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threehearts Oct 14th, 2007 05:41 AM

Mom and 12 y/o long weekend- Paris or Rome?
I could really use some help from my Fodors friends. My family has had a bit of a difficult year and I would like to take my 12 y/o daughter away, from the evening of 10/31(Wed.) and return on the following Sunday. We would really only have about 48 hrs. of real touring time since I am assuming that Thurs. will be a bit shot. My daughter is dying to go to Rome and I would like that as well. We used to live in EuropeStockholm) so I am not a complete novice but I must admit that I'm a bit afraid to navigate on my own, not speaking the language. Paris flights are much cheaper than to Rome but my last experience in Paris was 20 yrs. ago with a friend and it was not altogether positive. I don't speak a word of French and I had a difficult time trying to communicate. My last trip to Rome, I found the people of that city more willing to work with my attempts. In short, can you please recommend a centrally located hotel in either city that would be able to pre-book English speaking tours and in general, help out a Mom and her daughter who are trying to make the best of a short visit? The price is less important than the customer service and location. If you have an opinion as to which city you prefer for a long weekend and why, that would be wonderful. I have looked at the NYT 36 hrs. in Rome and Paris and I have researched here. I see that people have taken weekend trips but not so much with a child. thanks very much. Threehearts

ellene Oct 14th, 2007 06:00 AM

Took my 11 year old to Paris 6 months ago. I speak no french. Had a fabulous time, language not an issue, great metro system, so easy to get around. But the eiffel tower, top of notre dame, and many visits to Berthillon later, it was a great trip. We only went for 4 days, and it was fine.

threehearts Oct 14th, 2007 06:26 AM

Hi Ellene,

Would you mind letting me know where you stayed and what mode of transportation did you find the most helpful. Did you buy a tourist travel card? Thanks, Threehearts

JeanneB Oct 14th, 2007 08:11 AM

I love both cities, but for your particulars I would choose Paris---unless daughter REALLY wants Rome. Maybe things have changed in 20 years..I have never felt uncomfortable in Paris. On such a short visit I doubt you'll wind up in places where you can't be understood.

You don't say what your budget is, but take a look at Hotel DE Notre Dame. There are several similarly named hotels...this is the one on Rue Maitre Albert. It is about as centrally located as one can get: 100 yards from the river right at Notre Dame. I've stayed there several times and it's very nice. They may have recently changed their name to Hotel Maitre Albert---after the little street they're on. Most reviews here and on Trip Advisor/elsewhere would be under the old name.

opaldog Oct 14th, 2007 08:27 AM

Having been to Paris many times and Rome only once (we are going back this March), I would recommend Paris. We have done a few long weekends to Paris. We always had a great time. We stay in the Marais. We love that area. Our first visit we stayed in the Hotel de la Bretonnerie
This is a reservation website, but you can book the hotel a variety of ways. For a first visit we fell in love with the city, partly due to the location of and room in the hotel. You can walk very easily from the Marais, as well as use public transportation. I would suggest you stay in the 4th as it is nearer to the river. There are so many things to do with a 12 year old in Paris. Of course the usual sights, but I also enjoyed the Canal St. Martin boat ride up and down the locks right through Paris.

MaureenB Oct 14th, 2007 08:38 AM

But, if your daughter is dying to go to Rome, and you would like that as well, I don't see why Rome would be a problem except the airfare might be more, like you said.

I went to Rome with my daughter and it was wonderful. We didn't use any concierge services at our hotel, the Domus Julia, so I can't comment on that. We liked the little hotel, near the Spanish Steps and Barberini Palace.

But, for your needs, many posters rave about the two Daphne properties in Rome. They loan you a cell phone and they are very helpful. There's the Daphne Trevi, and I think the other is called the Daphne Inn. Give them a try for availability-- we couldn't stay there because they had a three-night minimum in May/June.

Good luck with your trip.

