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Paris with kids - 9 and 12

(34 Posts)
GlowWine Sat 25-Feb-17 09:03:15


I'm looking for hints and tips for Paris. I've got a guide book(rough guide) and map (Paris pratique), but finding that tips for 'paris with children' usually assumes much younger ages so they mostly list playparks and child-friendly eateries. Paris for teens goes more about shopping and pop culture which is not at all what my DC are into (yet?)
I'm coming with a nearly-teen that is uncomfortable in crowds, and a super impatient tween(?). We'll be staying near the catacombs and speak good French, comfortable with public transport and walking (though much more than 5km in a day is going to be hard for the younger one). We've got 4 full days, leaving and arriving midday/early afternoon (Sun-Fri), so I'm hoping we can do something on the first afternoon. We adults have been to Paris before (though a long time ago) so there are no must-do things for us.
So far my two big decisions are to pre-buy Louvre tickets and take the stairs at the Eiffel tower because of the crowd situation and we're not willing to commit to a timed slot for pre-booking. Those two are the must do items of this trip.

My list of possible attractions:

Tour Eiffel + environs & Musee du Quai Branly
Boat trip (better a one-off or a hop-on hop-off?)
Louvre (half day max I think)
Beaubourg/Pompidou + environs
Cite des Sciences / La Vilette / Cite de la Musique
Arc de Triomphe & Elysee (walking from Louvre I think)
Notre Dame (not necessarily climb the tower) ?+Sainte Chapelle
Musee D'Orsay
Musee d'histoire NAturelle

Thinking about Tour Montparnasse for the arrival afternoon/evening.
A Friend suggested Versailles as another must-do but I'm not convinced. I'd rather have a fun time than obsessively tick things of a list, so the itinerary is quite flexible and apart from Eiffel and Louvre everything is quite expendable.

Now I carefully need to balance that with Mon\Tue opening, and I'd be really keen to hear other ideas and experience, for example regarding the queues at the Beaubourg and Musee d’Orsay. I don't think a museum card makes financial sense for us at all, we'd only manage one or possibly two museums in a day, the kids just lose interest after a while, though the queue hopping sounds attractive! I also quite like the idea of a 'patisserie stop’ every afternoon to refuel.

Sorry this was a massive long post, I'd be grateful for any pointers.

thewalrus Thu 02-Mar-17 11:25:40


My kids are a bit younger than yours, but a couple of thoughts which might be helpful:

Would definitely recommend the batobus (hop on, hop off). Fun and relatively inexpensive and pretty useful for getting around.

Musee d'Orsay - can't comment on queues as we were whizzed through last time as I was visibly pregnant - but it's such an amazing place, even if you don't have a limitless capacity for enjoying art. The café does the best hot chocolate I've ever had anywhere.

Make sure you include a Bertillon ice cream stop (branches all over the Ile de la cite) - definitely my greedy philistine kids favourite thing to do in Paris!

If the crowds get a bit much there are sections in central Paris where you can walk down by the river, which is quieter.

GlowWine Thu 02-Mar-17 11:56:54

Thank you @thewalrus much appreciated. And that's interesting about the baobus, I'll look at it more closely.
On reflection our list is too long and some will have to be options depending on interest. The big museums I will try and pre-identify some highlights that might be of specific interest and then just go to appreciate the architecture, after all the Louvre is a massive historical palace.
I have totted up entrance prices for our 'must do' museums and even if we only manage those, a museum card seems a viable option so that might help with queue reduction even if we will be stuck in security checks. Musee D'Orsay is the one place I've not been to yet, so that's definitely a must-do.
The walk along the river sounds good, weather permitting.
Yes to Bertillion, though I have also been recommended Amorino (which has a branch right next to our accommodation). This trip is definitely not going to be very good for my waistline.

mummytime Thu 02-Mar-17 12:07:09

Musee d'Orsay - check if they still do the Eurostar deal? That give 2 for 1 entry, and your children should be free (as under 24) - we did it last summer with 5 of us (20,17 and 13) for the price of one person.
Do be very careful about prepaying that you are not buying entry that the DC can get free. At the Louvre - if you haven't pre-purchased tickets, go to the underground shopping centre, there is a Tabac/gift shop which sells tickets (official) and you can then go in as "pre-purchased tickets" and queue jump a bit.
We walked a lot.
Make time to just stop and drink in a cafe or eat Ice-creams in the park etc.

