Not long after God said to start thinking concretely about going to France, we decided that we really should take the kids to France soon. We knew that they really should get a chance to experience traveling internationally, flying in an airplane and visiting a country where they didn't know the language to see how they would handle those new challenges.
Short answer: they did great! They handled all the new situations and challenges wonderfully, and it didn't phase them at all!
Yes, we are very aware that going on vacation somewhere is nothing like living there, but if the kids couldn't handle taking a couple weeks vacation to France, they definitely couldn't handle living there!
Our adventure started with a drive from Ohio to New Jersey, where my parents live. After a short night's sleep, we went to the airport where we flew from NJ to Toronto, Canada. After a layover, we proceeded to fly on to Paris. We definitely didn't get enough sleep on the plane, so when we arrived around 9 am in Paris, we were all fried! We made our way through the metro and to our apartment—not an easy ordeal with five peoples' luggage and very few escalators in the metro—and collapsed. After a bit, we headed out to a park where the kids could play on a playset before we headed back to the apartment for dinner and sleep.
The next three days were filled with seeing many of the great monuments in Paris: the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Élysées, Notre Dame de Paris, Sainte-Chapelle, Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre, and others. We packed a lot into those few days and walked a lot more than the kids were used to. It was a lot of fun and very tiring! The kids had a lot of fun seeing all the places they'd only seen in pictures, and we loved sharing the city with them.
Traveling with kids was definitely an adventure, and they did a great job during our time in Paris. It was only three days, but it was a lot of fun and a great experience for them and for us! They weren't used to walking as much as we did so everything went slower. We didn't see as much as we would have on our own, but we did see a lot. We also experienced things differently. Our daughter especially LOVED Sainte-Chapelle. In fact, it's our favorite place in Paris too. If you're not familiar with it, it's a small gothic chapel in the middle of Paris that is filled with absolutely breathtaking stained glass. She has an artist's heart and loved the colors and designs. Our boys enjoyed going to the Citröen store and looking at the cars.
It was a lot of walking and a lot of rides on the metro, with many of those trips not having air conditioning! We got to walk through parks, watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower, and experience so much in a very short amount of time. It was definitely worth the time and effort.