We took our kids to Paris… again.
As in Paris, in the country of France.
And again, I’m like…. how is this my life???
We’re from a cornfield in Illinois.
We live in London.
And we are going to Disneyland Paris.
That’s life and it’s strange.
We decided to book this trip only a few weeks before we actually went. Because that’s how we roll almost alll of the time. Little ads kept popping up on my Facebook feed asking if I wanted to go to Disneyland. (because facebook knows everything about my life… and yours, and probably intercepted email from me ordering mermaid stickers for Viv and that means I’m interested in Disneyland. Which I am.)
ANYWAY… I was like “No!” I don’t want to do that.
I’ve got too much else to see and do over here.
And then, like it always does, a little “deal” popped up.
Ticket sale for Disneyland Paris.
Add to that, *Her Royal Highness* Princess Vivian, despite literally no encouragement from me or her THREE older brothers, is slightly obsessed with anything princess related. Let me clarify – I don’t negatively encourage it, I’m just neutral like Switzerland.
Her brothers obviously negatively encourage it though – one day, the boys turned their bunk into a pirate ship. Viv walks up in her full princess garb. She wants to play too. Harry says straight to her “Viv. You don’t want to be a princess. You want to be a pirate!!” On that rare occasion, she conceded the outfit.
But for the most part, she remains undeterred by them. We’ve already burned through one princess costume and now have purchased a replacement. She insists on wearing it daily, usually with a tiara and superhero cape. She calls herself Hero Princess, which I actually think is completely awesome. She’s a hero princess on the daily… eating… going to the store… picking up the boys from school… all that.
So… I knew she would like to see the princesses.
And I knew that I would like to see her see them. And I didn’t really care whether the boys liked it or not. There’s definitely a ranking system in our house. Tra la la…
I looked into how we’d get there. I didn’t previously realize how easy it is from London. Just pop on a train for a few hours. There’s a stop right at Disneyland! That sounds nice! We found a GREAT (fun, family, pirate-themed hotel). That also sounds nice.
We don’t come from California or Florida where Disney is this accessible to us.
When will it ever be this close, inexpensive (relative term), and this easy?
Ok, we’re just going to do this. We booked late March. I quickly whipped up a Pinterest board, watched some YouTubers go to Disneyland Paris, and starting thinking about packing. And a few weeks later, during Spring Break, we left for it.
One of my favorite parts of the trip actually happened before we even left.
We went ahead and told the boys that we’d booked train tickets for our family.
“To where?!?” they said.
“To Paris!” we said.
“What?!! YES!!!!” they said, and proceeded to jump and yell and dance around as they do when they are really happy.
We hadn’t even mentioned Disney yet and they were sooo excited.
Rich and I high-fived ourselves, like, ya we haven’t even told them the best part and they already want to go…. we are the best.
For a short trip, this is going to be a long post because I want to remember how this whole crazy thing went down.
Two days before leaving we get an email that our train to Disney has been cancelled due to trains strikes in France.
ahhhh what yasaythere? no train? no train for us??
The original booking was for a train to Lille, France. From there, you get off, and make a switch for the train to Disney.
We planned to do this. Then get off. Take the shuttle to our hotel, check in and unload our luggage and then go back to the Disneyland station and head back into Paris for the day. Disney is about an hour outside of Paris. The journey from our hotel to center of Paris should take about 1h20m each way.
With our train cancelled, Eurostar rescheduled us on a later train and now the best Eurostar could do was get us on a train to Paris. And well… that doesn’t really help us because we paid for and planned to arrive out at Disneyland.
But then I realize, Heeeeyyyy, we wanted to spend the day in Paris anyway! This might actually work out in our favor. We can take the train direct to Paris, tour around for a little bit, and then make our way out to our hotel in the evening. We will still have to pay separately to get ourselves out to our hotel. But hey, we were going to have to do that anyway because we were planning to come into the city and back out. So now, not only will we start out where we want to be, we’ve gained an extra 3 hours or so of time that was previously going to be in transit to city center from our hotel and back.
This strike is a big win for us!
Eurostar and the third party booking company we used drug us along all day however and we weren’t sure if we did – in fact – have seats on the train to Paris. They originally rescheduled us for a 10am train and then a noon train, and even though I was happy with our newly arranged plan – arriving even later, and then later again, was not cool.
