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Paris Vacation


"And for your big Christmas present we're taking the family to Paris this summer!" we said with excitement in our voice. The two boys expressed reserved enthusiasm. They smiled. A trip was good. Paris you say?


As the vacation neared we did our best to get them excited, but clearly the parents were more excited than the kids. With 48 hours to go before leaving the US State Department took the unusual step of declaring a global travel advisory in combination with shutting numerous American embassies as a result of intercepted terror traffic. So, why were we risking our lives to go Paris exactly they wanted to know?


While the teenage enthusiasm may have been underwhelming, everyone was excited to get away on vacation. Arriving at Paris after an 11 hour flight we leapt off the plane only to be halted as stepped off the jet way.  A machine gun wielding soldier blocked all access to the passport control line essentially blocking our access into France. We were later told it was a bomb scare. Not a great way to start off our vacation.


But soon the vacation was on. We rented a two bedroom house in the Saint Germain district. It was an excellent alternative to a hotel and if it wasn't for two bars situated below our fourth story window I would say the house was perfect. As I touched foot on French soil my high school French vocabulary immediately returned to me. My amazing command of 100 or so French words was certainly enough to get by but for some weird reason every time I spoke French people answered me in English. Didn't they hear my perfect accent from the year I lived in France at the age of 5?


We settled into a life as tourists for a week rediscovering a city Eve and I have visited many times in the past. But this was a trip to introduce the wonders of the city to Kevin and Scott. As the week wore on the boys began to increasingly embrace the city and were soon able to answer the question, "why did they pick Paris." Scott, the linguist, was quickly speaking a random selection of French words because he liked the way it rolled off his tongue. Kevin mastered the maps, the Metro and even the Père Lachaise cemetery and acted as navigator.


Much has changed since my first visit to Paris in the 70s:

Some other observations:

Travel tips

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© Greg Harris, 2013

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