3 Days in Paris/Family of Four


Jun 17th, 2015, 08:11 PM
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3 Days in Paris/Family of Four

Hello All. I'd love some simple input. I'm overwhelmed and more than a little panicked.

Decided last minute to book our family trip to London and Paris. (Have posted London separately so to keep as simple as possible.) Family of four with kids ages 15 (girl) and 12 (boy). We will arrive in Paris at noon on a Tuesday (two weeks from now) and leave to fly home Friday evening.

My ideas so far are this:
Eiffel Tower
Norte Dame
Arc de Triomphe

Would love more suggestions. Don't want to do too much and definitely want some down time to explore and people watch. Thank you so much in advance for your help. Would love input on what order to do these things if possible. Thank you!!

cmetilt is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2015, 11:19 PM
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It sounds like you may not have been to Paris before? I would pick up a Rick Steves book (good info for first time visitors) which should help with your planning.

A few ideas to get you started:

My kids enjoyed visiting the Eiffel Tower at night. Every hour on the hour the lights sparkle for about 5 minutes which is quite fun. If you do this at night, you'll have more time for other activities during the day.

When you visit Notre Dame, try to also visit nearby Sainte Chapelle -- beautiful chapel with incredible stained glass windows. I think your kids would also enjoy Berthillon ice cream on the nearby Ile St. Louis.
KTtravel is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2015, 11:21 PM
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My suggestion is to take a Hop on, Hop off bus tour of the city. At last check, there were two routes. It allows you to get an overview of the city. I like taking the entire route, then going back to the places that look interesting. But, alternatively, if you already know where you'd like to stop, you can get off anywhere and get back on the bus when you are ready. It's quite flexible, and reasonably priced, in my opinion. It's also a very efficient way to see the city when you don't have a lot of time.

A Seine River cruise gives you a different perspective from the River. If you go at night, you will see the major monuments lit up along the river.

Both the Hop on, Hop off bus tour and the river cruise have narrations, so you have an idea of what you are looking at as well as the significance.
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Jun 18th, 2015, 05:47 AM
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bike ride round Paris with a tour, "fat tires" are American so you know what you get

Eiffel Tower, really, might pass by in the gardens below

Louvre and D'Orsay and Orangerie

Norte Dame, go to the Ile de la Cite (The westerly island in the Seine) do the Sainte Chapelle, the Dame and the Memorial des Martyrs de la deportation. Walk around island. While up this end of town maybe the Opera/Bastille and walk down the canal south. Then over to the Institute of the Arab world for the view from the top. If your legs are up to it the Museum of the middle ages (Moyen Ages)

Arc de Triomphe, if you must.
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Jun 18th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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All good advice, above.

Our grandkids (we've taken all of them when they were approx. 12/13, with the final four last year) all enjoyed the Eiffel Tower, and the sparkles. We went up in the evening.

Make sure they experience the hot dogs from the street vendors, either at the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame.
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Jun 18th, 2015, 08:10 AM
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Thinking of food, don't forget pancakes.
bilboburgler is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2015, 08:18 AM
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Pancakes/crepes -- yum!!
evecolorado is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2015, 09:09 AM
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Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions! Eiffel Tower at night sounds lovely. And the others as well. Thank you!!
cmetilt is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2015, 12:27 PM
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With each of our kids (now 16 and 20yo), we arranged the trip so that their first sight of the Eiffel Tour was from a boat at night - magical. We like the Vedettes du Pont Neuf, which are smaller, and you board on the north end of the Pont Neuf.
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Jun 18th, 2015, 06:46 PM
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Just got back from a trip half of which was as group leader/chaperone with some students, and we went to Paris for a couple days (my second visit). Few comments:

Prepare for huge crowds and long lines. For me, it's worse, much worse, than London. And not as easy to get around for non-French speakers. Just be prepared.

The Louvre is spectacular and deserves all the praise it gets--but....all my very bright kids older than yours found it, as I do, confusing and overwhelming and it will probably be incredibly busy and crowded. Just be prepared. (I'd suggest you definitely have a "plan" of either finding a few pieces specifically or going to one small section. If you just go wander, it will be overwhelming. In my opinion.)

Check out their Museum Pass maybe--it will help with long lines.

They will like a boat ride I imagine--they last about an hour.

When you say Eiffel Tower, do you mean just look at? The line for tickets to go up can be hours long. My husband and I got in line about 20 minutes before ticket office opened (last year) and then waited about 45 minutes before ascending--all the stops/views were packed to point of almost not being able to move around and this was first thing on a cold and rainy summer day. I guess I'm glad we did it, but for your short visit I wouldn't think it would be a good use of time; my students this year were content with views of it.

You can get a nice view from the top of the Arc and we found it much more accessible and less crowded than the Tower on the day we were there (To access the Arc look for the subway--the underground pedestrian passage--no way to cross those lanes of swirling cars on foot!)

My students also enjoyed the Musee D'Orsay, and all liked it better than the Louvre. Not sure what your children would like, but building is beautiful and all those Impressionists--! If you decide to go, either use a Museum Pass or order your tickets ahead of time--either will allow you to go into the entrance at the side and avoid the ticket line which is usually long.

Find crepes and macaroons too!

Seeing Notre Dame outside is easy; you have to stand in line to go in, although it is free. With my students we viewed the outside but had to go get food before going in--the line was maybe 15 minutes; after we ate, we came back to go in and the line was stretched across the plaza, 5 to 6 times as long as an hour before. So we didn't get to go in, as we had to be somewhere with our tour.