8pm the night before we are supposed to leave – we still don’t have confirmation that we are on any train to Paris. Rich has been on and off the phone all day with different agents, but everything is a mess. We’re worried about our rescheduled tickets being all spread out and not together.
“Nobody can give me any answers,” he says, “I don’t want us to get all packed up, show up there in the morning and then NOT be able to get on one. I’m just going to go to St. Pancras (the international train station) right now and see if they can help us.”
So, he takes off, I stay home and pack for a trip I hope is going to happen. The thought of waking up and telling the kids we can’t go makes me want to vomit. I simultaneously look up car rental options and driving routes, and also miserable and expensive flight options. St. Pancras is across the city and about an hour away from our door. About 9pm, Rich texts me “We’re on the 8am train, seats together. I’ve got tickets in hand.”
No extra charges, just done. Sometimes, you just have to march yourself to the station at night and get someone to work it out. Job well done. Whew! I seriously thought we weren’t going to be leaving at any time tomorrow and now we’re on an even earlier train. We’ll have seats together and we’ll have most of the day in Paris!
But now… if we arrive in Paris… and we don’t check into our hotel, what will we do with all of these bags I’m currently packing…. ?? Carrying them around is NOT an option. Hum… a quick internet search provides me with “Stasher.” A website where you can arrange to have your luggage stashed at a locker or a hotel, for a small fee.
Is there one by Gare Du Nord? Yes there is. Yes! Fist pump.
I finish packing, because now not only are we leaving tomorrow for sure. We’re leaving even earlier than originally planned. We’ve got to be OUT THE DOOR by like 6:00am. Rich makes his way back home and then cleans up the wreck that was left in the kitchen because both of us were too consumed with trip plans to clean up after dinner.
We also decided to go ahead and book our Louvre tickets. This will save us time tomorrow. We won’t have to wait in the ticket line or find where to buy them off site. With our now confirmed early train – this is a no brainer.
Rich finalizes and prints our Stasher reservation, reserves our Louvre time and prints tickets and then I ask him to also print the Disney tickets.
It’s now midnight, I’m down to just the last few items I need to pack and Rich says “Hey hon… uh… looks like I booked the wrong sort of Disney ticket.”
You know that deal I talked about? We saw the deal, but the deal just inspired the trip. We knew we would have to go during spring break and the deal tickets were over before that. We knew the deal expired before we were going, we knew we were paying for regular tickets. But for some reason, the website let Rich book “deal” tickets even when he put in dates that were after the deal. And.. he hadn’t previously checked the confirmation email closely enough to realize this small fact.
Bottom line, our Disney tickets were expired.
Rich is confused and devastated. But, it appears to be a simple mistake. Anybody could have made it. I have faith it will get fixed once we’re there.
“We’ve dealt with enough today,” I say. “We need to get to bed… try to sleep. I’m sure we can work out the Disney tickets once we’re there. Maybe they can just credit us what we already paid or something. It’s Disney, they’ll fix it. If we learned anything today, it’s that if we go to the place – there’s a chance they can just fix it for us.”
Did I mention, too, that the weather forecasts calls for rain every day of this trip?
Well it does.
But by now, I know how to dress for spring time in Europe and I’m prepared with layers and rain coats, warm shoes, umbrellas, microfiber towels, and ponchos that double as tarps and picnic blankets. Rain sucks. But at least I’m ready and prepared. And hey, maybe it will keep the crowds away, and that’s always a good thing.
The next morning, we’re all up on time, fed, excited and in good spirits for our day ahead.
And I have to admit I’m more than anxious about how Vivian’s going to do. We’re asking a lot of her today – she’s only two after all. A train ride, a full day out, and probably a skipped nap. She’s still not comfortable with her potty situation when we’re out and about. The hand dryers in the public restrooms really set her off. Anybody else with that?? As usual, we just hope for the best and plan for the worst. I curb my anxiety by putting her in a pull up and bringing along our fold-up potty seat.
Early Uber to St. Pancras and here we are boarding our train. I would like to note how hard it is to move around with kids AND bags. It’s really hard and completely exhausting. It’s been a while since we did this and I honestly forgot how exhausting it is. The last time we did this we had an AuPair with us, and that made a big difference. And I pack LIGHT. As light as humanly possible… but as we were arriving to the train, I was already making notes on how to try to improve this situation the next time.
