Paris! With 3 kids! Sightseeing tips please ...(21 Posts)
Going to Paris at the start of July - will have 2 full days and 2 part days there and the only definites are the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, but tbh I don't want to plan much more stuff in as youngest only 4. Can anyone recommend some lovely central parks/gardens for them to run about in?
Also, does anyone know the best way to pay for the above attractions - should I pay and book online now, buy some kind of multi-ticket (maybe including Metro travel, for example) or what? And I take it we should get to the Louvre in particular at the crack of dawn to minimise crowds/waiting in line (though I totally accept both are pretty unavoidable).
And anything else you'd recommend for fairly little DC in Paris (oldest 9)? Oooh, and reasonably-priced-but-authentic and totally enfant-friendly cafes/bistros/restaurants too??
In other words, please tell me all you know!
Boat trip on the Seine? You get to see a lot of the city without small legs getting too tired. Notre Dame is welcoming to children as I remember with running-around-space outside. And if you go to the Musee D'Orsay (which I love, more than the Louvre), don't queue for an hour before realising that people with small children can go to the front. Because that would be daft ....
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Oo yes, boat trip, great idea! I will keep that in mind about Orsay as well, thanks - I do vaguely remember visiting that museum
on an alcohol-fuelled Interrail stopover back in the mists of time and really liking it.
So those with small kids can't skip the queue at the Louvre as well, then?
Jardins de Luxembourg is a nice park and quite central, if you go a bit further afield (on the metro) you can go to Bois Des Vincennes, a huge park/estate with a chateau, fields, stream, trees etc.
On Ile St. Louis, near Notre dame, there's a lovely ice cream shop called Berthillon - it's amazing. Mmm.
V good places to eat are creperies, not too expensive, loads of types of savoury and sweet crepes, usually not too stuffy as well (lots of restaurants are uber snooty and expect good manners etc!). Also of you go to the Marais region there's a couple of good falafel places, eat on or take away (massive pittas stuffed with falafel, salads, humours etc or plate of falafel and chips etc), so tasty.
Near the louvre there's the jardins Tuileries (not sure if that's how it's spelt!) another park. There are lots of playparks dotted about, in the Marais there's place des Vosges and a few playparks around there too.
Metro tickets - if you buy a 'carnet' of ten tickets it's a bit cheaper. Not sure about tickets to attractions, sorry!
Use the batobus which will allow jump on jump off rides on the Seine and goes to most of the major attractions, covers relaxing, transport and the boat ride in one go.
There is a treasure hunt in the Louvre which could work out to be quite expensive at €25 per person excluding the entrance fee but could be a fun way of seeing this enormous museum.
Book a timed entry for the Eifel tower, saves a long queue. Saturdays are busy, Sunday slightly less so (in my experience).
The Cite des Science is amazing!!
Definitely agree best to book online for a specific time at the Eiffel Tower before you go. Will save you a lot of queuing. If you go right up to the summit there is a bit of queuing anyway even within the Tower because the lift takes you up to the second floor and you then need to get out and queue for the lift to the summit. But at least with a ticket for a specific time you can get into the Tower without a long queue to buy tickets. Advance tickets are limited so I would suggest checking the website now to see whether tickets are already on sale for the days when you are there.
I think it's the case for the Batobus that a pass for 2 days costs only very slightly more than for one day, so worth getting that. I wouldn't bother buying Batobus tickets in advance. We were able to buy without a queue at one of the stops and got a family ticket which was better value than anything I'd seen advertised on the website.
You know, I'd skip going up the Eiffel Tower in favour of going up the Tour Montparnasse - cheaper, less crowded and you get the best view (i.e. includes Eiffel Tower, you don't see the monstrosity that is the Tour montparnasse!)
Parks are generally not for playing in, sadly - lots of gravel and manicured lawn handkerchiefs. But you can hire little toy sailing boats and sticks to poke them with at Jardin De Luxembourg and Tuileries, and there's a nice fenced-in play area (you have to pay, right enough) at Jardin de Luxembourg as well.
Art Gallery-wise, Musee D'Orsay is my favourite. My advice for taking kids, which goes for every art gallery, is to have a plan of attack. Know exactly what you want to see (e.g. Musee D'Orsay, fifth floor, impressionists) and just focus on that. I usually do something kid-specific before, promise an ice-cream after, and have one parent enjoying the art, the other one facilitating the children's enjoyment of the art (pick a few good pictures and talk about them)!
