Wednesday, December 3, 2008

croque monsieur si vou plait

That, and a few other phrases, were picked up pretty quickly by my youngest son. Bonjour, merci, si vou plait, croque Monsieur sandwiches, crepes with nutella, the Eiffel Tower, the metro, the Seine and the road where all the cars go round and round are memories that will last a lifetime, even for a four year old.

So, does this mean carbon footprint be damned? Oh, pardon madame, it does not. Yes, we flew to Paris and I know, I know that's a lot of fossil fuel. However, after six days in Paris, do you want to know how many times we road in a car? One taxi, only one - for under 10 minutes as we were caught in the pouring rain. On arrival we road the RER B train straight from Charles de Gaulle into Paris where we caught a series of Metro lines direct to our hotel. From there we traversed the entire city by metro, by foot and even by Batobus on the river Seine. This is a four year-old boy's dream. Buses, trains, planes and boats... Who knew public transportation could be so fun?!?

We taught our son about leisurely lunches in cafes, the treasures of the Louvre, how the Eiffel Tower was constructed and even how good a hot crepe wrapped in wax paper tastes on a cold, wet and windy afternoon standing in front of Notre Dame.

Will I continue to trade a little carbon footprint damage on an airplane for the chance to teach my children that it's really a small world - and not because Disney tells us so? You bet. Will I schelp my luggage, stroller, a stuffed dalmatian, a backpack and a briefcase up and down countless escalators, staircases and one or two really smelly elevators in the Metro because public transportation is part of the experience and is good for the environment? Right again. That's something else I can teach my children while we're abroad, because I can't do it in Detroit.
Teaching my children how to be gracious in French, how to respect another culture and keep some of our green practices in check is all about balance. There's got to be a little give and take in this world and I'm happy to be able to do some of both. Merci!

13 comments:

Heather @ SGF said...

I'm so glad your trip was wonderful. I haven't been to Paris in years, but I loved it. European cities are so wonderful to maneuver on foot, bus, or subway. Who needs a car?

Green Bean said...

It has to be a balance, really. You should submit this to the APLS carnival. The topic is children are our most important natural resource. I'm thinking about my post but it's a similar theme - that you have to balance eco-concerns with teaching your child what you think they need to know to thrive on this planet.

ib mommy said...

I LOVE Paris! I let my oldest drag me all over the city. She was amazed that we could go anywhere we wanted just by finding a metro station. After she visited Europe she came home with a new appreciation for how environmentally unfriendly Americans are. She spent most of her time taking photos of recycling bins!

Glad you had a fun trip! I could totally go for a nutella and banana crepe about right now:-)

Stephanie said...

I can tell you haven't read George Monbiot, who advocates the 90% reduction that Riot for Austerity is based on (and wrote the phrase "riot for austerity" in his book). He says that there is no trade-offs with plane travel.

'Course, I agree with you. Maybe because I love plane travel so much. Going to other countries is amazing, especially since I don't use cars when I'm there (unless buses count...)

Condo Blues said...

I appreciate travel more because I get to experience how and why other people live the way they do. It reminds me that there isn't just one way to live an environmentally friendly life.

suzannah said...

what great memories to create together...and exposing your child to the world is absolutely a good thing!

jennconspiracy said...

Rock on, momma!

organicneedle said...

I totally agree. Even though the flying isn't exactly a big ol' eco hug to the world, I feel like the more my boys see of the world the more they will care about what happens to it and ALL of its inhabitants. Plus...sharing those looks of pure wonder at the beauty of the world with my babies is like going to church for me.

ruchi aka arduous said...

I'm so jealous. I really want to go to Paris!! (I know, I know, I'm only a TRAIN ride away, why haven't I gone?! Inexcusable really!! ;)

Almostima said...

Wonderful post. I was lamenting about how my husband and I haven't traveled as much as I would have liked, and now I have a baby on the way in, oh, a week. This gives me hope that we can have a wonderful family experience in Paris in just a few short years.

ruralaspirations said...

I so totally agree. Giving children an experience in other countries can only do them good, I think. Paris is incredible! Opening their minds to the fact that people everywhere are the same, while at the same time celebrating our differences...I know plane travel is a no-no for carbon emissions, but I honestly think the world is a better place for being shrunk in that manner.

curiousalexa said...

[envy!] A few years ago my parents asked me to go to Paris with them, ostensibly as "translator". But then Dad decided to retire instead!

I've been looking at trans-Atlantic cruises as a flying alternative. There are ships that leave from Boston and New York for us northerly folks. I haven't done enough research yet to compare emissions though.

Laura said...

I've just found your blog and find it very interesting. :) I've bookmarked it already.

I live in Paris, and I remember last time I went to the US, I had to explain that having a car in Paris is just a pain in the butt, that it's easier, quicker and less stressful to take public transportation - which people understood perfectly (although people who had never been to Paris found it quite surprising). The one thing that shocked them though, is that although I do have my driver's license, I've never owned a car and hadn't driven one in 5 years...

Then I had to explain that what was shocking to me, is that in some parts of the US (I'm thinking suburb of Pittsburg) you cannot cross streets on foot. To go from one store to the other, even if it's only on the other side of the road, you NEED to use the car. How weird is that?