Maybe the first thing you should check when you book a holiday is if things are actually going to be open in the place you’re visiting or if things will be super-crowded when you get there. But we didn’t and this wasn’t our first time making this kind of mistake. I was too excited about the little bakeries, the Northern Lights and catching up on fairy tales and high school French when I thought about this trip.
I should have figured out which dates I wanted to visit all the sites then booked my zoo tickets and Eiffel Tower tickets online and maybe even researched if the Paris pass would have saved us a little money on our half an hour stop at the Louvre. But in my defense we prefer to fly by the seat of our pants and if things mess up, at least it’s an interesting adventure to write about.
So when we arrived in Paris it was Easter holiday for many European countries and all the attractions were way busier than I’d ever seem them. (And we’ve been here in the summer!) When we arrived at the Eiffel Tower the lineup to buy tickets for the elevator to the top was at least an hour and a half and there was reported to be a 40 minute wait from the 2nd floor.
We waited a few moments in the giant line and the kids began to lose it so we decided to chance walking up to the 2nd floor and buy our tickets there. This lineup was only about 30 minutes and the boys practically ran up the 600 or so stairs and were totally proud of themselves.( The stairs are numbered in 10s so they enjoyed counting by 10 all the way up the stairs too!)
We took some pictures and looked for the next line but there were police officers and caution tape and we were told the top had been temporarily closed. With all my recent elevator fears I told the boys they’d have to go next time-I am still not sure about the reason for the closure but there is no way I was going to chance getting stuck in the biggest elevator ever.
Instead we headed back to our apartment (a lovely one we found on airbnb) rested up and headed to the Louvre which stays open late at night on Wednesdays and Fridays and we managed to get in line-free (we’d heard rumors that late nights had shorter lines-we arrived around 5pm). We only stayed for a short visit and that was really all we needed. I just wanted to show the guys the Mona Lisa, some statues and the amazing giant paintings. We’ll have to come back when they’re older for a real visit but I wanted them to see a little just in case they might remember being there.
I wish we could have had a line-free visit at the Paris zoo. We love animals and have visited zoos all over the world and heard The Paris zoo (Parc Zoolologique) was closed the year the guys were born and just reopened. Of course we had to go! But with our limited French we couldn’t figure out which line to stand in when we arrived and there were three that were all at least 40 minutes long-I think everyone had the same idea for the beautiful sunny day.
We should have stood in the left-most one because it fed into a row of three automated machines that are quite easy to use but we couldn’t see that when we lined up. Instead we ended up in a cash line where anyone who ended up at the automated machines and had trouble got funneled into. I think we waited nearly an hour and there are no bathrooms outside the zoo so we all ran to the bathrooms once we got through the gate. The zoo itself is definitely a beautiful new space and it reminds me of the open-concept animal-friendly styles of zoos like the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle or the world-famous San Diego zoo. There were numerous giraffes and we watched them for a while. The flamingo area was amazing because we went on a path THROUGH their enclosure and the flamingos could come up really close.
We also liked the big glasshouse structure that housed many tropical animals we saw anteaters for our first time.
A sloth had found its way to the top and it was moving along at a rapid pace-I didn’t realize sloths could move so fast! (I do adore sloths. Doesn’t everyone?)
We found the human behaviors we saw at this zoo a little strange: we watched a grandfather lift a child up over some glass to touch a penguin (he got bit!) and the baboons were going crazy and we realized that a little old lady was sneakily throwing peanuts up over the side of a wall and into their enclosure. But hopefully these are just things that will get worked out over time. People here were definitely excited about the new zoo and it looks like an amazing and community-enhancing space that will help people learn how much we need animals and need to help them while enjoying some time outside. We definitely enjoyed our visit and I hope to come back when it’s not so busy another time.
(Ps if you know the dates you’re going to the zoo it’s probably easiest to just buy and print your tickets online. We didn’t know when we’d go or if we would and that would have saved us a lot of time. I also wish we packed a picnic lunch-there were so many families sprawled out and enjoying feasts of delicious-looking food. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon!)