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khtapley Jan 6th, 2014 08:31 AM

France with small kids (4 and 7)
We are taking our first 14 day trip to Europe in May. Any advice on whether it would be more enjoyable to tour just one country or divide our time between England and France? We would like to spend 5 days in London and the remainder in Paris but aren't sure if that is reasonable or not.

Christina Jan 6th, 2014 08:41 AM

I don't think it makes any difference if you tour only one country or go to Paris, do what appeals to you. There are many places in England that could be just as far to get to as Paris, after all, you can get there on the train in only 2.5 hours.

annhig Jan 6th, 2014 08:47 AM

Hi khtapley,

First of all, welcome to Fodors. You will find a wide range of advice and ideas here, but almost invariably, those offering those views will want you to have the best possible holiday you can, even when we don't agree about how you should go about it!

I don't know whether it will be more enjoyable for you to divide your time in the way you propose or not. I do know that just being in a city or cities may not make for the most enjoyable holiday for many children, therefore you might like to add in a few days in the country or near a beach, in between London and Paris. or to stick with just England or France and mix it up a bit within that country.

Secondly, I assume that you are intending to fly into London and out of Paris on "open jaw" flights. That obviously makes sense if you stick to your original plan, but not if you decide to visit just England or just France. Therefore you won't be able to book your flights until you've made up your minds where you are going.

Certainly there is a lot to be said for the London -Paris combination, especially as it's so easy to get between them on the eurostar train. If that's what you're going to do, then there are strong arguments for spending longer in London, say 7 nights, and 7 in Paris. There is loads to do in London and it would give you ample time to recover from jetlag.

Another idea might be to put your "down time" at the end of the trip eg by getting a fast TGV train to the south of France for a few days. In that case, you'd want to fly home from Nice. Other places you might add in are Normandy [Bayeaux gets very high marks here] and the Loire Region. Both are easy to get to from Paris. in that case I would suggest 5 nights in london, 4 nights in your chosen resort, and 5 in Paris.

Hope that helps!

Surfergirl Jan 6th, 2014 09:12 AM

I would do it just as you suggest. There's so much for children to do in both London and Paris -- that includes "down time" or play time. You will see a side of these two cities that you might not otherwise see if you were on your own without small children.

In London, a big hit for my son at those two ages were the Tower of London, London Eye, London Zoo, canal boat ride from Little Venice to Camden Town, Green Park, Hyde Park, boat ride to Greenwich, and boat ride on the Thames at Windsor. Also as a day trip, he loved Lego Land (can be reached by bus), and the child friendly beer gardens, most of which are in London's suburbs.

In Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens has a really neat kiddie playground, and the Jardin d'Acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne is perfect for kids that age, with a mini train that takes you to the kiddie play area, with rides and even a punch and judy show. Boat on the Seine, ferris wheel in the Tuileries; another mini train by the Sacre Coeur, not to mention the funicular to the top.

khtapley Jan 6th, 2014 11:06 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions!

PalenQ Jan 6th, 2014 12:07 PM

Yews London and Paris divided into 12 days (effective days on the ground) make a lot of sense and also annhig's idea to say perhaps just go to Paris and take the bullet train that you kids will love - sitting on the upper deck and blowing along at about 200 mph - to Nice where it will probably be warm enough to swim and fly back from there.

Similarly in Britain you could spend a lot of time in London and then say go to Edinburgh by train for a few days and fly home from there.

But Paris and London makes a lot of sense - just a few hour bullet train ride - has schedules and fares and you can book online - booking really early can save a ton of money as a limited number of discounted tickets are sold on each train - there is also a special children's fare I believe.

AlysonRR Jan 6th, 2014 09:10 PM

My daughter and niece are a few years older (11 and 12), but their response to these images kerouac kindly posted was a unanimous "We MUST GO to that museum!!! That looks TOTALLY AWESOME!!!".

Here's the link to the photo essay:

Once again, kerouac, thanks so much for posting this - my girls are really looking forward to going to the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution in June!

khtapley, I traveled in Europe with my parents when I was a child and my brother and I most remember things like riding a pony, visiting castles, climbing innumerable towers, the double decker bus tour of London (on which we all four fell asleep, lol), and new playgrounds and the new friends with whom we played. We couldn't always understand each other, but we still had fun playing together :-)

I hope your family has a great time!

SemiMike Jan 7th, 2014 03:24 AM

Some great Paris ideas for kids at

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