1 April 2018 – Easter Sunday in Paris, hunting for eggs and a special trip to the ballet…….. [France]
Our Easter Sunday was spent in Paris, and we had a few special ways to celebrate up our sleeve. We’d organised tickets for a special Easter egg hunt and the parents were looking forward to a night out at the ballet at Opera Garnier to see Orpheus and Eurydice while Granny baby sat!
The kids blessed us with a sleep in until almost 7am. Not in a huge rush, we had a nice breakfast in the apartment and enjoyed staying in the warm, the weather hadn’t been all that nice first thing in the mornings! The kids had picked out a hand-crafted Easter egg each from one of the many chocolate shops we visited while in Belgium. Now being Easter Sunday we let them have them, although had to convince them they were probably better eaten later in the day. They were too pretty to eat anyway!
I had managed to get tickets to one of Paris’ Easter Egg hunts before leaving Australia. We figured if we were in Paris over Easter, doing something a little different would be fun. The previous year we were in Italy over Easter, and happened to be in Venice for part of Easter Sunday where people had hidden some eggs in stone walls around the city. The Paris egg hunt was a more organised affair. The egg hunt ran all day but started at 10am in Parc André Citroën, a 14 hectare public park located on the left bank of the river Seine in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, not too far from the Eiffel Tower.
To get to the park we caught the metro over to Balard station which took around 40 minutes. Once off the metro it was pretty obvious where most of the younger passengers were headed and we followed the streams of children heading in the direction of the hunt, many with bags and baskets. Once we arrived at the park, there were tents set up, kids running around, and a stage with large chickens singing songs in French.
We had a short line up where we swapped our tickets for the hunt instructions and a clue sheet. Our French is improving but still not fabulous, but we managed to figure out what to do without too much trouble, despite the volunteers we spoke with not speaking any English, clearly our French is improving a little!
Both kids were put in the 3-6 year group and were assigned 3 different coloured eggs to find, before swapping them for the prize. We headed over the bridge and they were off and racing, running around to the different boxes of eggs one of each colour they needed. It didn’t take terribly long to have all the correct coloured eggs located and we headed back to the registration area so they could swap their eggs for a prize.
The prize turned out to be a paper bag with juice, water, a small malt egg, a chocolate brioche and a pack of 3 kinder surprises. Not bad for 5 Euros each, and the kids had plenty of fun! From what we could gather the 7 year-olds and above had a more complicated hunt involving clues. We might need to keep working on our French to be able to help out with that one if we visit over Easter in the future……….
We wandered over to the nearby playground so the kids could have another run around and play and consume some of their new Easter treats.
After an exciting start to the morning, we had a less exciting middle of the day. We needed to purchase some car seats before heading to Iceland. We needed car seats for Iceland as well as for 2 separate car hires in Scotland. The cost of the 3 hires was going to be upwards of 60o Euros, so we were endeavouring to purchase some for significantly less than that amount.
Central Paris isn’t the place to buy car seats, and Anto’s research had indicated that there was a shopping mall in the suburbs outside Paris that had options…… and was open on a Sunday. Leaving the park we walked back to Balard station and had a couple of rather long metro rides. Off the metro at the end of the line and there was a 1km walk to find the shopping mall. We were now outside the Paris city area and it was rather different to what we were used to. The area around the metro station was rather dodgy looking, but improved a little as we walked into the suburbs. There were not many people around but Soren was excited to find a large number of fire engines around the mall.
Despite not having seen many people, and it being Easter Sunday, the internet was indeed correct and parts of the shopping centre were open, including the large Carrefour department store we were after. We found the car seat section and eventually figured out which ones best fitted each child, were the cheapest, and were in the smallest boxes for transport. Only 62 Euros later a booster for Astrid and seat for Soren were purchased, and then we just had to carry them back to the metro station and on the couple of metros back to our apartment. Luckily it was quiet on the metros on a Sunday afternoon so the only annoying bit was trying to walk carrying 2 car seat boxes.
