A very special gift
This time last year my daughter Paula and I travelled to Paris for her 10th birthday for a weekend.
It was a gift that would provide us both with an endless supply of memories – the kind that form the life support of a mother-daughter relationship.
Paris was the obvious choice for what I hope will be the first of many travels with my daughter because it was where Paula spent the first two years of her life. We moved to Paris from the UK when she was only 10 days old.
A very different journey
As we queued excitedly to board the Eurostar with hundreds of other tourists in the early hours of the morning, I was reminded of a nerve-wrecking trip 10 years ago, when my husband and I transported our fragile, crying little bundle across the channel, guarding over her like hawks.
This time the journey was much more relaxed. Paula and I fine-tuned our itinerary over coffee and hot chocolate, chatting and giggling non-stop.
Our list of must-sees included obvious tourist sites she’d been learning about such as Arc de Triumph and Eiffel Tower, as well as the more obscure haunts of an expat mum determined to enjoy her beautiful baby girl in spite of hostile Parisians and a lack of French.
She had no idea how terrified I was
As Gare du Nord was announced over the speaker system, my stomach tensed. Could I do this? Could I really travel alone in Paris with a young child? Everyone knew I was completely directionless and hopeless at reading maps. How would I find anything without my husband – or a man by my side? My mind seemed to be erasing every French word I ever learned, rendering me helpless.
I looked down at my little girl, who was positively beaming – loving every minute of precious time alone with the mum she usually had to share with two younger brothers. She had no idea how terrified I was.
And so, I gathered our suitcases and coats and with it my courage. We got off, negotiated our way around the Paris Metro to our hotel near Notre Dame with little effort as if this was what we did every day of our lives.
First stop – lunch
After a short stop at the modest hotel to deposit our bags and in my case refresh my face, while Paula inspected every inch of the room and arranged her giraffe soft toy on the bed, we hit the Parisian streets in search of something typically French for our dejeuner.
We took our seats among office workers on lunch and map-reading tourists on the pavement outside a café. The chairs faced the busy square allowing us to observe the noisy and animated street spectacle over our Croque Monsieur and frites.
And so our adventure began…
(To be continued)
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