Regardless, we made it with no problems, happy to have a train to get on.
Happy face times a million.
We locate our “Stasher” hotel across the street from Gare Du Nord and stow our luggage.
And now, kids are hungry, of course.
I mean, I brought snacks. They ate snacks.
But we were up early and they are hungry NOW. Full force. RIGHT NOW. So, we stop into McD’s grab some lunch. I know…. lame. But you make sacrifices when you travel with kids. And Paris is not the place to be sticking to any sort of opposing ideals on this.
Kid friendly, this city is not.
Nuggets and Hamburgers. A surprisingly delicious wrap for me. And we’re off with happy kids ready to take on the Louvre. And hey, I like exploring McD’s in other countries. It’s fun to see the differences and to see how they make changes to adjust to the differences in culture. Anyway…
We use the Metro to get to the Louvre and then we have a few blessed minutes to hang out in the beautiful park in front of the Louvre. Rich takes the boys to grab some pastries while me and Viv chill in the grass with my poncho-turned-picnic-blanket.
And you know what? It’s not even raining a little bit. In fact, it’s hot! And even though I’m packed for rain I’ve got sunglasses for everyone and it’s wonderful.
And Finn with a Dab.
I really wanted a picture of all of us outside the Louvre that wasn’t a selfie. I scanned the area and used my nice-person radar to locate the perfect little Swiss lady. She took our picture and practically made a show of it. Taking her time, trying really hard to get all of the kids to look at her and be agreeable. She gets a gold star, and afterwards we chatted for a bit.
Let’s all be more like her.
Our entry time arrived and we headed towards the main entrance, which is in that glass pyramid. I had read about the nightmare that is the Louvre ticket and security line. That was our primary reason for buying our tickets in advance. But we just waltzed right up to the door with exactly no one in front of us. NO one. Pretty sure it’s the most visited museum in the world… something like that. Definitely the largest, I think.
So, this was bizarre… I don’t know if it was the beautiful weather, or the (late-ish) time of day – 3pm – but there was no line.
While we were walking up to the entrance, I’m soaking in the 80 degree sun, and I casually think to myself “I bet it’s hot in that glass part.”
And I was wrong. It was SUPER hot is that glass part. The second we entered the door, it was like hitting a wall of lava. I’m not over-exaggerating. Similar to when you walk from your air-conditioned hotel out into August of central Florida.
Just all over hot insta-sweat.
And my first thought was “I need to get out of my clothes.”
I stared at the security guys in their full on jackets with pity. All they had was a little fan. Like, I’m sorry Louvre pyramid designers… did that not occur to you? Was the air-conditioning just not on yet because it was April? I mean, it is France…. I think there’s a possibility that it’s really NOT ever air conditioned in there.
Anyway, seriously, ask Rich… he got caught up by a guard at the escalator. They wanted him to take some dumb elevator down instead with the stroller, but I just bee-lined ahead with the boys as fast as I could. I rode down and left Rich behind. I located a spot of shade beneath-the-escalator and stripped myself and the boys down to our under layers. And even though I was still sweating, at least I could breathe.
As previously mentioned, the Louvre is enormous. And really confusing, honestly.
We walked around for a little bit trying to get oriented. I think we were there an hour and a half or so and we covered ONE FLOOR of ONE WING. That’s it.
Given – we move slow. And we had to maneuver around and find elevators, Finn had to poop for 10 minutes and we split up for that and then sort of lost each other. But regardless I was happy with what we accomplished at the Louvre. I didn’t intend to spend a long time in there. I just wanted us to have the experience. You know, get a taste of it. And with four littles, I think we did just that.
Entrance is cheap enough, kids are free, we got RIGHT IN. Obviously there’s much more to see there, but only for people who know and appreciate what they are looking at. And since that’s not us, I don’t feel like we wasted time or money.
And don’t worry, once we got away from the pyramid, the temperature inside was MUCH better. And here is a picture of Harry and I in the temple of heat:
As you can imagine, it’s overwhelming and it’s awesome. And honestly the kids really liked walking the halls. There was lots of nudity… which lead to lots of questions and fun answers. Despite that, the kids appreciated the grand-ness of it all.
We found HER!
