It’s Bastille Day and it’s only fitting that we have a post on Paris! The minute my daughter, Vanessa, arrived into this world six years ago on Bastille day, I started scheming when we could start our mother-daughter annual trips to Paris together – going to cafes, museums and shopping. We have yet to do that together (and with a 2nd younger daughter, I will have to put that on hold until they are both at a non-whining age), but when we do I will have good advice in hand.
A friend who recently returned from a week-long trip in June to Paris with her 6-year old daughter has shared some great tips.
“The Urban Crayon Book: Paris is a helpful book to buy beforehand as well as the travelforkids.com web site. There are tons of books about/set in Paris for kids. I made sure to read as many of them as I could. That made it so much more fun for my daughter as she could identify the monuments when we saw them in person.”
“The best thing that I did was type out our itinerary for each day. One page per day, based on the area that I wanted to go to each day. I included the Metro stop, page number in the guidebook, address, phone number, hours open, etc. so that I didn’t have to waste our mornings getting organized.”
The incredible parks and gardens of Paris:
“Jardin des Plantes for the menagerie/zoo.”
“Luxembourg Gardens (Metro: Odeon or Notre-Dame) for sailboats, fun swings, carousel, and playground.” Inviato Note: Marionette theaters are in many of the city’s parks, with shows on Wednesday afternoons (and sometimes Sundays too, check for schedules). Be prepared for they are all in French!
“Jardin de Tuileries (Metro: Tuileries or Concorde) for trampolines, carousel and playground (All are in the NW
section of the park). Our travel guide indicated you also get pony rides and rent toy sailboats in the park but we didn’t see this.”
Inviato Note: The Bois de Boulogne park is also worth checking out: it has an amusement park, train rides (Le Petit Train which runs every 10 minutes from Porte Maillot), boat rides (La Riviere Enchantee), a farm (La Petite Ferme), fun house of mirrors (Miroirs Deformants) and more – its as large as Central Park – you can easily spend the whole day here.
Check out :
“Notre Dame for climbing up and looking at the gargoyles”.
“Also, seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. We had just eaten a late dinner … At 10 p.m., we went outside; seeing the monument twinkle was magical for both of us!”
Overdosing on museums. “More than an hour at any museum was too much for my daughter, Sabrina – she preferred the parks and playgrounds of Paris. At this age, I really just wanted her to get a feel for the city and the beautiful architecture. The museums will always be there and we will just need to plan another trip back when she is a little bit older and can appreciate them.”
Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre: “The funicular cable car that you take to the top was not so fun…just a mode of transportation.… Not something that you must see; only if you have nothing else to do and need to kill some time.”
Wish we did but didn’t have chance:
“The hot air balloon ride(s)…just one ride at Park Andre Citroen!”
Inviato Note: These tethered 10-minute balloon rides, located in southwest Paris (Metro: Javel-Citroen), allow you to float 500 feet up for a 20-mile view of Paris. Make sure to go early on weekends to avoid a long wait. Call ahead for hours and to make sure they are open due to weather conditions. Tickets are 10-12 Euros.
Good to Know:
“If going to the Eiffel Tower, get there early or at the end of the day, to avoid brutal lines during the day”.
“If going to the Louvre, you can avoid long lines at the main entrance (the IM Pei glass pyramid) by entering thru the Galerie du Carrousel (west side of the museum) – lucky for us, we had only a 5 minute wait at the main entrance. You can also order advance tickets online to the Louvre to avoid lines altogether, which I think you need to do it at least a week in advance. Once downstairs, we used the ticket machine on the wall to avoid another long line to speak with a live person.”
“If you don’t want to take the hour-long bateaux mouches ride, try the batobus, which is basically a water taxi. It has about 7 tourist stops along the Seine (you pay by the day) and you can hop on and off as you wish.”
“Get your child their own digital camera (one of the throw aways are fine too) and let them take their own pictures…My daughter enjoyed taking pictures of the dogs and pigeons all over Paris.” Also, “the Iphone was a life saver to keep my daughter occupied when we were on long lines at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.”
The Last Word:
The Bateaux-Mouches (spectacular at night when the monuments are lit up) and the giant Ferris Wheel (La Grande Roue) across from Hotel Crillon at the end of the Champs-Elyees are always big hits with the kids. And the latter is not far from the Hermes store for those of you who need a fix or just want to gaze at the windows. For the ultimate hot chocolate or authentic tea experience, don’t miss Mariage Freres, Laduree (the macaroons!), or Angelina (the latter is a tourist trap, but I love it…with or without children).