GlowWine Thu 02-Mar-17 12:27:20

@mummytime yes the kids go free for virtually all Museums, so we'd only buy two museum passes, but I'll look if Eurostar have any deals thanks, I didn't notice when I booked but that was ages ago obviously.
Yes we're good walking, and the refuelling stops are totally necessary, not just for the kids either.

mummytime Thu 02-Mar-17 12:42:42

It's not well publicised but still mentioned on the Eurostar website here:, it is also on the back of the car tickets.

Sittinginthesun Thu 02-Mar-17 12:46:48

Just thinking what we did last time - similar age children, eldest doesn't like crowds...

Muses d'Orsay was fabulous. We all loved it. Prebooked tickets, and went first thing in the morning, so wasn't too busy.

Didn't like Montmartre with children. Too busy, eldest didn't like it particularly. Too many pushy street sellers.

We like to wander round the cafés in the Marais. Had a fantastic evening out, with both children.

Jardin du Luxembourg was lovely. If you haven't been, this is great fun with your age children. Just try and eat slightly out of normal times (we had a very early dinner, and walked straight in!)

We generally don't do the sights, as DH works there a lot, and he can't stand queues. We end up doing strange stuff, but dcs are used to this!

PhilODox Thu 02-Mar-17 12:50:15

Forget Versailles unless your two are huge history fans, they can do that in five years time.
You will struggle to fit all that in I think. Do you have any downtime planned? Your youngest will probably need lots of rest stops by third day.

PhilODox Thu 02-Mar-17 12:52:07

The D'orsay is fantastic btw, but it will likely take more than half a day, with food, rests, queueing etc.

Joffmognum Thu 02-Mar-17 12:56:11

If you go to the louvre, be wary that the queue to the women's toilets gets super long super fast! Go as soon as it opens for shorter queues both upon entry and if LOs need the toilet.

Sittinginthesun Thu 02-Mar-17 12:56:53

Agree, Versailles is a separate trip in itself.

D'Orsay - we had a plan before we went, and knew what we were going to see. It's like any gallery/museum, it's too much to take it all in at once, even as an adult.

Hot chocolate was good. smile

Joffmognum Thu 02-Mar-17 12:57:41

Also, the steps to the Eiffel tower can be very tiring. A 9 year old should be able to handle it, but you're best off not planning anything after for that day.

Joffmognum Thu 02-Mar-17 12:59:29

You really don't need to prebuy louvre tickets as long as you get there before 10:30. Under 25s are free (although the teen may need ID) so it'll be so much more money if you prebook and it probably won't be necessary. By 1pm though, the queue can be an hour long. Get there early!

GrouchingTiggerHiddenSomething Thu 02-Mar-17 13:04:25

We went 2 years ago and my kids were a bit younger than yours (6 and 9) but we had a great time. You can completely avoid the queues at the Louvre by prebooking tickets - so glad we did this. The cite de science was fab, we went to the cite des enfants and virtually had the place to ourselves (I guess the French schools were not off) and the hands on exhibits were fantastic. Also there is a submarine you can tour with an audio guide and I thought the main museum was really good, couldn't see it all but mainly the optical illusions and light games sections, we spent pretty much a whole day there (am bit of a science geek though!) We found we were too late to book the Eiffel Tower so ended up taking the stairs but that worked out great - queue was much shorter! We did the batobus as well, so much to see we need to go back!

GrouchingTiggerHiddenSomething Thu 02-Mar-17 13:07:08

Oh and I got my kids the "not for parents Paris" book by Lonely Planet from the library and they enjoyed reading it before we went smile

Twoevils Thu 02-Mar-17 13:09:13

Rodin Museum and gardens are lovely for a bit of quiet downtime.

We liked exploring the streets of Monmartre, and the view from the Sacre Coeur is worth the steps.

The Pompidou Centre was a surprising hit, and lots of street art/theatre to keep them entertained.

GlowWine Thu 02-Mar-17 14:03:32

Thank you for all the replies. Some brilliant ideas and useful tips, thank you!

Yes, Versailles has long been dropped from the plan. The History fan is DH so he's a bit disappointed but there will no doubt be a next time, when the Eiffel tower is no longer the number one attraction for our family.

@Sittinginthesun yes I am having the same doubts about Montmartre. I'm not keen on pushy street sellers and paranoid about pickpockets, so I think my older DC might get too stressed if it's busy.
And thank you for recommending Bouillon-Chartier, that looks just perfect. Just to confirm, early lunch means 12 and early dinner means 5? 6? I might just have to look up the menu in advance so I can translate all items:"pommes grenailles"? Would the waiters be friendly enough to answer questions?