Oh, and also, Viv peed here.
Sorry, but it was a huge deal.
She was terrified of the bathroom on the train, she was too scared of the hotel bathroom where our “Stasher” was, she was terrified of the bathroom at McDonalds because someone turned on the dryer. She’s too advanced to want to pee in her pull up. So our two year old held her pee from 5:30am until 4pm. And it’s not like she didn’t eat or drink anything either. And it’s not like she was a happy chicka either. She was as miserable as you would imagine, and it was showing. We felt so awful for her and it was majorly stressing me out. We passed a bathroom in the Louvre, I just took her in and made her sit and she cried, but she finally couldn’t hold it.
AND IT WAS THE BEST.
And that’s traveling with kids. Specifically potty-training kids…. which are the worst kind.
From here, we took the Metra to the Notre Dame area and got some ice cream!
While Rich was waiting for ice cream, I stepped next door and bought cheese and sausage pastries and the-most-delicious chocolate baguette. I had to fumble through my order with grunts and points, because the shop workers didn’t want to con VER sate in English with me – even though I know they could.
Next we made our way to Notre Dame. When I came with my mom, this was my favorite thing in Paris. When we came back with the kids and Rich’s family – it was crowded and full of police because of a huge wake we didn’t know anything about.
So – we HAD to get back here this time. I was insistent that, at least Rich see it. We waited in the line to get in, which moves really fast. Then we randomly got asked to be interviewed by French television. So.. we did that.
And then, a few paces into Notre Dame – as kids like to do, all three boys announce to me that they need to pee.
WELL that’s just GREAT.
Notre Dame has no bathroom, I know this.
The area around doesn’t really have a bathroom either – Paris is really bad about public restrooms. I say to Rich – you go on with the stroller and Viv. Enjoy it. I’ll take them out and meet you in the park. And that’s what we did.
I backed out of the guideway in Notre Dame with the boys. Asked two different attendants where the nearest restroom was and got two different answers. I have a ‘public restroom’ app on my phone, there appears to be one right outside. But we search and search and cannot find it. Across the river I spot a Subway restaurant. We march across the bridge and by now we are really reaching emergency levels of course. My planB is that I’ll let them pee in the park. But I’d really rather planA work out, even if I have to buy a sandwich. I sneak us in and to the back of the tiny restaurant. They have a potty!!!! YES!!! Pee. Done. Again.
We meet back at the park where Rich is waiting for us. And, now, finally, this was a really relaxing moment for us. The kids played, we sat. The kids didn’t like the French pastries I bought, so Rich went back over to Subway and bought some sandwiches. Between that and my pastries, we were all full enough for dinner.
And it was nice. And I let the kids have a few nibbles of that chocolate baguette I bought and then I tucked the rest away for after the kids went to bed.
Rich and I ate the rest of it all by ourselves because we deserved it.
Theo made a friend, of course.
It was getting late-ish, some clouds were sort of rolling in, and we needed to get back to our luggage by 7:00pm to avoid an overcharge.
So we headed towards the bus stop. From there we were able to catch a relatively quick ride back up to the train station. The kids were doing great, but definitely getting worn out.
Theo fell asleep at some point, and so did Viv.
And then we had to decide how we were going to get from the city center train station out to Disney. We could wait and catch a train to Disney and then take our hotel shuttle from Disney to our hotel.
Or we could hire a driver to take us straight from the train station to our hotel.
They both take about the same amount of time.
The train option costs maybe 10 Euro.
And the taxi costs 110 Euro.
We’re tired, and the thought of dragging ourselves, the tired kids, and now the bags again has altered our budget.
Taxi it is.
And it was the best 110 Euro we ever spent. It actually ended up being much faster than the train – which hardly ever happens… and obviously much easier. Rich grabbed coffee while we waited for the taxi, the kids were weirdly quiet, the taxi-van was really nice and big and roomy and since we always train it instead, this car ride was so luxurious for us.
It’s during this car ride, however, that I decide we’re not coming back into Paris. The original plan was to do as much in Paris as we could do on our arrival day (Sunday) which turned out to be quite a bit! Then spend one day in Disneyland. And then a third day back in Paris. We thought we could spend the morning at a fun Market Street like Rue Cler where we could grab food for a delicious picnic, have a picnic lunch in a nearby park and possibly visit the Musee D’Orsay. But I just decide it’s not the best idea. We’ll either find something else to do outside of town, or we’ll just hang at the hotel if it looks good.
