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Paris in december with an 11 yr old...?

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Nov 12th, 2011, 01:34 PM
  #1
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Paris in december with an 11 yr old...?

I want to take my 11 year old son to Europe for the first time this December and spend a week ending New Years Day in Paris. My husband is not convinced it is a good idea-mostly because of the weather. I went as a child and loved it, but I am not a boy. I loved the shops and markets and dressing up for dinner. My son is a bit of a foodie and generally loves a good museum (if it is not epic). He is also very active.

Is this a good idea or should I wait until the weather is warmer... any itinerary ideas? I know about the "must sees," but any off the beaten path ideas would be most welcome.

Thanks,
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Nov 12th, 2011, 02:18 PM
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Anybody will love Paris at Christmas, no matter what age. If the boy needs a little extra convincing, take him to the Musée des Arts Forains which will certainly be exceptionally open again: http://tinyurl.com/2vl8mw3
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Nov 12th, 2011, 02:28 PM
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Go, go, go.

My kids' first trip to Paris was over a freezing cold Martin Luther King weekend, and I think my eldest was your son's age then. Their next trip the following years was a week for the Millennium celebration, ending shortly after New Year's Day (where everything is closed). They didn't see Paris in spring/summer for eons. 20+ trips later, they still love it, hot or cold.

Yes, they are female but we certainly did not go shopping in those early years--that had to wait until my sister the fashionista came along. What we DID do during that Millennium week was start almost every day in the Louvre. Since we had a museum pass, we'd start with coffee and pastry, explore one wing/floor, and get the heck out before crowds invaded and then would do something else.

If your kid is a foodie, fantastic. I always told the kids that they could order whatever they wanted in a patisserie between museums as long as they ordered in French and as long as they did the requisite, "Bonjour, Madame" /"Bonjour, Monsieur" business. Their French language skills grew with their waistlines.

As I've often mentioned on this forum, an obvious "go to" for kids besides food are STAIRS. There are lots of neat stairs in Paris--Eiffel Tower, L'Arc de Triomphe, rooftop of Sacre Coueur (AND the Abbesses Metro Station there plus the funiculare), the towers of Notre Dame, to name just a few. Paris is also a fantastic place for route mapping for kids--the Metro system is very logical. Your son would love figuring out how to get to the day's outing via bus/RER/Metro.

So good luck convincing your husband.
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Nov 12th, 2011, 04:10 PM
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Go! Take your 11 year old son! When our son was 13 we had the good fortune to spend a week in Paris in January. We balanced the fine art with military history, sit-down dinners with street food, "girlie" shopping with passages and street shopping, ice skating at the Hotel de Ville, stops for crepes whenever he wanted, and (almost) free rein at Shakespeare & Co., and he loved it. We also toured the Paris sewers, pushed boats in the jardin des tuileries with his younger sister, and took a day trip to Versailles. Paris is wonderful in any weather!
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Nov 12th, 2011, 04:33 PM
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The museum of science and the music museum in parc de la Villette might be of interest.
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Nov 12th, 2011, 08:56 PM
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Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement! I am a new forum participant and it is so great to hear feedback from fellow lovers of Paris.

Has anyone done the Seqway tour? I am not sure it will be running then, but could be fun? Or the sewer tour?

I imagine we will be doing many climbs- especially interested in the top of the L'Arc de Triomphe - when I went as a child, we didn't do that. Is it worth it to go to Versailles - even if the gardens are dormant?

I am so excited now... I am only worried about getting flights... thanks all!
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Nov 12th, 2011, 10:02 PM
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You can take your boys to Disneyland. they open though out the new year season, and they have special new year events.
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Nov 12th, 2011, 10:10 PM
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With all of Paris to explore, I sure would not go to Disneyland.
In addition to visiting the iconic sights, my grandchildren, younger than your son, loved just hanging out, drinking chocolat chaud in cafes, riding the Metro, etc.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 12:01 AM
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We took our kids (girl 12, boy 9) this past summer. Some of the things they liked could still be enjoyed in the winter. We all really enjoyed the Rodin Museum, climbing Notre Dame, Versailles (interior too). The military museum connected with Napoleon's tomb might also be interesting. Happy planning.

more info in my trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
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Nov 13th, 2011, 03:58 AM
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nyackdreamer, we went on the sewers tour--rather interesting. Here is our trip report if you'd like our complete itinerary:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
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Nov 13th, 2011, 04:04 AM
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Took my son at 11 over Xmas he had a blast.It was quite cold and actually snowed(beautiful) but the downside was frozen dog
poop land mines everywhere so dress warm and careful with those.

