July 31, 2007


On Tuesday, we decided to try the Eiffel Tower again. When we arrived, we found out that the top level was closed, so we decided not to wait in the very long lines. We did take this cool picture from directly underneath the center of the tower.

Eiffel Tower from the ground

We had a fun lunch at a steak restaurant called Hippopotamus. Our "Paris with Kids" guidebook recommended it because it is family friendly. The kids got crayons and coloring books. Scott had a wonderful steak with Roquefort dressing and Tiffany had a chicken shish kabob.

Since we couldn't go to the Eiffel Tower, we went to the Montparnasse Tower. Parisians say that the top of the tower is the prettiest spot in Paris. They say this because it is the only spot where you can't see the Montparnasse Tower.

The carpet had images of Paris. Tyler's right foot is on our apartment building. Note that he is holding a balloon from the restaurant. He and Brooke were arguing a few minutes later, the string broke and he lost the balloon.

Tyler standing on our apartment

The observation deck had windows all the way around, so we could see all of Paris. Tyler, of course, wanted his picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower. On the interior walls there were historical photos of the city. We also watched a short film about the monuments in Paris.

Tyler and the Eiffel Tower

Here is a zoomed-in shot of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse

Scott put together this panorama out the windows of the Montparnasse observation deck. If you look closely, you can see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, and the Louvre.

Montparnasse panorama

From the observation deck, we climbed three flights of stairs to the roof were we could see in all directions outside.

Once we returned to ground level, we went to the Montparnasse train station so that Tyler could get his picture taken with a TGV, something we forgot to do on our trip to Lyon.

Tyler and a TGV

We had a snack at the park which is on top of the train station, called the Jardin Atlantique. Here is a picture from the park looking towards the Montparnasse Tower.

Jardin Atlantique

Posted by sjbowden at 10:20 PM

July 30, 2007

Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur

On Monday, we decided to go to Sacré-Cœur. It is on the Montmartre hill and is a basilica famous for its white marble. We found out that the reason it is so white is that it is a special marble that bleaches itself when it rains.


We could have walked up the steps to Sacré-Cœur, but fortunately our metro passes cover the Montmartre funicular. The kids definitely preferred the funicular over climbing hundreds of steps.

Watching the funicular

From the top, there is a beautiful view of Paris.

View from Sacré-Cœur (panorama)

After visiting the church, we walked around the narrow streets of Montmartre. There is a square filled with artists and restaurants. We bought sandwiches and had a wonderful lunch in a small park near Sacré-Cœur.

After lunch we took a ride on the Montmartre train, a little tourist train on wheels that took us by the sights of Montmartre.

Montmartre Train

During the trip, we saw one of the two vineyards of Paris as well as the infamous Pigalle district. The Moulin Rouge is one of the sights there. We were glad the train passed quickly through this area, as it is not one we wanted to visit in any detail.

Moulin Rouge

The train brought us back near the church and we took a few more pictures of Sacré-Cœur.

In front of Sacré-Cœur

In this panorama, you can see the two statues at the entrance of Sacré-Cœur,
Joan of Arc and St. Louis.

Sacré-Cœur up close (panorama)

On the way home, we stopped in a souvenir shop and got the kids Eiffel Tower T-shirts. Brooke also got a purse with an Eiffel Tower on the side.

Souvenir T-shirts

Posted by sjbowden at 10:13 PM

July 29, 2007

Tour de France

Sunday morning we went to church. We are fortunate that the Paris Ward meets just a few blocks away from our apartment. There are meetings in both French and in English. We attended the French meetings for Scott's sake. The kids didn't understand anything, so unfortunately they weren't very reverent. At least they had Primary (the children's class) in English.

After church we had a quick lunch at our apartment and then took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées.

Arc de Triomphe

It was near the Arc de Triomphe that we waited for the cyclists of the Tour de France to arrive in Paris. The destination of the last leg of the Tour de France is Paris and the Champs-Élysées. When we arrived, we saw that there were lots of people waiting. We arrived at what we thought would be a perfect time to see the cyclists to arrive. However, the race had started late because of some rain, and we ended up waiting about an hour and a half.