I’m about to get a little bit off topic in order to explain myself and my decision to avoid Paris a second day.
I’ve gone to Paris three times now and I’m just going to say it…
I don’t like Paris.
To say it and to put it here in permanent ink where it will live forever feels like betrayal to…. myself… or Emmanuel Macron (who I think is a complete genius).
I like and respect a lot of the things that France stands for and does.
But it’s just my truth.
And my decision NOT to go back there when we could’ve easily done so just felt right to me.
I whispered across the van to Rich my thoughts, and he agreed without hesitation.
I don’t want to talk smack. I really don’t.
No place, no city is perfect… even my precious London. I KNOW THAT.
And I’m spoiled. I KNOW THAT.
There’s just a lot of situations happening there. Paris has a larger homeless population than we are used to seeing. The homeless are out and in-your-face even around tourist areas and especially around the train stations. This brings up discussions that we have to have with the children. I’ve had to explain why we saw a homeless person pee-ing on the sidewalk.
Most of the Metra stations smell like pee. They are also poorly lit, poorly staffed, and dirty by my standards.
Public restrooms are hard to find. I know they’ve made strides to improve this, but it’s still not good enough. Which is probably why it smells so much like pee everywhere.
In addition to the homeless, there are lots of beggars and men trying to sell you cheap trinkets of the Eiffel Tower or selfie sticks or bottles of water. Even out by Disney, these men were set up and walking around.
There are lots and lots and lots of stairs. This is also the case in London, by the way. So, if you’re with a toddler and a stroller this is your nightmare.
There is a large armed presence. Men with BIG guns walking around all train stations and most tourist areas.
Everyone smokes. Everywhere. And this is not specific to Paris. People were smoking at Disneyland. Obviously it’s worse in the city. It’s everywhere and constant.
People are rude. I don’t really need to elaborate… just the truth, in my experience. It can feel like nobody wants to be nice and like nobody is happy to see your kids in their space.
You better speak French. Or at least try. I have absolutely no ground to stand on with this, because I feel like Americans are equally demanding that people better speak “American” when they are in America. But if you have ever travelled anywhere where you don’t know the language – having a person be gracious enough to try to communicate with you anyway is, like, literally the most bestest thing to happen in your day.
On that note, service is TERRIBLE. Again, don’t feel the need to elaborate. It’s just really frustrating when everything else is already really hard.
And if you read anything about traveling in Paris, and Europe for that matter.. you’ll see that you need to watch out for pick-pockets and people trying to distract you while their buddy robs you from behind.
So, the situation is like this moving around Paris, FOR US – We’re walking from the train station and we see multiple armed guards. Kid discussion about that. We see multiple homeless camp-out stations. Kid discussion about that, and questions about smells. We see someone getting arrested, little bit of discussion about that. While we were eating in McDonalds some undercover cops confront a patron and check him for drugs. The kids, and I, were genuinely scared. I didn’t know what was going on for a few minutes because the cops were under cover, but afterward everything was fine. Again, discussion.
And we’re moving around the city and we’re trucking up and down stairs, trying to figure out where we need to be (which isn’t that hard for us at this point), with people literally smoking in our faces.
And the entire time, don’t forget, you’ve got the baseline need of just simply keeping track of your kids and keeping track of your valuable items because you know the pick-pocket dangers and you know you can’t take a second to be distracted.
It’s like… you need to be at top level brain function to be able to process and handle everything that it takes to maneuver around this city.
And bottomline – it’s just stressful.
Doing another day and going to the market street sounds fun, but ALL THAT is the reality of being in Paris for us.
I mentally prepared myself this visit. From our previous visits I knew, and planned to avoid the busy areas. Avoid the Eiffel Tower area. I was determined to have a different Paris experience this time, and I was ready and open minded. We were going to avoid the French restaurants, but still get good food from the cafes. Try to relax in the parks. That was my goal. But it was just too hard.
I KNOW I’m spoiled in London – where seriously I don’t think I’ve ever approached a flight of stairs at a tube station and someone didn’t offer to help me with the stroller.
