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Paris with DCs - but not disney!

(12 Posts)
smith1 Sat 30-Jul-11 22:24:59

We are going for a few days to Paris on a stopover to the south of France. What should we see and do? Going to go up Eiffel Tower & thinking about Louvre and Versailles - but has anyone been? Are they worth it with DCs aged 5 and 7?

Figgygirl Sun 31-Jul-11 02:51:42

If you are planning to go up the Eiffel Tower, I recommend that you buy tickets in advance on the ET website, to save a long queue there. You can buy tickets up to the 2nd floor, or to the summit, which requires taking a second lift. Many people say that they prefer the view from the 2nd floor, as you can see more clearly. There are toilets and cafes on the Tower, so not a problem with kids. It is also quite interesting walking down from the 2nd or 1st floor through the construction framework and not as hard work as walking up! The Tower lights up and twinkles for about 10 mins on the hour after dark until about midnight. A great place to watch this is from Trocadero for a super view, or from the gardens with fountains below. Many people gather here after dark. Nice place to sit and have a picnic during the day as well. There is a small carousel nearby.

The Louvre can be interesting for kids if you just see certain things, like the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo, and the Egyptian rooms, as most children enjoy looking at mummies and the painted mummy cases ( sarcophagi). There is a cafe and restaurant inside the museum.

There are some nice parks in Paris with things for kids to see and do, away from busy tourist areas. Some have kids playgrounds. There are extensive gardens beside the Louvre called Jardin De Tuilleries, which has a boating pond, and also a big wheel similar to the London Eye. At the far end of these gardens is Place De La Concorde, with the Egyptian obelisk in the centre. The Champs Elysees leads from here, all the way to the Arc De Triomphe, but it is quite a long walk for little legs.

It is worth going to the top of the Arc De Triomphe for fantastic views, including all the traffic on the roads branching from it. You can climb the steps to the top if they are able, or take a lift. Queues here are usually far less than at the Tower, and you can see the Tower from the top.

Another interesting climb is up the Towers of Notre Dame, but there is no lift here. This is very popular, so best to arrive early. There is a gift shop on the way up, but you go back down the other Tower, so buy any souvenirs on the way. You cannot bypass the queue with the Musem Pass, there is one queue for all.

Riding on the Hop On/ Hop Off open top buses can be fun and they stop at the main sights. You can also use the HOHO Batobus ( boats ) which also stop near main tourist sights, or take a one hour round trip on one of the sightseeing boats which have commentary in English. You can also do this at night.

Ile St Louis near Notre Dame is a very pretty Parisien area, and where you will find the famous Berthillon ice cream shop.

Les Invalides/ Army Museum may be interesting for boys, and this is where you will find Napoleon's Tomb.

People on the Trip Advisor Paris forum can help you more, as I am no expert on Paris.
It is a shame that you don't want to spend a day in Disneyland being so close, and with kids of the right age, but that is your choice. Queues and crowds there would depend on when you are going.
If you change your mind, we can help you plan your day on the TA Disneyland Paris/ Marne La Vallee forums.

Hope you all have a wonderful time.

Figgygirl Sun 31-Jul-11 03:02:05

You can travel by train from Paris to Versailles, or also take a coach I think, but I am not sure how long this takes. It is also worth buying advance tickets from what I have read, as very long queues.
TA Paris forum can also advise about that.

Just thought - if they have a ghoulish interest, you can walk through underground tunnels which have skulls, bones and skeletons lining the walls, placed in a decorative way, in the Catacombs. My boys would have loved that, but they never wanted to go into Paris when they were young - too busy enjoying Disneyland.....

smith1 Mon 01-Aug-11 10:59:04

Loads of advice - thank you!
We are going to do the Disney thing as a separate holiday rather than trying to cram it all in. Will def book Eiffel tower tickets before we go - thank you.
Does anyone know any more about Versailles?

AbsDuCroissant Mon 01-Aug-11 11:09:07

Versailles can be expensive (to access the Palace etc.) but the gardens are free to enter, IIRC. One of the Metro or train lines goes to Versailles from central Paris, and it takes about half an hour.

What dates are you going? The state museums are all free on the first weekend of the month (which can be a huge saving - the Louvre is around EUR 15 each for adults) and, if you have children in strollers you go straight in and don't need to stand in the HUGE queue. Might be worth a try with non-stroller children as well.

The Louvre is HUGE - you can spend a whole day there. I highly recommend the Napoleon 3rd appartments (if you like that sort of thing), otherwise there are tons of other rooms.

LIZS Mon 01-Aug-11 11:09:22

Second the Arc de Triomphe for views and river trip. Louvre was good, you can do a shortened self guided tour of the highlights and there is a nice cafe/restaurant with a balcony overlooking the pyramid. Went to Versailies as a teenager so it has probably changed but didn't strike me as a lot of fun for kids unless they like stately homes. If you have a car there are other chateaux which are a bit more fairytale. Nice gardens though.

huffythethreadslayer Mon 01-Aug-11 11:24:17

We mixed the Paris with the Disney thing, but we did 5 days in Paris, 4 in ED. It worked well, but we'd have been just as happy just with Paris, as it was fabulous.

We did the gardens around the Louvre, but didn't go inside. We did the Bateaux Mouches, which gives you the lovely tour of the river and a great overview of Paris. We did a day time and a night time one when we went and DD loved it, especially the flashing lights on the Eiffel Tower during the evening.

We did the Sacre Couer, very beautiful and a great view over the city on a clear day. The artists in the square near the metro was fascinating for her as she loves art. She was 7 when we went.

We also went to the Musee D'orsay, which was fabulous. Some nice sculptures, an art deco exhibition and the views from the towers all went down well. There's so much to do, even with little ones, despite what some people say (my mum for one...she was very dubious about how we'd keep a 7 year old happy somewhere like Paris!). Hope you have a ball.

LIZS Mon 01-Aug-11 13:13:45

Our dc, admittedly slightly older , chose to spend an extra day in Paris rather than DLP ! iirc Louvre is free entry one day a week(Sunday?) . You can walk along to Place de la Concorde where the guillotine was stationed (nice cafes among the trees and space to run around) and then Metro to see remains of the Bastille.

Figgygirl Mon 01-Aug-11 13:16:10

You can check opening days of the different museums and art galleries on their websites, or ask people on the TA Paris forum. Some are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. Some also have evening openings for a cheaper entry charge or free days once a month on Sundays I think.
The Orangerie is a smaller art gallery with huge paintings by Monet, including the waterlilies, which might be interesting for kids, and you only need about an hour in there so less chance of them getting bored. Rodin's Garden has outdoor sculptures.

Many people have asked questions about things to do for kids in Paris on the TA Paris forum, so scroll through previous topics to find them. You only have to join TA if you want to ask your own questions.

Figgygirl Mon 01-Aug-11 13:21:55

There are three sightseeing boat companies - Bateaux Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens leave from the quay by the Eiffel Tower, and are quite large boats with headphones for commentary in different languages.

Vedettes De Pont Neuf boats leave from the quay near Notre Dame, and are smaller boats with live commentary in French and English.

You can buy discounted tickets on their websites, or just turn up and wait for the next boat and pay at the time.

If you do a night time one from Pont Neuf it is worth trying to time it so you arrive at the Tower on the hour so see it twinkle.

Figgygirl Mon 01-Aug-11 13:24:26

Just noticed that Abs has told you about free weekends in the museums and other info.

LIZS Mon 01-Aug-11 13:33:51

We bought Paris Visite travelcards for public transport and it also gave discounts at some places of interest and boat rips.

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