school started a little late the next day.
Two of our funnest experiences in Paris were completely impromptu, lucky and spent with J & K. Feels like we found a bit of a recipe. Perhaps you can book J & K for your next trip to Paris?