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France and Germany (with two children) Trip Report 2008

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Jun 25th, 2008, 05:08 AM
  #1
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France and Germany (with two children) Trip Report 2008

This is my first trip report, so please be patient. I will try to make it short & sweet. I apologize in advance for any spelling mistakes...

First, thank you for all of the information posted her, and advice that you gave! Using this board was a lot of fun during the planning stage!

My husband and I love to travel, although haven't been abroad since the kids were born. I was very excited to take them to Europe, to expand their world (we have two girls, ages 4 and 7).

Day 1
We left on my daughter's last day of school and flew from Dulles to Paris on United Airlines (coach). Fabulous flight! Had pre-booked a shuttle to our hotel- this worked out well! Dropped off our bags at the hotel (too early to check in) and headed directly to Trocadero. Stopped for brunch in a nice cafe- kids loved the chocolat, eggs and toast! (even our picky eater was happy!)

From there we headed over for a great view and photo opp of Eiffel Tower! This woke everyone up, we were all so excited! We made our way towards the tower. First stop, the carousel- the first of many the children would enjoy in Paris.

We waited on line to ride to the top. It was cold and a little long, but it was worth it (for the kids).

After this it was back to the hotel for a nap, and later a casual dinner in a bistro near our hotel.

Hotel: We stayed at the Castex Hotel in Bastille. I booked this hotel because it was reasonable (220E a night), and they had a family room. The location was very convenient: close to metro and walk to Notre Dame. We were disappointed with the upkeep and cleanliness of the hotel- and the lack of service. Has anyone else stayed here- did you have the same impression?

Day 2
This was my favorite day in Paris. We slept until 10am- still adjusting to the time change. (The kids did great with the lack of sleep by the way- better than us- the amount of energy they have is amazing). We walked over to enjoy: Ile de St. Louis (totally charming), a creperie for lunch, Berthillion ice cream (yummy), street performers, a playground for the kids, Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, and then finally to Luxembourg Gardens. The garden was amazing for the kids- they enjoyed a great playground, a carousel, and we rented boats to play with in the fountain (a must paris activity for young children). Unfortunately we had a terrible, touristy, dinner in the Latin quarter on the way home. Other than that the day was completely magical. (The 7 yr old love Notre Dame.)

Day 3
In the morning we again had a great cafe experienc in Bastille. Warm friendly service, and food that made even the little one happy! We took the metro to Monmartre, enjoyed two carousels, Sacre Cour, jugglers, shops, a casual lunch, and the tourist train (which we rode during a brief rain shower- what luck!). Back to the metro, to the Tuileries garden. Another carousel, more ice cream and exploration. Then we went to the Orangerie museum: what a gem, especially sized for children. A beautiful collection of impressionist works, and the stunning display of Monet's work. It was just enough for the kids- without being too much! Back to the hotel for some R&R, before a wonderful last dinner in Paris! (Oh by the way- we all fell in love with the macarons from Lenoitre!!)

What a magical city Paris is. My DH and I had been before- so we really tried to plan the itinerary for the kids- that is why we bypassed the museums, if favor of the parks. It is a fabulous city for children!!

Next post: Colmar and Kaysersburg, France (in Alsace)....
dcmom8 is offline  
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Jun 25th, 2008, 05:42 AM
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Thanks for your 'kid friendly' visit post. Looking forward to reading the rest!
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Jun 27th, 2008, 12:45 AM
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Paris is such a wonderful city, I'm sad you had a ordinary hotel and an ordinary meal it can so easily happen...next time email me and I'll create an itinerary for you of places to eat from www.myweekin.net, there are wonderful activities for kids in Paris and while some in are in French its add to the cultural experience. Bravo for taking the kids on such a big trip. Come back next year!
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Jun 27th, 2008, 02:34 AM
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Great report so far, cant wait to read the rest!
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Jun 27th, 2008, 03:29 AM
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DCMom8,