I KNOW that I have a microscopic view of Paris with my visits and maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe I’m not doing it right. All of that is possible.
I KNOW that seeing homeless people and people getting arrested and people getting roughed up for drug checks is not specific to Paris. I am not, nor are my children, above seeing or having discussions about these types of things. My kids can handle it. And I can handle it. I can have those tough discussions with them about tough topics. It’s part of living and traveling.
I KNOW that there are millions of wonderful, smart, warm, amazing, thoughtful French people. I know some of them! Here in London. They are my neighbors, and my friends.
I KNOW I can’t judge a city by a few narrow, short, visits.
And I KNOW there are many reasons to love Paris. I’m just not in that place right now.
Sorry, Paris. It’s not you, it’s me.
Continuing on.. our magic carriage took us directly to our hotel/resort. I don’t know whether to call it a hotel or a resort. It was built for families is all I know. Pirate themed. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds. Soft Play. Indoor pool fun area. A dragon in the lobby. Couple different restaurants, one being a buffet. Arcade room. And the best part… a room actually built for a family of 6. We booked a “crew 6” but until we arrived I was skeptical.
I was like…. ya, ya… they’re just calling it that and it’s going to be cramped and we’ll have to call for extra stuff and I don’t know what else. But no. We walked into our room – nice big bed and a set of bunks. And then another room (with a door) and another set of bunks! 6 beds, 6 towels… the whole deal. Run of the mill, generic, hotel rooms are never built like this. I was elated. The hotel and room weren’t lux, but they weren’t budget either. Just right in the middle. Clean and tidy, with plenty of space. Just perfect.
This was a huge score for us. The kids were so happy.
We take a little walk around, Finn lays eyes on the pool area.
“I have to be in there. I will swim in there.” He says, matter of factly.
We settle everyone in. Sleepy time. We have Disney tomorrow.
And here is the video we created of our day! In it, we let Harry take the camera for a little while. I might be biased, but he is completely adorable.
We get up and around a little bit later than we should because we were sooo tired. We head down to the breakfast buffet and then out to the shuttle and over to Disneyland.
We’re dressed and ready for rain. We take a few pictures outside. It does, in fact, start to drizzle and feel cold. And we move ourselves to the customer service line because our tickets are technically, accidentally, expired.
Rich waited for a while in the line. Because of course there was a line.
Gets up to the front, pleads his case.
“Sorry can’t help you.” They say.
“Ya, they are expired. There is nothing we can do.”
A little push back from Rich….
“No. Sorry sir.”
We have taken our children to the gates of Disneyland and now we can’t go in.
Thank goodness we’ve booked the expired tickets with our Amex. We can make a claim with Amex to refund the ticket money. We have previous experience with them, and they are pretty good about that kind of thing. #AmEx
We’ll deal with it later.
We gotta move on and get tickets.
Option 1 – Buy tickets at the gate.
Option 2 – Buy tickets using our phones from a third party to save some money.
Option 3 – Go back to hotel and try to figure out tickets for tomorrow.
I don’t know if anyone ever just walks up to the gates of Disneyland to buy their ticket anymore. But ah… definitely don’t do that.
For our family to enter Disneyland Paris for the day, gate price was 500 Euros.
Option 1 is out.
A quick search on our phone tells us we can buy from a third party for about 300 Euros. We also figure out that we can buy them from the front desk at our hotel for a similar price.
Option 2 is out. Nothing from a third party or our hotel will be for ‘same-day.’
So, Option 3 it is.
It’s raining. It’s a little cold. We got a late jump on the day anyway. This is fine. Since we’ve decided not to go back in to the city and we haven’t had time to make any new plans, I guess this means we’re spending the day at the hotel.
This morning the kids begged and pleaded to go swim or to go play in the soft play. But, we had to get moving. I know leaving Disney is sad, but I know telling them we get to go back to the hotel is also going to make them happy. At least I think so…
I say to the kids, “Ok guys. Now we know how to get here! We have practiced how to get here from our hotel. We for sure know how to do it. So that’s good. But, we made a mistake and we don’t have the right kind of ticket. We can’t get in. So we’re going to leave and come back tomorrow.”
They’re like, “Ok. Alright.” and they were all very ok with that.
“So, where are we going to go?” They said.
