Major help - London/Paris - please

Jan 10th, 2008, 08:33 AM
  #1  
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Major help - London/Paris - please

Hi everyone,

First off, thank you for taking the time to read a rather long request!

My family (myself, DH, daughters just 9 and 11) had been planning to visit London and Paris. To make a very long and painful story short, my very dear friend passed away this fall. Her husband and 2 DD (just 9 and 14) have decided, yesterday, to accompany us on part our trip. I honestly stopped planning our trip just before all this began and have just now, very panicked, began planning in earnest – except now I have to take into account 2 other kids - teenager ! and a family in a fragile state.

So, here are the logistics:
- my family is arriving in London Friday 3/14 and staying at Marriott County Hall
- they are arriving Sunday 3/16 and staying at same hotel
- leaving Thursday 3/20 – taking Eurostar to Paris
- staying in Paris at Hotel de la Bretonnerie in Le Marais for 4 nights
- departing Monday 3/24


I think we are staying in 2 centrally located areas so getting to things won’t be difficult.
London – my thoughts in no particular order or itinerary:
- London Eye – we’ll be right there
- Harry Potter tour
- Theater show – we’ll check for ½ price tickets
- Tower of London – probably too late for Ceremony of the Keys
- Hampton Court Palace – will probably do before they arrive since we’ll have time
- Duck tours
- Some museums (natural History, Science, British) – need to read on what’s offered
- Covent Gardens (my DD desperately wants to go to David and Goliath store)
- Some type of market depending on what day we go and what’s open
- Some type of afternoon tea – can be casual – don’t need fancy or pricey

Paris – much of the same
- Rodin Museum – I have a vague memory of Easter egg hunt there on Sunday
- Fat Bike Tours
- Seine cruise – hopefully evening – have to check hours
- Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe
- Louvre
- Versaille – I would love it but time might not permit

I know there are so many things to do that we’ll never be able to accomplish them. But I really want the girls to have fun and get a flavor for each city. All suggestions welcome.

Many thanks,
Jeannine
jasperdog is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 10:31 AM
  #2  
 
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Condolences about your friend, but this is a nice thing to do for her family.

I know Paris better, and that part looks fine for a few ideas to cover in a long weekend. Because that is Easter weekend, there will be a lot of people in Paris, of course, so things will be busier than usual. Decorated chocolate eggs are important for that holiday, so I think the girls would enjoy if you can get some chocolate at some of the nice chocolate shops that should have some good displays for Easter. Your hotel is in a nice area and convenient location, so that is good. I might be wrong, but some of your ideas on museums seem a little adult to appeal a lot to those ages of girls. I mean, maybe they will really like them, but I think something else might be better than Rodin. I don't think I would have been that interested in Rodin's sculptures when I was 10, let me put it that way -- but I would have liked seeing famous paintings, like Monet's water lilies, etc. I always liked Medieval work, also -- perhaps because I was raised Catholic, so was around a lot of religious statues, etc.

What I'm saying is that I might think the Musee d'Orsay, the Cluny or the Orangerie, and the Petit Palais might be a bigger success than the Rodin -- the Louvre is just huge, but you can target areas and they will no doubt want to see it. They might like the Pompidou a lot, also, not just for the modern art, but because it's kind of a cool building, fun to go up the outside escalators, and there are lots of people and activity around the outside. The Petit Palais is just a lovely museum in a beautiful building and has a wide variety of art styles, but is not too big, so is very enjoyable to visit. They have at least one lovely Monet in there, also, that is one of my favorites.

I don't like if they do an Easter egg hunt at Rodin -- could be, searching for chocolate eggs in a garden is a tradition for Easter, but mainly a family thing.
Christina is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 10:53 AM
  #3  
 
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The Segway tour is also a possibility. There is also the rollerblading on Friday nights.

Do the kids have an interest in museums? The Cluny is a nice, interesting and small museum, built over roman baths. There is also, in theme, the Arene de lutece nearby, roman arena (small).

A walking tour might be also worthwile, Paris Walks is one I've used several times. There are two that they offer that cover the area of your hotel (Marais)

I like museums, but prefer ones I can pop-in and out. If you get good guidebooks (I've seen people recommend Rick Steves) you could manage the Louvre. A few small ones I like are Marmottan, Rodin, Jacquemart-Andre.

