We had the wonderful opportunity to visit Paris this weekend to hang out with my Uncle Kelvin and Aunt B, or should I say Monsieur and Madame Mullins? It was so fun to see them and fill my family love tank.
It was so surreal to be meeting up in Paris, and the whole day I kept thinking, is this happening? We are in Paris with Bridget and Kelvin!
Grant was feeling much improved after this week of rest, so on Friday afternoon, we jetted off to Paris. We didn’t arrive until late in the evening, so we headed to dinner and then to see the Eiffel Tower at night. I couldn’t go to sleep on our first night in Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower!
The next morning we met Bridget and Kelvin at their hotel for a day of adventure! Their hotel – like many things in Paris – has a rich history. Apparently, someone stole the Mona Lisa at some point and kept it in this hotel until they were caught.
I had a short list of things I wanted to see, but for the most part, we were game for anything. It was Bridget and Kelvin’s last day in Paris. We were lucky to have such wonderful tour guides and company!
First, we walked along the Seine. The weather wasn’t wonderful – it was drizzling lightly almost the entire time we were there, but it was still beautiful in the haze. We walked along the Pont d’Arts, which is a bridge on which couples lock padlocks, pledging their love. The bridge is so full that they have started boarding up sections so that you can’t add locks. With good reason! Here is an article explaining how part of this bridge had collapsed before from the weight of the locks: http://www.english.rfi.fr/visiting-france/20140609-paris-bridge-evacuated-love-locks-cause-railing-collapse. I still think it’s wildly romantic though.
Next, we visited Notre Dame. It is stunning. We simply don’t have structures of this enormity and elaborate detail today. We contemplated how generations of men went to work to build this, without ever seeing the final product.
…and sometimes we just goof around too….
The inside of Notre Dame was stunningly lit up. We didn’t realize when we entered, but there was actually a funeral service happening. I did feel strange filing through a church while the funeral service was happening, but the voices of the chorus and the lighting set a very different tone that made me reflect more deeply on the cathedral, on religion, and on God. Older places of worship always make me think about how many people worshipped here, and how long ago, and how disconnected I feel from them – yet how similar we are as human beings in this world worshipping God as best we can.
Next, we walked through the Latin Quarter to whet our appetites before lunch reservations 🙂 The small pedestrian streets and wafting smell of crepes drew me in. Check out this pile of huge meringue pralines we saw on the street:
We looped by the Centre Pompidou to check out the inside-out architecture of this modern art museum. The tunnels on the outside seriously look like gerbil tunnels built for humans!
Authentic French Lunch
One of Bridget’s co-workers had recommended a restaurant in Le Marais. This restaurant is so popular that they could only get reservations for lunch. We walked in and it was nearly empty, but within 30 minutes, the place was FULL. Most everyone in the restaurant looked local, so it was a fun experience trying to figure out what to order from the French menu. The food was delicious – rabbit, veal, and lamb.
The most delightful part of the whole experience, though, was ordering the the chocolate mousse. The waitress brings over a bowl of mousse so that you can scoop out whatever portion you want. The four of us shared a big spoonful, and let me tell you, it was so rich! It was the creamiest, richest mousse I’ve ever tasted.
It was hard to stir after lunch – can you say chocolate mousse coma? We did manage to walk some of lunch off in the charming streets of Le Marais as we window shopped. This part of town was so cute. I have to say I was amazed at how the architecture of Paris was so distinct. Even though there were variations in buildings, all of the streets we walked down looked like Paris.
One of the things that the Mullins had not gotten to do yet was go to the catacombs – the underground tunnels where over 6 million people are buried. It is know as the “world’s largest grave.” So, of course, in the light mood we were in, we had to do that.
We stepped out of our taxi as we arrived, and there was a twisting line of umbrellas all around the corner waiting just to get tickets. It was about a 3 hour wait! Yikes.
Luckily, we were in the company of one of the friendliest, most charming Texas men. Kelvin asked if there was any way that they could fit us in as it was our last day in Paris – and they did let us in! It never hurts to ask.
I was amazed at both how far down the catacombs went, as well as how long they were. I would not want to get trapped down here without lights with 6 million ghosts. The bones were organized by year and neatly stacked. You’ve got to wonder whose job that was!
Seeing these skulls immediately conjured up the Bible verse that we are from dust and to dust we shall return. All of these skulls represented unique, living people. Yet, when it comes down to it, all of our mortal bodies end up the same way – a pile of bones.
Wrapping up the day
Sometimes the simplest things bring the most joy. We picked a sidewalk cafe to sit in as we ordered drinks, people watched, laughed, and caught up. We remembered some great memories (like that time that my uncles, Stefan, and Kat “welcomed” Grant to the family at our wedding), and we dreamed about future memories. I am so very thankful to have a family that I am close to. You can’t choose your family, but I am so blessed to have a great family – especially Kelvin and Bridget!
It had been way too long since Grant and I had seen Kelvin and Bridget – about a year and half, and even longer since we had gotten to hang out one on one. I am so thankful that family bonds allow us to pick up where we left off. It is hard to describe the way seeing family makes me feel – but it brings me this underlying sense of peace. It grounds me. There are people in the world who have known me my whole life and still like (and love) me! There are people in the world who have the same smile and laugh as me – and my weird quirks are suddenly completely normal. There are people in the world who always have my back, no matter what.
Spending the day with Kelvin and Bridget, there are many things that I admire about them. I admire the love they have for each other – both completely independent and separately interesting people who find a way to support each other in their unique pursuits. I love listening to their stories – they can re-tell a moment to you that makes you feel as if you have just re-lived it with them! They are the type of people with whom you can discuss everything from hilarious cultural faux pas to the deepest thoughts about traveling and life.
Thank you Uncle Kelvin and Aunt Bridget for a wonderful time in Paris! We love you!