“Back to the hotel for the day.”
and… total eruption of happiness, lol. “YES!!!!! SWIMMING!!! Pirate ship!” “YES!”
That damn hotel. What kids are happy to leave the gates of Disneyland?
Mine, I guess.
Partly, probably because they didn’t really know what they were missing. But also mostly because the minute we stepped in that hotel the night before, they were dialed in. They were in wonderland.
We didn’t make alternate plans and we just hung at the hotel and the kids were SO HAPPY. It was really relaxing and fun. We were able to buy Disneyland tickets for the next day at the front desk, and we didn’t even have to sell one of the kids.
They ran around like crazy people and had the best time.
Viv was happy to take care of her potty needs as usual in our room – so we all took a brain break from THAT.
We ate the dinner buffet at the earliest possible time (5pm), and got the kids in bed early.
And you know what? It rained all damn day.
Every time I looked outside, it was raining. And I was so glad we were not at Disneyland… or anywhere else.
And you know what else? Weather forecast has changed for tomorrow. They were previously calling for rain all day again, but now it says just a spot here and a spot there. I can definitely work with that.
And now… I need to take a second to talk about the food at our hotel. We are in France, and I truly didn’t know what to expect with a French Buffet.
What does that even mean?
We ate three breakfasts here and one dinner.
First morning here, came down for breakfast… and the first thing I see is the breakfast salad bar.
This has been the scene in every breakfast buffet I’ve seen in Europe. I’ve seen the breakfast salad before in Germany and in Croatia. It always strikes me odd. Savory vs. Sweet – I usually go savory for breakfast, but even this is a stretch for me.
To actually have cucumbers and tomatoes. But, you know, it’s fun. And Harry actually did eat one single cucumber slice every morning. “So he could be healthy” he informed me. It definitely was needed to balance out out the 5 croissants he ate each morning.
Anyway, as I walked around the buffet for the first time I have to admit, I was disappointed.
They just have the salad bar, some cheese and fruit, and some cold cuts.
Simple yogurt and three types of chocolate cereal.
You could pay extra to have eggs cooked, but we were like naaaaaaa.
And then bread.
And more bread.
And CROISSANTS and CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS.
I just didn’t think there was very much choice or that the options were going to be very healthy and filling. And they didn’t have oatmeal, which is my go to.
We start filing plates and coming back, and eating.
And that cheese is really good.
Huh, and those cold cuts are DELICIOUS.
And the bread. Forget it. Completely serious, as I type this my mouth is literally watering remembering these croissants and the shortbread.
They just… they know how to do it.
And like, ya, there’s not a lot of choice. That’s true. But if the choices you have are really good, then you don’t need a lot. You just eat 5 or 6 or 7 croissants and you move on with your day. We didn’t even need the egg station, which I would’ve normally ran to.
When you combine those croissants with some of the coffee. Knock yourself over dead. By the third morning, when I woke up, I COULD NOT WAIT to get downstairs to eat this buffet.
I know it doesn’t look like much. But it really was – to us anyway – just SO GOOD.
Plus, the kids loved it. Which is always helpful. And it was so easy for them to just go grab whatever they wanted next. Normally, I’m a bit of a stickler with making sure we have a nice breakfast with minimal sugar. But not here. I let them just eat as they pleased, and they didn’t go overboard. And they didn’t vomit afterward – which I started to get seriously worried about. They just had a good time.
Seriously though, I think Finn made himself three salami sandwiches one morning with three glasses of juice and Harry confessed to topping out at 5 chocolate croissants for the meal. So ya, I see it’s not the healthiest. But you can make up for that later in the day… hopefully.
Speaking of later in the day. Since we were in the hotel for the day, we had the oppurtunity to eat dinner there. And just also – for the record – I would like to confess my love of buffets when it comes to dining with children. Just get over yourself and go to buffets. Because you know what?
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO SERVE YOU.
It’s perfect! That’s the worst part of eating at a restaurant with kids. The dreaded wait. The dreaded wait – while they are most certainly starving-to-death and they have to simultaneously sit still and be reasonably quiet.
So, just, do the buffet.
DON’T look at your kid’s plates.
Everything will be fine.
Ok, DINNER. I take our first gander around the pickings and I’m (again) disappointed.
As first glance, I thought maybe they weren’t done setting it up.
Very simple fare. Not a lot of options again.
