A Tale of Two Cities… Edinburgh and Paris
Our final stop in the UK was the wonderful city of Edinburgh. We arrived right on the cusp of the Fringe Festival beginning, and the city was buzzing with bagpipes, markets and street performers. We just loved the vibe here, and wandering about the streets with the castle looming overhead was very atmospheric.
I love how compact this beautiful castle is. We really enjoyed discovering it and learning more about Scottish history, which is fascinating. I love how myth and history are so entwined in celtic history. Unfortunately the massive crowds meant we didn’t get a peek at the crown jewels or the stone of destiny – next time!
The World of Illusions and the Camera Obscura
This was one of those places we probably wouldn’t have bothered with if we didn’t have children, and we would have totally missed out. The camera obscura was developed in the 1800s, and would have been a marvel at the time (apparently when people saw it for the first time they ran from the room screaming in fear!). Similar to a periscope, the world of Edinburgh is captured and displayed on a wooden dish in a darkened room using mirrors and sunlight. It was fun and fascinating, and the rest of exhibits at the World of illusions are awesome too.
The stretch of street is home to shops, cafes and street performers, and we spent a good half a day wandering through and enjoying all it had to offer. I also enjoyed seeing all the Clan memorabilia – and am proud to be taking home a Clan Mackay tartan scarf!
Princes Street Gardens
These were beautiful gardens, and a great place to chill out after walking around the city all day. There are also contain some interesting things to visit, including the huge monument to author Sir Walter Scott. The boys climbed to the top, but Little Miss and I stayed firmly on the ground and admired it from below.
And then… Paris!
Edinburgh was a wonderful way to farewell our time in the UK. And then it was onto Paris! After a rather stressful trip carting all our luggage on the train and then a mix-up with our accommodation which saw us sitting in the street for two hours with our bags, we finally settled ourselves in St Germain, which was a great place to stay, right in the heart of Paris. Two things quickly became apparent – you need about a month to see Paris properly, and we had only a few days. So we decided to go broad instead of deep, and enjoy just a taste of this amazing place. Secondly – if I thought London was expensive, Paris is heart-stoppingly so. You can find little croissanteries and the occasional supermarket, but a burger at a restaurant will set you back about $23 so be prepared to dig deep or forget about your health for a few days while everyone just eats loads of croissants. Another thing I found really interesting was how much French I could remember and speak after studying the language at school, which was 20 years ago! The kids thought I was amazing.
Hop on Hop off Bus
This really is the ONLY way to see Paris, and the absolute best way to get around, particularly as the sites are quite spread out. We got the two day ticket and absolutely got our money’s worth. Just gazing at this beautiful city from the bus is a highlight in itself.
With our tickets we also purchased the night tour. This starts at 10pm, so it was a late one for the kids, but totally worth it.
We also saw this engineering and artistic marvel during the day, but we didn’t go up to the top because the queues were ridiculous. We enjoyed our visit though, and made it to the second level.
Jardin du Luxembourg
After the beautifully green and well-kept gardens of England, we were a little fussy when we got to France! The gardens were lovely, but not in the way English gardens are. We had fun though as you can hire little boats and sail them at the fountain.
Riding through the red light district past Moulin Rouge certainly prompted some interesting comments from the kids! Montmarte was crazily crowded but fun, and THE spot to buy souvenirs. We also checked out the Sacre Couer which was beautiful and provided an amazing view over Paris.
Soul Sister had given me this advice about Disneyland Paris: take a deep breath, ignore the prices and the commercialism and rampant sexism and just go with it. That was my mantra for our day at Disney 😉 We only had the one day and just did Disneyland Park, which Bookworm was a little disappointed with as the Walt Disney Studio park has some big thrill rides. I was totally over it by 2pm but the kids had a ball.
And that was the end of our trip to Paris! This was one place I’ll definitely ve visiting again – and perhaps without kids next time so I can really indulge in the museums 🙂