Tour de France crowds

The cyclists ride up and down the Champs-Élysées eight times. We were right next to the hairpin turn at the end of the Champs-Élysées. We had a great view of the cyclists as they made their way up the street. We lifted up the kids so they could see over the heads of the people in front of us. Here are the leaders just before the first turn.

The leaders

Here is the main body of the pack.

The pack

The helicopters followed the riders up and down the street. We could tell when the cyclists were getting closer to us because the helicopters would start hovering overhead.

Television helicopter

This is a video clip of the third circuit.

Tour de France (video)

We decided not to wait until the end, but to hurry to the apartment to catch the rest on TV. We missed the end of the race, but did get to watch the award ceremonies.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:41 PM

July 28, 2007

Trip to Lyon

In planning our trip, we were hoping to meet up with our friends the Beutler's, who are living in Geneva, Switzerland. They had the great idea to meet in Lyon for a little weekend trip. Russ and Lisa have three kids; their oldest, Madeleine, is about Tyler's age and Elodie is about Brooke's age. Their youngest, Camille, is one year old.

By TGV, the French high speed train, Lyon is only 2 hours from Paris. We had to get up a little earlier than we are used to on our sabbatical so that we could catch our 8 am train. The kids, especially Tyler, loved the TGV. We were even able to travel in first class, because a special made the first class tickets cheaper than regular tickets. Note that in French trains, a first class ticket is a small step up from second class, not a huge step up like on airlines.

We had brought along some breakfast, so we had a nice time eating and watching the scenery on the way to Lyon.

In the TGV to Lyon

Russ met us at the train station and drove us to the hotel. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we put our things in the Beutler's room and spent some time catching up and letting the kids play together. Then we headed out to explore Lyon. As usual, the kids had a wonderful time on the metro.

Friends on the Metro

First we headed downtown for some lunch. We ate at a fun sandwich shop called Pomme de Pain. Then the adults talked while the kids played at a playground. It was pretty warm so after we headed into Old Lyon, we bought ice cream bars and popsicles. Then we toured Saint John's cathedral which has a working astronomical clock from the 14th century.

Next we went to a miniature museum. There are rooms full of miniature displays, some of which were used for scenes in movies. Most of the miniatures are room interiors and are set in display cases, so it is like looking through a window into a little room. For example, there were miniatures of a swimming pool, a market, a restaurant, a theatre, a school room and much more.

We went back to the hotel and all the kids, except for Caleb, swam in the swimming pool/hot tub. It wasn't exactly a swimming pool but was larger and cooler than a hot tub. It was a great size for the kids and they had a blast. We ordered pizza and had it delivered to the Beutler's room and ate it together.

The next morning we took a metro and then a funicular to the Basilica Notre Dame of Fourviere up on the hill overlooking Lyon. It is pretty impressive and was recently cleaned.

Basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere

Tyler and Brooke thought the confessionals were interesting. They asked us what they were and then giggled as they asked each other what they had done wrong through the wooden screen. We hope they didn't offend any Catholics.


Brooke loved helping "take care" of Camille, the Beutler's youngest.

Brooke and Camille

Tyler, Elodie and Brooke thought this little platform was especially neat.

Outside Basilica

To the side of the basilica is a viewpoint that overlooks Lyon. Madeleine, Tyler and Brooke decided to play with the chain that is used to block access to the stairs down to Lyon.

Working on the chain gang

Scott stitched together this panorama of the city of Lyon. Depending on the size of your screen, you may have to scroll to see it all.

Lyon Panorama

We then walked to the Roman ruins, also up on the hill. There are two amphitheaters which are used for concerts today and miscellaneous ruins of a shopping district.

Playing on the Roman ruins

We took another funicular down to Old Lyon and then had a traditional Lyonnais meal. The kids were a little wild because we had to wait a long time for our food, but we survived.