A lot of cold items that I didn’t even recognize.
Plain roasted chicken, fish, and lamb. Plain pasta, sauce separate.
Steamed plain vegetables. Potato wedges.
It is France, though, and there will be bread. YES.
Like I said, I’m deflated for some reason, but we forge ahead.
And I mean…. I’m wrong again.
It was plain. It was simple.
But again – it was completely delicious.
It was healthful and nutritious. Cooked perfectly. And after you’re done, you don’t feel like you need to do a cleanse. I grabbed a small plate of all the things I didn’t recognize – tried them all.
My kids ate this food really well. They loved the roasted meats and even ate the vegetables, which did help to make up for their sugary breakfasts.
And I mean…. the bread…. again.
Doesn’t look like much. But IT SO IS.
And the desserts. SAME.
Just genuine good feelings in and around everything about this dinner buffet.
If we would’ve been around to have another dinner here, I would’ve looked forward to it.
Two thumbs up and 5 stars from me.
Oh, and check out this sign. #BOSS
Next day. Disney day.
We are up and ready, fed and happy, and on the shuttle and by the gates of Disney just shortly after it opens with tickets in hand.
I sat Viv on a trash can and tried to get a castle picture. She wasn’t interested.
Theo and Finn snuck off while we were waiting at the gate.
Pretending to be statues…. because they think they are so hilarious.
And they are.
We rode a couple rides, watched a few parades, ate some food and just generally had a magical time. Our princess strategy was just to catch them in the parades and shows instead of waiting in line at the princess pavilion. Vivian was thrilled to see them from a short distance and it worked out wonderfully.
Theo found adorable kid-sized potties and thought they were so cool.
On the potty note – Viv was back to having a hard time. She was totally freaked out in the restrooms here and withheld again. Making her really hard to deal with, again.
While we were waiting in line for the Peter Pan ride, she lost it and even though she was wearing a pull up – it either couldn’t contain the volume or the force, because it leaked out and around everywhere. And we were the people with the kid who peed all over the ground in line.
The stares from the people in line with us were sort of awful, actually…
A quick step out of line and a change. We were able to join back up and ride together with our boys. And naturally she was a much happier girl after that.
Screw off judgey line people.
Moving on, the park itself is beautiful.
We camped out for the main evening parade about 40 minutes beforehand. The kids and I held down the spot while Rich went and grabbed us pizzas. And we just had a picnic dinner right there while we waited. And we were the only geniuses doing that.
It was perfect.
We were multi-tasking!
Plus, we wouldn’t have to fight the rush of people in the restaurants after the parade was over.
Then the main evening parade began and it was awesome.
And by the way… check out that beautiful sunshine. The rain completely held off.
Did not come at all and the weather was complete and utter perfection.
AH, got a little pizza sauce on your face there…
After the parade, our crew was really getting tired but still trying to put on a good face.
We rode “It’s a Small World” twice in a row, because it had no line. And then we got ginormous lollipops and called it a day.
Outside the park I grabbed a little surprise for the train home tomorrow…
We also made a little video of this day. It’s fun.
Go to minute 12:50 for the best Vivian moment ever.
Our overall review of Disney Paris is a little mixed. We liked some things, we didn’t like other things. The size of the park is small in comparison to Orlando – which I actually think is a plus, especially for small children. But other things, like service at the restaurants, food in the park, line management on rides, and smoking were big disappointments.
The magic of Disney is there, but for us was just ever so slightly sour. Compared to our Disney Orlando experience – which was overwhelmingly sweet, this one was just a little under the bar. Still GREAT, and the kids had a wonderful day.
And like…. if we won tickets to go back or something like that, I would be happy to go again.
We slept, woke up, ate the delicious breakfast. Then, leisurely packed back up and headed home. Without a hitch really.. except Viv not liking something at the train platform….
And that’s all there is.
We did it.
And TRUTH, it was exhausting.
The whole experience was a roller coaster – between the upfront train fiasco, all the forecasted rain, the expired Disney tickets, and the unplanned non-Paris day.
Despite my mixed feelings about Paris and Disney, I’m really glad we went.
The kids had a wonderful time.
We had a wonderful time because they did.
I’ll forever think of this trip as the trip that went completely wrong and then worked out exactly right.
Where we stayed: