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Paris with Kids Trip Report: What the Children Enjoyed

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Mar 31st, 2004, 11:36 AM
  #1
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Paris with Kids Trip Report: What the Children Enjoyed

My husband and I took our three children, ages 13, 11 and 8, to Paris for Spring Break. My husband and I had each been to Paris twice; it was the kids' first trip to Europe.

Here is what they enjoyed:
1. Anything that could be climbed up or down and looked out of: Notre Dame Tower, Sacre Coeur, Arch de Triomphe, Eifel Tower, Centre Pompidou. They didn't complain about steps at all.

2. The public parks. A perfect day with kids is to spend a couple of morning hours at the Louvre, then let the kids play at the Tuilleries. At the Tuilleries there is a place where a child can pay a euro or so and jump on a trampoline (there are 8 of them). Now you'd NEVER see trampolines at a public park in the US, but the kids loved them. They also really enjoyed the "different" playground equipment. The playground at the Tuilleries was the one place that we visited twice...they just HAD to go back on our last day.

They also enjoyed the playground at the Luxembourg Gardens (I think it costs about 2 euro)(you can buy ice cream and hot chocolate nearby) and even the sand box at the Place de Vosges.

If you are traveling with children, please don't cram your day so full of "educational" activies that you can't allow some play time. (It is also "sit on a bench" time for mom and dad, which is nice.)

3. The bakeries and the chocolate bars and the crepes.

4. Our 13 year old enjoys anything Ancient Egypt, so he loved the Egyptian stuff at the Louvre (although the other 2 were bored).

5. The 11 year old loved shopping with me for costume jewelry at Monoprix (although the other 2 were bored).

6. The Picasso Museum was probably our smoothest, most enjoyable museum experience. We went when the kids were fresh, we moved fairly quickly and the art is pretty fun to try to figure out.

7. For Harry Potter fans, seek out the Nicholas Flamel house. It's pretty close to the Pompidou Center.

The metro was a bit intimidating for the kids at first (which I'm sure it is for everyone not used to turnstiles, public transportation, etc. ) but I think they felt really grown up once they "mastered" it.

I'm not overly protective, so I didn't mind the kids seeing homeless people sleeping in the metro stations, or topless photos of Josephine Baker, or a major (peaceful) anti-war demonstration (it was the 1st anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq). We travel to broaden our horizons and I think our trip to Paris opened our kids' eyes to a few things.

We required each one to keep a daily journal...they are just terrific and I'm sure we'll save them forever. The 8 year old's phonetic spelling of names ("Today we went to Sack Rock Cour") is priceless.

Before our trip we had a local high school teacher come to our house to tutor us in French. We learned surprisingly little BUT there's nothing that warms the heart of an impatient French waiter like hearing an 8 year old say "Je voudrais le poulet." We always got smiles and complements when our kids attempted French.
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Mar 31st, 2004, 12:29 PM
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What a nice time you must have had--and memories to last a lifetime!
Thanks for writing about it!
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Mar 31st, 2004, 12:39 PM
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oh, how I wish my parents had taken me to Europe at 8 or 11 or 13. What amazing memories you've given them.
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Mar 31st, 2004, 12:41 PM
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How very nice, missypie.

Thanx for sharing.

I shall be sure to visit Sack Rock Cour on our upcoming trip.
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Mar 31st, 2004, 07:43 PM
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Thank you so much. BTW, as a rule, the French love children so traveling with them usually gets you a little extra attention and even a little better service. It's also a wonderful way to meet people.

We made our children keep journals too and they are now family treasures. Congratulations on such a nice family.
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Mar 31st, 2004, 07:47 PM
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How lovely and charming! I wish you were my parents
A 13 year old in our family recently asked a French waiter for some "O" ... and was so happy when the waiter very solenmly returned with the glass and the bottle of water .. he was happy to tell me that he said it right~
I would love to read those journals..nothing so cute as a childs eye view of things ~
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Mar 31st, 2004, 10:09 PM
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Thank you for that! I'm taking my daughters age 10 and 12 to Paris later this year. The eldest will be interested in the Egyptian stuff at the Louvre too. Any restaurants you can recommend?
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Mar 31st, 2004, 10:27 PM
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I concur missypie,

We took our 7 year old daughter and 10 year old son to Paris last year (it was the first time for all of us) and they pretty much loved everything on your list.

