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Random Paris w/ Kids Input: Places Vosges, Hotel de Ville, etc

Random Paris w/ Kids Input: Places Vosges, Hotel de Ville, etc

Old Dec 29th, 2009, 10:24 PM
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We went to the Cite des Sciences at Villette with our kids and it was good. The exhibit explanations were in French (generally not in other languages) which was okay for us as my kids understand French (I don't). However, a lot of the exhibits are interesting without the explanations anyway. There is also a large park next door where the kids could play without restriction. Many of the formal gardens in Paris do not allow anyone on the grass (much to my son's horror).

Also, my kids enjoyed walking up the Eiffel Tower to the second level (and no queue). Climbing towers is always a hit.

When we went to Musee Rodin the kids waited in the garden while we enjoyed the exhibits.
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Old Dec 30th, 2009, 10:25 PM
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Wow! You all provided so much valuable information. I can't thank you enough. Twenty responses though and the suggestion to count the traffic crashes from the Arc d' Triumph is simply genius.

The Angelinas and hot chocolate info alone saved me $20. My kids would HATE it.

The Louvre is back in the running! Come to think of it, Ryan picked the Mona Lisa as his cell phone screen saver. I still have so much work to do - Trying to figure out the cost of the museum pass and metro tix. Isn't there a carnet or something? A multipack? Can it be split amongst us? In my worry to figure it all out, I forgot that my kids will figure out the metro - you are so right!

And I not not worried that they will starve - I just don't want to plop $200 down at a restaurant then make Kraft mac n cheese at the apartment when we get back. The Seine cruise doesn't cost much. Maybe we will do that at night and maybe also do the Batobus.

And yes, we booked fat tires per advise on this site. Once I did that, the trip suddenly felt real and I had something tangible to get excited about (and worry that I can actually peddle 6 miles!)

Finally, I just gotta ask, and please excuse my ignorance, but what in the world is "DH" - It's always the companion traveller but I just can't seem to figure it out!

Again, all of the input is fantastic. Thank you!
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Old Dec 30th, 2009, 11:03 PM
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"Finally, I just gotta ask, and please excuse my ignorance, but what in the world is "DH""

depending on the personal situaltion -- DH = Dear Husband, Darling Husband, or just maybe Damn Husband

DW = same for wife
DS/DD = Son/Daughter

etc. etc.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 10:38 AM
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If you do go to the Cite de Science at Parc Villette there is also a music museum that would be great if the kids are at all into music. It traces the history music from primitive times to high tech and has some cool interactive displays.
Another museum that kids find cool is the musee de Quai Branly. It is much different than a traditional art museum both in its design and its collections. It is anthropological rather than artistic, has displays of artifacts from all over the world, and lots of interactive videos with multiple languages including English.

As to transport passes - oy, the options! Tell us what day of the week you will arrive and depart so we can better advise.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 11:48 AM
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Seamus, that was my thought exactly about the transit passes. Yikes! Good luck trying to make the machine give you what you want, AND take your American credit card. We had a nice transit guard take pity on us last time...
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Keep in mind that kids under 18 are free to most French museums. As I recall, the museum pass requires that you make all your visits within the time period of the pass. It's never been cost-effective for us to get the pass, but do the math - it may work for you.

And we've visited the Arc de Triomphe - though have not gone up it - on every trip to Paris, to watch the cars whizzing around.

When we visited the Louvre, in addition to using Rick Steves, we ended up making a Mutant Ninja Turtles hunt - finding works by the four artists for whom the turtles are named.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 02:45 PM
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My then-10-year-old son had a fabulous time at the Army Museum and Napoleon's Tomb (Invalides). We spent most of a day there. We did not "do" the Louvre because our time was extremely short, but if we had had another half a day I would have squeezed it in. We walked around the outside and the Pyramid, and he could get a glimpse of some statues through a window - he was fascinated. We were staying near Sacre-Coeur, so we went there, and he really enjoyed that too (including shopping for tacky souvenirs at the base). I wouldn't try to do that in the middle of the day, but at the end, so you can enjoy the view and then get something to eat.

And yes, he's a very picky eater, but he survived on baguettes and fruit for a few days (sometimes with hot dogs in the middle).