Marais is lovely, often quieter than the main drag, and a good museum in the Musee Carnivalee gives the history of the city. Also nice eating places, especially for brunch. And when the kids get fed up of Haute Cuisine and baguettes, hit up Breakfast in America for their enormous and delicious pancakes.
Don't miss Notre Dame, it's lovely first thing, and then hop across to the Ile de la Cite for a cone of Berthillon, aka the BEST EVER ICE CREAM!
I'd avoid Pompidou Centre, it's ugly, concrete and where the jakeys hang out.
Montmatre is fun, with a good buzz around all the artists and cafes up at the top, and amazing views. It's a heck of a steep climb, but there is a little train that takes you up which is worth your time. Be aware that the area at the bottom is Pigalle, which is seedy, and there's quite a bit of hustling goes on in the streets going up to Montmartre.
Erm, sorry, I appear to got rather carried away here [embarrassed]
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OH DEAR GOD why did that massive chunk of text come up 3 times and i failed on the smiley????
I give up.
I'd give the Louvre a wide berth also because many people just go there to see the Mona Lisa and nothing else. Musee D'Orsay is much nicer all round. Notre Dame is well worth a visit.
Be wary too of the following groups of people who seem to operate around the main tourist areas:-
the ladies who come up to people with "petitions" to sign
anybody who tries to give you a "gold ring" back
those who try to hang a bracelet on you (this gives fellow gang an indication that you are worth robbing!).
Use only the ATM inside the bank, not outside.
If nobody had mentioned it, the aquarium is brilliant if it rains.
Also there is a great playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
So, bolshie, would you skip going up the Eiffel Tower then? In favour of the Tour Montparnasse, you say? . Unfortunately ce n'est-pas un option - the whole damn reason we're going to France in the first place is for DD to go up! It was her idea, and we have literally built a holiday around it. But we'll def buy a time slot online in advance. Same goes for the Louvre, I'm afraid - I totally understand why you're advising against, Attilla, but if DS1 comes home without a real-life glimpse of the Mona Lisa, he'll probably hole himself up in his room and cry for the next ten months!
Thanks for all the other advice too. Attilla, great safety advice - ta.
(Rain? Rain?! It can't rain in July - nooo!)
We will also be getting the TGV to Bordeaux after a few days - does anyone have any good tips about when it's best to book? Do it now, or wait - do the prices change?
Ta again, this is all v v helpful!
Funicular up to Sacre Cour - fabulous views on a clear day, and takes minutes.
If kids are energetic, save queuing and €€€ by walking up to the first level of Eiffel Tower.
Visit ET last , so that you can point out all the other places you visited.
Eat crepes from street stalls - cheapish, tasty, filling, fun.
Climb Arc de Triomphe. Intriguing, and a good exhibition inside. Also a quick visit (unless queues are bad).
L'Orangerie is a small museum, you don't need to see everything, but my dc were blown away by the massive Monets.
Rodin's house (the name escapes me ATM) has a fabulous sculpture garden for the dc to run around in. Perfect combo of outdoor space and art.
Great, thanks, that's two votes for crepes so far! Funicular and Rodin house sound brilliant, loving these ideas. As well as my tgv question, also want to ask re toilet stops for kids ...of which there will be many ... If we eat from street stalls we'll need to make stops somewhere else. Department stores? Railway stations??
Whatever galleries you go to find out some pictures they have there- get some postcards now and put them on the fridge.
The reason they want to see the mona lisa is because it is familiar- they will get a thrill out of seeing the real version of other paintings too if they have seen postcards of them before.
Dont walk to much- my kids remember Paris mainly for all the walking- I was miles too ambitious.
Highlights for us were-
Sunday bird market at notre dame,
pompidou escalators (free)
Musee d'orsee impressionists and the terrace outside.
Food was very expensive- we bought baguettes in the morning and made a picnic for lunch each day.
Samaritaine used to be a good place for a loo break - not that the loos were anything special, but the shop itself was beautiful, with a huge galleried central area, and a lovely rooftop view with an old map of Paris enamelled or tiled into the parapet. But last time I went they were having a major refurb, and I have no idea what it's like now.
Opera Garnier and the roof inside Galleries Lafayette. River trip definitely and Musee D'Orsay and Eifel Tower is a must. It is iconic. Queues could be huge though. Great restaurants on the left bank easily accessible from Notre Dame. Definitely agree with Berthillon ice cream! Don't over estimate what you can see in one day.
Re the Pompidou escalators, when we went there was a charge for adults to go up. I think it was free for children, but we didn't feel comfortable leaving DD to go up without an adult.
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