Our long weekend in the Champagne Ardenne region France

Finally, we got to the end of August and its time that my dad will take “his vacation” from work, and so, we had just three whole days to travel somewhere. Again a discussion in the house started all about if to take the car to north of Italy (6.5 hours’ drive in addition to my breaks makes it +8h), or taking a flight to Milan, or maybe to take our car to Switzerland (~5.5h) so my parents were talking and talking and finally when they decided that I’m, yes, myself too little to this journey at the moment (come on…), they decided to take the car to somewhere closer to our house in Luxembourg. My mom came with the Idea of the Ardenne- Champagne area and started her research in the Ardenne’s website, which is a great website in French about the area and its attractions.

That was it. Our first road trip was 1.5 hour drive from our house in Lux. The first thing they did is to choose a place to sleep in, a point that no matter how the day would look like, will have a nice place to sleep in (they think they can sleep with me #EvilLaugh). So after a long researcher, my mom found in hotels.com this fabulous Domaine Chateau Faucon close to the city of Sedan that we planned to visit. And as they have now a little princess in the house I agreed as well. So we headed to our first road trip the three of us. First stop was (besides a stop for a bottle and screaming along the way) )1( Givet on the border between France and Belgium, the view of this small town with the river Meuse and the fortress above it was beautiful and worth to go through there just for the photo. (1.a) the Charlemont fortress was built at first by the king Charles the fifth in the 16 century, check out opening hours and tours in this website the tours depart from the tourist’s office we just watched it from the river promenade. The French commando still uses it how cool is that.

Besides and the fortress, we parked in the big parking area and went to roll with my car (the stroller), we went to a short walk after a 1:30 drive, it was Sunday so the town was not crowded probably, all for their weekends. A couple of restaurants were open, mostly with locals. We walked a little to see the church and the Hotel de Ville building. They were nice but my parents said this town looked like that time stand still there, there are building that hasn’t been constructed after the world war, you can imagine the war scene while walking there. But no surprise, this region of Arddenes and Champagne has seen 2000 years of bad wars, because of the geographic of the area many intrusions were from here. So looking at this countryside today you might still fill that the smoke filled the air here 62 years ago.

Next stop (2) Was Fumay. it’s a beautiful relaxed small town along the Meuse river. We took my ‘car’ and took a nice short walk along the river to see the cute ducks. We planned to see (3) Montherme but it was a long ride for us so will get there next time. Its suppose to have the most beautiful view point of the Arddene so you might skip Fumay for this one, (4) Charleville Mezieres. It’s a large city in the area you should put on the GPS the place Ducal from the 17 century it’s a nice place with colorful people restaurants etc. We passed it without stopping. (5) Our chateau, Domaine Chateau Faucon, finally we got to the Palace de creme de la creme it’s a really nice hotel, we got a nice room  it was comfortable to the three of us, we bought French cheese fresh baguette and I had my milk bottle and my parents got so excited from the chateau garden we had a picnic, there was a wedding music and the bride and groom arrived at their car to the cheers of their guests such  a romantic atmosphere.

Day two- champagne! Before heading to this area there’s a really good movie in Netflix you should watch, A Year In Champagne so just to get a glimpse into the history and the hard work around the harvest and producing this fabulous Drink the symbol of a love celebration seduction and romance, we headed to the region excited to see all the vines. First stop (6) the biggest boar you ever saw! It’s the symbol of the Arddenne region, we must say that was such a good attraction to stand next to the huge metal wild boar with its proportional size of the real animal it was awesome. Don’t forget to check out its little tale so precise. (7) Epernay – the capital of Champagne region. If you saw the movie you probably know it by now. When we started to see vines covering the hills around this town and beautiful villages that adding warm colors to this green view, an image that in your imagination been done with a brush on a canvas. A view of inspiration. We knew we are close. We got to the famous avenue where all the big and small winery is. It’s a beautiful avenue with its old 17\18 century building you can choose a winery and take a tour. During the weekend you should book in advance, and of course, enjoy a glass of champagne. We bought a bottle to celebrate something (I wonder for what occasion it will be), from the famous Moet winery. Can’t wait to try this one, and remember “don’t drink to feel better, only drink to feel even better”. We got very accurate instruction to drink it with exactly 3 cubes of ice. Don’t miss a ride with a car between the vines. It was one of the highlights for my parents, a romantic stop by the vines to take a close look at how precise it is. The rows of the vines, the fresh grapes… If you are in the season, take a tour in one of the winery’s they will already show you.