Michel_Paris Oct 14th, 2007 08:46 AM

Hi threehearts,

I too would recommend Paris. I was there for a Wed-Sun long weekend last November.

I think you will get a better impression of Paris this time round. With a few key phrase to get you by, a lack of french will not be an issue. Many (most) on this board who go to Paris do no have french proficiency.

Restaurants will post their menus outside, so you can scan/translate before going in. There are places with english menus, but I think will find that they will help. If you search here you will find books/websites (Patricia Wells for example) of menu translators.

Paris is such a beautiful place for walking, sitting in cafes, art, history, architecture, parks..I find it one of my best places to go to forget about back home.

I've been many times, so my trips are turning into mostly just walking, seeing a few sites, eating well,etc..If you go, people here could help plan an itinerary that won't involve "10 AM, Louvre...12-1 lunch, 1-3 Orsay,etc"
There are several posts here of people who took/want to take teenagers to Paris. Some good ideas and feedback (e.g. Fat Bike Tour,Segway tour, shopping, science museum, Seine boat cruises, picnics in parks,Eiffel tower, rollarblading, etc)

Any budget in mind? Hotels in Paris will of course come in all price ranges, but for 100-150 euros per night you can do quite well. I'd recommend staying in the 4/5/6/7th arrondissements (districts) which are central and walking distance to some sights. I know the De Notre Dame hotel, not stayed there, but it is no my list. Good location, very easy walking distance to many things. The LE Notre dame is noather one, it has views of Notre Dame and the Seine, in a bit busier location. If the budget allows it, staying on Ile St Louis is a treat. Island next to the island with Notre Dame, it is a small island area with some good restos, shopping on main street, easy walk to Metro, RER train to airport, and is quieter at night. A nice neighbourhood feel to it.

The Metro and train system is very good, extensive, and not very expensive. Once you use it, easy to get around.

We're here to help...


ira Oct 14th, 2007 12:20 PM

Hi T,

>My daughter is dying to go to Rome and I would like that as well.<

That's that then, init? :)


ira Oct 14th, 2007 12:22 PM

Posted too quickly.

Should you decide to go to Paris:

>recommend a centrally located hotel in either city that would be able to pre-book English speaking tours and in general, help out ...<

We always stay at the Hotel Bonaparte, 61 Rue Bonaparte in the 6th. From 128E dbl w/bkfst. It is located near 3 metro stops. Has AC and an elevator.

Tel 33 1 43 26 97 37
FAX 33 1 46 33 57 67
[email protected]

For more info, enter "Hotel Bonaparte" in the "search this forum" box.

Photos are at


MilenaM Oct 14th, 2007 04:48 PM

Three summers ago, I took my then 10 year old daughter to Rome, Paris, Brussels and Bruges. She liked Rome more than she liked Paris. The only regret I have is going to the Roman Zoo in the Borghese Gardens, which we could have done without. Enjoy your stay!

SusanP Oct 14th, 2007 05:33 PM

Well, Rome is my favorite place, so you know what I would recommend! But more important, your daughter is dying to go there. Why is there any question in your mind as to where you should go?!

I can't help with hotels in Rome, as I usually stay in an apartment, but I wouldn't write off Thursday completely.

As someone who has chosen to go to Rome during a very difficult time in my life, I would highly recommend that you forget the tours. You have Thursday, Friday & Saturday to work with. Pick one or two things that you really want to see for each day (OK, only one thing for Thursday, the easiest and preferably outdoors), and then just enjoy Rome in between (stroll, stop for a gelato, enjoy the fountains, etc., there is something around every corner). Rome is a great place to get perspective and just relax and enjoy all the beautiful things available.

Ask your daughter what three things she would most like to see in Rome, and include one each day. Then just enjoy. :-d

JeanneB Oct 14th, 2007 05:56 PM

For Rome, also take a look at Hotel Parlamento. I don't think the website shows the terrace rooms, but they're reviewed extensively on Trip Advisor. Good location, easy walk to everything.