We decided to go back into the city for a late lunch rather than eat at one of the less exciting food outlets in the mall. Anto went directly back to the apartment with the seats to deposit them, while the kids, Di and I headed for Astrid’s favourite pizza restaurant ‘Il Tre‘ on Rue Montorgueil.
We hadn’t been to Astrid’s favourite restaurant yet on this trip, and they were luckily open all afternoon and even had a couple of spare tables, so we were in luck. Pretty soon we were tucking into an antipasto platter and 2 yummy pizzas – a capricosa and an eggplant & ricotta.
With now full tummies, we stopped past one of the nearby boulangeries to pick up dessert and baguette. The nights dessert choices were chocolate eclair, tart citron, tart faise. It’s always so hard to pick! The kids were insistent on fresh baguette to go with their dinner and Soren ran back down the street towards the apartment holding his baguette, and looking rather French.
Back in the apartment the kids enjoyed some time to play, otherwise known as annoying Granny! In the meantime the adults had to beautify ourselves for a night out at the ballet. We rarely get a chance to ditch the jeans and coats when travelling, but this was definitely an event to get dressed up for.
When we found out my mum was going to be in Paris at the same time as us, she offered to babysit so we could go out at night without the kids. Since it was also my 40th birthday while we were in Paris we were keen to go somewhere special. We were quite keen to get tickets to the ballet ‘Orphée et Eurydice’ (Orpheus and Eurydice) at Palais Garnier on the nights my mum was in Paris. However the tickets were all sold out. I had been stalking the official ticket reselling market for weeks and a couple of weeks before we departed 2 tickets (together) came up on a night we could go. Of course they were ‘Optima tickets’, the most expensive category, but Anto told me to grab them and lucky we did because despite having alerts out for every night we never found another set of tickets on an appropriate night.
Despite being our 4th visit to Paris, this was our first time out at night in Paris without the kids (together, we occasionally took it in turns to head out solo). Despite being evening, it was still bright sunshine when we metro’d over to Opera in our good clothes, due to the sun setting rather late in April.
When we arrived at Palais Garnier there was a brass band busking on the steps of the theatre who were rather good, so we watched for a few minutes before heading in to the warm.
To get into the theatre we had to again get through the security screening. We’d visited 2 days prior with the kids, so it wasn’t a shock. The security guards were picking out all the under-dressed people with backpacks and telling them it was entry for the ballet only tonight and there were no tours!
Once inside there were plenty of well-dressed people milling around on the grand staircase. We still had awhile before the ballet started so Anto got his glass of red wine and we made sure we took a couple of selfies. Since there was no photography or cameras allowed into the performance I left all my gear at the apartment and Anto was selfie duty with his phone, we still managed to get a couple of decent shots of us dressed up!
It is such a beautiful theatre. Built between 1861 and 1875, it is definitely grand…. and a pretty amazing place to see a ballet while in Paris!
Finally it was time to go in, we were glad we checked our coats as it was warm in the theatre (unlike outside). Our seats were great, as you’d expect for optima tickets, front row on the edge of the bottom balcony. We had a completely unobstructed view of the stage. The theatre is gorgeous on the inside too!
The ballet was wonderful, it was quite a dark story but totally captivating. The orchestra and full choir were amazing. There were also 3 on stage opera performers which added to the performance and story. The opera was sung in German and all the announcements were in French (we both speak a little of both) so we only half understood everything but it was certainly an experience and an unforgettable few hours. Definitely a memorable evening and money well-spent!
Once the performance was over it was out into the cold and a quick walk to the metro and back to the apartment. No one blinks an eye about dressed up (or down) people on the metros. We had decided we weren’t hungry enough for a late night dinner out (and we were rather tired) so we went back to the apartment for baguettes and some pastry. It’s not a bad night when you can finish off with fresh baguettes and patisserie!
Daily statistics for Sunday the 1st of April, 2018, in Paris, France – the temperature range for the day was 6 to 11 degrees, with a mean of 8 degrees Celsius, and with windchill around 6 degrees. The total walking for the day was a decent 13.2km, some of it unfortunately in heels!
Up next – a beautiful Monday wandering down the Seine, eating our way through Paris and an Easter concert at Madeleine cathedral.