I arrived in Paris by train with a very large bag on my back and pushing my 18 month old son in a small orange stroller, heavy laden with all sorts of bribes and necessities. I carried that stroller with baby inside, in my arms along with all the requirements for a four day trip up the winding Metro stairs and walked out into the sunshine of the wide open streets. I set him down, accessed my surroundings and breathed in the fresh baked goodness of the nearby Boulangerie. Hello City of Lights, Love and Art! The hotel was marked on the map and we took off West, eleven blocks down the road.
Some time and a few fresh diapers later I was relaxing at a corner café, baby in orange stroller still by my side. I had a Rendezvous with my world traveling mother and her fabulous partner. By candle light and the Grace of God we would dine in peace as baby took a late evening nap. What did we have? Cheese, bread, wine, seafood? It was the excitement in conversation and observation of nightlife passing us in the great city of Paris that I remember. For a meal like this you can try to savor every bite, but it’s the company you keep that makes it memorable.
Our days seemed to follow the same trend. We would meet once we’d pulled ourselves together enough for coffee (or milk) and fresh pickings from the market. Then we would walk. So many kilometers of Paris to discover by foot. So much land to cover on four little wheels. Heave, ho. Together we would grab a handle or a wheel and carry him upstairs, down broken paths, onto subways and ultimately up all the steps to Le Sacre Cour. When we arrived at the museum du’jour, I inevitably had a sleeper in the stroller and just enough time to enjoy the sites uninterrupted. There was plenty of time later in the day to run through city parks and stretch little legs. Eat frites, chicken and tapas and stare up at the bright lights of the Eiffel Tower. Our shutters never closed on the camera lenses in which we viewed the experience of life in Paris. We would each enjoy the city in a manner fitting of small and great desires.
How much could I get away with, toting a toddler with me to every corner of this amazing city without protest? I think it was the last time he was ever good for me. I used up all my points in Paris to walk the streets with a quiet little observer. To see the Moulin Rouge and the impressionists at the D’Orsay. To eat crepes in Montemarte and stroll the Seine past Notre Dame and The Louvre and to keep going until the sun was no more. Even in awkward moments of squeezing onto crowded subway cars or standing in long lines, I was grateful he could come along pleasantly for the ride.
Sooner or later we had to say goodbye to our travel partners and get on the train. Tired of a narrow view and playing with his shoes for days on end, the boy was restless and uninterested in sitting still all the way home. I quieted him with snacks and a story. The adventure was almost over. So much ground was covered in a few short days, but from his view he could still see the world.
This story and all photos are taken in July of 2009