The Divine Comedy – sightseeing with children in Paris. Part 1
Kids are rubbish at jokes and this is the main reason dad jokes exist. It’s not that dads can’t do jokes it’s that kids are stupid and don’t get subtle humour. Forget that, they don’t even get really obvious humour.
It’s for this reason you should never do anything approaching a joke near a child. For one they may arduously and at length ask you to explain the humour thereby reducing any possible impact of said humour. They may just remember the punchline and say it over and over at the end of every sentence or point at things and say it out of context until you regret ever speaking. The most likely outcome is that they will remember the joke and retell it at the most importune moment.
So, sightseeing. Plan. Plan. Plan. Make a plan of action, look at maps and get your bearings. Start early with a breakfast nearby the start of your day especially if there is going to be a lot of walking. Our plan included four main sights and a series of potential side sights that we might see along the way.
Our plan was a mirage a mere idea thought up in the crazy minds of two deluded individuals whose middle class white privilege had blinded them to their own inadequacy.
Notre Dame on Good Friday? Seems like a reasonable idea. To be fair to the congregation taking Mass on Good Friday morning at one of the most important catholic holy sites in the world they must be used to interruptions from the visiting hordes. I hope so anyway. Turns out they sell little medals at lists of sites in Paris. €2 for a coin that has a picture of the place you’ve visited. Bingo bango a nice souvenir. When a child drops one and the coin rolls off under a barrier, not only does the coin make a particularly tart ping on the ancient marble floor, the child makes a particularly guttural scream of loss too. Lesson learned.
Just near the cathedral is the tiny, but really interesting Crypt – a small, but excellent museum that showcases the Roman walls of the city (including inevitable Roman bath house remains). There are thousands of € worth of interactive touch screen displays and a selfie booth, our kids spent most of the time using the pencil and paper templates to make their own Roman crest.
On to Sainte-Chapelle, or as my wife and I called it Dave Chapelle. Here, your children can marvel at some of the most amazing stained glass windows ever. Just amazing. Also, a very, very angry man will push you past the queue with your museum pass. Being British we blushed, other nationalities may vary.
Here I stop this laugh an hour rip roaring tale for parents of a similar socio-economic background to offer a tip to people who perhaps aren’t parents. If, for an example pulled out of the sky, you are frustrated that a child is not moving fast enough for you or is ‘in the way’ of your sightseeing experience by dint of being in the place you want to be, do not under any circumstances get in between that child and the line of sight of its carer. I say under any circumstances, that’s not strictly true, you have a little time. If a child can’t see it’s significant other there is a grace period before they panic and, to borrow a turn of phrase from Dante “GO FUCKING APE SHIT”. In normal circumstances the child minus person in charge time is quite long, in a foreign country it is much reduced. So, if you find yourself frustrated at the child before you and decide to put yourself between the parent and child expect the child to make a noise. That noise will sound like a cry to you. To its mother and father it will sound quite different. Y’see kids have a range of cries. The moan that’s not a cry of anything, the cry of I didn’t get my own way, the cry of I want my own way, the cry of my sibling hurt me, the cry of I’m pretending my sibling hurt me, the cry of actually I am hurt, but it’s my fault, the cry of OW OW OW SHIT SHIT I’M IN PAIN and the cry of fear. The cry of fear will make a parent stop, cold. They’ll know something is up and that there’s about to be a reckoning and so will other parents around you. It is the cry that, I find, other parents will actively assist for. All the other cries and you’re on your own, pal.
So, Mr impatient man, next time you get between a 5 year old boy in a strange place and his parent and he goes ballistic remember also that a fearful child gives no shits. He’ll scream, people will stop dead, the child will push past you spilling the content of your camera bag everywhere and then cling to his mother like the limpets limpet. Also, I’d avoid causing this when the child’s nana (granny, grandma, whatever) is in town because she will cut you. Lesson learned.
Perhaps it is symptomatic of a place having quite so much history and places to visit that the French seem to undersell some of their attractions. Look at the Musee Du Moyen Age, seriously, look at it.
Lulz, you’ll no doubt think. I bet that cheeky snapper has been round the back to take this picture to help push along his funny narrative. Alas no, this is the main entrance. Not kidding. Inside it is a much nicer looking experience and the collection of stuff in there really good – some old things, a unicorn horn, remains of a Roman bath, pictures and the most amazing tapestries – we sat a good twenty minutes looking at them. 20 MINUTES! With kids! Great museum and the gift shop was tiny. Always a bonus.
Up the hill from here is the Pantheon. Typically French they built it as thanks to god when on of their kings got better after an illness. Come the revolution and they threw all the god nonsense out and replaced it with thinkers. The crypt here is full of clever sods like Dumas, Hugo, Voltaire, Braille, Zola and the like. Amazing dome too.
We were having a lovely relaxed dinner at the end of a long day and the kid says “I really liked Dave Chapelle today Daddy, thanks for taking me to see it” The Americans across the table from us paused, looked aghast then returned to their meals a little more bemused than before.