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Paris with 11 and 13 year old girls. Any tips?

(24 Posts)
mosp Wed 01-Jan-14 20:35:31

I am trying to work out if I can afford a 5 (or so) day trip to Paris with my dds (I am a SP) in May half term.

I'm going round in circles trying to come up with ideas of what we would see/do when we are there, and what district is best to stay in.

Any advice would be marvelous!

Here are some relevant pointers:

- We don't mind walking, in fact a lovely walk along the Seine would be good. Are there any set walks that would suit?

- They love shopping and cafes

- Which attractions would you recommend for their age?

Sixtiesqueen Wed 01-Jan-14 21:46:38

I love Paris, I loved it much more before I had children but your kids are old enough to enjoy it.

We went in August and found it quite expensive. The Eiffel Tower needs to be booked in advance and was about £25 each to go to the top if I remember correctly.

There's plenty to see for free. If you go up to the top of the tower you can get an idea of the geography and then go and see the places. We went to the Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe and the Jardins Tuilleries. We also took a tuk tuk ride up the Champs Élysées for €20. Your kids would love that!

We stayed out in Versailles at a place called the hotel cheval rouge. It was close enough to the station to be able to walk and catch the train into the city. We had a family room for about £120 per night excluding breakfast (August rates) but there were some good boulangeries close by where you could buy a cheap breakfast. There was also a market right outside the hotel so we would stock up on picnic goods and take them into the city.

A walk along the river is a great idea. Or there's the bateau bus that runs up and down pointing out the sights.

smaths Wed 01-Jan-14 22:16:35

The eiffel tower is €14 for adults, 13 for teens and 10 for under 11s to go to the top. To go to the second level is €8.50 for an adult (less for child) or €5 to go up by the stairs rather than the lift. Going up by the stairs is an experience and it really allows you to appreciate the tower. It's not that hard - I'm an unfit fatty and have done it 3 times! I'd definitely recommend going down by the stairs if not up. Timing it to take in a sunset is lovely.

frankincensemydear Wed 01-Jan-14 22:26:29

If you and your girls want to go up the Eiffel Tower,look in advance to book online on the day they are released as there are only so many advance tickets - which go really quickly at peak times.My dd loved it.

We liked walking through the tuileries gardens to l'orangerie to see monet's waterlilies. Just enough art. Have a (expensive) drink in the bar/restaurant overlooking the Louvre (ideally when it is lit at dusk) - my dd enjoyed this for people watching and atmosphere.

We also liked sitting with a book in the Luxembourg gardens, then walking back via St Sulpice square with Pierre Herme patisserie on the corner.
There is a Laduree just down from here also. This area leads into St Germain which is great for (window)shopping. Also has a good discount chemist - see Lisa Eldridge blog for this.

The batobus hop on/off is great on the Seine.

We found it good to get up early and walk to a sight for 8/9am,whilst they aren't busy then a cafe break.

We stayed near St Sulpice which was expensive but really worth being central and near the Luxembourg gardens and St Germain and also very pretty. Could walk to several places we wanted to visit from here. Only metro we did was to the Eiffel tower, with batobus back. Didn't bother with Sacre Coeur.

We only had a long weekend,but the key was planning each day, allowing time to stop and sit at a cafe or one of the gardens or on the batobus and not cramming in too much into one day. Really comfy shoes are essential.
Trip advisor is pretty good to search on for tips.

Earlybird Wed 01-Jan-14 22:33:32

Oooh, this is just the thread I need.

DD has been pestering me to take her to Paris......will read any advice posted here with interest.

MillyMollyMama Wed 01-Jan-14 23:09:32

Musee D'Orsay for the Impressionists paintings but book in advance. Queues can be massive. Opera Garnier - short tour to look at the building. Seine cruise. Notre Dame. We stayed at the Hotel Crayon near Palais Royale. It is quirky and not too expensive. DD set smoke alarm off in our room with her deodorant spray! Very sensitive alarms. Lots of restaurants nearby and good transport links but walking ok too. Ice cream at Berthillon and have a look at the roof of Galleries Lafayette, it is stunning. You can always take a day trip out to Versailles. There is, I believe, a haute couture museum, but it was closed the last time we were there. That would be of interest to us next time. Have a great trip.

mosp Sat 04-Jan-14 12:41:45

Thank you! All noted with interest.

