Ah Paris. The city of lurve. It should have been magic, but a sadness hung over our visit. Well maybe just my visit. You see, I lost my hat. Well I didn’t lose my hat, my hat and I had to part ways. It was time. My hat was old and no longer enjoying life. It flopped over hopelessly on one side. The brim couldn’t muster the energy to keep itself out of my eyes. On the top threadbare strands finally gave way revealing gaping holes which like a hole in the ozone layer, could no longer hold back the suns UV rays.
Paris was lovely. Paris, after all, will always be Paris just as Berlin will never be Berlin. We made our way from Gare de Lyon station through the Parisian metro heavily laden with packs and emerged to be greeted by the Moulin Rouge. A very Parisian site, even if not altogether family appropriate. Our Paris apartment in the 18th arrondissement was also a quintessential Parisian experience. Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur were on our doorstep with boulangers and baguettes on every corner.
Oddly enough Emma and I stayed here years ago, when Emma was three months pregnant with Amy. It was like a trip down memory lane climbing the steps of the Sacre Coeur and tracking down spots where we stood nearly 11 years ago and recreating old photos – this time as a family of four. But it wasn’t the same without my hat.
Amy and Oliver were enthused by Paris. Emma found them a Lonely Planet ‘Mission Paris’ book which sent them on a treasure hunt at all the major sites. It meant we visited a bunch of places we never otherwise would have. They tracked down in-ground trampolines and a statues of Puss in Boots in the Tuileries Gardens, reflections of the Palais Royal in a spherical statue in the courtyard, the name of the cities visited by the P&O line on the facade of the Musee de Orsay and globes held by saints in the Sacre Coeur to name just a few. Their enthusiasm was infectious. But it wasn’t the same without my hat.
No one can declare they have been to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower and it was a must do for Amy in particular. We took in the view from the Trocadero one afternoon just as a storm passed overhead and totally drenched us. On the upside it scared everyone else away and for three minutes after the storm passed we had the place to ourselves and the uninterrupted opportunity to take silly photos. But it wasn’t the same without my hat.
The next day we went and climbed the Tower which was a much better experience than I thought it would be. We opted to climb the stairs. The queue for the lift involved a 45 minute to an hour wait. The queue for the stairs involved waiting for the one guy in front of us to buy a ticket. About thirty seconds. We thought this was brilliant and thanked everyone else for their laziness. But it wasn’t the same without my hat.
The frame of the Eiffel tower is not as substantial looking up close as I had expected. Some tall things disappoint when you finally make the decision to fork out some cash and climb them, but not the Eiffel Tower. The views were fantastic as were displays showing all the different films the Eiffel tower has featured in and the crazy things people have gotten up to hanging from its frame over the years. It was worth every cent. But it wasn’t the same without my hat.
On our last day in Paris we took a bus away from the city centre and out to the Air and Space Museum which had an awesome display of flying machines, from rockets, to 747s to fighter jets, helicopters and the crazy contraptions people first came up with to try and take to the skies. They even had two Concordes, which for me were the highlight. It must have been amazing to take a flight on a Concorde, but to get up close and personal with them was a very happy second. But it wasn’t the same without my hat.
My hat was a gift from Emma just before we first went travelling as a family back in 2011. It has circumnavigated Australia from North to South and East to West including 3 months in Tasmania. It has walked nearly as many kilometres sitting atop my head as I pushed a lawn mower around our yard in the years between trips. It was faded and grey at the last, a shadow of its former self, though I will always remember it when it stood firm and was rich in colour from newly applied dyes. All the best old friend. I’ll miss you.