A week with kids in Paris

Paris With Children

One of the greatest things about travel, is the people that you meet, Here is a story from a fellow traveler and good friend Yulia of MissTourist.com . If you have the good fortune of traveling to one of the destinations that she has lived in and writes about then you are definitely in for a treat, as she offers valuable insight to be able to see these wonderful places and enjoy it like a local. This article about Paris is just a small sample of the insight that you will find on her site.

Of the thousands of websites dedicated to Paris, any one of them could give you enough to fill in a year of your time in Paris. However, if you only have a week, here is a brief suggestion for the best use of your time.

When my best friends, a married couple with 2 kids, came to visit me in Paris. I showed them around and was glad to rediscover the city again! Here is what we have visited:

First, the Roue de Paris, the giant Ferris wheel in the Place de la Concorde. A brilliant open air ferris wheel with sublime views over Paris. Fabulous to do as a couple, but also with children. Its in the middle of the Jardin des Tuileries, which also includes an magical old musical carousel. One of the nicest outdoor playgrounds is also a short distance away for those of you traveling with small ones.

2 chlidren LouvreWe felt we were committing a cultural sin, but with two children in tow, we only ducked into the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. I’m sure we weren’t the only tourists to enter the amazing glass pyramids just to see a handful of the masterpieces on display! So don’t feel bad if you do the same thing. You need at least 4 hours to do the museum justice. Speaking of time – if you don’t want to stay in a long queue try “Portes des Lions” entrance, nobody knows about it and usually there is no queue there!

The Arc de Triomphe is sensational. It is beautiful from the outside, but what is important is that you can climb to the top. It’s worth it, and doesn’t take that long. Watching the bustling traffic around you is mesmerizing, as are the straight spokes of roads radiating from the Arc de Triomphe. There are amazing sculptures on display inside, and the ubiquitous gift shop.

The colors inside the Notre Dame Cathedral are incredible, with the stained glass windows spilling rainbows onto all the visitors. But here was something that I did not have a chance to visit before – there are crypts underneath the Notre Dame which are simply fascinating. Here you can see the underfloor heating installed by the Romans, and excavated parts of the various periods of the Notre Dame’s development over the past few centuries.

Miss Tourist EiffelIf you’ve seen the BazLuhrmann epic movie ‘Moulin Rouge’, then a trip to the famous cabaret is an absolute must (but don’t take the children 😉 ). Yes it is expensive, but it’s a spectacular show you’ll always remember. Buy your tickets online well before you travel to France. The queues were horrendous, so get there early to be seated at the front. There are 2 shows per day – one at 9 p.m, another one at 11 p.m. I definitely recommend to go at 11, as the queues are slightly shorter that time.

A trip to Montmartre should be on every visitors list. A wander through the art markets, coffee in a tiny cafe, and a visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur) is the most perfect Sunday activity in Paris. Sitting outside on the white stone steps, looking over Paris from the Basilica’s raised hill location, combined with the haunting music from the choir, made it truly mesmerizing.

My friend is a dancer, which made a trip to see the sculpture of the Little Dancer by Edgar Degas at the Musee d’Orsay, a must do. We went late on Thursday, when admission was cheaper. We found the Musee d’Orsay to be a more exciting museum for children than the Louvre, and the Little Dancer was everything we’d imagined. Haunting and beautiful at the same time. There are so many other incredible pieces of work here, you need more time than just an afternoon. I also recommend taking an audio guide there.

Miss Tourist versailleIf you have a day free, take the train to Versailles. Its easy and cheap. Don’t pay to actually go inside the palace. Yes it’s magnificent, and jaw droppingly opulent, but it’s just another grand home, and the queues to go inside are excruciatingly long. To walk through the gardens is free, and behind the palace is a divine man made lake. We hired a small row boat for half an hour and rowed around the lake in the sunshine, followed by ice creams from the small kiosk beside the lake. The children loved it, and describe it as a highlight of the trip. The fountains are only on on weekends. So many fountains, and none of them were on when we were there, take that into consideration!

Miss Tourist RestaurantOn their last night we stumbled across the loveliest restaurant, Lescure, on the Rue de Mondovi. Tucked away in a street near the Louvre, its delightfully French. With both inside and outside seating, it felt like we’d slipped back in time. I absolutely recommend eating here one night.

At the other end of the restaurant price spectrum, we ate at a restaurant up the Eiffel Tower. We did this to negate waiting in line to climb the tower for two hours, and because it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the lovely family. I booked online for them months before they traveled, which made it easy to pick the date and time we wanted. We dressed up and made a real occasion of the evening. The restaurant was superb, the food excellent, and the staff incredible. We had a window seat too. There is nothing more romantic than dining at the top of the Eiffel Tower!

I am so grateful to my friends for their visit as they made me appreciate again this beautiful city, with hidden treats around every corner. The buildings ooze history. The food matches perfectly with the atmosphere. The people are elegant and friendly. There is still so much more to explore and I will definitely do it!



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