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Has Anyone Tried Free Paris Walks? 10-days Paris too long?

Has Anyone Tried Free Paris Walks? 10-days Paris too long?

Old Jul 12th, 2011, 01:15 PM
  #1  
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Has Anyone Tried Free Paris Walks? 10-days Paris too long?

Hello Everyone... I will be leaving for Paris in a few weeks with hubby and our 9 year-old.

My first question: I read about the availability of free Paris Walk on this forum. I emailed them last night and got confirmation to the tour. I was wondering if anyone has done this 3.5hr walk and what your experience was like. Was it a very large group? Was it well organized? Or should I book one of the Paris-Walks paid tours if I want a smaller, more organized group?

Second question: We have planned to stay in Paris for 10 days. It is our second visit to Paris. I was wondering if we should plan some day trips to keep us busy? Any recommendations with a 9 year old? My hubby does not want to go to Disneyland and we visited Versailles last time and aren't really interested in going again. Interests: beach (but there is not one near Paris, I know), Brussels for a day? or overnight? Or just enjoy Paris for the entire 10days? Anyone would like to share a memorable day spent in the City? I know my favorite was on the first day there, I went up the Arc de Triomphe via the winding staircase and saw the view of the Eiffle Tower and suddenly it started to drizzle (I love the rain). The city just took my breath away!
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 01:41 PM
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Is this your 9-yr-old's first trip?
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 01:44 PM
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If you mean the Sandeman's free Paris walk, it's different from the Paris Walks. The Sandeman's walk is an overview. The Paris Walks tours cover a small areas and give a lot of detail about the areas.

I recommended the Sandeman's Paris walk to someone and she and her husband loved it (she is very picky). I also recommended the Munich Sandeman's walk to my brother (another picky soul) and he thought it was great. The Sandeman's walks need to be good because the guides depend on tips from the participants.

The Paris Walks are only 2 hours so well suited to a 9 year old. Probably the Montmartre or Marais walks would be best for someone that age. I see they have a new walk that I haven't taken but I am familiar with the area - Secrets of the Left Bank. This one looks interesting.

The size of the groups vary with Paris Walks. The more popular walks will have more people but I've never seen huge numbers of people on any of the walks, probably since they offer their core walks frequently and there are many opportunities to take them. The walks are very well organized and the tour guides are very good.

There's also a free Notre Dame tour which I've taken twice and found very interesting.

>

There is a beach in Paris in the summer. I think there are 2 of them. They're called Paris Plage (Paris Beach) and tons of sand is carted to the Seine to make a beach. There was an interesting write up of one of the beaches last year by a frequent poster, Kerouac. Search for his screen name and paris plage.

If you're looking to get out of the city but not far away there are many parks in Paris, large and small. You can pack a picnic lunch and head away from the center. Pere Lachaise cemetery is a quiet and cool oasis. I headed there last year when Paris was hot and enjoyed the headstones and sitting on a bench under the trees.

I would not leave one fabulous city for a lesser city (Brussels), especially in August. There is so much to see and do in Paris that 10 day won't be enough.
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 01:51 PM
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There are about 4-5 Passages (indoor shopping malls) around Paris from the late 19th century that are fun to look for and then go in. There is the canal trip on the Canal St Martin and then there is St. Denis where all or most of the kings of France are buried.

Before you go try to see Woody Allen's new movie Midnight in Paris. I don't like him or his movies, the last 2 movies I saw were Eat, Pray, Love and Under the Tuscan Sun and I go for the scenery. Midnight in Paris was OUTSTANDING, FABULOUS, WONDERFUL, TERRIFIC. The opening scenes were beyond words!

If you want a truly incredible experience for 3-4 days go to wwww.leboat.com for a French canal cruise on a small boat that you pilot yourself. We have traveled to 52 countries, cruised all the major rivers of the world and our 7 days self drive boat cruise of the Midi Canal is one of the highlights of our travel experiences. If you drive a car you can pilot a boat and your son will love helping out at the locks.

If you haven't been to the sewers of Paris, that is an interesting tour also that your son would like.