They especially liked the playground at the Luxembourg Gardens; they loved the different shops, from the big places like La Samaratine (sp) to browsing through the various market stalls. And they LOVED buying crepes from the street vendors. Many a long walk was broken up by a crepe stop.

One thing I'd add - Parc Asterix. It's a bit of a hike from the City but we had a great day there. Really good rides and the challenge of all the signs being in French was fun. Often we'd line up for a ride without knowing what to expect, much to the kids' delight.

Regarding trains. We caught underground trains in Paris, London and New York on this trip. We enjoyed them all, but Paris was definitely our favourite. What a fantastic, efficient system the Met is. And the "entertainment" provided by the buskers and beggars was terrific - the kids were amazed by some of the things they saw, but never scared.

Got to get back there real soon.
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Apr 1st, 2004, 05:41 AM
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Our first train ride was on the RER from CDG to Paris...as soon the train started to move, an accordian player emerged...the children were just delighted. Of course, they wanted to give money to every musician we saw...the 20 minutes in line to get into the Musee d'Orsay got pretty expensive, but what the heck.

What has changed since the last time I was in Paris (1989) is the prevalance of portable speaker systems/boom boxes...the street/metro musicians are able to perform a clarinet or violin concerto, with the orchestra on tape...pretty cool!

Tulips, if you do a search, I wrote a brief report on the restaurants..I think it's entitled "Paris with Kids Trip Report: Restaurants."

Pumblechook, I looked into Parc Asterix, but it was not yet open for the season when we were in Paris.
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Apr 1st, 2004, 06:35 AM
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Did you use the museum passes when you were there? Specifically wondering about bypassing lines as it has been said that you can buy the adult ticket and then if your child is under 18 the museums are free and the cjild can just come in with you. Did you use this strategy?
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Apr 1st, 2004, 07:13 AM
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We bought a 3 day museum pass the day we arrived. The issues to consider are cost vs. front of the line priveleges, and whether you will go to museums on consecutive days.

According to my research, the museum pass was 15 euro for 1 day and 30 for 3 days. The price went up before I arrived and it is now 18 for one day and 36 for three days. With kids, it is really hard to visit 18 euro worth of museums in one day. In the first 3 days of our trip, we used the museum pass for St. Chapelle, the archeological museum near Notre Dame, Notre Dame tower, the Picasso Museum, the Pompidou Center and the Louvre...and I think those admissions added up to maybe 33-34 euro, so technically we "lost" a few euro on the deal...but it's worth a lot to be able to avoid the lines.

Some places - notably the tower at Notre Dame - don't let you avoid the line with a museum pass. But it's a godsend at other places. When you walk up to a museum, in almost all cases, the line you see is the line to buy tickets. If you just walk toward the door, you will see the place where they actually take the tickets, which is where you show your museum pass. And yes, your kids just waltz in for free with you.

We broke up our trip with visits to Disneyland on Tuesday and Thursday so the consecutive day requirement was sort of an issue for us. When we were in line for 20 minutes at Musee d'Orsay without a museum pass, I wish we had had one to be able to skip the line, but I was too cheap...we were visiting a maximum of 2 museums that day, with total admission costs of maybe 24 euro for the 2 adults...2 passes would have cost 36 euro.
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Apr 1st, 2004, 07:56 AM
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At the risk of boring you too much with cute kids stories, I forgot to include one of the cutest things: One of the towers at Notre Dame is in scaffolding. When my 8 yr old saw it she said, "They're adding on."
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Apr 1st, 2004, 08:00 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to share your stories -- they are wonderful.
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Apr 1st, 2004, 09:09 AM
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I definitely agree with missypie's comments about climbing up, down, around anything that can be climbed and would add La Defense to the mix of climbables.

When visiting the Pompidou be sure to see the Stravinsky fountain and the street entertainers.

We took our grandchildren to London when they were 10 and 14 and to Paris a year later. After the first day in each city, it became their responsibility to plan the routes on the Tube and Metro.
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Apr 18th, 2006, 06:11 AM
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What a pleasant surprise to see my old thread topped! I am planning the Next Big European Trip (to Italy).
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Apr 18th, 2006, 06:28 AM
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hi missypie,

When I saw this I thought you were back already from the trip you've been planning!!!

Happy this was resurrected, though, since we're taking our kids to Paris 2 months from TOMORROW! can't wait!!

Dina
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Apr 18th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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Dina,

You might want to click on my name and go all the way back to March of 2004 and find my thread on restaurants, too.
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