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Paris report with teens

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First of all, I want to THANK the Fodor community for all your advice and patience helping me with this trip. This was our second trip to Paris, but the first with our boys ages 15 and 18. We were there June 13 – 20, and then we went to Rome.

We took a cab from CDG airport and for the four of us it cost 62€ (bad traffic). It fit four of us just fine.

We rented our apartment on 33 Rue Claude Bernard (5th arr.) from Pascal Zytomirski. Web site is http://www.vrbo.com/21191. Pascal was great. Very reliable and easy to get in touch with. We paid 1400€ for the week (which was way cheaper than two hotel rooms). The apartment was small, but fit the 4 of us comfortably as it had 2 bedrooms, a nice living room and a modern kitchen (although I never cooked in it there were plenty of supplies). It was clean and had air conditioning and, most importantly, a washer/dryer. The building was safe, we were on the 6th floor and there was a modern (but small) lift. We wanted to be in that location because I think it is slightly less touristy than some parts of Paris and also a little more casual. Rue Mouffetard was our hang out (and supplied us with plenty of food options, a grocery store, a metro stop, and an internet point). I will say that if you are a traveler who likes a lot of pampering you might not like renting an apartment. We aren’t the types who ever even use a concierge, so this was great for us.

We saw all the usual sites, too long to list but you know what I mean. Our kids loved Paris. My husband’s and eldest son’s French was not too bad. The Segway Tour was fun and worth the expense. We had decent meals in Paris, but nothing fancy or expensive. Here are the places we ate. (I’ve included a few prices for the four of us just to give you a ball park, usually included a house wine.):

Café Music (rue Moffetard area) – lunch. It was OK. Nothing great.
Le Pomone? (on the Tuileries) – lunch with Segway tour. Good enough.
Le Manege de l’Ecuyer (6 rue de la Sourdiere) – Great dinner and fun too. The lady who owns it was so wonderful. Very small (24 people) but we did not need reservations on a Weds night at 9:00. 124.50€
Café du Musee (around corner from Rodin Museum) – Great lunch. Wonderful salads, croque monsieur, and helpful waiter. 35€ (only 3 of us)
Atelier Maitre Albert (1 rue Maitre Albert) – My best dinner in Paris. It is a rotisserie place. You need reservations for sure. 180.60€
Café Relais des Arts (100 rue Monge) and Le Mouffetard (116 rue Mouffetard) – These were our regular hangouts for “breakfast” or anytime we needed café or a beer. Good people watching.
L’ete en Pente Douce (18 rue Muller – behind Sacre Cour) – This was a Rick Steves suggestion and, actually, it was a keeper. We had a very good lunch with nice surroundings. 58.50€
Le Lutece (88 Bd. St. Michel) – Good lunch, nice waiter, touristy location. 47.90€
Brasserie Balzar (49 rue des Ecoles) – Sort of a disappointment. Full of loud Americans (even at 10:00pm). Unbelievably hot and crowded inside. Mediocre (actually sort of annoying) service. Decent food. 162.50€

It was fun to be in Paris for the second time as I didn’t feel compelled to spend hours and hours sightseeing (although we still saw lots of stuff of course). Paris did not feel particularly crowded with tourists – except for the major tourist sites (Eiffel Tower, Champ d’Elysees, Notre Dame). We had sort of the same routine every day. We’d get up (not too early – teens you know) and either go out for breakfast or we’d go out, buy food, and bring it home. Then we’d head out for our sightseeing. We’d come home about 4:00 and have some bread, cheese, and wine or beer (and maybe take a nap). Then we’d go out about 9:00 for dinner. We bought the Carte Orange subway passes (brought photos from home) and they were great. Also bought the Museum passes and never waited in line at any museum.

Paris was very hot at the end of the week and I didn’t like that much. We nearly died of thirst there. Seriously, I think we spent like $100 on water. We used the Rick Steves book which was really annoying me by the end of the trip and the Great Eats in Paris book which was OK, not great. (I still think the best way to pick out restaurants is to get off the tourist path as much as possible and observe where the natives are eating.) The Paris Zagat guide was useless, too many unranked restaurants.

It seemed definitely more casual in Paris than it was on my last trip 10 years ago. Still, it behooves Americans to leave your baseball caps, Tilly hats (oh please), running shoes and shorts at home. Oh - and tell your teenage girls to get dressed for crying out loud!

We flew out of Paris to Rome with Ryan Air. They were great. The airport is far away (Beauvais) and we had to leave at 6:00 AM so I booked “Airport Connection” (private shuttle) that was quite expensive at 140.00€. I just wanted to make sure we’d be there as that is the only flight all day. The driver was very young, drove too fast, and nearly fell asleep on the way, so that was a little scary. (But isn’t getting back and forth to airports always the alarming part of traveling?!)

My teens had a blast on this trip and were wonderful to be with. They both loved the food. They even enjoyed the museums. I was so glad that we had never brought them on a trip like this until they were older. I’m afraid our hometown and our suburban way of life has certainly lost some of its appeal for them (understandable though, huh?). On Friday night thousands of Paris teens and 20-somethings had set up picnics along the Seine pedestrian bridge and the river banks and it really looked fun. I could tell my kids thought so too.

If you want to see my pictures you can look at them on:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&conn_speed=1&Uc=x43zpxh.5f2phq2d&Uy=-r8fjv2&Ux=0

Rome report coming soon.- Cindy

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