Enjoy. jk
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 02:18 PM
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Allessandra: my 9 year-old's 2nd trip to Europe, 4th or 5th trip overall. He loves to travel more than most adults I know, he loves museums, and as long as he is not hungry, he will not complain or be grumpy.

Adrienne: thanks for all the info i will print it out and take it w/me. I did read about Paris Plage - we will definitely check it out.

Jan: I have been wanting to see Midnight in Paris. Now I know I will before my trip. Thanks
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 02:34 PM
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I second the Canal St. Martin suggestion, and would also recommend the Paris Magic Museum - Musee de la Magie at 11 rue St. Paul. Great fun that I am sure your son would enjoy. If you are thinking of trips out of the city, there is a great book "An Hour from Paris" by Annabel Simms with many recommendations.
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 02:38 PM
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If your 9yo loves museums (as do our kids, now 16 and 12yo, but our son was 10 when he first visited Paris), then you have time to explore some of the smaller museums. We liked the Musee Marmatton and Musee Jacquemart; they are both located in what were formerly houses. And the bigger museums, like the Orangerie and the Pompidou; I'm assuming you've been to the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay. The Museum of the City of Paris, the Science Museum - we've never been to them, but I've seen them recommended here.

Have a quest for the best macaron, or the best of whatever your favorite patisserie item is.

One day we went to Androuet, took a long time picking out cheese that we'd never had before, supplements with bread, wine, pate de foie gras, and had a picnic by the Eiffel Tower.

I think it's Parc Monceau that's popular with Parisian families on Sundays, but we've never been, so I can't comment (or maybe it was Bois de Boulogne).

Spend time watching the cars whiz around the Arc de Triomphe - it's hilarious.

There are plenty of day trips from Paris, which we haven't yet done, but I've collected information. Do a search here on Fodor's. One that looked appealing to me was Vaux le Vicomte.

I could probably find enough to do with 10 days in Paris, but have you considered several nights in the Loire Valley, to visit the chateaux? We did that when we first took our son to France, and he really enjoyed them, as well as being able to experience the French countryside.

We loved Brussels, but many people don't find it that appealing.
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 02:41 PM
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I should have been more explicit: is this your 9-yr-old's first trip TO PARIS? In other word, if he's been there before, what did you do?
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 03:10 PM
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A museum that is truly spectacular is the Museum of Natural History.
It is located in the Jardin des Plantes.

Good restaurant for lunch also.
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 03:20 PM
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Fontainebleau, Versailles, Giverny, Chartres--any of them will take up a day and might be a good break from the city. Troyes has an interesting museum of 19th century tools.
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 03:23 PM
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We took our 8yo DD to Paris last year. Here is our trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-and-paris.cfm

DD would recommend the Aquarium de Paris www.cineaqua.com.

We also did a Marais tour with Paris Walks - and she did fine until hunger got the best of her towards the end!
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 06:50 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Be,

>10-days Paris too long?<

Not for me.

Have you googled "Paris with children"?

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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 07:12 AM
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When my kids were in the 9-year-old range, they absolutely loved the exhibits at the Cité de Science in La Villette.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 11:38 AM
  #14  
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thanks all for your comments.

It will be my Son's 1st time in Paris... Loire sounds amazing... Considering Giverny or Loire if we feel like we have covered Paris and have a couple of days to spare. we will see!
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 01:27 PM
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I second the suggestion of picking up a copy of An Hour From Paris by Annabel Simms. Read about it here-

http://www.annabelsimms.com/

The book is very well written and the directions and practical information will make the trip seem easy. I think your son will enjoy researching and planning a day trip or two. Consider a trip to a small town in the countryside. Two of my favorites are Provins and Senis. Provins might be fun because you can hike the trail along the old ramparts around the town. You could even picnic along the way.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 05:09 PM
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Now that I know it's your son's first time in Paris, I'm going to relate what were hits with my two girls. I first took them to Paris when they were 7 and 11, the first of over 20 trips there.

Hits:

The Metro--I would pick the destination and they had to plan how to get there. Gave them a Metro map and they were in heaven.

