Last month (I know, I'm getting further and further behind with posts, sorry!) a few last minute hiccups and unexpected events resulted in me spending a lovely few days in the beautiful city of Paris with my brother and all our kids.
(Not like 'our' kids, obv - my kids and his kids - four of the youngsters all in all aged between 2 and 10!)
It was my first flight in years from Leeds Bradford airport, and it's definitely looking much swankier these days! The grubby canteen-style eatery in my memory has been replaced with a number of new sports for pre-flight refreshments and we were pleased to find seat for us all at the Saltaire Bar. WE weren't sure if we'd have time for full meals but ordered a bunch of sharey bits between us (nachos, onion rings and the like) and were impressed with the speed, quality and cost of the food considering we were in an airport (where you sort of expect to be ripped off a wee bit!)
We'd all flown before apart from my little niece Mischa, who was terribly excited about her first time on an airplane! So obviously she got the window seat and sat next to her big cousin for safety! (Honestly, these two were pretty inseparable the whole trip!)
Having our hands full, we splashed out on a taxi from the airport to our accommodation, Le Regent Hostel in Montmartre. Now, call me a snob if you like, but I've never actually stayed in a hostel before and was a little wary but the place was actually perfect for us! The staff were incredibly helpful before we arrived, accommodating last minute changes to the original booking, and brilliant while we were these too.
We were all in the same 6-bed room, and the kids loved sharing even though it wasn't very condusive to an early nights sleep! Access to the kitchen was really handy for putting together picnics for our days out, The boys in particular got a lot of use out of the games room, while my brother and I were pleased to be able to take advantage of the hostel's beery 'happy hour' once or twice!
As a hostel newbie, I was a little surprised by the variety of people who had chosen to stay at Le Regent - families, solo travellers of all ages, groups of friends and couples were among the guests, and I'd definitely now consider this type of accommodation for family trips in the future. The absolute best thing about the hostel for us though was it's close proximity to this lovely little park.
This was our first stop every morning and our last one every evening - a perfect place for the kids to run round burning off any excess energy and make up for any of the times they'd been expected to be relatively still and quiet at attractions and restaurants throughout the trip. Plus the free water fountains, found in abundance in Paris's parks actually, were a godsend in the hot August weather!
Despite clearly being in a very touristy area, it seemed most of the people we met in the park were locals - taking their kids to play, indulging in a leisurely game of boules or generally just relaxing in the sunshine.
Once we were all settled in, a wander around the neighbourhood and a search for food were the next priorities! Food options within a few minutes walk ranged from shady takeaways to elegant bistros and we headed to L'Ecrin based on a cheap menu, a friendly guy at the door and a short walk back to the hostel when we were done!
I know a lot of people look down on the cheap 'tourist' set menu places, but less than ten euros for a main meal and a drink in Paris sounded pretty good to me - the food was good too. Not amazing, but definitely good. It's only a small place but they were happy to shift tables around to make room for us all to sit together, and even offered us a free drink for the littlest one (who didn't have her own meal as she was more than happy to share everyone elses!)
They offered a limited dessert menu but by then the youngsters had been sat still long enough so we made a better, more Parisian plan: crepes in the park!
We'd walked past the crepe place on out earlier walk and I hadn't gotten that delicious aroma out of my head all throughout dinner - delicately thin and smothered in Nutella, they were absolutely amazing!
Stuffed to the gills, it was time to retreat back to the hostel to argue over who got the top bunks and get as much sleep as possible in the stifling heat - ready to start the real exploring the following morning!