Next stop (8) Cathedral of Reims Notre Dame de Reims (the history of the cathedral). The biggest city in the region. The impressive cathedral that was built in Gothic style and the most beautiful gothic cathedral still standing. Coronation of the kings of France was taken place in it. The cathedral was damaged many times throughout history. Because of natural damages and political affairs, one of the famous statues of the cathedral is the smiling angel of Reims that was damaged during world war I and symbolize the spirit of the French. This angle is really unique one. When you are able to create a smile in the art that transform this positive feeling when looking at it is marvelous. We sat facing the cathedral enjoying the look of it and the great architecture of the building, imagining what it was like when the kings were walking inside this cathedral to their coronation ceremony. You should also go inside the cathedral its impressive the columns, the arches and the stained glasses some are still from the 13 century, and there’s one that made by Marc Shagale. Reims city is nice, a modern city with all the branded shops and nice coffee places. The avenue with the thrum is worth walking into. (9) Back to our chateau – forgot to say that the breakfast there is amazing. High cholesterol food and sweets to balance it and Fresh juices. No vegetables of course. When we got back to the hotel, baby Emma kept her parents busy so we didn’t make it for dinner its till 2130. Daddy tried to explain and convince and in the end they were so kind to give us some cheese, butter, and baguette (all you really need) …

Day 3- Sedan – sedan fortress considers the biggest one in Europe. When you enter the yard looks like you are in Games of Thrones episode. My parents lift me up on the carrier for a tour. I fall asleep immediately and stayed like that for most of the walk. The museum was very interesting with all of the interesting points explained in English with special pictures for kids! Original paintings and demonstrated scenes of daily life in this castle gives you the picture what it was like living in that fortress.

Headed back to our home tired and happy till next time…

Weekend in Paris

Preparation and getting to Paris

I didn’t understand why everyone is so jumpy. I just finished my bottle and instead of a good burp, my daddy is taking these big suitcases up and down the stairs, while mommy kept putting more and more clothes on me… on the way down, I already understood that we are heading towards a family adventure, or at least this is what my daddy try to tell me in that weird sounds he does when he talks to me… When will he realize that I’m not a little baby, I’m already 11 weeks old! They explained to me that we are going to a weekend in Paris, and were extra excited because we get to ride a train. For me, it was the first time, so I knew I should be excited, but I didn’t really understand what are they so excited about… I think it is because they really put a lot of effort to optimize the ride. In a car, you can just take EVERYTHING but then you cannot move it in the city in addition to a 4-hour ride with me crying in the back and a flight was too expensive so train it is. After long discussion my parents decided to take the train there from Lux -to Paris, it’s only two hours and 10 min ride and we couldn’t make a better decision. We took the Maxi Cosi, my stroller with the bath and a very big bag for the three of us. We didn’t have anyone seating next to us, so we had enough space. I slept like a baby most of the ride and was really curious in the new fast moving environment. I didn’t even felt like crying, just staring at the window at the amazing green country views passing by.

We got to Paris, Gare de l’Est station and we took an XL Uber to avoid struggling with the bags. My Dad kept talking about a service that he found HoliBag, which allowed us to leave the bags in a restaurant until our Airbnb is ready. We left our bags in a restaurant close to the Airbnb and near the Orsay museum which was super comfortable and cheap (~3EUR).

From there we headed to our first activity, (1) Orsay museum. That was the second time I was in a museum and I loved it: beautiful building (it used to be a train station) with famous painting and sculpture from the 18/19 century. It’s really a must see. It wasn’t that easy to get to the elevator with my stroller, but we managed. We didn’t have much time (~1.5H) so we started from the 5th floor and went down. At some point, I decided that I wanted to get some air, so I started crying, immediately mom gave the order, and all of us step outside to the balcony for a beautiful view of the city and a bottle of fresh milk. What else do I need?

After the Orsay museum, we want to pick our bags, and headed towards our Airbnb apartment. Unfortunately, we found out that “baby friendly” in Paris/Airbnb has some ambiguity in it. It was a traditional French building, which means that there was a whole floor of stairs to the elevator and my car (yes I call my stroller my car) didn’t fit at all in this elevator, not even our bag. There was no way I would allow my parents to stay in such place so, I immediately start crying, and after few calls with the customer service, we found ourselves on our way to Hôtel de Lille which was just down the street.