Cité de Science in La Villette--We ended up there after the endless canal tour. They HATED the canal tour (my husband hated me for doing it and incited them to rebellion) but we got a kick out of the destination.

The Eiffel--
If you can get a meal reservation, just stunning.

Steps--L'Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Le Conciergerie, you name it. Their favorite was when we climbed Sacre Coeur at night in the middle of a thunderstorm. Those steps take you across the roof at one point. Yeah, where was my mind? I was supposed to be the adult. However, they will always remember that climb. Liked the funiculaire there and the L'Abbesses Metro station stairs.

Crepe Stands--They challenged each other to combinations they would never eaten at home.

Berthillon--Sundaes, sundaes, sundaes

La Patisserie Rule--They were allowed to have ANY treat where they could pronounce the food with the right manners: "Bonjour, Madame. Je voudrais prendre le.... Merci beacoup, madame." Amazing how much French they could learn in one day that way.

Museum photo shoots--ALWAYS WITHOUT FLASH. School they attended (nice little public school) had monthly "Art Lady". They were able to get a photo of themselves by every single painting they had studied at Rodin, Louvre, and d'Orsay.

Can you find?--In the Louvre, there are some big things: the Mona Lisa, Hammurabi's Code, etc. I challenged them to find them. They had a ball.

Daytrips--
Giverny was a huge hit, but again, they were Impressionist fans so this was a soft sell.
They were not in love with Chartres--I was.
They did like Versailles, but you have been there.

We did things that COULD be one night or more daytrips over the course of many biking vacations throughout France after that first Paris visit: Loire Valley, D-Day beaches, Mont St. Michael, Nice and the Riviera, Provence, so I really can't report on those as daytrips for the kids. They loved all of those and more. I think a young boy might be very interested in a daytrip to Ambroise. Not only a castle but also the Leonardo de Vinci museum. All of us loved it.

Walking Tours--
Both kids liked house tours, walking tours,etc but even I have a limited attention span to two hours. What was a hit was my youngest LOVES to read aloud. So we have made it a tradition that we give her a walking tour from a guide book and she becomes our tour guide. She STILL at age 20 loves to do that (and we still love to follow her).

Paris Passages--
Similar to the above. Kids were given the guide books, told to find all passages, map out our route, and tell us why we were going there. They loved them.

Choose the restaurant--
On the Ile de St. Louis, we would allow the kids to walk down blocks, reading all menus, and then they would come back to report their choice.

Postcard journal--
Each day, they would spend at least an hour choosing the postcard that BEST represented what they had done that day. They addressed the post card to themselves. They each have album upon album of all the notes they wrote to themselves. Lovely idea a friend gave me.

Hug yourself that you get to have this time. I remember when we took our kids all these zillion places that friends of mine and posters on this board said, "They will never remember this stuff." And my response was always "But my husband and I will." And I'm smiling now as I type.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 08:59 PM
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What a wonderful reply AlessandraZoe. Thank you so much for sharing!

You just described all the activities my son loves to do...
Steps - he loved them at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. We took the elevator up one of the towers and decided to take the spiral staircase down. I was having palpitations (due to the fact that there are no hand rails and countless narrow steps spiraling down forever!) as my son was running down the stairs. He sure loved it. The more afraid I grew, the more fun he had - go figure.

Reading outloud - he loves doing that. I will sure use it to our advantage on this trip. Will keep him busy and us entertained. Metro maps- another of his favorites.

Postcards - what a great idea. I will borrow that tradition starting now.

He hates having his pics taken, but loves to look at them afterwords. On our last trip to Europe, he made about 50 euros charging me for each photo I took of him. Most of it ended up in the Trevi fountain and the human statues' hats on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. But I got to have the pictures and the memories and a promise to Return to Rome some day...
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Old Jul 14th, 2011, 01:32 AM
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Boys would love the military museum at Invalides
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Old Jul 14th, 2011, 01:32 AM
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Boys would love the military museum at Invalides
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Old Jul 14th, 2011, 01:32 AM
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Boys would love the military museum at Invalides
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