Part of enjoying Paris is just walking around. Allow some time in your days for wandering a neighbourhood, be it the Islands, along the Seine, Montmartre, the Left Bank, the Marais,etc...

For Versailles you can do either on your own or via tour bus. Cityrama and Parisvision and the two biggies. Thye also offer Versailles and other location combos. If you go on your own you can get there early to avoid some of the crowds, and spend as much time as you want in the gardens/grounds.

I stayed at that hotel a long while ago, like location and beamed rooms.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 11:01 AM
  #4  
 
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My condolences on the loss of your friend – I hope this trip will help ease the grieving process.

I’ll add my two cents worth (or approximately 1p worth) on London. You have a chosen a great hotel. I have stayed there approximately a dozen times in the last couple of years and the worst complaint I have is that once there was not a cord for my computer in the room. The hotel has a wonderful swimming pool – so if you are interested pack costumes.

Some will say catch the tube from LHR to CHM but with four and then three people travelling I would book a car from http://www.justairports.com/. If you do take the tube, change from the Piccadilly line to the District line at Hammersmith and get off at Westminster– that way you just walk across the platform. There’s an elevator at Westminster. When I am on my own I always take the tube but with four people I’d book the car.

To get to Hampton Court you take the train from Waterloo – which is almost hopping distance from CHM (again a good choice).

You are within easy walking distance from Covent Garden (cross the Charing Cross bridge – it makes the walk a little shorter).

Don’t forget that the Eurostar now goes from St Pancras – if you don’t have too much luggage and are not travelling in rush hour I would take the tube from Embankment (again walk over Charing Cross Bridge – which has elevators if you don’t want to use the steps)

London museums are free so you can easily nip in for an hour or so. The Victoria and Albert museum has interesting fashions on display which your daughters may like.

Have a great trip
wombat7 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 11:19 AM
  #5  
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Wow,

Thank you so much for your kind words and ideas.

Christina, the Rodin museum was only because I have, in some paper pile, the name of a museum that has an easter egg hunt for kids - and I think it was the Rodin museum - thanks for the heads-up, though. As far as the Louvre - we might split-up depending on the mood of the younger girls.

Rollerblading sounds like a blast - hopefully I can rent them???

Thanks for the reassuring thoughts on the hotel choices.

Jeannine

jasperdog is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 11:21 AM
  #6  
 
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It sounds like a great trip, and so nice of you to go with your friends family. We did a similar trip last year with my kids DD11 and DS8. I'll list their favorites:
London Eye
London Aquarium (right next to the Eye)
Millennium Bridge
Tate Modern
Mary Poppins
Trafalgar square
Trying out different candies
Chinese and Iranian food in London
London tower
Eiffel Tower
People watching in front of Notre Dame.
Picnicking in the Rodin gardens
Cluny museum (DD was studying about the tapestries in school)
Pompidou center
Crepes
Walking along the Seine
Taking the metro
Montmartre
Their least favorites:
The British Museum
Versailles
The Louvre
I suggest going to museums relating to what they are learning in school, their interest increases immensely if it is something they can tell their teacher about. Have a great trip.
happytotravel is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 01:09 PM
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jasperdog, if the kids want to go to the Rodin museum, sure, I'd go, if they understand who the artist is and the type of work. I don't know if they have an Easter egg hunt or not, but aren't they rather old for that kind of thing? Where I live, public Easter egg rolls are limited to young children (less than age 7). I think you are forgetting their ages. Unless you just wanted to go to look at it, of course, for fun.

The Friday night rollerblading event is for people who are very good. I don't know if children that young are even in it, but you have to be really good and it is very long (and lasts until very late). It's basically an organized public roller-blade "parade" that starts by gathering at the foot of Montparnasse tower around 10:30-11 pm. Then they roller-blade on a set route on the streets (and the police block it off, like a parade, for protection) for several hours until after midnight, and it goes for miles and miles. Of course, they can't make you do the whole thing -- the first segment goes across the river to the Trocadero, that's probably around 5-6 miles or 10 km, I guess. It doesn't go in the rain or if it's misty, of course. I don't know if there is an age limit, but it's for experienced bladers.