Someone may have already suggested this, but I would get the "Around Paris with Kids" and let each kid pick out one thing he/she absolutely wants to do or see. You're going to have a great time!!
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 03:28 PM
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Jill02 - I am glad to hear you have booked the Fat Tire Bike tour. We did it in March 2008 with 45 students. We split into two groups. What a blast! For quite a few in our group it was the highlight of our time in Paris. Mostly you travel on pedestrian or bike paths with only a few short blasts on the roads (mostly to cross the street). It is not a strenuous pedal. The bikes are 3 speed with wide handle bars and a wide, spring-loaded seat. There are no hills on the route (on our route anyway). It is not intense. We found it very enjoyable and I hope you do too.

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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 04:15 PM
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concur with recommendations concerning the bus vs. the Metros, and also the catacombs are a real favorite of kids.
Highly recommended, unless claustrophobic.
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 09:20 AM
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If you plan to only use the metro occasionally (I think it's less than 5 journeys a day) you should buy a carnet of 10 single-use tickets, anyone can use them, they are good for any journey within the city limits, but you should use more than one if going further afield. Tickets can also be used on buses. But I find that the mobilis is a great option as you can hop on and off the metro as often as you like.
For more accurate information, try http://www.ratp.com/, then click the union-jack icon (UK flag) on top right for English language version. But if you know a bit of French, I remember last time I checked this site, there was more information on the French version. Perhaps they hadn't got around to translating everything. This one may be useful too:
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 09:29 AM
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A quick check suggests to me that there may be no child discounts on mobilis, but there are 50% child discounts on carnets and Paris Visite, so as they say, do your homework! It's all rather confusing. I don't know if http://www.gisparis.com/paris/paris_subway.htm is up to date as it's a hotel site, not the official transport site, but at least it is easy to navigate.
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 10:20 AM
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Again - Awesome input! Thanks to the Canadian for alleviating my peddling fears. Love the mutant ninja turtle idea - what a good mom to think of that to make it more interesting.

I think for the transportation, I am going to have let the type A in me go. It's not going to be perfect and we may waste a little time and money. We are taking a taxi to/from the airport (we arrive on a Sunday. I think we could handle the RER but financially it's almost a wash with 5 tickets). We are taking the RER to/from Versaille (and we can walk to an RER stop from our apt.). We will only take the metro to the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and ?. I think we can walk almost every where else. That's why we paid the big bucks for the apartment location. So, we will be tourist idiots fumbling with the machines but that's how I am at home with our BART (subway) system anyway. Our apartment will have a manager who can help us too. For just 2-3 trips I am not going to worry about it.

So glad to hear kids are free at museums. So I guess I just buy a pass for me and DH. If we are all tired and want to leave after 10 minutes, the pass will really take off the financial pressure to stay. That will be my project to research today!

Once I get Paris all figured out next comes Venice, Sorrento and Rome! But I have lived in Italy, speak Italian and previsouly visited those cities so I am investing all of my research time on Paris which is a foreign world to me.

Again, I love all of your passion for travel and willingness to help. Thank you. Thank you.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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Don't buy the pass in advance as there is a service charge. Buy it at the first museum that you go to (a smaller one than the Louvre is best as the line might be long there).

You can buy 2, 4, or 6 day passes and they must be used on consecutive days. Once you buy your ticket you write the date on the pass and sometimes as you enter museums they will datestamp them as well.

Have in mind which museums you plan to visit and know which day each museum is closed so you get the most bang for your buck. Remember to look for the museum pass line as it will be much shorter than the regular entry lines. Your children can enter the pass line with you.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 08:20 AM
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A carnet of 10 tickets good on both the metro and buses will save you a bit of money and they are so easy to use.

Just be sure to validate them when you get on the bus (machine about shoulder height just behind bus driver's seat) and hold on to them to the end of your trip. Same on the metro--the ticket is validated when you use it to get through the turnstile but pick it up as it will pop out again. You don't have to deal with a ticket machine--the nearest tabac/presse should sell carnets (car NAY).
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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"If you're thinking about visiting the gardens to go to the playgrounds, keep in mind that the Parisien playgrounds (at least those we saw) are less elaborate than many in the U.S. We took our son to the Tuileries (after Angelina's), and there wasn't anything that he, as a 10-year-old, wanted to play on."

The playground at the Jardin du Luxembourg (which has a small fee to enter) is definitely an exception to this rule.

