Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in Paris

When I told my daughters we would be spending Easter in Paris, there was a brief moment of panic. Would the Easter Bunny be able to track them here? The 7-year-old decided that of course the Easter Bunny would find them, and not only that, he would be making his delivery wearing a beret. Later, after we had landed and were riding in the taxi from the airport, I broke it to them: Kids in France don’t get a visit from the Easter bunny. The goods get delivered by flying bells. There was silence. Then the 7-year-old declared “That’s weird…and cool.”

All the church bells in France go silent for Good Friday, and legend has it they’ve flown to Rome to visit the Pope. On Easter Sunday, the church bells return to their steeples to announce the resurrection – and to bring back treats for children along with them.
We're still not quite sure whether it was the Easter Bunny or the flying bells who paid a visit last night.

Because most everything is closed on Sunday in Paris – never mind Easter Sunday – we spent much of the day in the Marais (3rd & 4th arrondissements), where many businesses are open and the streets are jam packed with people shopping and strolling. Here's what we did with our day: 

Lunch at Breizh Café: Crêperie featuring savory and sweet Breton buckwheat crêpes, with organic ingredients. We started with oysters, drank hard cider, and then moved on to the  crêpes (fillings include anything from plain gruyere cheese to herring, potatoes, herring roe and creme fraiche), and finished with sweet crêpes; one of the specials was caramelized apples with salted caramel, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream.
My husband and my Dad took the older daughter with them after lunch to comb the Les Puces de St. Ouen (aka Clignancourt flea market), which is a mini village where you can buy anything from antique dolls' eyes to fine furniture and silver. The girl loved it and came back with a hinged compact made from a shell, and one for her sister, too.

Place des Vosges: My Mom and I took the younger daughter here to play. This beautiful square, flanked by pinkish-colored buildings, has a small playground for children; fountains; benches; and chestnut trees, which are in bloom right now. Under the covered arcades of the buildings surrounding the square, you can hear musicians – some of them quite good – playing for change.
The Musée Picasso, normally another favorite destination, is currently closed for renovation. There's also the Musée Carnavalet, which tells the history of Paris, and the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (museum of hunting and nature).

There's great shopping in the Marais, and not to miss is the amazing falafel at L'As de Falafel on Rue des Rosiers (take it to go and sit in one of the beautiful little squares, like the one pictured at top)

The first few days we spent in our neighborhood, the 7th arrondissement. The Eiffel Tower is a close walk, along with Hotel des Invalides. The kids can run around through the gardens and lawns of the Champs de Mars (former military training grounds), and there is a carousel on the other side of the tower.  
We are renting an apartment through Paris Perfect, a great option for longer stays with kids – we can have breakfast here and cook dinner at "home" when the kids are tired. Since it's a residential neighborhood, there are tons of great food shops, the Rue Cler market street, and the Saxe-Breteuil farmers' market on Saturdays and Thursdays. We shopped there for Easter dinner (morels and asparagus are everywhere!) and waited in line to buy a lamb roast at Les Viands du Champ de Mars (122, rue Saint-Dominique, 7e). 

Happy Easter and Happy Passover, friends! 
The view from our window – every hour from 9PM-1AM every night, the tower twinkles for 5 minutes. 
During the last round, the background lights go black.

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