They have another one more for beginners that meets sometimes on Sundays at 2:30 at place de la Bastille. I don't know that much about them or how that works, as I've never seen them on the streets, and I have seen the Friday night one. www.rollers-coquillages.org

I kind of doubt they'd do that on Easter, myself, but I am just guessing. That may be a bit much to plan if you are only there a few days, but here is one rental place for roller-blades if you want one (it is near the Bastille):
http://www.nomadeshop.com
Christina is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 01:48 PM
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I was going to suggest renting bikes for the day, thru new Velib program. Multiple pick-up /drop-off locations.

http://www.velib.paris.fr/

But I see minimum age is 14
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 02:29 PM
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I wouldn't participate in the Friday night rollerblading event (unless you're an expert, but definitely not for the kids), but it's really fun to be out on the street, watch them all whizzing by. It really is like a parade of sorts.

I agree with the comment above that the Musee d'Orsay and especially the Orangerie might be better museum choices for girls that age. The Orsay is just such a neat building, and you could talk to them about its history as a train station, etc.

Also, weather permitting, the Luxembourg gardens would be a great place to go. There are always other kids around there, if it's not during school hours I guess.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 02:32 PM
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Also, the Pompidou Centre would also be fun, just for the "coolness" and "neato" factor.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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If you're at the Victoria & Albert Museum & want tea, try the cafeteria. I think it's in the basement but you can easily be directed there. They serve loose tea with many kinds to choose from plus you can get sandwiches, scones, etc. It's not fancy but good & not expensive.
Carrybean is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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A slightly cheaper alternative to the expensive posh hotel teas are Liberty and Selfridges afternoon teas.

The Liberty menu starts at about £10 per person, and the cafe (ground floor, handbag dept) decor is quite cool.

Selfridges teas are in the basement, and are not at all oldy-worldy, but the price (circa £7 pp) probably can't be beaten, and the kids/teenagers will love looking round the shop - expecially if they are girls.

The Duck tours are a great idea, and the Science/Natural history musuems very kid-friendly. The Science museum used to have a really gruesome exhibit sponsored by Wellcome with mock-ups of old dental surgeries, operating theatres etc, with frighteningly ancient bits of equipment and terrified-looking waxwork figures being 'operated on'!
RM67 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 04:57 PM
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PS Haven't tried it yet, but Fortnums have opened an old-fashioned ice-cream parlour with very exotic sounding sundaes (menu is online if you can be bothered to look 8-)). Might be another popular one with the kiddies....
RM67 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 05:01 PM
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For the Tower of London, it really helps to buy tickets in advance---you can skip the line. Just arrive 10 minutes or so before opening---there will be a bit of a line to get in, but not nearly as long as the ticket line! Go straight to see the jewels, then find a guided tour and join that. Lots of fun---our girls that age loved it.

http://www.hrp.org.uk/

I believe there is a combined ticket for the Tower and hampton Court on the website, if you want to do both in a day (or maybe you don't have to go the same day; I'm not sure about that).
enzian is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 05:03 PM
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Another idea---our girls really enjoyed eating at Wagamamma. We went several times, at their request.
enzian is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 07:06 PM
  #16  
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Thanks again,

As far as the easter egg hunt - we always have a neighborhood hunt at our house so it would be for a bit of home on easter.

It sounds like the roller blading might be something we'd like to watch.

Thanks for the ideas on tea - I definitely will look more at your suggestions.

Wagamamma - I believe there is one across from our hotel and since my youngest lives on noodles I think we'll visit there a lot!

Again, many thanks for all your help - it is a great help to me.
Jeannine
jasperdog is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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There is a noodle place closer to CHM called Aji Noodle Bar - it is on Westminster Bridge Rd (same road as the regular entrance to CHM assuming they have finally finished the renovations to the entrance way. I preferred Aji to Wagagama
wombat7 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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In Paris I would spend time touring Notre Dame instead of the Eiffel Tower if I had to pick one. The PBS show based on David Macaulay's Cathedral is an excellent introduction to Gothic cathedral construction/history
If you climb to the tower of ND you see the gargoyles and the bell, plus a great view of Paris

I agree the area around the Centre Pompidou is likely to appeal to your kids.
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