Disneyland Paris castle

I didn’t know that Disneyland has been open for more than 20 years. I didn’t know the Eurotunnel had been open 20 years, it’s a cliche but it seems like yesterday …

Once the idea of taking the girls had taken root in our minds and husband was busy searching for campsites near Disneyland Paris on the ‘puter we were allowed to start getting excited. We decided not to tell the girls until the very last moment possible as we couldn’t bear 8 months of, ‘Are we going to Disneyland yet?’

Disneyland Paris

We booked our tickets online and paid around £200 for them for entrance to 1 park for 1 day, we thought if we needed more days we could buy extra in France. In fact the Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont sold the tickets and at a glance they seemed slightly cheaper than what we had paid online.

We also used the campsite’s coach service for our day out and that cost an extra €60 for the four of us. If you choose to drive yourself a day parking costs around €15.

Disneyland Paris

We arrived early, able to enter the park but not to start using the rides, the first hour is for hotel guests only. We had to wait before entering Fantasyland and at 10am sharp the tannoys announced the opening of the day in a host of languages and then everyone was allowed through.

We made a beeline for the Royal Invitation as I knew the girls would love to meet a ‘real’ princess. Whilst I queued up with all of the family tickets to hand dad took the girls off on a couple of the rides, teacups and Flying Dumbo. By the time I reached the front of the queue I was handed my ticket for 14.25.

Disneyland paris

We decided to book into Peter Pan with our Fast Passes and were given 11.55 time slots so off we went to start queuing. It was August and it was packed, we just had to queue up and get on with it.

As we walked from one ride to the next we came across various Disney characters, luckily I had already heard about this and was well prepared with our autograph books and pens. the girls were tickled pink to bump into Alice and the Mad Hatter.

Disneyland Paris

We later queued up to meet Peter Pan and Wendy but got two slots away when we were told they had to go  but Captain Cook and Mr Smee would be here to take their place. The tears we had!

We remained in our queue and waited patiently.

Unlucky the French dad who pushed his boys in front of my girls to meet Captain Cook when it was our turn, as I pulled (gently) his boys back saying ‘No no no, we have been waiting there is a queue’. Which he could see but chose to ignore. The French dad and mum were n’amused pas to have been caught out and told me to, ‘Be happy!’ making smile movements with their hands across their miserable faces.

I’ll be a lot happier if people like you don’t push in! Grrrrr, it was like a red rag to a bull.

Be prepared for pusher inners and don’t be trodden on or over. We had to tackle various pushy parents throughout the day all queue jumpers (I do love Great Britain and our orderly queues).

Disneyland Paris a Royal Invitation

As time for our Royal Invitation approached we made our way over, you will not be allowed to go through the barriers until your time is reached, not even 5 minutes earlier and once you do get through you will join a queue, in our case a 75 minute queue.

Now, although dad stamped his feet at the thought of a 75 minute wait when he could be enjoying the rides in the park, the girls totally loved meeting Sleeping Beauty, talking to her and getting her autograph. It was worth it.

Sleeping Beauty

We visited the castle, we visited the shop and bought some souvenirs with the girls birthday money and as 5.30 approached dad took stand on the roundabout in front of the castle to get a good view for the daily parade.

This is an appointment it’s worth getting ready for and although we were facing the castle and had a good view, a better view would almost have certainly been to our right in front of the road where the parade comes from.

Disneyland Paris Frozen float

Once the parade was over the girls were getting tired so we head off to Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast in Discoveryland. This is a cool ride where you each have a laser which you shoot at markers as you travel around accumulating points. Dad was doing very well with his points, thousands ahead of me and so happy with himself but then unfortunately the ride kept breaking down and too my delight I discovered if I kept the gun shooting at the same marker over and over and over well, I unbelievably clocked up 132,000 points much to dad’s annoyance – I told him my tactics afterwards. He called me a cheat. :)

We finished our day with a short train ride to Main Street and a delicious hot dog in Casey’s Corner.

A fantastic day which we hope to repeat sometime when the girls are a bit older and out of high season too.