This picture of the fountain and a band in the square of Saint John's cathedral gives a good view of the basilica on the hill and the Eiffel Tower-like radio tower on the right. It was also the spot where we ate our popsicles and ice cream bars the day before. The kids enjoyed watching the band perform.

Band in Old Lyon

Afterwards, the kids played at a couple of parks and the adults chatted. Then we went to the mall next to the train station. We had fun wandering around the stores together but then had to say goodbye so we could catch our train back to Paris. Tyler was especially sad to say goodbye to Madeleine.

Our trip back to our apartment in Paris was pretty uneventful. We had a wonderful time with our friends. We hope the Beutlers move back to Oregon soon so that we can see them more often.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:43 PM

July 26, 2007

First try for the Eiffel Tower

On Wednesday we decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. We were planning on taking the elevators to the very top, but then we saw the lines. We guessed it would be about a 2 hour wait! So we took some pictures and let the kids play at a nearby playground instead.

As we were leaving the Eiffel Tower area, Brooke saw a carrousel, and Brooke loves carrousels. We bought tickets and let both Brooke and Tyler ride. They let parents stand next to their children for free, so Tiffany got to ride too.

Tyler didn't want to ride on a horse, so he was happy to find a lion, his favorite animal. He was a little bummed when a little French girl got on the lion with him. However, once the ride got going, he had a great time.

Tyler on the carrousel

Brooke chose a pink horse to ride on. This was no surprise, as pink is her favorite color.

Brooke on her pink horse

After the carrousel, we decided to ride on a "bateau-mouche", one of the tour boats that rides up and down the Seine. The kids had been begging to ride on a boat, so it was a good time to do it. It was very nice to relax and see the Paris sights from the boat. The weather was beautiful, so it was very enjoyable. We did get a little sunburned though.

Bateau mouche

This is a view of the Eiffel tower from the boat.

Eiffel tower

Here is Notre Dame from our boat. It was interesting to see our apartment building from the river.

Notre Dame

After our bateau-mouche tour, we climbed up to the Trocadero, on the opposite side of the river from the Eiffel Tower. We ate chocolate crepes and relaxed in the park.

Kids at the Trocadero

On Thursday, we went shopping to get some sunscreen for us all and a hat for Caleb. We felt bad that he got a little bit of a sunburn on his cheeks during our boat ride.

Our "Paris with Kids" tour book recommended some nearby children's stores, so we wandered around looking for them. The first store was fairly inexpensive but didn't have a hat his size. The next store, Jacadi, is a famous French children's clothing store chain. It was much more expensive, but fortunately their hats were 50% off so we found a little blue hat with a pocket and a strap to hold it on his head. The last store we went to, Tartine et Chocolat, was extemely expensive. We found very cute Paris socks for Brooke, but decided they weren't worth $27 and a very cute outfit for Caleb, but decided it wasn't worth $75. It was a fun store though.

Next, we bought bread and snacks from a grocery store and had a picnic at the Parc André Citroën. The park is where the Citroën automobile factory used to be. It was torn down and a park put in its place in the 1990s. Our tour book recommended it, partly due to the playground. We searched all over the park, but never found a playground. There were however, beautiful gardens, fun fountains and lots of grass. There was also a hot air balloon that offers tethered rides to see Paris from above.

Parc Andre Citroen

The kids enjoyed feeding the ducks the last of our baguette and then taking an RER train home.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:12 PM

July 24, 2007

Settling In

On Saturday morning we woke up to find that Brooke was sick. We still didn't have our luggage, so we just rested and tried to get over our jet lag. By mid-day Brooke was feeling better.

Scott went to the grocery store and bought a lot of essentials so that we could have food for the weekend. We were happy to get a phone call from the airline stating that our luggage had arrived and would be delivered between 7 pm and 11 pm. Here Tyler is waiting in our courtyard for our luggage to show up. If you look closely you can see Tiffany, Caleb and Brooke looking out from our apartment window.

Waiting for our luggage

Scott eventually went to bed at about 1 am, with no luggage. We were pretty bummed. We were wearing the clothes we wore when we left Oregon Thursday morning and we were very jet lagged. Tiffany had packed extra clothes for the kids in our carry-on so at least we had back-ups for them.