DrNick Sat 04-Jan-14 12:48:39

dont do a cruise - do the batobus, this is an easy way to get around the major sites

i have taken both of my sons at about the age of 9/10

dont try and do too much - aim to see ONE or two pics per museum ( the Louvre is HORRENDOUS)
lots of stops for refreshments

DrNick Sat 04-Jan-14 12:49:03

ooh go UP the arc de triomphe rather than eiffel tower

DrNick Sat 04-Jan-14 12:49:46

Reread - use the batobus as your day's itinerary definiately

exexpat Sat 04-Jan-14 13:04:05

I'd look at short-term apartment rentals rather than hotels - usually cheaper, more space for three of you, and you can self-cater for a couple of meals to save money if you want.

I'd say some kind of Seine cruise is a must - bateaux mouches or whatever. Last time I took the DCs, what they enjoyed most was just things like watching the street performers around the Pompidou centre. You can also get good views over Paris from places other than the Eiffel Tower if you want to avoid the crowds - and that way you get the view with the Eiffel Tower in it. We went up the Montparnasse Tower, and the views from the top of the Pompidou Centre aren't bad either.

I also love the Paris flea markets; I haven't been for a few years, but I know my 11yo DD would now enjoy browsing all the vintage jewellery (and some new stuff too) at places like Clignancourt; unfortunately 15yo DS would hate it, so it will have to wait.

HumbugsforChristmas Tue 07-Jan-14 12:19:27

Definitely the Batobus.

We took our 7 year old last summer we only did two days, on route to Disney.

Day 1.

Start at Trocodero Metro and walk out from there for a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower (prebook if you can, or just go up to the 2nd level, as the queue is shorter).

We then walked to the left of the tower towards the Seine and took the Batobus - the ticket allows you to hop on and off. We went down the river, getting off once at the Musee d'Orsay as she wanted to see some Van Gogh paintings!! We didn't stay long and had a free ticket too. We walked to a café and had a snack lunch.

Back on Batobus to Notre Dame and climbed up the top (the bells!!!), walked from here to the Pompidou Centre - very visual, interesting and street entertainers around. Had more food!

Walked (this was a mistake, it was long and hot), to the Louvre, but didn't go in).

Back on Batobus and got out a few stops along, walked up a shopping street (very posh shops, no idea what called) and then took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, it was now dusk and the lights were brilliant.

We then got back to our hotel, feeling we had seen loads.

The next Day, we did a different plan and went North to the Anvers Metro and got the funicular up to Montmatre, If you walk to the left and the back of here, you come to a wonderful area full of artists working. We had lunch in a pavement café, before wandering down to Pigalle and around the Mouins Rouges area.

In the evening we went to a local restaurant to our hotel and dd polished off a huge bowl of Moules et Frites.

We took it easier second day as we had an early train to Disney. That is sooooo easy to do too, the train takes you right into the parks and is worth a day. However, take sandwiches, as it is very expensive to eat here.

I wish we had more days, then we would have done the sights we did see and others in more detail.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 07-Jan-14 13:00:01

We went a couple of years ago when DD was 12, had a great time. We stayed in the Novotel which is along the Seine from the Eiffel tower - part of the walk you can do along the Allee des Cygnes (a long thin island). Easy to get to a couple of different metro stations.

The hotel room rate was quite reasonable - breakfasts would have been a silly price so we just bought croissants and fruit etc or went to a café.

ancientandmodern Tue 07-Jan-14 13:11:26

Went in the summer with DD2 who is older (18) but she loved going to the bridge over the Seine which is covered with padlocks put there by people as a symbol of their love. It's Pont des Arts, and another bridge:

Pont des Arts is close to Ile Saint Louis which has shop with the best ice cream in Paris, Maison Berthillon. Huge range of flavours (eg pinenut) and great taste.

nickymanchester Tue 07-Jan-14 14:13:27

Also worthwhile booking a private guide for a tour. Among other things you can skip some of the queues and, if you do it early in the holiday, they can give you really good ideas for other things to do the rest of the time:-

donnie Tue 07-Jan-14 17:10:52

Hi Mosp. We (my dh and 2 dds aged 8 and 12 ) stayed on the 5th floor of this place in an apartment and it was brilliant - lovely location, walking distance to Notre Dame etc and yet in a little quiet area. We booked it via the Eurostar and got it cheaper grin. We did 4 or 5 nights, can't remember now.

