London and Paris

Old Jan 1st, 2011, 03:28 PM
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Many good suggestions above.

Will echo all those who say London Bridge is a big nothing to see, just a generic bridge -- if you must, it can be a relatively quick walk-by or walk-over on the way to somewhere else.

Also, please do all you can to avoid Madame Tussaud's. It's horridly expensive, inexplicably crowded, crammed with souvenir and food stands, and in content a dull time-waster. There are so many great things in London to see -- if getting to a branch of MT's is a must at some point in your travel experience, I'd save your visit for a city where you have lots more time and fewer competing attractions.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 04:12 PM
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Since you plan to stay near Covent Garden you might visit the London Transport Museum--definitely kid friendly and fun.

Check for books on visiting London and Paris with kids. Fodors and City Walks both have them. I would probably choose City Walks which are printed on cards. Your son could choose cards with attractions that interest him.

After viewing the Tower Bridge and if you have time, take a city bus line that crosses that bridge for the full experience. Love the Duck Tours idea. In both cities consider boat trips or cruises on the river.

With several days in Paris you will have time for some down time which children (and adults) often need. Both cities have lots of parks. Consider a picnic dinner with a view of the Eiffel Tower. You can get take away food lots of places near the rue Cler and find a bench to enjoy your dinner.

I also found the glass-tube shaped elevators at the Arc at La Defense to be a thrill ride.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 09:09 PM
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I think we did MT in Hollywood and I agree bachslunch. I will skip it. thanks

TY avalon for the link. I will look into it.

Surfmom: can't wait to read all about it

Scootoir: I just pictured the picnic by Eifel Tower and already felt relaxed ( i went to my happy place lol). Fabulous ideas! thanks.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 05:22 AM
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I'll go back and read the comments and add thoughts later. I wanted to share reactions before I read others. I'll come back and do Paris in a bit.


=> Roald Dahl - we went outside the city proper and visited the Roald Dahl museum - my kids are Roald Dahl freaks. loved it! On your short schedule, I don't know if I'd take the time unless he also is a Roald Dahl fan.

=> Hampton Court - did a self-tour here. My 10yo was particularly interested in the working kitchens where they were making food. The maze was also a big hit and they were happy they could go through more than once! (we had purchased "annual family" tickets which worked out cheaper - with a day pass, I think you can only go through once).

=> Tower of London - we ended up visiting on 2 different days. Also the Ceremony of the Keys is great! (again, we had the annual pass so could do that). Our 10yo had done a school project on this, so the entire family knew a lot of information and it was fun to see.

=> Tower Bridge - the boy (6yo) especially loved going up in this. We spent a lot of time walking along looking at the different photos of bridgess on the catwalk. By the time we got to the engine room, they were tired of it, so we blew through their quickly - I'd probably just skip it next time.

=> Brass Rubbing at St. Martin's in the Fields - all of the kids loved this! Was family friendly with a cafe adjacent where you can get a meal or carry out beers while the kid is doing brass rubbing. The kids would have spent more time here if I let them.

=> Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle - they were quickly dis-interested and I was glad that I had already made the decision to avoid the one at Buckingham Palace. Too many people, too hard to see, too much patience required.

=> London Transport Museum. I thought the kids would be interested in this, but they were disappointed that most of the buses, trains, etc. were for looking at only. They visit a train museum elsewhere where they spend hours pretending to be conductor, etc. and they wanted to do the same. There was one red bus they could go in, but there ended up being a line-up of kids so they felt pressured to be "quick".

=> Cabinet War Rooms. We tried to explain the historical significance, but they couldn't get past the claustrophobic feeling. I tried to explain how that was the point of it! Didn't help that it was the end of a long day. In retrospect, I really shouldn't have pushed it.

Overall, I found the guards and guides to be extremely kid-engaging in London! In many places, there were kid brochures (look for some of them on-line - it is fun for the kid to read about it before you go!) with things to find, to look for, etc. For example, in Windsor Castle, the guard was telling us stories about the things on the walls.

We found that if we engaged a guard by asking a few questions, we would get a wealth of knowledge. We did NOT do audio-tours - in the past, the kids haven't really been interested. I think many times the guards see people with blank looks on their faces listening to the audio tours - maybe that's why they were so willing to tell us stories ?
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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thanks so much surfmom I can't wait to read about Paris.

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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 06:54 PM
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There are a few Harry Potter 'sites' in London if that's of any interest to your son.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 02:51 PM
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The RAF Museum at Hendon might be interesting for a 9 year old, there are many aircraft on display plus various exhibits, however a bit of a nightmare probably to reach on public transport.
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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 01:58 PM
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On our trip to Paris and London last year, my 10 year old son loved the following:

Hampton Court Palace--We went on a weekend when they were doing live kitchen demonstrations and he got to light the fire with the tinder box, and turn the meat at the pit. He also enjoyed walking through the many gardens especially when "King Henry and his soon to be wife" passed us by in full costume. They paused so we could take a picture with them.

Tower of London--The arms and armour exhibit in the White Tower is fantastic. What an extensive display. We spent around 4 hours at the Tower going in and out of the buildings and we also took the Yeoman Warder's tour which is not to be missed.

Imperial War Museum--a great place for those who enjoy history. They have a trenches exhibit for kids which holds their interest.

Climbing to the top of the Golden Gallery at St Paul's Cathedral. The views are worth the effort!

In Paris, he loved:

The boat ride along the Siene.

The big clock at the Orsay Museum. The Orsay was a former train station. (For the adults, they have great impressionist paintings. Although when we were there, a lot of the paintings were on loan to the De Young Museum in San Francisco while they renovated the Orsay exhibition space, but they still showed plenty of impressionist paintings in a separate lobby area).

Climbing the Arc de Triomphe--again wonderful views of the Grand Boulevards, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Elysee.

Having chocolate on a bench in a Paris park and watching the dogs and pigeons! The Paris parks and gardens are wonderful.

Enjoy your trip
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