Disneyland Paris Parade

Paris rooftops

This year we chose to holiday close to Paris as it was time to introduce the twins to Disneyland Paris, we searched for campsites near to Disneyland Paris and Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont came up which is quite a mouthful but turned out to be the perfect solution.

We discovered they laid on coaches both to Disneyland Paris and also for day trips to Paris.

We decided that I would go on my own as we didn’t think it fair to drag two 6 year olds around a busy city for a long day, so dad stayed back at the campsite and I had a whole day On My Own to rediscover Paris in One Day #1dayinParis

The last time I was in Paris I was 19 and single, I met up with my boyfriend at the time and although we explored a bit we were more interested in the nightlife. This time was to be different.

I did a bit of research before going and there are various lists, top tens and advice out there. I wanted to make the most of my day and decided to go on a hop on hop off bus tour I opted for the one that included the cruise on the Seine too for an extra few euros (1 day adult pass = €38.00)

The Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont coach dropped us off 800 m from the Arc di Triomphe so my Paris in One Day started there.

Arc di Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

The monument stands in the middle of an ENORMOUS roundabout. In fact one beauty of Paris I noted is the roads, they are so wide and give such a feeling of space. There are steps leading down to underground passes to cross the roads and take you directly to the historic monument. My visit was on a Saturday, I had arrived in Paris early in the morning at around 9.30 and the queue was already growing alarmingly fast for those who wished to visit inside and reach the top of the building. As mine was such a rushed visit I opted out of visits this time round and just focused on the beauty outside.

arc de triomphe

The Arc di Triomphe is majestic and the eternal flame is a constant reminder of those lives lost in the battles throughout history.

Tour Eiffel

eiffel tower

I jumped on my Big Bus Tour and followed the route around deciding my second stop would be at the Eiffel Tower. It never ceases to amaze me how big the area is that the Eiffel Tower stands on. It’s bustling with people taking selfies with the new selfie sticks (the latest must-have gadget), queueing for tickets to go up – very big queues, (if you can book before please do as it will save you huge amounts of time).

There were also lots of street sellers with huge rings holding all different sized Eiffel Tower souvenirs, cheap ‘silk’ scarves and other popular items.

Again I chose not to go up this time however I would like to return one day and eat in the second floor restaurant.

The Tour Eiffel is also the departure point for the Seine River Cruise, so I exchanged my Big Bus add on ticket for a cruise one and joined another queue, it was now about 11.00 am.

Eiffel Tower

Seeing Paris from the river is enchanting and the bateau cruises along the river banks whilst you can listen to lots of information on speakers (inside the boat) or sit on top and take in the beauty of Paris.

Seine river cruise

 

It was here I saw my first glimpses of the bridges covered in ‘love locks’ which is all very pretty and sweet but the weight of the world’s love on the bridges is causing huge panels of these fabulous bridges to come away.

Paris is asking the lovers visiting Paris to stop ruining the historic bridges and to think of another way to claim their undying love. If you read the link above you’ll discover lovers are now targeting the Eiffel Tower where 40 locks have been removed recently, I can understand the frustration of the Parisiennes seeing their beautiful city being destroyed by this act of ‘love’. – STOP IT!

love locks in Paris

 

Galeries Lafayette

galeries lafayette

My third stop of the day was to visit the Galeries Lafayette, the ‘Harrods’ of Paris. I had spotted in a book a picture of the fabulous dome that sits in the centre of the building. I had to see it.

Walking amongst the stands in the store, including all of the top French names, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton where people where queueing (again) to get their hands on one of Nicolas Ghesquière’s bags, you arrive in the central part of the building which is an enormous open space.

I felt as if I was in a theatre with rows and rows of balconies looking down on me but the pièce della resistance was looking up at the dome.

Top tip: visit roof terrace on the 7th floor to get the view of the first photo above – breathtaking.

galeries lafayette

Musée du Louvre

Musee du Louvre

Back on my bus I followed the route listening to the very French music as I went, interspersed with nuggets of information of where we were along the way. My next stop was the Louvre museum, home of the famous Italian oil painting the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. I have seen this before on a previous visit so I wasn’t interested in going inside (But if I had been BOOK TICKETS ONLINE as the queues were silly long)

What most people remark on after seeing the Mona Lisa is how small the painting is.

