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Any thoughts on monuments, churches, Vatican and art galleries with kids

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Oct 12th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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Any thoughts on monuments, churches, Vatican and art galleries with kids

We are heading to Europe with 4 kids (aged 13, 10, 8 and 6) for 6 weeks in March/April. There are so many spectacular buildings, churches and art galleries but I can see too much emphasis on this being our downfall. What are people's experience of kids in art galleries, Vatican, churches etc? How much is too much? Others' experiences, kids' feedback, any suggestions for ways of approaching it? My partner is good at inventing games (e.g. find the Madonna that looks the most like Mum!) and they are bright, enthusiastic kids. But the truth is they are mostly not that crazy about art and old buildings. BTW we are going -among other places-to London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice. (Also Wales, Brittany, Flanders, Belgium, Switzerland, Umbria, Russia). One idea I've used is that each family member gets to choose 1 destination (hence Russia, thanks husband!), CERN (Geneva), Dr Who museum(Cardiff), snow(Bernese Oberland) and coliseum!
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Oct 12th, 2012, 04:51 PM
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I'm not going to address your basic question. I have other concerns about the trip in general. You have 4 young kids and expect to visit vast parts of 6 different countries in just 6 weeks.

That is a serious death march sort of plan. Two 20-somethings backpacking could possibly manage that by sleeping on trains and moving fast - but not a family of six.

Rome/Florence/Umbria/Venice is a minimum 2 week trip right there. London/Wales and anyplace in between is another 10 days-2 weeks. Paris & Brittany - 10 days/2 weeks.

Then you want to hit Switzerland, Belgium, and Russia.

Why so many places???
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Oct 12th, 2012, 05:31 PM
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Obviously a 13 year old is going to have very differnt interests from a 6 year old. And no kid is going to want to do nothing but museums and churches.

Suggest that you strongly consider cutting back on the itinerary - to cover less territory and allow some time each day for the kids to just be kids. Also suggest you consider breaking up into 2 groups some day - with one parent taking the younger kids to play for more of the day - and the other parent do more activities with the older kids.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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Thanks nytraveler. I think doing different things with different kids is a great idea. Had already planned to do most big things in mornings so husband and kids can play and hang out in afternoons if I want to do other less exciting things. Also booking things like family bike ride in Paris, kids tour in Rome.

Travelled widely as child and lived in Europe, have travelled around Asia and NZ with our kids and know them pretty well so I'm pretty happy with itinerary...I guess I'd prefer if people did respond to my " basic question" about experiences with kids and monuments and art galleries because that's what I am not so familiar with.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 06:54 PM
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My kids grew up in the Washington, DC, area and spent hours/days/weeks at the Smithsonian and other museums there starting when they were infants, so visiting museums and such in Europe was very normal for them. I can remember my daughter's delight, at the age of 5 or so, at seeing all the Berthe Morisot paintings in the Musée d'Orsay. On the other hand, no one in our family ever liked the Vatican, me especially. Too crowded, too impossible for kids to see over the heads of everyone else, and too hypocritical a collection - save a few developing nations, why don't you? OK, that's a personal viewpoint, but I firmly believe kids should be exposed to "old art," "old architecture," etc., and as early as possible. Of course, some will take to it more quickly than others. The problems I see with your plan is that your kids are such different ages it will be hard to make a plan that suits them all in any given place.

And yes, I do agree this sounds like an expedition, not a fun family vacation.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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I guess I'd prefer if people did respond to my " basic question" about experiences with kids"

You posted on another that the plan also includes Vienna and Warsaw and that two of your kids are asking for more down time.

I'm not being nasty here, but how to attack museums and galleries is the least of your problems. But if that is all you want to know - have your kids read guide books about each city. They will glom on to what excites them in each place. In many cities -- especially in London the major museums have kid-centric guides and tours. And many have audioguides geared to children, and hands-on exhibits. Plus some are REALLY child friendly - the Natural History,Science, and Imperial War (yes the War museum is great for kids). The mummies in the British museum are probably a must.

And London, Paris and several of the others have WONDERFUL parks and playgrounds. The Princess Diana playground is great for kids but your 13 yo is a bit old for it.

But honestly, w/ 16+ cities you will average less than 2 days each (after accounting for travel time) so I don't see how you will have time for many museums/galleries/cathedrals/monuments/castles.
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Oct 14th, 2012, 06:42 PM
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Hi Caroline
My kids are 8 and 10. Things they loved in London were:
British Museum (we just went to the Egyptian and Ancient Europe sections)
Tower of London (there's a kids' activity book you can pick up at the info office near the ticket booth)
Westminster Abbey (again there's a kids' trail you get from the ushers with a prize at the end if they find all the stuff listed)
Tate Modern (surprising me, as this was a Mum-and-Dad-pulling-rank visit but the kids were fascinated by the performance art that was happening in the Turbine Gallery and the exhibits they saw in the main galleries)

In Paris they really enjoyed:
Pomipdou Centre (there is a kids' gallery with activities that your younger kids might enjoy as well as some interesting modern art)
Musee d'Orsay (they were on a mission to find Degas' Little Dancer after reading a picture book about it years' ago)
Notre Dame Towers
Eiffel Tower climbing up the stairs
Luxembourg Gardens on a Wednesday afternoon pushing toy boats around the duck pond.

There were lots of things we didn't get to including the Louvre, Versailles, Buckingham Palace, Natural History Museum etc etc that I know other families have loved, but we had some great times just wandering round interesting areas and also playing in the parks. I am hoping to write a trip report before I forget the whole experience, as I found other people's trip reports so helpful when we were planning. I also recommend some books by Eyewitness Travel - we used Family London and Family France and found they had great tips on things kids might find interesting.

We found a lot of time disappeared on the basics like finding toilets, transport, food etc so good luck with your itinerary, but you know your family's limits so go for it if you think you can do it. By way of contrast, we had a week in London, a week in Paris, a week in the Dordogne, 3 days in Languedoc, a week in Avignon and four days in Barcelona, and that pace worked really well for us.

Have fun planning - it's so exciting.
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Oct 14th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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The OP has gone away.
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Oct 15th, 2012, 01:06 PM
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We'd stop off at the giftshop on the way IN to museums and each kid would select a sheet of stamps or a few postcards and we'd hunt down their picks.
Each one had a notebook and an art kit that included kiddie scissors and glue sticks, so sometimes we'd have them sit and draw or make a mosaic while we really looked at the art. They didn't know they were 'resting'
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Oct 15th, 2012, 06:19 PM
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Phread: >>The OP has gone away.<< means Carolineandthetribe has de-registered. She isn't on Fodors anymore.
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Oct 16th, 2012, 02:58 AM
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Oh well! Maybe somebody down the track will search for info and find the stuff people have shared here!
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