Shortly after a successful trip to Brussels, I got called to another conference, this time in Paris.
It was brilliant news for Maysa, the woman helping me with Maya, as she is a fashion designer by trade with her own clothing label, and it was her dream to visit Paris.
We took the Eurostar again which was just so easy compared to a flight, especially since we didn’t have an issue having taking baby bottles and other liquids to get scanned by security machines. By now I had also discovered the pre-made Aptimil bottles which are perfect for travel as they can keep for a while outside the fridge. I purchased a bunch of them for our two hour journey to Paris from King’s cross, and as a back up for any other moment when we were stuck without being able to prepare a bottle of milk.
Again we stayed in an Airbnb and I found a charming little apartment tucked away off the main road near Montmartre Hill. We entered into a charming courtyard hidden away from a busy street and took an elevator up to the fifth floor. From the apartment we had a balcony and beautiful views. Having the luggage and the baby with us, I always made sure I booked Airbnb apartments with an elevator. Once again we lucked out finding a good Airbnb accommodation, which I find can be very hit or miss
My conference was near the Louvre so in the morning I took us there in an uber. I gave Maysa money to entertain herself for the day and made her promise to take Maya to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I then skipped on a crisp but sunny morning, past the charming shops and cafe gardens to my equally beautiful building for my conference, enjoying my tiny little walk of freedom between responsibilities. I was envious of Maysa being able to take Maya around in the day as a tourist but also excited to be back in my old life, reporting and hustling for the story.
I entered the conference rooms one by one peering at the screens and interested in the subject matter of Satellites and technology advances. At lunch I debated if I should partake in the wine, so used to living without it.
Around this time of Mayas life I had already given up on breast feeding. Negotiating an electric pump while carrying your laptop, researching and writing, staying out late and with random interviews I simply couldn’t have wet boobs or continue the pumping. I took Maya onto the bottle full time as I also couldn’t cope with nipple covers and spending hours to get into the right position for boob time after a full day of work, only to then be disrupted just as Maya was latching properly.
The upside to this was that I had the choice to partake completely in the free conference wine and champagne. I decided to indulge in the amazing french wine at lunch, which smoothed my interviews while networking with senior telecom executives. It also lifted my mood and at the closing drinks that evening when I sipped French champagne. I hate to admit it but it was wonderful to be able to have a few drinks again and took the edge off my nerves about being back in the real world again, performing, achieving and proving one’s economic worth.
That night we went to a French restaurant and I ordered frogs legs and every other french delicacy we could get our hands on because I wanted this to be a special experience for Maysa.
The next day my conference was over in the late afternoon so we met and posed with Maya in front of the Eiffel tower and later drank wine and ate cheese in the red light district for dinner.
Honestly it couldn’t have been more a pleasant day.
On Saturday, (yes we remained for the weekend, it would be rude not to) my American friend living in Paris (no her name is not Emily) asked us to have lunch with her in Versailles. Of course we had to visit the Versailles Palace after we had met lunch. We wandered the ornate gardens, and then found ourselves meandering the hall of mirrors and gaping at the splendid paintings on the ceilings. It was worth putting up with the crushing crowds to see the pure opulence and grandeur of the Palace.
Being pushed along like cattle we decided to take a break in the coffee shop where they and remarkably beautiful pastries and we hit the coffee to give us energy. Fighting the crowds to fight the tide and protect Maya being crushed was exhausting! I was glad I hadn’t brought the pram and attempted to push through the surge of tourists with that. In fact, we didn’t bring the pram for any of our travel and it was a good choice because Maya preferred the sling, and it dramatically reduced our baggage by simply carrying her every where.
On Sunday we took a less touristy activity and walked to the Quai de la Loire and along the canal to the Bassin de la Villette, a swimming area in the summer time that’s a popular hang out place for the locals. This is a bit of a find as most of Paris, which is the most visited city in the world, is usually thronged with tourists like us.
We acted like locals enjoying the little bistros dotted along the river and buying a bottle of wine in the Carrefour supermarket to enjoy while sitting by the canal in the cold sunny afternoon.
I could see that my weight loss from having gestational diabetes and abstaining from alcohol in my pregnancy would probably be short lived as I packed away the wine and pastries. Sugar overload especially since I was no longer breast feeding to burn off the carbs too.
After our amazing 4 euro bottle of Sauvignon Blanc we grabbed a little boat ride down the canal and enjoyed Paris and this lesser known area, before grabbing an uber back to the Eurostar.
The UK customs official managed to ruin our good mood by trying to stop Maysa entering back into Britain with me. He couldn’t believe I had had Maya at 48 (well fair enough I guess I can understand that), he asked why I wasn’t travelling with Maya’s father (that’s another long story I didn’t want to begin to explain) and he wanted to know why Maysa was in the UK even though we explained she was there to help me.
After this experience she was very scared of being left alone as she didn’t know much English and these nasty encounters with border patrol left her feeling very insecure, putting a dent on our mood when leaving an otherwise perfect trip.
Despite the upset of having to explain why Maysa was with me to an unreasonable grumpy middle aged man, I still felt very thankful to have her with me, every minute she was with us as these kind of work trips simply weren’t possible without her.