This past weekend, my husband and I decided to put aside some of the ongoing organizational and health-related items on our to-do list and enjoy the great autumn weather in Paris instead. We started it with a Saturday morning soccer tournament for our oldest son. Our four year old isn't all that interested in sitting through four hours of soccer, so I kept him home with me while my husband accompanied our eldest to his first tournament ever! They came out with one win, one loss, and two ties, and my son scored a goal!
My husband and I have been trying to make use of babysitters more regularly now that we have a few we can call on, so we made a last minute request for a babysitter Saturday afternoon for a few hours. She took over with the kids for a while, and my husband and I set out for the Institut du Monde Arabe, the museum of Arabic history and culture. I personally think it's one of Paris's most underrated sights.
The building sits along the Seine, and boasts gardens, a library, special exhibit halls, a museum, and a rooftop terrace and restaurant. We paid for the basic museum ticket, and then got into the elevator to the 7th floor. The museum travels in a circular fashion down the rest of the floors, and traces the history of Arabic culture and religion, covering Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It also showcases mathematical discoveries, art, jewelry, and objects from daily living. I found it fascinating to learn about how different cultural influences shaped societies across the Arab world, including influences from Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Once through with the museum, we headed up to the terrace, where there is a restaurant, cafe, self-serve cafeteria, and a free terrace the overlooks the city. We made it just as the sun was starting to lower in the sky, casting a golden glow over Notre Dame and the rooftops of Paris. I can only imagine how incredible it would be to see the city lit up at night from that vantage point! We made our way home in time to put the kids to bed, and then ordered in dinner to finish off the evening.
Sunday was all about family, with an early morning trip out to the 11th arrondissement to the 100% gluten free bakery Chambelland. There was a bit of a line-up when we arrived, but it was worth it. Chambelland offers pastries, sandwiches, and breads, as well as drinks, soups, and salads. There is a small store as well where bottled drinks, flours, mixes, and cookbooks are available for purchase. We ordered cookies and a brownie for the kids, cheesecake for my husband, and a lemon meringue tart for me, and then brought home bread, muffins, and a savory focaccia for later.
After stuffing the kids with pastries, we went for a walk to explore the neighbourhood. The original plan was to walk to Pere Lachaise cemetery, but about halfway there we saw a sign for a park and made a detour. We stumbled upon a wonderful park for families with a large playground area, a sandbox, and petanque courts, called Square Maurice Gardette. As we made ourselves comfortable, my husband recognized someone we had recently met, and we ended up spending the next hour or two hanging out with her and her little boy at the park while the kids had the time of their lives exploring the playground.
After tiring them out, we rode back home on the metro and had grilled cheese sandwiches for a late afternoon snack, and then relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. It's not every weekend that we can push aside our commitments and household responsibilities, but it's important to do it every now and then! Autumn is the perfect season for exploring Paris. The weather is still reasonably warm and the crowds are smaller, making it easier to get around the city.