Live free or die. That’s what it says, front and center, at the Paris Pantheon. Elena would agree. Our little lady has embarked on the terrible before the twos, and boy can that kid run.

writers tombs at the paris pantheon

All around the crypt of this incredible building, in fact. She teased her big brother and giggled inappropriately, careening past the tombs of Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, the Curies, and many more dead french men whose great achievements won them a place here. Marie Curie is, so far, the only woman. Luuk had a good look; her resting place does not glow.

The above-ground parts of the building were pretty cool too. The roof and dome are under construction, but we could still see all the artwork, much of it depicting the life of St Geneviéve

the pantheon, paris Luuk and Louis, out front.

inside the pantheon, paris

‘Vivre Libre ou Mourir’ is written beneath the central figure of that statue, center left.

pantheon facade, paris

The facade out front.

view of eiffel tower, from pantheon

The view from the steps, toward the Luxembourg gardens and a familiar tower beyond.

We found some lunch and then walked to the nearby gardens, enjoying this premature spring day.

Jardin de Luxembourg

We weren’t the only ones. The place was abuzz!

There weren’t many sailboats on the pond, but lots of ducks, and the kids had a ball throwing stones into the water.

sunny sunday at luxembourg gardens

“He ate my rock!” – Louis, talking about a duck.

We went into the big pay-to-enter playground for the first time. The kids are old enough to get our money’s worth now and the weather was perfect.

ready to climb the eiffel tower, at luxembourg gardens

Elena was keen to have a go on this Eiffel-tower-like climbing thing.

riding ambiguous creaturesShe was big enough to ride this though – dinosaur or Kea? Hard to say.

So we had a great day in Paris. Didn’t try to squeeze too much in, though it is tempting. We are on a deadline, realistically. Come the end of June, Luuk’s contract ends and we’re unlikely to be able to stay on in France. There are a couple of vaguely possible options in Europe, but they’re far from certain, and the most likely path is back to New Zealand.

The temptation, with only four more months in this location, is to jam-pack our weekends with sight-seeing. We’ve done lots but there’s plenty more. We could easily wear ourselves out, for the sake of ‘making the most’ and doing all the ‘essential’ things people say you have to do when you’re in Paris. Or further afield.

But four months is a long time to keep that up. We aren’t visitors. We have a life here. We have some tough choices to make.

Taking advantage of being in Europe, I am off to London on Friday morning for the London Author Fair. There, I will learn lots and meet people and – here’s the nervous-making bit – pitch to a real live literary agent! So I’ve been snatching time, whenever the kids nap in-sync, to polish up my written synopsis and cover letter and go over those first three chapters for the millionth time. And I’ve been talking to myself, more than usual, practicing talking about my book. It’s school holidays, so there hasn’t been much time this past week, but Elena’s back to halte garderie this week, so hopefully it’ll be a bit easier to get stuff done.

I’m excited – about the book, about the opportunity, and also about the weekend in London. I haven’t had a night off, away from the kids, since Louis was born – which sounds crazy. Perhaps it’s not true. But I really can’t think of a single night away. In three years and three months. On the Saturday my friend and I will probably visit Jane Austen’s home town. I’m going to snort inspiration till I overdose, methinks.

elena, ready to box

Bring it!