The apartments are fine - cheaper and more convenient than trying to find hotel rooms

deepfreeze Tue 07-Jan-14 18:43:05

You could check out airbnb for alternative accommodation - not without its risks but it also has its rewards particularly in Paris if you find a good apartment to rent.
My kids go to Paris every year to visit family and the Eiffel tower never fails but queuing can be a nightmare. If the weather is good the Jardin D'acclimation is great with a really wide variety of stuff to do. You could check out the Paris Message website which caters to ex-pat families in the city.

Earlybird Wed 08-Jan-14 04:41:46

I keep hoping Bonsoir will see this thread and add her suggestions.....

PestoStormissimos Sat 11-Jan-14 21:47:57

Parc Asterix

MrsMillions Mon 13-Jan-14 19:31:08

With DDs who love shopping very easy to spend a whole day on Boulevard Haussmann at the department stores - both Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. Only cost is what they want to buy!

Musee d'Orsay is my favourite big museum but the waterlillies at the Orangerie definitely the most impressive art for me.

Quite a lot of bakeries have a little cafe area which is a great place for a good value breakfast of pain au chocolat and coffee.

If you like walking, no point getting a metro pass (unless there's one that also offers good discounts on sights you want to visit) - buy carnets of 10 single ride tickets, you can share the 10 amongst you.

Earlybird Wed 15-Jan-14 16:25:21

Are there an fun/suitable evening activities or entertainment (besides eating)?

awaynboilyurheid Wed 15-Jan-14 18:50:37

Agree with poster who said ST Germain area good we have stayed right next to Sorbonne university on a few occasions and my girls loved it . Close to Luxembourg gardens when you want a stroll but you can still get a metro and direct train from CDG airport so all transport links good ,. Also it felt a studenty area and safe for us on our own even late at night. Try the boat trip down the Seine at night time it when its dark all the major buildings are lit up and people(other tourists) wave to you from the bridge as you go under them all and on the way back you can see the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle on the hour, its magical

Susiereid Sat 22-Feb-14 09:46:29

Hi there! Just got back with my 13 yr old DD!
Here are the highlights!
Boat trip at night! She was free, 12.5e for me! Best thing to do at night!
The lights are incredible. Leaves either on the hour or 1/2 hr from pont D'alma. The Eiffel Tower flashes beautifully for about 10 mins every hour so leave on the hour to see that!
Art? Unless she is really passionate, just do the Orangerie! Opens earlier than most and the Waterlilies are stunning. Plus downstairs, there is a small but perfect collection of Picassos, Matisses, Cezannes, Renoir, Derain etc! Just enough! The Louvre courtyard is super and you can walk there thru the Tuileries from the Orangerie. Hv a drink at Cafe Marly on the Louvre courtyard. Expensive but chic. Then walk over the Pont des Arts ( full of padlocks) and wander to st germain des pres! Lunch? Les Deux magots! Yes costly, yes touristy, but pretty, good quality food and fun for people watching. Also a place of history! Then take DD to Brandy Melville on Rue de Rennes, a short walk from there!
Go up the Arc de Triomphe, great views! ( if you do this, don't bother with Eiffel Tower). Champs élysées is tired and tatty but there is a huge H and M and Zara if you feel the need.
A word of warning!
Paris is expensive so go to cafés and bistros off the main streets!
Paris is not as safe as London these days, result of immigration and high unemployment issues. Be vvvv careful of the scammers, girls asking you to sign petitions, guys dropping gold rings on front of you, pretending they hv found them. Etc etc. just keep yr possessions under clothes, don't get yr phone out or put in pocket etc! Sorry to sound preachy but you will notice it a lot!!!
Buy a carnet for the metro. 10 tickets for approx 13 euros.
Be v careful re the museum pass. My dd was free for most things, and if you only do 1/2 things may not be worth it, and some sights are not covered!
Research it first and only but in Paris not on line!
Oh, and hv a gd time!

Susiereid Sat 22-Feb-14 09:51:16

Sorry, only buy it in Paris!
Ps montalembert is good hotel on Left Bank.
Castille gd hotel on right bank but depends on budget.
Eurostar do good train/hotel combos but research the hotels first

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