With Brooke recovering from being sick and still no luggage, we decided it would be best not to go to church. We slept all morning and were very happy when our luggage finally arrived about 1 pm. The airline's explanation was that the delivery service had arrived late to pick up the bags from the airport and so decided not to make any deliveries Saturday night!

Once we showered and changed into some fresh clothes we went for a walk along the Seine. The whole area was packed with tourists and vendors. The boardwalks were especially crowded due to the "Beaches of the Seine" event that lasts all summer, where sand is placed on the boardwalks and there are lots of activities as if you are at the beach. We found a quiet park on the Île de la Cité and ate cookies.

Walk along the Seine

Monday was a big settling in day. We bought metro passes and went shopping. We went to a big grocery store on the outskirts of Paris called Géant and stocked up on our favorite French foods. We were very surprised to find that the store is in the middle of an Asian section of town. The local McDonald's was even shaped like a pagoda. We bought Brooke a Dora the Explorer book in French for Scott to read to her and Scott bought a Tintin comic book.

Here is Caleb, looking pretty big for 5 weeks old, and very cute in his giraffe outfit from South Africa.

Scott and Caleb

On Tuesday, we let the kids sleep in and we started laundry. Our apartment has a combination washer/dryer. When it is finished washing the clothes it switches over to the dryer setting and dries the clothes in the same drum. This means each load takes 3-4 hours.

We started out our sightseeing by visiting Les Invalides. It is a hospital for those injured in war, but also contains an army museum and Napoleon's tomb. The kids probably loved the scale model part of the museum the best. The models are of strategic French towns. They were a huge benefit during the 1800s in planning how to defend the towns in warfare.

Les Invalides

We took a break and had a snack in the gardens of Les Invalides. Brooke looks especially cute next to the beautiful flowers.

Pretty as a flower

The kids love seeing the Eiffel tower. It is their favorite thing so far.

Eiffel tower in the distance

After our snack, we went back to the army museum and visited the World War II section. It was very interesting and had everything from clothes people wore during WWII to a V2 rocket. We then went to the older sections of the museum.

Tyler's favorite part of the army museum contained the suits of armor. He was very impressed with this suit of armor designed for a royal 6 year old.

Just my size

The last part of the museum was the church that contains Napoleon's tomb. The dome over the tomb is gold on the outside and beautifully painted on the inside.

Dome over Napoleon's Tomb

For dinner we had Greek gyros which is a food we love and is very similar to doner kebabs or shawarmas.

The breakfast cereal and granola bars we bought at the grocery store came with temporary tattoos, so we broke down and let the kids have them. They were pretty excited to have Shrek and Dora the Explorer tattoos.


We had a good first sightseeing day. We knew we would have to slow down to the kids' pace and think of ways to make museums and sights interesting to them.


"This is my ticket to ride!" - Tyler is collecting all of his metro passes. This is a reference to one of our favorite board games, Ticket to Ride.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:47 PM

July 20, 2007

On our way to Paris

One of the perks of working at Intel is that every seven years, Scott gets a sabbatical. We have always planned to use the time off work to go to France. So we bought plane tickets and rented an apartment in Paris after Caleb was born. You may call us crazy, traveling to Europe with two small children and a newborn, but we just love to travel.

The cheapest plane tickets we could find meant we had to leave home about 5:30 am. No fun with three kids. Fortunately, Augusta drove us to the airport so we didn't have to worry about what to do with our car. Everything went great at check-in and we had enough time to have a leisurely breakfast of bagels and donuts from Beaverton Bakery. When we got through security and to the gate, we found that our flight would be delayed for at least an hour due to bad weather in Philadelphia, our connecting city. Fortunately the gate was close to a children's play area where the kids played and watched cartoons.

Glued to the TV

After the weather delay, we had another delay because one of the plane's tires was flat. It started out as a 45 minute delay and turned into a 90 minute delay. Then they announced another weather delay and that they would be re-booking people with connecting flights. Fortunately, Scott and the kids had been watching the plane tire being changed so they were very close to the front of the line for re-booking.

