kids in france

Feb 23rd, 2007, 06:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
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kids in france

Can anyone help me plan the holiday of my children's dreams this summer.We're traveling to France on the 21st of June for 3 weeks and want to take in a lot...we're hopeing to stop over in st.Malo for a night,take in Mont st. Michel and an aguairium.Then a night in Caen( ? )before the trip to Paris,where we'll stay for 2 nights.We've planned to take in the trampolines at tuilliers and the bateaux mouches at night. There will be the obligitary 2 nights in Disneyland,3 in Amboise/Tours chateau area-ramming a bit of culture into their spongelike minds!!!Then a restfull week on L'Ile D'Oleron,off La Rochelle with a final five days to spend in the lower Brittany area before taking the boat home from Roscoff.We hope to "do" the usual tourististic jaunts plus others I have searched out,like a balloon ride over the chateau region with my eldest whose 7and Venise vert,by flatbottomed boat.(although it's been years since I was there and I can't remember the best point to start the boat trip from)Our other two children are just 2 and 4 ,so I don't know whether I'm being over ambitious or not???Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated,I just really want them to never forget this trip Cheers,Runner
runnerB is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:34 AM
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Just a few comments:

It's a fairly full programme, and how well it might work depends on everybody's stamina.

Caen is not particularly attractive -- mostly reconstructed after WW2. You might like Bayeux better.

For an acquarium, you might try Granville which is about 100 km from Saint Malo (beyond Mont St Michel); another possibility is at Brest which you can hit on the homeward leg.
Padraig is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 08:30 AM
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I know two of your kids are quite small, but I wouldn't hold the same balance as you between Paris itself and Disney. Out of three weeks in France, only 2 days in Paris???!!! BTW, there is now an aquarium in Paris, at the Trocadéro, it's hardly known by tourists and locals alike. Granted, I assume the ones at Cherbourg, Brest or Boulogne are more impressive, but I have always found aquariums, like circuses, utterly boring, even as a child...
Art_Vandelay is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 09:37 AM
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You are very ambitious, wow! I wouldn't hold out too much hope visiting chateaux, I don't think they hold much interest to little ones. My son had a melt down in the hall of mirrors when he was 2, he couldn't take it any more. He's 8 now and he does not remember a thing.

Paris is great for kids, playgrounds and merry go rounds are very convenient. Kids love the crepes. It's fun to sit in the Champ de Mars watching your kids play at the playgound while veiwing the eiffel tower at the same time.

The beaches are nice and I am sure you will have a great time shell collecting, watching boats and fisherman. I would plan less and not expect much, just enjoy!
happytotravel is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 10:10 AM
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The new Trocadéro aquarium in Paris is considered to be an outrageous ripoff. If you must see an aquarium in Paris, go to the one at Porte Dorée in the former African & Oceanic arts museum (collections now transferred to Quai Branly).
The best aquariums in France are considered to be in Boulogne-sur-Mer or the one in La Rochelle (
Another watery site of interest in northern France is the Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg (
kerouac is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 12:38 PM
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I agree with happytotravel. We just traveled extensively with our 3 year old, and it's funny what kids find entertaining. The metro, crepes from a stand all hold appeal. Her two boy cousins took this to extreme when they visited their grandma. With a pool, fun cave, zoo and adventure park excursions, they said they enjoyed the stairs in her house the most!!

Paris might be easier with kids than you realize, especially if you have an apartment with a kitchen. It seems there's a playground on every corner. And your 7 year old might have the giggles when he sees the playground at Lux. Gardens. zip lines, huge slides, etc.

Of course, your 7 year old will be the only one to have clear memories of the trip, so I guess focus activities for him. Your little ones will be happier with a slower pace and just a playground every so often.
christycruz is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 01:40 PM
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<<holiday of my children's dreams this summer.>>
<<just really want them to never forget this trip>>
I am sorry but as a (former) educator a parent and a grandparent, someone has to tell you. "The king is nude."
The two year old and four year old will have few if any positive memories of the trip you have planned.
Hire a nanny or leave the young-uns with granny and grandpa and take the seven year old. Failing that do as others have (gently) tried to suggest - stick close to parks and your apartment and leave the cultural experience for later years.
robjame is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 02:09 PM
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It's not essential that the children have clear memories of the experience. Many parents enjoy holidaying with young children.

In years to come runnerB will be able to regale/bore/embarrass the children with pictures and stories of what they did in France when they were little.

If the eldest is a boy, he will be too young to have a testosterone reaction to topless sunbathers on French beaches but by the time he is fourteen or so you can tease him about it.
Padraig is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 02:40 PM
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Well, as someone who traveled with her now grown children to Europe yearly from the time they were in utero, I'd never discourage anyone from taking young children to Europe. Having said that, this trip looks exhausting for everyone. Only 2 nights in Paris seems a real shame. Spending a night in Caen is not a good idea. And why did you pick Ile d' Oleron? Just curious, as I've been there and liked it well enough, but only went because we'd been to many,many other islands off the coast of France, and Oleron was certainly a kind of ho-hum experience, albeit a relaxing one (coz there's not much to see or do there). Also, traffic getting out to Oleron in mid-summer is just fearsome, so I hope you're traveling to and from there on weekdays.

All in all, I'd have another go at this itinerary. It doesn't look like too much fun for the young ones, and too much moving about in general for everyone.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 02:43 PM
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I agree with Padraig...I doubt the younger two will have any memories of this trip at all, but that shouldn't discourage you -- it may lay the foundation for a general enthusiasm for traveling as a family, especially if you build in plenty of play time and parks. Fortunately you can find both fairly easily in France. I have not taken my kids to France but on our recent trip to Scotland there were several times where my husband played outside with the 3-year-old while I did something more "educational" or "cultural" with our then-7-year-old, and it worked out fine for everyone.

I disagree about Caen, partly. It's certainly something you could skip with children, but I've been there twice and enjoyed it. Perhaps the entire city isn't as charming as some others, but there are definitely things worth seeing. Just IMO. In your case I would suggest trying to just do Mont-St-Michel in one day and seeing an aquarium or something else on a separate day rather than going to Caen (unless you personally want to see Caen, then go by all means). Same with Paris...I would suggest taking a day out of the chateaux and having one more day in Paris.

As for traveling with three young kids in general, I would suggest the advice that works for packing: lay out everything you think you want, and then take out half. If you've done your research and find yourself with an open afternoon, you can always add something back in, but don't try to squeeze so much into every day that the itinerary becomes more important than the "fun."
Barbara_in_FL is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 02:44 PM
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Zut alors, runner, you were right when you said you were bing ambitious!

Question 1 - where are you travelling from? - if from the US, you need to factor in jet lag, extreme tiredness, etc., if from the UK and arriving by boat, sea-sickness and extreme tireness etc.

Question 2 - have you ever done any trip like this before in your own country - if you have, this one will be more difficult; if you haven't, it will be more diffficult that you could ever have imagined!

As the mother of 2 kids now aged 16 & 19, who amazingly still want to come on holiday with us, please let me give you a few tips, which may mean that you and your kids remember more that 3 weeks of misery -

1. Limit yourselves to three bases.
I'd like to say two, but you are obviously terribly ambitious, and won't be able to do that , so go for three.

Our kids even now prefer hols when we don't move around too much, and they have the chance to feel "at home".

2.Using your itinerary, make your first base somewhere in east brittany, west normany, and do the sights you are interested in. Stay 5 nights.

THen, if you must do the "disney thing" [their benefit or yours? - the little ones are too small for most of the attractions], spend one day there followed by one night and day at parc asterix, which is just south of Disney, and is huge fun!

This is the end of the first week.

3. Move on to an apartment in Paris, stay for a week. [min 5, better 7 nights] If you get bored, take day trips to the loire chateax by train.

4. Set off to Brittany. Overnight in the Loire if you must. Better still stay somewhere near Cholet in the WEstern Loire, and go to the Puy de Fou. Roman chariot racing, Christians thrown to the lions, medieval jousting, beautiful gardens, it's a wonderful day out. And the son et lumiere type entertainment in the evenings is one of the best shows I've ever seen, anywhere in the world, and that includes all those offerings to the name of the mouse. Over 1000 people, children and animals, telling the story of that part of France. It is very popular with the french and gets booked up very early as does accommodation in that area, as it doesn't finish til about midnight.

Then make for your island, but make sure you get to see the aquarium in La rochelle - it's the only one you need.

You could always fit "le puy de fou" in on your way back to Roscoff, I suppose.

Other tips - you can't do too much "touring" with kids. THey don't like it.
THey like to be doing things, not watching scenery. So you are better off doing longer journeys on fewer days, then staying put.

Bargain theme park days, against things you want to do, but don't expect that to work too well with the younger ones.

REckon on getting done no more than half of what you plan.

Have a plan B in case of illness, dislike of food, bad weather, etc.

Take a pack of cards with you [our kids love UNO], and don't forget teddy!

THe very best of luck to you,


annhig is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement,Padraig,I will enjoy travelling with my children and plan to regale/bore and most definately embarrass them with photographic evidence ,in years to come.Of course my two year old won't remember a jot of the whole experience but I simply couldn't face yet enother play-it -safe sun package holiday this year.

Myself and my husband had a rare weekend on our own, in Paris ,last year and came back armed with photos of everything to tell the kids all about the trip.I'd never have believed it, but a month later we were in a hotel cafe,here in Cork,southern Ireland,with original Art Deco painted tiles,leaves,organic forms etc,and lo and behold my four year old pipes up"Mammy,is this Paris?"She had made the link between the cafe interior and the interiors in some of the photos.So,I just refuse to believe that the experience will be totally lost on them,as some suggested.Whether memories are carried forward,I don't know....I hope it may lay the foundation for a general enthusiasm for traveling as a family.

We're making a large wooden model of france with a slotted route to move our "car" along.Our photos are stuck in the windows and the kids have found pics/photos to stick on, of the things we'll visit.(I'm an art teacher)It's quite messy and not geographically accurate but we're having fun and I have a four year old that freaks out if routine is interupted in any way so I'm hopeing this will help her to cope with or at least expect some of what's about to happen.We had no holiday last year ,due to extreme behavioural problems,with the same child so this enjoyable,relaxing family holiday is needed!!

Thanks for the great advice Barbara in Fl.about packing(guilty as charged) and the advice about spliting up as a family into two groups,so that I could do something"cultural"with my 7yr old daughter.I still plan to take a balloon ride over the Chateau area with her,as a treat for both of us.

The overall opinion about more time in Paris is a great idea and something I knew myself,I just need it confirmed.I'm just wondering if it's possible/a good idea to make the journey from Roscoff to Paris in one trip,with three kiddies in the car...and navigating/ driving in Paris city centre.I'd be happy to hear how others got on with the same journey and if anyone has any idea where we can get accurate route planning ,esp. for the entering and navigating Paris.If we did stop over en route to Paris ,any ideas where would be the best town to stay over?

We do plan to take it very easy in Paris,visiting the Lux. gardens,merry-go-rounds,creperies,Bartillions for ice cream and of course a trip on the bateaux mouches.Ditto with the chateaux region...I've found a mini-parc which has 24 regional chateaux in minature esp. for children.The Son-Et _luimiere show is meant to be a must but I've no idea how to prebook tickets.Any ideas?And finally there's a chateau where the sleeping Beauty fable was written-the girls will love it.

To answer your question ,StCirq ,as to why we picked ile D'Oleron for our week's beach holiday,I've been there numerous times as a child and enjoyed it's laid back sleepy french approach.I thought it would be a good contrast to our hectic start of our holiday.Is it still the same?The visit to Puy de Fou sounds great and one I had earmarked as well.Ditto the acquarium at La Rochelle.(thanks Kerouac)

After a week here, we have five days left before returning to roscoff for our boat home.I was planning to spend it at La Grande Metaire Camping site in Carnac,or someother local site.I would however prefer an altogether rustic French style of accomadation,like a converted barn or Gite near a farm?I just feel that the themepark campsite with redcoat entertainers can be got anywhere...I'm looking for something different, something uniquely French....Feel free to jump in any time with suggestions!!!

runnerB is offline  

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