For the first time I looked at the glass pyramid. It is quite odd in the middle of the old surrounding buildings but fits all the same. Urban legend has it that there are 666 pains of glass that go into making up the pyramid, something Dan Browne picked up in in his famous The Da Vince Code books.

 

As I waited for my Big Bus to come along I got to see the locks on the bridges close up and take a look at some painters displaying their pictures along the embankment.

musee du louvre

Notre Dame

notre dame paris

I arrived to a very busy square and an enormous queue to enter the Notre Dame. It is a free entrance and the queue moved fairly quickly but there were people jumping in, an Italian lady wants to thank her lucky stars she chose to jump in behind me and not in front as I can’t bear people who think they are better than the queue and would have given her a piece of my mind.

My walk around the cathedral of Notre Dame was beautifully accompanied by a choir practise making my visit all the more profound. It is a stunning building with beautiful stained glass windows, plenty of statues and history lining the walls and racks and racks of candles to light. I popped my €2 in the box and lit one for all my family.

To go up to the top of the cathedral you must exit the building and go to the side where you will find another queue. I believe there is a small cost but cannot be sure. However should I return to Paris a visit to the Gargoyles is on my list.

I also want to get my hands on a copy of the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Disney. Megan I watched it over and over when she was little and it was one of our favourites.

notre dame paris

Laduree

laduree champs elysees

Founded in 1862, Ladurée make the best macarons in the world. Fact. I wanted to buy some to take home to enjoy with the family back at camp so I joined another queue and waited patiently my turn to enter this beautiful tea shop.

In fact it’s more than a tea shop, you can eat a meal on the terrace outside, you can have tea and pastries inside and there was also a bar.

The choice of macarons is phenomenal and there must have been 10 waiters and waitresses behind the bar serving. I was asked my order at the top of the queue and found my box made at the till. Each macaron costs €1.90.

laduree paris

King George V street cafe – Champs Elysées

I had little more than an hour to kill before my coach home left Paris and I decided to ‘treat’ myself to a glass of wine. I noted a seat free on the street cafe towards the top of the Champs Elysées and sat my weary self down. A waiter appeared from nowhere and I asked for a glass of white wine s’il vous plait. A Burgundy, monsieur advised with a knowing look and I thought it was an excellent suggestion so nodded whole heartedly in approval.

george V champs elysees

I enjoyed every sip and was very tempted to have another but with time ticking on and still a good 15 minute walk I decided against it THANK GOD! My bill came in at €13 for one glass of wine something I bet the owner of this gold car wouldn’t have a problem with, shame he didn’t stop and pick up the tab!

gold car in Paris

It was worth it, it was the perfect ending to a fantastic day and if you’re going to have a cappuccino on Saint Mark’s Square in Venice you’re going to pay for it, likewise for un vert du vin on the Champs Elysées. I did my best to not look like the exhausted tourist I clearly was and I refrained from downing my glass in one go to quench my thirst.

A perfect day and thanks to husband for looking after the girls for me that day. My only regret is I didn’t squeeze in Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur which holds a special fascination for me. I’ll have to go back.

Here are a few shots of my special day.

One day in Paris

As I made my way back to the coach I found a group of men in uniform about to parade down the Champs Elysées, a timely reminder of the importance of the Arc di Triomphe which stood at their shoulders. You can see them in the collage above top right.

 

I wonder if you, like me, automatically associate Normandy with World War II?

June 6th 1944

Was the day that Nazi-occupied France was invaded by British, American, Commonwealth and Canadian troops. The result of this enormous operation was the liberation of France.

Until our visit I was unaware of just how big a piece of land there is to cover and just how many monuments, museums and cemeteries there are to visit; so many it’s worth having a holiday just for this remembrance sightseeing tour.

However we managed to slot one beach into our Normandy holiday and we chose to visit Arromanches, the landing of the British troops.

