Last week, with passports, suitcases and two kids in tow, we headed on our first European family vacation. This trip had been a long-time in the making and on my travel bucket list since I was a child.  The vacation was a combination anniversary (12 years married and going strong), boys’ birthday and Valentine’s Day trip.

Originally we had planned on just visiting Paris, France but my hubby pushed to a take a quick detour to Rome, Italy.  My husband and I had been to Italy in 2005 and fell in love with all that Italy had to offer.

While I was pregnant with my first son, we had some very serious, scary complications.  Both my husband and I were devastated and spent nearly five months holding our breath, waiting for a healthy child to be born. During the five months of waited agony, my husband prayed for our sons’ health and vowed to bring our healthy son to the Vatican one day – hence the detour to Rome.

Our first European family vacation began with a night flight, Friday, February 8th.  We landed in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle airport Saturday morning Paris time and continued on with a connecting flight to Rome, Italy.   Once we landed in Rome, we caught to the train to Termini Station and made our way to the hotel.  We stayed at this funky little hotel in Rome, with decor inspired by all things music.  Heck, our bathroom even had a disco ball. Cool, right?!

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We were exhausted after a day of travel, with two kiddos, and decided to rest up for our busy Sunday in Rome.

Sunday, February 10th was my husband and my 12th wedding anniversary and what better way to spend our anniversary than roaming the streets of Rome.?  After a lovely breakfast in our hotel, we made our way to the Vatican.

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My husband and I had seen the Vatican during our last trip but we had never experienced the Vatican on a Sunday.  We arrived just in time to hear the Pope Benedict address the crowd.  And, it just so happens Pope Benedict announced his resignation the next day (I promise, our visit had nothing to do with the resignation).  

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The weather on Sunday was absolutely gorgeous.  The kids enjoyed the grounds of the Vatican and did what every kid 6 and 4 would do – chased the pigeons.

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We took a ton of pictures at the Vatican, including this cool one.

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My boys had made it to the Vatican – committment fulfilled.  

After checking out all the Vatican had to offer we journeyed on and continued our one-day Rome tour.  Next up, Castel Sant’ Angelo, followed by Spanish Steps and ending at the Trevi Fountain (with bites to eat and small drinks in between).

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We didn’t make it to the Colosseum like we had planned – kids were exhausted – so we headed back to the hotel and prepared for our flight the next day back to Paris.

Monday, February 11th we took the train back to the Termini Station in Rome, which connected us to the airport, and caught our flight back to Paris.  We arrived in Paris late in the afternoon, checked into our hotel, and had a beautiful evening dinner.

Tuesday, February 12th was my boys’ birthday!  We had planned to visit Disneyland Paris but the weather wasn’t the greatest so we went to Plan B and explored Paris.  The weather in Paris was a little chilly so we were bundled in hats, gloves and scarves for the day.

First stop was Notre Dame de Paris (beautiful!).

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Then, Basilica of Sacre’ Coeur.

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Behind the Basilica was a cute little village.  There was tons to look at and all these great little shops.  The boys even got to have some fun with a mime.

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 We used the Metro (aka, subway line) to travel all over Paris.

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Kids loved it and I have to admit, I was pretty good at navigating the lines.  By the end of the trip, I was a pro.

The day ended with a gorgeous, panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower.  We only checked it out from a distance because we had plans to visit the tower in its entirety later in the week.  When I saw the Eiffel Tower I had felt like I was officially in Paris and I was literally blown away.  It was breathtaking.

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 It was the perfect way to end the night.  We had big plans to the next day.

Wednesday, February 13th was our Disneyland Paris day for the boys!  Disneyland Paris was a quick train ride (35 minutes)  via the RER.  The train stops literally at the gates of Disneyland.  So easy.

How lucky were we?  We just so happened to be visiting Disneyland Paris during their 20th Anniversary celebration.

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We actually visited both parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Parks.  Walt Disney Studio Parks was not as exciting as we had hoped, so after about two hours we headed to Disneyland Park.  After a fun day of hanging with the characters, buying souvenirs and riding every ride possible, the night ended with a bang – literally.

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The boys were so tired; they passed out on the train ride home.  Ah, birthday success!

Thursday, February 14th – Valentine’s Day and our last day in Paris before having to head home.  Thursday was another fun, sightseeing day, despite some rainy weather.  We headed out a little later because the boys were so tired from their Disney day.

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Paris architecture is simply amazing and so pretty.  Once we hit the pavement, the first stop for our last day of sights was Arc de Triomphe.

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We then made our way to the Eiffel Tower to explore it in its full glory.

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We rode the elevator all the way to the top, which was ridiculously romantic on Valentine’s Day.  Check out this amazing view.

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We even saw this cute, little couple get engaged (I know, total voyeur moment).

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We hung around the Eiffel Tower for the remainder of the day, basking in its glory, eating crepes and people watching.  I captured this photo as the day turned into evening.

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We ended our time in Paris with an evening boat cruise on the Seine River aboard the Bateaux Parisians.

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Friday, February 15th, time to say goodbye to Paris.

It was a great trip. One we will always remember

We began our long journey home.  The boys rocked it on the plane ride and were so good.  I was super sad to leave Paris but excited to head home to see my dogs (who proceeded to ignore us for days, I’m certain they were annoyed we went on vacation and left them behind).

Tomorrow, I will take you on a culinary tour of some of the great food we ate and beers we sipped while in Paris.

Until then, au revoir.  Merci.  xoxo

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