You will find Rome hotels considerably more expensive than Paris.

threehearts Oct 15th, 2007 04:08 AM

You are all just wonderful!! Thanks for the tips on Paris and Rome. We would like to spend no more than $500USD/night on a hotel and have it be in walking distance to many attractions. In Rome, my daughter would like to go to the Vatican and see the main historic sites. I understand that we could get a taxi back to our hotel from the Vatican if we say a prayer and beg(LOL). I was thinking of a guided tour to see as much as possible in the short amount of time. Not to bore you but I am on chemotherapy and while generally well, I'm hoping for a trip where getting to the sites is easy and where I perhaps don't have to navigate the bus system. This is really pathetic but I am just terrible with a sense of direction. If a person tells me to go north on Main St., I might get lost. On the other hand, I'm okay with maps and Metros. Again, I so appreciate all of the thoughtful advice. I'm leaning toward Rome as it is my daughter's dream but I can also see possibilities with Paris. I'm a little daunted by getting around Paris with a child but feeling more confident now. Susan

JeanneB Oct 15th, 2007 07:25 AM

$500US will buy you a fantastic hotel in either city. I don't even have a list of hotels in that range, but I know the del Senato (Rome) is often and highly recommended here.

We only used a cab in Rome a couple of times, but it was easy (especially letting the hotel do it for us!). There's no ubiquitous metro like in Paris. But I think you'll do about the same amount of walking in either place.

Your trip sounds dreamy. Have a wonderful time!

MaureenB Oct 15th, 2007 08:04 AM

$500USD/night is a healthy budget! We saw this little hotel, smack in the middle of designer shopping on Condotti street, and thought it looked very classy. I am not good with directions, either, but from this location, we could walk to the Trevi, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Navonna.

From my trip notes:
"La Lumiere di Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps), has rooftop dining, is in an old mansion on Condotti street. More expensive than our Hotel Julia, I'm sure."

Sounds like you deserve a get-away. Have fun planning it.

dawnnoelm Oct 15th, 2007 08:19 AM

I highly recommend Context Tours. We used them in Rome and Florence last summer and they were wonderful. I had my 10 year old and 14 year old with us.

Nikki Oct 15th, 2007 08:35 AM

Since your daughter really wants to go to Rome and you would also like that, it would be my first choice. The only reason I would pick Paris instead would be if you could get non-stop flights to Paris but not to Rome.

I fly from Boston, which does have non-stop flights to Paris but not to Rome. For a short trip such as the one you propose, the less time you spend traveling to and from Europe the better. And if you do decide on Paris, I would add that I do not think it is any harder to get around Paris than Rome; in fact I think it is easier. I also think you will find more people who speak English in Paris now than you did twenty years ago.

gruezi Oct 15th, 2007 09:43 AM

Dear Threehearts,

I have a daughter about the same age as yours and another one who is 17... Was reading your thread for ideas as I head to Paris with the older one in Nov... We also spent 8 days in Rome in May. I think either ciy will be fun for you both. Pick one or two things each day to do and then just stroll and enjoy some shopping and people watching.

I'm an oncology nurse so your story really touches me. I hope you have a really nice bonding weekend with your daughter. Try to remember that your weekend away is

gruezi Oct 15th, 2007 09:49 AM

ugh... computer ate that before I was ready...

anyway, remember your perfect weekend away may not look like anybody elses and so do what feels like fun to you both at the time and don't worry too much about itineraries etc.

In Rome, my girls loved the Vatican, Villa Borghese and the Pantheon. Plus gelato and pasta and hanging out around the Spanish Steps...

I wish you a wonderful trip - please let us know how it goes!

Diane60030 Oct 15th, 2007 11:59 AM

If your daughter wan't to visit the Vatican you might want to consider staying at a near by convent.

Has a listing of a number of them. It doesn't sound like you are going to have to worry about a curfew so this might work for you.

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