I didn’t know quite what to expect and on our walk from the car park to the beach carrying buckets and spades, I worried that maybe we would be offending someone, after all so many people lost their lives at this very spot.

Fortunately as we turned the corner we were greeted with a beach full of families enjoying the glorious sunshine and lots of children digging holes and constructing palaces. What I hadn’t counted for was this sight waiting for me.

Arromanches normandy

The artificial Mulberry Harbour, a very stark reminder, testament to the ingenuity of Winston Churchill who realised that if the troops wanted to land they would have to bring their own harbour with them.

arromanches normandy

I left the girls and Paul to their busy building and strolled off across the beach to take some photos and see close up the massive hulks of iron strewn across the beach.

arromanches mulberry harbour

I noticed groups of divers jumping into boats, speeding out to see to inspect, who knows?

arromanches normandy

Operation Overlord

was the code name given to the Battle of Normandy. It began in 1943 and was led by General Eisenhower and Montgomery, D-Day was planned for the 5th June (1944) but was delayed for 24 hours due to bad weather, in fact the bad conditions and an attack further up the coast caught the Germans by surprise as at dawn break the Allied fleets landed accompanied by airborne forces from the east and west.

arromanches mulberry harbour

arromanches mulberry harbour

D-Day statistics

4000 ships in the fleet
5,800 bomber planes
4,900 fighter planes
153,000 troops
20,000 vehicles
11,000 casualties
2,500 dead
2,052,299 men came ashore following D-Day
3,098,259 tons of stores
640,000 Germans killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the Battle of Normandy

The town centre is a lively bustling place full of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops too, well worth a visit.

arromanches normandy town

 

Note on the horizon out to see the Mulberry Harbour can be seen

 

arromanches high street

 

American war postcards

american war postcards

 

and back on the beach another operation was also successfully coming to plan. Mission accomplished!

arromanches beach

How can you not go to Normandy be in the Pays d’Auge and not visit a chateau?

chateau st germain de livet

Impossible and with two princesses in training it wasn’t going to be hard to convince the little ones to leave the swimming pool either.

chateau st germain de livet

Normandy is brimming with castles and although others may have been richer in their offer we chose one that wasn’t too far away conscious of the travelling time involved and the need to get back to the pool.

chateau st germain de livet

Chateau St Germain de Livet is set off the main road and surrounded by a brick wall but as I entered the gate I was stunned by the beauty of this historic building. Luckily it wasn’t just me, the girls were equally captivated.

chateau st germain de livet

We found the peacocks a bit camera shy as they would move away from me whenever they saw my lens coming out which made the girls giggle.

chateau st germain de livet

We took a walk through the main gate to the courtyard whilst waiting for the chateau to open for it’s afternoon viewing at 2pm and from there we saw the path on the other side of the moat – it had to be explored of course.

chateau st germain de livet

Beauty and the Beast is a favourite story and Disney film in our house and we’ve talked about how the castle was in France,

chateau st germain de livet

 

this was also part of my convincing techniques when asking about visiting a chateau.

chateau st germain de livet

As we walked around the castle we looked at the bedrooms, dining room and grand piano, we talked about Chip and Mrs Teapot, we talked about how life would have been and where Belle would have slept.

chateau st germain de livet

The girls loved it, the chateau was a great hit with them and offered plenty of drawing incentive later on. Mummy is quite the dab hand at castles and princesses now ;)

chateau st germain de livet

We also had a ‘muck around’ in the courtyard afterwards playing peek a boo behind the pillars and counting the bird’s nests built high in the rafts.

chateau st germain de livet

I’m linking up with Coombe Mill #CountryKids which is all about getting the kids away from the screen and outdoors.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

french bed sign

I love looking for souvenirs when I am on holiday and our trip to Honfleur was no exception. I loved these metal plaques stacked in twistable frames, there were a few that caught my eye and some, like this one, that made me smile.

This one epitomises, Ohh la la to me.

I didn’t buy it as I wouldn’t know where to hang it but it does go to show the difference between our countries and what is acceptable in both.

What do you think?