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Paris with Kids

7 Jun

Last week, I spent a few fast and furious days exploring Paris with my tween daughter.  Three days, two gals, and about a thousand things to see.  We barely made a dent, but our days were packed full of amazing adventures.  Here are a few tips and favorite ideas for touring Paris with kids…

Eiffel Tower- With this world famous landmark being under construction the waiting times are insane.  We waited for 3 hours before even getting on the lift.  Waiting in line did indeed give us plenty of time to get really excited and prepared for the big lift ride, but it also sucked up a better part of the day.  The weather went from chilly to hot, our legs were exhausted, and we even had front row viewing of some sort of a labor protest (quite the experience for my little suburbia living daughter).  Over all, well worth the time. Hints:  You can buy your tickets in advance for a specific date and time online.  They sell out quickly, so this must be done weeks in advance.  It appeared to almost be like a Disneyland Fastpass…would have save us almost 3 hours!  Also, hydrate before you get up the tower.  Drinks on the 2nd level were 5 Euros each (over $7 USD)!

Luxemborg Gardens- This park is unlike anything I have ever seen.  It has a great playground, pony rides, cafe, and is an amazingly beautiful place to sit back and relax.  Pack a lunch or hit the cafe and let the kiddos make new friends at the playground or take a pony ride.

Fat Tire Bike Tours– What a great way to safely visit some top attractions in Paris.  The tour guide was English speaking, extremely knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor.  They have different bike options to accommodate children of all ages.  There were several kids on our tour and I loved the fact that the entire group kept an eye out for the kids.  This surely was an amazing way to spend an afternoon.

Let them eat cake- Paris is know for their beautiful and amazing pastries.  There were so many great little pastry shops on every single street, I just couldn’t resist.  It was also a great distraction when tired little legs were ready to take a break.  Order a pastry to go, find some shade, and enjoy the great people watching of Paris.

Pantheon-  Much to my surprise, this was a huge hit with my daughter.  She was fascinated with the architecture and the crypt.  The idea of a bunch of people laid to rest, above ground and in the basement of a massive building was so intriguing.  I wish we would have done a little preparation research about some of the famous people who are interred in this famous building.

Art – Paris is known for housing some of the world’s most famous and well know pieces of art.  While kids are not  likely to want to leisurely stroll through a museum for hours on end, they will enjoy a visit though.  Many of the most famous pieces of art studied by children in school are in Paris.  It is truly an amazing experience for a child to see the “real thing”.

We chose the Musee d’Orsay.  This was a winning situation for both of us.  I got to enjoy this famous and amazing museum, while my little artist was thrilled to see some of her favorites.  Next visit we’ll tackle the Louvre!

Notre Dame- This Cathedral is absolutely beautiful and is a Paris must see.  As we walked through, I could see how this amazing building was catching the eye of my daughter.  Lighting a candle was a highlight and  a great moment of reflection for her (maybe it was more that she could play with fire, but she talked about the experience all afternoon).  She also loved the statues, stained glass, and of course the gargoyles.

Dining- The food in Paris was absolutely incredible.  Whether eating at a gourmet restaurant or grabbing a quick gelato, there is something to please everyone.  Also, most restaurants offer a meal for children on the menu for around 10 Euros.

Overall, Paris was an amazing vacation .  So many amazing sights and fun activities.  Now to figure out how to make it to Paris again!

For more great thoughts about a Paris adventure with your kids check out!

Rude Parisians? (I must have missed that part)

5 Jun

Finally…I made the trip to Paris.  Last week, I flew across the Atlantic and took my daughter to visit her friend who moved with her family to the French Riviera.  Being so close to Paris, I felt that I would be crazy to skip an opportunity to visit “The City of Lights”.  I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I did learn in my planning that many people have very strong opinions about the French, especially Parisians.  I’ll admit I was pretty intimidated.  I heard the horror stories and hesitantly listened to all of the warnings.  “The French are rude”.  “French people HATE Americans”.  “You better speak at least a little French, OR ELSE…”.  I was traveling with my daughter and speak just about zero French (actually, now I can say 2  words in French).  Luckily, I did master saying hello and thank you in French before I arrived in Paris.  But, the reality was that I was that I was heading to Paris with “American Tourist” stamped on my forehead.  I hoped for the best, yet was prepared for the worst.  I wouldn’t have ever told my daughter, but I was scared shitless.  The last thing I wanted to do was feed my daughter to the wolves and make her afraid to ever travel again.  So, we left the comfort of our amazing friends and hosts in Southern France, boarded a train, and set out to the jungle of Paris.  I tried to stay open minded and armed and ready to use my smile (and 2 French words) as my only defense.

The attendant on the train was courteous, our cab driver was very informative, and my hotel check-in went very smoothly.  I was starting to think that I just might survive Paris and was feeling pretty positive about not permanently damaging my daughter’s love for travel.  The next couple of days continued to work in my favor and I was convinced that I was either very lucky or wrongly informed about Parisians.  At that point, I realized that I really wasted quite a bit of energy worry about people possibly refusing to acknowledge me, giving me wrong directions, or spitting in my food.  I actually spent quite a bit of time, while sitting in amazing cafes, thinking about my thoughts and ridiculous fears.  I observed and watched.  I began to better understand.  Let’s face it, the French aren’t an overly warm culture.  Heck, it pretty obvious that you’re not in a small village somewhere in Latin America mingling with the locals.  But rude?  No, not really.  Different, yes.  Waiters don’t rush you out to turn your table.  The chance of you waiter having a quick smoke and chatting with a colleague, before bringing your bill is pretty likely.  Plan on waiting while dining.  On the other hand, I observed more people in 2 days give up seats on the bus to an elderly passenger or child than I have seen in the States in the last 10 years.  The French are just more relaxed and not so hurried.  This is a great thing and I quickly embraced the trait.  It forced me to look around, visit a little more with my favorite little lady, and have that second glass of wine.  I couldn’t have been happier that I was forced a bit to slow down and “smell the roses”.  Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I am sure glad that I took the time to look around and embrace the culture.  Enjoy the view, the wine, the culture and smile a lot. Cheers!