It has been so long since I ran the Paris Marathon but have written about my post-marathon adventures until now. I took my whole family with me to Paris – so Sister, The Fathership, and The Mothership and after the marathon we all had a short break in one of the most visited cities in the world. While Sister and I had both been there before the Parental Units hadn’t so we planned all the common touristy things – the Eiffel Tower, a night time cruise along the Seine, the Louvre Museum, Sacré-Coeur, and the Palace of Versailles. Some of these were huge successes, some of them were not….
Is the Eiffel Tower the most romantic thing in the world? Maybe from afar. From close up it looks like a slight dirty engineering feat with very old, very reliable lifts. We reached there early and if my knees hadn’t given up the ghost we would have walked to the top. As I was hobbling along we queued to get tickets to take the lift instead. Time passed slowly and to spice things up we queued a little more but I shouldn’t complain: when we went to The Louvre we queued for over an hour to pass through security. Over. An. Hour. But more about that later.
The views from the top of the Eiffel Tower always make things worth it don’t they? While it was nowhere near as warm as the day before (hello running a marathon in 24 degree heat in April) the sun was out. We stayed up there as long as an impatient family could before heading to Sacré-Coeur, the Basilica with about a million steps I couldn’t climb (up or down). Having dodgy knees really does give you a different perspective and attitude towards stairs.
The Basillica was absolutely stunning – seriously stunning and once we reached it we had a wonder inside too.
Then, because we are a family of walkers we made our way to Notre Dame. I hadn’t been able to see Notre Dame when I was last in Paris and since I am a child at heart, was convinced that the gargoyles could dome to like a la the Disney movie (spoiler they didn’t) but this building took my breath away from how imposing it looked, even in the sunshine.
Our day was going to end with a river cruise along the Seine and we made our way to the dock in a leisurely fashion, enjoying the beautiful streets and sighs of Paris.
I have very mixed feeling towards the cruise. One the one hand there is nothing like exploring and seeing a city once the sun has set and the lights are glowing.
On the other hand it was so cold that sitting with my knees bent for over an hour caused me to almost cry in pain when I had to stand up and walk. And when I was able to walk, I couldn’t bend either leg and had to climb stairs like this.
The Louvre was something else I had very mixed feelings towards. The queue to get through security did nothing for anyone’s mood or back / knees. And once we were inside we were all slightly lost – not in the physical sense but in the sense that we had absolutely no idea where to go or where to start. Sister grabbed a map and after we shoved our way to see the Mona Lisa (total babe) we made our way to the Egyptian section.
The museum is currently having work done on the inside meaning that some routes had been diverted. Instead of a straight line on one floor we had to go downstairs in order to then go back upstairs. Over and over again and it seemed as if no matter how far we walked the Egyptian section just wasn’t getting any closer. Half a day later we gave up and when trying to find an exit realised we had to double back the whole way in order to leave. My knees were screaming in pain at all the stairs. I took no pictures because I just wasn’t in the mood.
I have to admit that it was a relief to leave and I know I wasn’t the only one to think so. At least the cobblestones streets of Paris were one level.
The highlight of the trip by far was what we did on the last day. We went to the Palace of Versailles and spent a whole day exploring the palace itself and the grounds. The Palace, as expected by us all was heaving with people. It was difficult to see anything or be all that interested in anything when you have to genteely push your way to get a good view. So I admired the ceilings (they are always epic in Palaces) and longed to go outside. And when we did go outside everything was better. The claustrophobia vanished.
We had lunch on their grounds and then spent the rest of the day leisurely walking around, admiring the statues and fountains and beautiful skies. Off came the jackets and out came the laughter and smiles. They had music playing and you could hear the birds. It was wonderful.
Paris is a strange city with some of the stereotypical tourist stuff that you are supposed to do and love but which, secretly, I’m pretty sure no one does is so, so popular. I don’t know if it was because of my knee but the crowds and queue for both the Louvre and the Palace interior just irritated me. Give me the open air any day. My last visit to Paris was only for a day so I was very grateful to spend this extra time in such a wonderful city. And I know I will be back – there is still so much of the city I want to see, including the infamous Moulin Rouge (I want to go there so badly!) and a lot of food I still want to try.And I know I will be heading back to Versailles. Plus hopefully the next time I go Paris I wouldn’t be in pain and won’t have the whole trip influenced by it.