Remember one large benefit to the Museum Pass is the ability to skip the ticket queues at many locations, such as the Louvre and the Orsay. Also as mentioned above having it meant it was not a hard decision to duck into a museum or exhibit that you otherwise might skip, like the Orangerie at the Place de la Concorde end of the Tuilleries, or the Crypt Archaeolgique under the plaza which fronts Notre Dame.

Also, we absolutely loved using Batobus, and the multi-day passes are a great deal. If you are staying near Place des Vosges you are likely not that far from the stop at Hotel de Ville (and the strolls from the Notre Dame or Jardin des Plantes stops are quite pleasant).
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 02:02 PM
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I haven't read through all of your responses, but for whatever it's worth, here are my 2 cents:

My family of 5 (kids aged 10, 8 and 5 at the time) went to Paris for the 1st time last summer and here are some highlights (many were tips from Fodorites)...
Rick Steves' Paris book - a must have. It will be your bible.

Day of arrival - an evening boat ride on the Seine. Sun was setting just as they lit the Eiffel Tower. A perfect introduction to Paris and so, so beautiful. We did the Pont Neuf. A bit of a hike, but doable on foot from the Place de Voges.

Saint Chapelle - small church very close to Notre Dame. Breathtaking. It caught me off guard and I cried!

Marais - I believe this is where you will be staying. Very boho chic and Parisien. The Pompidou Centre is right there, so even if you don't like Modern Art, it is well worth the visit to go to the top (esp. if you have a Museum Pass) because the views of Paris from there are spectacular. The street performers are also very fun, entertaining, and unusual.

The Louvre - overwhelmingly big, so just do a small chunk, even if only to see 5 or 10 things. We went during super high season and the kids were still able to see the Mona Lisa front row and center. Despite the fact that we made this a super quick visit, it was still somewhat of a religious experience for me, and to my surprise, my kids loved it!

Food - picky eaters will probably not want to hit the falafel places in the Jewish Quarter (Marais), but you should grab a falafel sandwich for yourself. Delicious and nutritious. The best we've ever had, and we've had many. Your kids will love the crepes. There is a stand near the Pompidou Center. They are all delicious, especially the most basic ones. The many boulangeries are unbelievably good. I'm not sure what it is about the baguettes there - they are just plain better than any baguette you can find in the US. You can also get pre-made sandwiches and small pizzas that they will heat up for you. Very economical and delicious. Lunch for us would often be baguettes with different cheeses and fruit - and of course some chocolate! Speaking of chocolate, there are so many stand-alone chocolatiers that are irresistable and very friendly. Lastly, Amorini gelato in the Marais. The "small" was pricey - around $4.50, but consisted of 2 1/2 mouthwatering, delectable scoops. Worth every penny.

We didn't go up the the Eiffel Tower because it was too crowded, but we did walk around the base and the kids were happy with that. Definitely not overrated. Still awe inspiring after all of these years.

Looking for cheap trinkets and souveniers. There are tons of them and my kids and their friends loved every one of them.

Walking around - the city is still dirty like I remembered (esp. in the summer when you can smell all of the city smells), but much more beautiful than I had remembered too. I felt as if there was a treasure around every corner.


Versailles - compleltely mobbed when we were there. Extremely poorly run and rude, probably more so due to the crowds. But the town is quite lovely (once you find the center) and is a good place to find a sit-down creperie. As for the palace, it's so big it's almost fake looking from the outside. But the only interior areas that are accessible are not so big, so you can't really appreciate the size and scope from the inside. Still, I do think it should be on your,"Been there, done that" list. Just make sure ALL sections of the RER trains are working (they were not when we went and no one told us when we bought the tickets, thus forcing us to backtrack on the Metro and reboard RER elsewhere, adding a good hour on the trip). Also, check the Versailles calendar about special shows, as they will make you pay to get in even if you have a Museum Pass if there is a special event.

Sacre Coeur is magnificently perched and the views of it are quite dramatic. However, the inside was rather lackluster. Admittedly, we were there our last day and had already seen many churches and cathedrals that were truly remarkable.

Unfortunately the D'Orsay was closed our last day there, but it is supposed to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Hope this helps. Your family will love Paris. Enjoy!!!!
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 12:34 PM
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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Sorry I did not read your post until today. I was just bookmarking for myself to go back and read again. I am planning a trip this May with family members, some of which are children. It was not a link to something else.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:55 AM
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Bookmarking -- I'm taking my three kids in October. Thanks everyone for sharing all your experiences.
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