After waiting 30 minutes for the 3 passengers in front of him, Scott got to the front of the line. The agent offered Scott a complicated, multi-stop route to Paris that would get there about 6 hours late. Scott asked if it were possible to route us on another airline and suggested Lufthansa. The advantage of the Lufthansa route is that it flies non-stop from Portland to Frankfurt, has a one hour connecting flight to Paris and arrives only 2 hours late. Unfortunately we had to go out through security and check-in at the Lufthansa counter. Fortunately, the gate agent was very nice and gave us almost 40 dollars in meal vouchers, something the other passengers didn't get. It probably helped that at one point Brooke walked up to the gate counter and told Scott how hungry she was.

Our bags were (theoretically) sent directly to Lufthansa, so we only had to check-in and get our boarding passes from Lufthansa. They were very nice, but weren't able to get us seats together at that time. We figured they would have to work it out because a 6 year old and a 3 year old sitting by themselves wouldn't work very well. They promised us that they would try to fix it at the gate.

We were able to have a very nice lunch at Pizzacato, one of our favorite pizza restaurants. We had money (really vouchers) to burn so we bought brownies and cookies for dessert. After lunch we went through security and bought candy with the rest of our vouchers. Once at the gate, we were able to get new seat assignments. They had already fixed the assignments and just gave us new boarding cards. While we were waiting to board, we made friends with an Israeli couple who had fun talking to Tyler and Brooke about living in Israel. One funny thing was that their daughter wasn't traveling to Tel Aviv with them because she had just had a baby. We found out that the baby was 1 day older than Caleb! We were surprised when the lady was happy when Caleb started fussing, but she said he sounded just like her one month old grandson and it reminded her of him.

The ten hour flight to Frankfurt went very well. Brooke and Tyler were given small toys on the plane and Caleb got a Lufthansa pacifier clip. We were relieved that Caleb slept most of the flight. A couple sitting behind us said he was a miraculous baby. Brooke and Tyler behaved very well, but only slept about 4 hours. It didn't help that we flew over the Arctic Circle and so it never got dark outside. They didn't believe that it was really night time. We were pretty worried when we landed in Frankfurt because we only had ninety minutes for our connection. It took about 15 minutes for the airport staff to find our gate checked stroller and car seat. Then we had to go through passport control, customs, security and then to the very farthest gate in another terminal. Fortunately we were waved to the front of the security line because we were traveling with small children.

Sound asleep

Once in the terminal, Scott and Tyler ran to the gate to make sure they would hold the plane. Brooke, Tiffany and Caleb caught a ride on a cart and got to the gate a couple of minutes after Scott and Tyler. We boarded the plane immediately. The kids were each given gummy candy and chocolate plus another little toy. We were glad Lufthansa was so family friendly.

On the way to Paris

When we arrived in Paris, we found that our bags had not joined us. They didn't know yet whether they were in Portland, Philadelphia, Frankfurt or some other location. So we caught the RER train to Paris without our suitcases which actually made that part of the trip much easier. The train ticket machines were broken, so we were told we could ride the train for free.

Train to Paris

The train stopped pretty close to our apartment, but we had to walk a ways due to construction in the station. However, as a result we were able to go to a cell phone store and buy a SIM card so we could use Scott's phone in Paris. Then we had to wait about 15 minutes for the apartment rental agency to let us in to the apartment. Checking in seemed to take forever because we were so exhausted.

The apartment we rented is right in the middle of Paris. We learned our lesson last time we were in Paris when we stayed on the outskirts of the city. That meant we had 30-45 minute train rides into the city. Now we are just a couple minutes walk from a metro stop and have lots of restaurants and shopping nearby.

Apartment map

We spent the rest of the day alternating sleeping, shopping and wandering around getting our bearings. Our apartment is just down the street from Notre Dame. We were impressed by how beautiful it looks now that it has been cleaned.

Notre Dame

Posted by sjbowden at 11:46 PM