Next stop, (2) the Louvre we bought tickets in advance in Ticket Louvre FR which was a good option since it was one of the few sites we could just print the tickets, instead of collecting them somewhere… It said that they valid till 1530 but after the Airbnb saga, we got there around 1630 but it was still ok. Mom was super excited, but surprisingly enough, it was the dad that didn’t stop taking selfies with the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is a huge building, a fortress palace which later became a museum for the people post revaluation. There are so many artifacts so we didn’t have much time to see. Since it closes at 18:00 I did my puppy eyes for the guard every time, so they will let us through another passage.  We saw everything we planned to see, specifically some of the most famous ones.

So after two museums and a long walk, My parents found a nice brasserie next to the Louvre, (3) La Rotonde St Honoré. They sat inside in a big corner table with a place for my car. I ate and eventually fell asleep letting my parents eat fine French dishes (onion soup and beef tartar). The food was good and the place was baby friendly.

We walked during the sunset on the (4) Garden Jardin des Tuileries, bought some ice cream and headed back to the hotel.

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Sunday: we ate breakfast at the hotel, they call it special continental but it was basically cheese, ham, baguette, and croissant. My parents seem to be pleased but I’m sticking with my milk diet. That morning I took all the attention (because I can) and we managed to go out just around noon heading for our next attraction, (5) Place de la Concorde. I just love the obelisk, the fountain’ and the people that listening to stories about this important place during the revolution from their guide.

That was also the start of the most famous Avenue in the world (6) Champs-Élysées. The part in the park was nice but when we got to the part with shops it was too crowded. We couldn’t avoid it and start singing Aux Champs Elysées… We tried to cut through a side street just to find that there isn’t anything in that neighborhood other than Champs-Élysées.

After a nice 1h walk through the avenue, we got to (7) Arc de Triomphe. We took some photos and started to search for a place to have lunch.

We found a nice place, which was one of the few that were open on a Sunday, on our way to the Eiffel tower, La Mascotte which was very close to the Seine river and served traditional French food. The walk from there to the (8) Eiffel Tower was nice along the river. I think half of Paris was seating on the grass in front of the tower… so many people.

We had to rush away because mommy really wanted to see (9) Musée Rodin. We got there at 17:00 (the museum closes at 18:00). We didn’t have much time so we focused on the amazing garden which was the most relaxed bottle of milk I had during that next to the famous bronze sculpture of The Thinker.

After we were kicked out of the museum, we finished our day with a long walk through the (10) Jardin du Luxembourg. Beautiful garden that was created beginning in 1612, or at least that what mom said. It was nice to see the Parisian’s relaxing in the garden with a book or just sitting there with friends. As oppose to most of the other attractions, the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the beginning of the Champs Elysees which are visible from almost anywhere, Luxembourg Gardens are somewhat hidden in the city jungle, which made the visit even more enchanting.

Next stop, (11) Notre-Dame Cathedral. Dad kept saying how he knows the name of the Boulevard Saint-Michel which we passed on the way from his French lessons (no he doesn’t really speak French), and mom was extra excited when she got to a famous Shakespearian book store Shakespeare & Company, which is a must see. Dad and I waited outside admiring the sunset lights on the Notre-Dame Cathedral. I twitted, and immediately got a better view from mom’s hands as she picked me up.

I decided that I need to remind them who’s the boss, and before you knew it, they were latterly running to the hotel to make me a good bottle of milk for dinner. I fell asleep immediately after, but I still remember that they had a chance to drag me completely asleep to their date at Cocorico (the food was way better than the name). They were super nice, amazing food and I just let them enjoy their Paris romantic moment.

What’s there to see:

  • Orsay museum – The Musée d’Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France 
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • The Louvre – The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world’s largest museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement. Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Garden Jardin des Tuileries – The Tuileries Garden is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Address: 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France 
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Place de la Concorde – The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. It is the largest square in the French capital Address: 75008 Paris, France 
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Champs-Élysées – The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is an avenue in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, 1.9 kilometers long and 70 meters wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Arc de Triomphe – The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l’Étoile Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France 
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Eiffel Tower – The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Musée Rodin – The Musée Rodin in Paris, France, is a museum that was opened in 1919, dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Address: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Jardin du Luxembourg – Le Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Garden, located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. Address: 75006 Paris, France 
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral – Notre-Dame de Paris, also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France 
    • Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽

Accommodation:

  1. Hôtel de Lille – Address: 40 Rue de Lille, 75007 Paris, France; Phone: +33 1 42 61 29 09 Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  2. Airbnb – NOT RECOMMENDED for families in Paris. Be sure to triple check with your host to set the right expectations.  Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽

Food:

  1. La Rotonde St Honoré Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  2. La Mascotte Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  3. Cocorico Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽
  4. Chez Fernand Emma’s Rating: 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽 👶🏽

Our map: