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jazztravel Dec 30th, 2010 08:49 AM

London and Paris
I will be travelling to Paris for 2 weeks in July. I will be taking the Eurotrain to London for a 3 night stay near Covent Garden. I will be going with my husband and our 9 year old son. I need advice on what to do in London during the 3 night stay. We would like to visit one or two museums, see the Big Ben, the London Bridge and of course go on the London Eye. I realize that 3 nights / 4 days may not be enough to see London, but would like some advice on what not to miss. That leaves us 10 days to do Paris. Any advice on travelling with a 9 year old in Paris?

1. London Itinerary / Advice / Pointers?
2. Paris Itinerary / Advice / Recommendations?

Thanks :)

Hooameye Dec 30th, 2010 09:17 AM

"We would like to visit one or two museums, see the Big Ben, the London Bridge"

Don't think it's London Bridge (a dull 70's concrete bridge) you want to see but more like Tower Bridge.

alanRow Dec 30th, 2010 09:59 AM

It's not the "Eurotrain" but the Eurostar

As to what to see - start with the British Museum & the Natural History Museums. Both are world class and appeal to the 9 yr old in all of us. They are also FREE.

MissPrism Dec 30th, 2010 09:59 AM

Yes, London Bridge is nothing special.
You probably want to see Tower Bridge which is the one in all the Tourist brochures. You can see it as part of a visit to the Tower of London. Try to go early if you don't want to have a long queue for the Crown Jewels. You would probably enjoy a beefeater's tour. The guides are informative and amusing.
The clock tower where Big Ben (large bell) hangs, is by the Houses of Parliament. You can see it in passing if you go to Westminster Abbey which is one of London's "must sees" in my opinion.
As for museums, you definitely should see the British Museum. The nine year old, if he is typical will probably be fascinated by the Egyptian stuff.
He might also like the Science Museum.

jazztravel Dec 30th, 2010 10:14 AM

alanRow. yes I meant Eurostar. thanks for the correction.

Hooameye: it is my son's request to see the London Bridge, probably due to the song he used to sing "london bridge is falling down". I guess we can just pass by it and not spend much time there. Thanks for the advice MissPrism :)

ellenem Dec 30th, 2010 10:23 AM

The London Bridge that is in London is a modern structure. The original historic London Bridge was dismantled and rebuilt in Arizona.

Tower Bridge may be the wrong name, but it may do the trick with your son.

denisea Dec 30th, 2010 10:26 AM

The tower of London is great for history, creepiness and the Crown Jewels!! I also love Westminster and am still kicking myself for not going to the British museum. If travel outside London is an option then I loved Canterbury!
The London Eye is great for the view, not sure it's must!

Paris...if the 9 yr old likes history and war then the Musee de L'Armee is great and includes some incredible armor (even Japanese and Chinese) and WW1/WW2 exhibits and lots on Napoleon. Maybe the catacombs??? Not sure if that would creep him out or he would think it was cool!!

texasbookworm Dec 30th, 2010 10:40 AM

I guess you have 2 full days plus whatever you have left after arriving from Paris? If so:

1. I'd second the recommendations above that 3 must-sees, for all of you, are The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the British Museum. Each of these should be allotted about a half a day (The Abbey COULD just take a couple hours, but coupling that with a look around near it=half a day).
2. I'd second the recommendation to get to the Tower before opening and go straight to the Crown Jewels before seeing the rest of it. The Abbey also gets more and more crowded as the day goes by, so touring it at opening is also advised.
3. So perhaps the leftover part of your arrival day could be seeing the neighborhood, getting acclimated, maybe go to British Museum, maybe do the London Eye if weather is good. It will be light very late, barring rain clouds, in July. That would leave then 2 whole days for other things.
4. The next two days you could go the the Tower (and see the Tower Bridge) in the morning and perhaps St.Paul's (whether you go in or not--the climb up to the Golden Gallery for a spectacular view of the city is way cool, though! not to mention St. Paul's itself!) and the London Bridge area in the afternoon. The other day you can tour Westminster Abbey in the morning and then take a walk to nearby Westminster Bridge see Big Ben and Parliament--this would also be a day to walk on over to the London Eye if you didn't already. This day would leave you with all afternoon for something else.
5. You might all enjoy a boat ride to or from Greenwich and a half day spent there--Maritime Museum and Prime Meridian. This excursion would take a half day, though.
6.You all might enjoy the Imperial War Museum. Walking over the Westminster Bridge to it and a nice 2-3 hour visit there would make a good afternoon.

Get a good map of London, if you haven't, so when you make your tentative plans you can see if sites are fairly close. The sites to see in London are very spread out; it's a walkable city with great public transport, but travel does take time and should be factored in. Continue to include your son in the planning, too!

janisj Dec 30th, 2010 11:53 AM

When you visit the Tower of London (which is not to be missed) Tower Bridge is right there. Half of the tourists around you will think that is London Bridge - just play dumb and go along w/ that :)

Photo of Tower Bridge:

Photo of London Bridge:

Now you see what we mean . . .

jazztravel Dec 30th, 2010 11:54 AM

thank you all for your comments. Great itinerary texasbookworm.

What about the double decker bus tours as trasportation? We did the 2 day pass in Barcelona a few years ago and it was absolutely great. They had 2 lines (red and blue) and you could pretty much hop on and off every few blocks and see the whole city if you did the 2 circles. Is it the same for London?

jazztravel Dec 30th, 2010 12:21 PM

lol janisj... thats funny... thanks :)

texasbookworm Dec 30th, 2010 12:31 PM

Others may say differently, but we, in our 3 trips, have never "messed" with any bus tour. I imagine that tickets for such a bus "tour" will be much much more than the price of public transport. And we never wanted to use our precious time riding around on a bus flying past lots of stuff when we could walk or tube to a few things and actually have time to see them. Many of the iconic things you think of--Big Ben, Parliament, the Thames, the bridges, the Eye--are all going to be easily seen on your proposed itinerary. (Oh, you can easily fit in Trafalgar Square on one of your days, probably the first one, or one evening, as it's not far from Covent Garden.) We mapped out our destinations, and getting to and from them, walking and using the Tube, afforded us with lots of opportunity to see part of the city. Be reconciled--you will NOT see most or even a lot of London. That's ok. Just plan to NOT rush too much at the stuff you do decide to see. (I have spent about 3 weeks in London, on 3 trips, and while I have re-visited some places, I still have a LONG list of stuff I'd like to see!)

As for public transport--there are lots of threads here about that. I THINK you will want to buy 2 Oyster Cards (son travels free with adult) OR 3 One-day Travel Cards for each adult. There are SO many permutations I won't even attempt to address them. Search for threads on that if you want. Such "passes" (either paper travel cards or plastic Oyster cards which are either "loaded" with paper-travel-cards value or with however much cash value you decide so they become PAYG (pay as you go) devices) are good for tube and bus travel. It's actually much more complicated to read about than it is to actually do!

avalon Dec 30th, 2010 01:00 PM

Your boy and husband would enjoy the Imperial War Museum, lots of exhibits especially for children. Also the National Army Museum in Chelsea has programs and easy to understand exhibits for kids and adults. I actually enjoy the IWM myself and they do a great lunch! We visit on every trip. I agree with texasbookworm. Skip the HOHO bus, big expense. Get an Oyster and load it for the 2 adults. Kids are free. There is also a 2 for 1 offer that is available with one day travel cards purchased at train stations. A few months ago we got lots of 21 for 1 entries buy showing our Eurostar tickets, both in London and Paris. Don't know if it still being offered, check the Eurostar website

jazztravel Dec 30th, 2010 02:39 PM

wow texasbookworm thanks... you're so thorough and detail oriented. your answers helped me so much... I just mapped out a rough draft of things to do in London and I think those are the exact things I want to do my 1st time there... I think I will just add a few walks in the park if the weather permits which can be fit in anytime after lunch or dinner... I think I will probably have to sneak out for those walks with my son while my husband takes in afternoon naps so he won't be cranky lol :)

Thanks Avalon for the public transport info. "the bus tour" I went on in Barcelona was pretty cheap and really worked for us there. But I will definitely not do it in London. Different city, different way to see it! Maybe I will use that concept for Paris to hop on and off the Batobus, although I can't remember how expensive that was back 10 years ago. Probably much less affordable now considering we used franks then and will be using Euros now...


alanRow Dec 30th, 2010 02:58 PM

"The original historic London Bridge was dismantled and rebuilt in Arizona. "

The "original" London Bridge was built in Roman times and there were at least 2 others built between then and the 19th century London Bridge.

The song "London Bridge Is Falling Down" is several hundred years old and was supposed to refer to the Medieval London Bridge (the one with the buildings on it) though the song itself evolved over the years and new verses added

nytraveler Dec 30th, 2010 06:06 PM

With a 9 year old you want to focus on the Tower of London, the London Eye, a boat trip on the Thames - perhaps a visit to Greenwich, the Natural History and science Museums, the Zoo in Regent's Park and either Windsor Castle or Hampton Court Palace.

But - he's certainly old enough to pick out some things himself. Get one of the better guide books with lots of pictures and brief histories of each place and let him pick some places.

He may want to see the London Dungeon (all kids seem to love it - but it's truly awful) and Mme Tussaud's (ditto) - so negotiate so you can see some things you really want.

For adults I would include as must sees the British Museum, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's.

London has enough sites to last 3 months - never mind 3 days - so you will have to be very careful in your selection.

avalon Dec 31st, 2010 01:13 AM

Don't know the cosat but I'd bet a 9 year old would love the Duck Tour.It's a bus that converts into a boat and cruises the Thames

avalon Dec 31st, 2010 01:15 AM

Here's the link

jazztravel Jan 1st, 2011 11:44 AM

thanks :)

surfmom Jan 1st, 2011 02:13 PM

I'll come back and write more - we did this exact trip last with our kids - ages 6, 8, and 10 at the time.

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