Please do continue--our children have been to Paris at similar ages and loved it, and we are taking them (now 7 and 12) castle-touring in Germany for spring break. Hopefully you're going there as well!
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Jun 27th, 2008, 04:57 AM
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fourfortravel: I will continue my post- we stayed in Castle hotel Auf Schonburg in Oberwesal, Germany- and it was the highlight of our trip- if you are going to be in that area think about staying there (it books up early). We had a the very large room with a Rhine view, and I think it was 230E a night, breakfast included. The room had a king size bed, and two twin beds (perfect for a family of four), a small balcony overlooking the Rhine, and a bathroom hidden behind a moveable bookcase (the kids LOVED that).
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Jun 28th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Thanks for posting. I am really enjoying reading about your travels with kids and hope you post more!
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Jun 28th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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So glad you enjoyed the Castle hotel Auf Schonburg. We stayed there with my 16 year old son. His bed was a twin that fit inside the cupboard. At 6'4" I thought he would hate it but he thought it was great. He also enjoyed the fancy breakfast including sparkling wine!

Am anxious to hear how you liked the Alsace. We were there for the first time in March and loved it.
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Jun 29th, 2008, 09:38 AM
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I'm enjoying your report. I especially love to hear how families with kids make out in various places. Parks and playgrounds in other countries are wonderful with small children. I still remember many in Italy when our kids were 3 and 5.
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Jun 30th, 2008, 05:13 AM
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Continuation of trip report:

Day 4

On day 4 we left Paris, and took the high speed train, first class to Colmar (with a change of train in Strasbourg). The train was lovely. We had 4 seats facing a table, the ride was smooth, and the scenery beautiful. It was also a great "time out" for the kids to color, draw and play quietly.

We arrived in Colmar, and found a taxi to take us to our hotel: Le Marechel in "Petit Venise". Colmar was cute, and charming (like a picture postcard) with lots of nice shopping and cafes.

That afternoon we walked around, took the canal boat ride, and had an early dinner.

Hotel Le Marechal: This hotel was probably the only disappointment on the trip. While the Castex Hotel was not great- I knew going in that it was a budget accomodation. Le Marechal advertises itself as a one of the great small luxury hotels, with a great restaurant. The location is supurb (and the only reason to stay there). The building itself is very charming (the furnishings are a bit worn), the service is indifferent, the breakfast is very lacking, the toilets would not flush properly, the shower could not maintain the water temperature and hairdryer barely functioned. These details were no where up to par for a "Luxury hotel", and not even as good as the budget Castex. But okay, I am over it!

Day 5

This day we rented a car to drive on the Route du Vin to a villiage or two. We chose Kaysersburg to start.

The drive there was easy once we got out of Colmar in the right direction. The countryside is beautiful! Kaysersburg was amazing. It is sooo picturesque, and a bit larger than I imagined. We walked around, stopping in shops, taking pictures, and had a nice lunch. The people were very friendly.

We decided to take the "hike" to the chateau. It was great! The kids loved the little hike! We were the only ones on the trail. At the top, the view is beautiful. We climbed the tower to the top.

It was a great day!

We spent so much time in Kaysersburg, we decided to head back to Colmar for dinner.

Next post: Germany's Rhine River
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Jun 30th, 2008, 06:32 AM
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dcmom, since you traveled with your children both on the train and in a car, I'd like to hear your views on which is best, car or train.

I maintain the train is better for kids because it's roomy, they can move around, and the toilet's at the end of the car. Also they love meals in the dining car.

However if you have to make many changes or have lots of luggage, maybe the train wouldn't be so good.

My only experience is with a 14-year-old. So I'm interested to hear your point of view.
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Jul 1st, 2008, 06:40 AM
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Mimar- I think I prefer train travel when appropriate. From Paris to Colmar, it cut the travel time in half, was relaxing and comfortable for parents and children. The only hassle is hauling the luggage and kids (my husband usually ends up with most of the luggage & I usually take the kids) on and off. But overall, city to city, I would always opt for a train. (And the kids thought the train was fun!)

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Jul 3rd, 2008, 09:33 AM
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dcmom8 - we will be visiting Paris in the coming weeks with 3 children. If you have the time, could you post the names of the restaurants you did not enjoy? Names of the restaurants you did enjoy? I've been keeping a list for our upcoming travel. Thanks so much! It's uplifting to read posts regarding travel with children. Thanks for sharing your experience!
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Jul 29th, 2008, 09:06 PM
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dcmom8 - have been tremendously enjoying your trip report. But am eagerly awaiting the rest of it. Any chance you will post soon?
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