Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Paris and Disneyland - We did it!

I lived in Paris twenty years ago, so it was strange going back en famille. Back then I stumbled out of the pub or clubs to go to college, fun but part of my past! So I was off on holiday, but it needed some research, as not only was I going with an imaginative and lively four year old but the focus of the trip was the Mumster's 70th Birthday.

Finding a hotel was not that easy - child friendly, Granny friendly and available. Availability was the first issue, as but seems that family rooms book up early. Eventually settled on a small, boutique style hotel near where I once lived. Parc Monceau became our refuge at the end of each site seeing day - we could escape from the Granny circus, and swing on the swings, explore the worlds inside the bushes and even ride on the ponies at the weekend.

I researched all about what to do with a toddler buying special guide books. As it happened my tour guiding skills were demanded by the Mumster and apart from escaping for a delicious ice cream on the Isle Saint Louis we did not have the luxury of making our own decisions. Having said that, I would still recommend the book with maps, as we had so much fun before we left shuffling through the cards making plans together.

My favourite morning was the one spent with just my Godmother, the Pickle and Hubster. We wondered to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs. They had an Animal exhibition, so we saw an antique frock coat made for a monkey, a life size brass rhino that served as a cocktail cabinet and other wild and wacky things. They we took a lift to the top floor and the 1920s and then we ambled down , moving a decade forward towards the present with each floor, seeing room sets and furniture typical of the period. Half way down there was a large picture window the perfectly framed the best aerial view over to the Eiffel tower.

 Paris is expensive! The Euro is not at a favourable rate and where ten years ago you could get a decent meal for under a tenner, this time I was really quite shocked by the prices and, at times, the quality of the food. How has this happened?

After four days it was on to Disneyland. By booking via Eurostar rather than Disney I saved hundreds of pounds, so that put me in a good mood before we started. The Pickle chose the hotel, the Sequoia Lodge based on the picture of the swimming pool. From the maps it is not so clear. but having  visited I would say that with the exception of the seriously posh Disneyland Hotel - all the hotels seem to be a similar walk away. Sequoia Lodge was great at times, particularly down time drinking fruit juice cocktails in the bar which almost helped us forget the holiday camp bustle at meal times.

The Pickle loved Disney - we bought her a book in Paris so she could stick in pictures and sketch in. At Disneyland it became an autograph album. The place was one large retail opportunity - it could have been hell! We decided to give her a budget to spend at on our last day; then rather get increasingly wound up ever time she got wide eyed over a souvenir popcorn holder, another Princess dress, a helium balloon or yet another treat from one of the hallowed shops we were herded past we could chat about it and say how she could it on her shopping list to see what she could afford from her budget on the final day. Yes, she bought some total c**p but she is still enjoying playing with them - even if they might appall those with Conran-esque taste!

I loved the blossom, the magnolia trees and being able to escape the Parks for the swimming pool. There were oases of value such as Cafe Mikey for a coffee, where meeting the characters in a near empty restaurant was enhanced by the great keepsakes all children got regardless of whether they ordered a glass of water or a full on  sugar or cholesterolfest. I was born with rose tinted specs - and things do seem to be fantastic until I finally get thrown off equilibrium. The Pickle's delight was enough to keep me on my happy cloud! The Hubster was more rational, he awared it 9 out of 10 for Pickle satifaction, but 2 out of 10 for adults. Yes, it was a bit like Butlins with gold cards, but the Pickle is already lobbying for a return visit!

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