Wander lanes and streets; walk along the Seine; enjoy the lovely parks and architecture; just avoid eye contact with those people with trinkets and petitions and keep all your valuables under your clothing.

Paris has some lovely things in it, but how much you will be able to see I can't say. Just plan for crowded conditions and plan to enjoy what you can.
texasbookworm is online now  
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Jun 19th, 2015, 01:36 AM
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There are good suggestions here, but in two weeks, it won't be getting dark until 10 at night, so the lights on the Eiffel Tower and the lights from the boats on the Seine won't be quite as dramatic as suggested. If you stay up really late, it is harder to get up and out in the morning when the lines are shorter.

You should aim for no more than three things per day -- one each morning, noon, and night. Getting between these, keep your eyes open and see what else is around you. This is going to be tough because London and Paris are two of the most crowded cities in the world, and the major tourist attractions in Paris are in the busiest section of all. You need a plan for what to do if you become separated.

I hope you booked your flight to one city and home from the other. This is called an "open jaw" flight. I also hope you are going to take the Eurostar train between Paris and London. You leave from the center of one city and arrive in the center of the other, instead of having to get to airports that are a long way out of the center and go through the security nightmare at each end.

You can use your credit card almost everywhere, the exception being automatic ticket machines for trains and subways. My US credit card was never refused at any cafe, museum, or shop. In one small store, someone had to call the manager.

You will need a small amount of cash. Get cash at ATM machines at banks using your ATM or debit card. Don't ever get cash using a credit card, and try not to turn actual $ into £ or € at a money exchange.

Americans smile a lot at strangers. Americans are polite to strangers. Try not to be smiley, and you don't need to be polite to people who try to get into your space. Girls will approach you with petitions; frown and wave them away. Ditto anyone who tries to sell you anything or offers you a gold ring or a flower or whatever. This stuff just doesn't happen outside the tourist districts. They are not your friend and are not to be trusted.

But you will have a busy but wonderful time. As a friend said to me before my first trip, "If all you did was walk around and eat, it would be worth it."
Ackislander is offline  
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Jun 19th, 2015, 01:50 AM
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Good advice above, on the other hand, do expect that service staff will expect to be greeted, so in a hotel you do say hello to reception every morning and at night, you do greet the waiter preferably in his own language even though you will get away with the actual order in English. You'll find the French are actually pretty formal while most staff in the UK will be from all over Europe and more laid back but still more formal than you may be used to.

I won't get into tipping, it just is different. Go search the term in the box on the right

Some friends of our opened their kids eyes by letting them eat mussels (easy to do in Paris) they loved the little weird things and it stopped them being fussy. May not be an issue but maybe a bit of fun.
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Jun 19th, 2015, 02:47 AM
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Instead of the HOHO bus (and I like them) try this Paris bus route--#42. You might not want to do it with your luggage (assuming you are arriving via Eurostar) but you can find it after checking into your hotel. Or it might take you to your hotel, as someone asked in the comment list.

There is another bus that runs straight down the Champs des Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe.
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Jun 19th, 2015, 05:42 AM
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Eiffel Tower-- this is a 6-7 hour event. Getting there, then the 3 hour wait to go up, then at least 2 hours on the various levels waiting for lifts up or down. So even leaving at 6 pm for the Eiffel Tower we were running for the last metro of the night at 12:30 am, and although it was not our intention to have the night view, that's what happened.

A few tickets are sold in advance although I'll bet they are sold out for your dates.
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Jun 19th, 2015, 06:47 AM
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The comment about Americans smiling a lot is so true--all over Europe. But I don't think it is necessary to NOT smile. ;o)
Think about a memorable PICNIC on the Champs du Mars with the Eiffel Tower in the background--a lot better than going up (for your short time) and it is super fun and cute. Just stop at a ____ (French deli!!) and get some ham and cheese baguettes, something to drink and a bottle of wine? We stopped at a Monoprix I think or maybe a shop on rue Cler (which as much as it is derided, IS a nice Parisian market street).
Be sure to take you kids to see one of the street markets that are around the city. They will forever see how beautifully vegetables and food CAN be displayed--and how fresh it can be outside of a Safeway cold case.
These markets also have other things to buy that might be a good souvenir for them or the parents.
Gretchen is offline  
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Jun 19th, 2015, 06:49 AM
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If you go to Montmartre, there is at least one very impressive aspect of getting there--take the funiculaire/cog train up the hill. And see the stairs you can also ascend right beside it!!
If you go to the Orsay, look out through the clock face inside and view Montmartre in the distance--great picture.
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Jun 19th, 2015, 08:15 PM
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I recommend to climb the Arc de Triomphe and you will have a view of the Eiffel Tower.

Sainte Chappele is a jewel box of stained glass--magnificent.

Musee Orsay has wonderful impressionist paintings and the architecture of the building itself--it used to be an old railroad station is really cool--including the clock.

For the Louvre--you have to manage your time and it has three large wings--the Denon wing has the famous three--Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Venus de Milo. Across from the Mona Lisa is the Wedding Feast at Cana which is just truly amazing. The colors are so vibrant. That is a painting that takes up the whole back wall and you can look at it while the hordes are trying to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa.

Sully wing has a fantastic Egyptian collection and the Richelieu wing has the Napolean apartments.

Try to get to Napolean's tomb-a very interesting sight.

I also recommend you purchase the Paris museum pass--it is well worth it.
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