Here is the danger in telling your kids that carrying them in Europe is illegal: they might want to attack you. We had been on longer walks, but those walks were disguised by twists and turns (to be completely honest, many of the twist and turns were because we were lost.) This walk was supposed to be a nice stroll up the Champs-Elysees. Now you don’t have to stroll up the Champs-Elysees if you go to Paris, but be ready to explain your actions when you get home. For most Americans there are several places you must go when visiting Paris: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame and Champs-Elysees/Arc de Triomphe. If you don’t see one of these places be prepared to explain why. You may not get accused of being a communist (although traveling to Paris these days has a way of coloring you pink anyway) but people will wonder why you didn’t go where they wanted you to. I must admit I do the same thing when people I know travel: If you went to India, I will ask if you saw the Taj Mahal. If you go to China, I will ask if you saw the Great Wall. If you go to Australia, I will ask about Ayers Rock. Now I don’t really know where many of these famous sites are really located, but I will want you to see them so we have something to talk about.
A random friend will ask, “Did you go to that road where they finish the Tour of France?”
“Why, yes, we walked all the way from the fountains at Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.”
“You kids are so lucky that your parents took you to Paris and you saw all those famous sites.”
So the family stroll up the Champs-Elysees was a walk intended to check off a couple more locations, it was not intended on becoming the Bataan death march. I figured we would walk a bit, sit a bit, go into a shop or two, look around and then continue on until we reached the Arc. Unfortunately we managed to arrive in Paris during one of the longest stretches of hot weather in recorded history. People from the Northwest do not do well in heat, when it gets above 80 degrees we all begin complaining. So by 9 am it was already too hot for our poor bodies and we darted from shady location to shady location like vampires. We did take breaks but as we got further up the street it became more and more crowded but before too long the stroll had become a miserable slog. We trudged up the sidewalk slowly. Most of the tourists around us did not seem to be affected by the heat, they were probably from places like Spain and Italy where it gets above 80 degrees occasionally.
By the time we reached the Arc everyone in my family was exhausted. I wanted to walk to the top of the Arc; it is times like this when my family decides that traveling with me is not fun. I managed to talk my son into taking the stairs up to the top of the Arc, but our stay on top of the Arc was brief because there was no shade and my pale skin was beginning to turn an uncomfortable shade of pink. So, we went back down to the base of the monument I and sat there amazed at my ability to turn a fun outing into something akin to punishment.