Get him and yourself in the mood by renting
"Midnight in Paris" the new Woddy Allen movie awesome

eurocheapo.com/Paris budget tips guide

hotel-collegedefrance.com Templars Quarters over by the Sorbonne was a great area with lots of young folks.

www.travelforkids.com/Funtodo/France/paris.htm
Fun things to do with your kids in Paris, France.

www.parisvoice.com latest happenings

So go by all means dress warm and have fun!
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Nov 13th, 2011, 04:13 AM
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NYE was AMAZING!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUp4uAm0Bss
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Nov 13th, 2011, 07:29 AM
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I agree with skipping Disneyland! What about Napoleon's tomb and the army museum? The catacombs might be of interest to him, as well. Maybe a cruise on the Seine at night to see the wonderful sights, all lit up!

I have been to Paris the past 3 years and have seen no "poop" land mines!

Do it...get your tickets and go!
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Nov 16th, 2011, 09:01 AM
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Well, We bought our tickets and are going! Found a great little apartment in Le Marais. So happy.

If anyone has any restaurant suggestions, I would appreciate it.


Thanks to you all!
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Nov 16th, 2011, 09:39 AM
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Absolutely go... and do the boy stuff as mentioned above. Consider introducing him (by book or movie) to the DaVinci Code.

It's been so "done" but will give him a frame of reference for certain sites and could be very fun going on a city-wide scavenger hunt for certain things he'll always remember.

Have him read/watch the Hunchback of Notre Dame and even Ratatouille. Having traveled for many years with our three teens (the eldest was 11 months old his first trip to Europe) we've learned two things (1) that it is critical to give them a frame of reference beforehand for what they are seeing and (2) get him completely involved in the trip planning, even giving him certain days to plan including mapping out his start, transportation, visits, tickets, food, reservations and finish. You'll be surprised at how much he can do at this age!

Ex: Our (then) 10 year old planned our first day in London. We did the British Museum to see the Tut exhibit, had lunch and then went on the London Eye. Another day, we went to the Tower of London, lunch at another pub and went on an evening Ripper walking tour, ending at the Ten Bells to see the Friday night parade of in-line skaters. Both were GREAT days and he planned it all.

By the way.... ALWAYS make time for an extra snack or slip into a cafe for pommes frites. This will keep him going.

Quite honestly, though... I'd skip Disney Paris.
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Nov 16th, 2011, 09:44 AM
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Meals: What would he like to try? And what area of the Marais are you in? There are a lot of fun little things in the Marais--this link has a good overview:
http://www.absolutemarais.com/cuisine.htm

Here's what I'm thinking:
I think that other than New Year's Eve, you really could let your son be the "scout" for restaurants. If you are in part of the Marais near Ile de St. Louis, the main drag there is a restaurant row. Perfect scouting!

When my kids were little, I'd walk up and down the Ile with them, reading off the menus, helping them with the translations and explaining what those dishes probably were, and then after looking at six or so menus, they'd decide which place we'd try to get in. I'd usually give them a budget so that they could decide which prix fixe offering suited their taste buds and my pocketbook best.

As you are probably well aware from your travels, since Parisians eat so late at night, we Americans can often get a table around 7:30 (or 7:00 if they were open) without reservations, or at least without reservations days ahead.

I have often felt that reservations far ahead creates a "forced march" to a reserved meal schedule, and then that takes all the joy out of the day, especially for kids. Since you have an apartment, you get to take advantage of the rotisserie chicken/potatoes in dripping take-outs you see at the markets. Wonderful. And that link I sent you has some of the Marais delis in it.

Nevertheless, you should reserve for at least NYE ASAP. Is there something you have in mind for that night?
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Nov 16th, 2011, 07:20 PM
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I hate to say it but I think there is some kind of medieval restaurant on Ile St Louis that he might find fun...on the main drag as AZ (WOF, to me) mentioned. I think the Brasserie de Ile St Louis is good. Both are on rue St Louis en Ile.
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