@GrouchingTiggerHiddenSomething funny you should mention that book, I found it in the library this week and it's been a hit with the kids. At least the 9-year-old is getting more interested now.

Sittinginthesun Thu 02-Mar-17 14:13:29

OP, think we went at around 5pm. Waiters were not terribly friendly, but I would say gruff, and efficient. If you can get to grips with the menu in advance, and order a selection, the children should be fine. It's a kind of write on the table cloth, food appears by magic quickly afterwards. Great for people watching.

TheFullMrExit Thu 02-Mar-17 16:03:56'Acclimatation

really lovey as cheap or expensive as you want, charming old fashioned lovely places to eat sort at the top of champes elysee road. Get tube there.

DD fav spot however was a tiny play ground behind notre damn, by bridge over to iles de re ( sp) children from all over world had a play whilst parrents have a quick break

TheFullMrExit Thu 02-Mar-17 16:13:26

BTW we did D'orsay on pre booked tickets and took about two hours, we picked out what we wanted to see, first, and we queued for negligible amount of time if any actually ( passed large queue by).

I would say Versailles is must! However not necessarily the palace which is of course magnificent but the Gardens are gorgeous and I adore The Estate of Marie Anointette which is small and you can visit separately from main palace also the town of Versailles is very smart.

We based ourselves in Versailles town actually the last time we went to Paris and trains in and out - cheap and quick.

I would get ticket for Marie antionette and garden tickets and leave palace rooms for another time as its those that have the killer queues and the outside and MA is far far more charming, there is the Hamlet MA created with water mills, pretend farms, a large meadow.

londonloves Thu 02-Mar-17 18:50:03

The Orangerie gallery is really amazing and quite often overlooked, its small and doesn't take that long to go round, and often doesn't have big queues, it holds the large Monet waterlily paintings displayed beautifully in big round rooms. So if your kids don't have a massive concentration span for art it might be worth considering. Also have you looked on the Viator website, they do skip the line deals and some interesting/quirky walking tours. Highly recommend 'bateau mouche' boat trip, I loved it when I was 11!

Smallinthesmoke Thu 02-Mar-17 19:09:57

I took my 9 year old to Paris last month.
She recommends:
Museum of the Middle ages (Cluny) - to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries which feature in the Gryffindor common room in the Harry Potter films. confused They are also very beautiful.
She also liked the paintings at the Musee d'Orsay. No queue at opening time. The info desk give out trails for kids in English, if you ask. The age would be about right. But it can be a bit overwhelming- swot up on what you want to see.
A walk from Musee d'Orsay to the Eiffel Tower along the Seine was also a big hit, especially with the crepe van along the way. Batobus was fun but mostly inside and quite slow. She loved the tat shops of Montmatre!
We didn't bother going up the Eiffel Tower- too cloudy.
Have a great time!

GreenGinger2 Thu 02-Mar-17 20:37:44

Took our DC 12,12 and 11 last summer.

Biggest succes was Chartier restaurant,we all loved it. It's very near Les Passages shopping corridors. Lovely toy shop in the one near Chartier.

Bertillons ice cream on Isle St Louis near Notre Dame.

They loved Monmartre,steps up to Sacre Coeur,view and tat shops. The oldest sweet shop in Paris A La Mere De Famille is nearby and they let you sample the chocolates. Amorino ice cream in Monmatre was also a success( you can sit down and the ice creams are huge, in the shape of a rose,Bertillons portions are tiny).

They liked Shakespeare and Company bookshop( nice kid section downstairs).

Loved the Eiffel Tower and buying a lime green version to take home. Boat bus was fab( long walk from the nearest stop to Eiffel Tower though).

Jardin Luxembourg another huge success particularly the boating pond. Loads of Pokemon in the vicinity too. You can buy baguettes from a cabin near by.

GreenGinger2 Thu 02-Mar-17 20:43:18

Re Chartier our waiter was lovely. Very patient with dd and taught her how to use the snail removing equipment.grin

We all had steak et frites,was good.

Ollycat Sun 05-Mar-17 08:49:03

When we went to Paris with our kids (similar ages to yours) the absolutely best thing we did was walk from the Louvre, through the Tuileries and along the river to the Eiffle Tower - we walked predominantly on tge left bank and there was lots to see and soak up atmosphere.

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