We weren't inside the Charles de Gaulle Airport more than 20 minutes before I got suckered into an unlicensed cab ride from a man who said he had an air-conditioned minivan.

It was the last day of a rare heat wave in Paris, and the temperature outside was 97. But soon after our family of five piled into la petit minivan, it became clear we were in for a long, hot ride.

When I placed my hand in front of the vents blowing warm air, the driver acted as if he didn't understand English. But when I opened the window and said, "Oh, there is the air-conditioning," he burst into laughter.

The traffic inched along as motorcycles darted among the cars. Forty-five minutes and 75 euros later, we arrived at the hotel, which also housed the Press Club de France. The kids were wilted. My wife, Tara, bit her tongue about my boneheaded transportation decision.

But it was the only speed bump in an otherwise unforgettable trip to France. We were in Paris because my son Thomas, 13, played on a baseball team in Chestnut Hill that got invited to play a tournament in Savigny-sur-Orge, a suburb about 12 miles south of Paris.

The French teams were well coached and came ready to play. But the baseball became secondary to the cultural exchange with the French players and their families, along with tours of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre.

After a weekend of baseball, the team spent two days touring Paris. Day one started with a boat ride along the Seine, past the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Orsay Museum, the Tuileries Gardens, and under the Pont Neuf, the city's oldest bridge.

Before the 10 p.m. sunset, my daughter, Katie, 14, announced she planned to move to Paris. Our son, Jack, 9, did not once ask for chicken nuggets, and even tried a crepe.

The architecture in Paris is breathtaking with one building more stunning than the next. The opulence peaks at the Palace of Versailles, the mostly 17th-century château built largely during Louis XIV's reign.

Off the beaten tourism track awaited a treat. Our guides, Jim Ounsworth and Elizabeth Rimington, arranged for a private tour of France's National Archives in the Marais district. (Ounsworth hails from Philadelphia, but coaches the Savigny baseball team.)

The archives house stacks of historical documents dating to A.D. 625, including Louis XIV's last will and testament and a farewell letter composed by Marie Antoinette before her execution.

Just around the corner is the heart of the Jewish quarter, where many excellent restaurants, bookshops, boulangeries, and charcuteries line the narrow rue des Rosiers.

Of course, no Paris trip is complete without regular stops for baguettes, cheese, and wine.

We spent part of our trip at an Airbnb apartment near the Pompidou Center. Claude, the owner, greeted us with kisses on both cheeks and stocked the kitchen with cheese, fruit, meats, pâté, and three bottles of wine.

He said that, if anyone asked, tell them we were old friends of Claude. And if we had a problem, see Jimmy in the café downstairs. When we went out later that night, a man from the café approached.

"You must be Claude's friend," he said. "I'm Jimmy. If you need anything, see me."

Yo, Jimmy, merci beaucoup.

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