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10 days in France w/ teens: where to go?

I am traveling with my family to France in April. My twin 17 year old daughters have never been and will celebrate their 18th birthday while we are there! We are trying to determine whether we should spend all 10 days in Paris or do 6 nights in Paris and 3 somewhere else, like Provence. Any advice on a must-see region for my daughters? My husband and I have been to Paris several times but not for many, many years. Thanks so much for any advice you can share!

Posted by
4989 posts

Others may have different opinions, but we would spend the entire time in Paris. The first day may be "lost" due to late arrival time, jet lag, getting to the hotel, and getting set up in your rooms. If you do relocate, that will probably be another day "lost" as it always takes more time to do so than one anticipates.

We've been to Paris several times and, believe us, there is more than enough to occupy ten days. In addition there are many day trips that can be taken from Paris that will not result in a "wasted" travel day. I'll not list them all as I'm sure others will suggest their favorite day trips.

Regardless, get the daughters involved in the planning of what to see and where to go. If they are invested in that aspect of the trip, there is much less likely chance for any friction or unhappy campers.

Posted by
23428 posts

I would stay in Paris the full ten days but plan two or three day trips to break up your time in Paris. --

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you very much -- this is very helpful. We are thinking a day trip to Versaille, possibly Giverny? Do you have any suggestions on must-visit places that are a quick train ride from Paris?

Posted by
7 posts

Hi there,
You could add a day trip to Champagne and/or Giverny. My niece who lived in Paris recommends both as lovely.

Posted by
12 posts

This is great! I was about to ask a similar question for our family traveling this summer with our two girls, 13 and 16! They have never been to Paris either.

Posted by
2252 posts

Another vote for spending the entire time in Paris. I took my granddaughters to Paris for 10 days when one was 18 and the other 17. They still talk about our trip all the time, two years later. They had a ball! By about the second day, they felt comfortable enough to explore on their own. Day trips are a great idea (Chartres, Versailles, etc) but plenty to do in Paris. Check into Fat Tire Bike tours. My grandgirls enjoyed their Segway tour of the City.

Posted by
8169 posts

We are taking our 12 year old granddaughter to Paris in April and will be in Paris most of the time -- will probably do a day trip to Giverny and to Versailles. If we do an overnight outside Paris, we will do Nantes so she can ride on the Jules Verne inspired Carousel and ride the giant mechanical elephant.

We stay at a friend's place so there is no major cost in doing a side trip -- we will probably do one to Annecy after she returns to the states, but in your case, I'd rent an apartment and not add the cost of a side trip lodging. There are just so many day trips from Paris ranging from charming villages (although April is early for that) to numerous chateaux, to interesting small cities like Rouen or Angers or Nantes. And Paris itself has so much. What a great birthday celebration. Lucky girls. I'd let each girl plan a day trip and see what they come up with. We have seen some amazing things we would not have seen otherwise except for our kids plans -- we saw the John Soanes Museum in London and the Aqueduct Park in Rome as a result of my son's plans -- and the British Library (who knew that would be so amazing) in London and St. Clemente in Rome due to my daughter's plans.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you to everyone for your advice. I think it's a great idea to let each girl plan a day trip! I am looking at apartments but finding them surprisingly more expensive than getting two hotel rooms, which seems strange. If anyone cares to share a hotel they love, or knows a great apartment (or site -- Air B and B seems very pricey), would really appreciate it! And lucky to you to stay at a friend's apartment! Your granddaughter will love her trip, I'm sure!

Posted by
27352 posts

I haven't been looking for lodging in Paris but have seen lower-than-expected hotel costs for April in Rome and June in both Oslo and Stockholm. I'm shopping the budget end of the spectrum; things might be different for the moderate and high ranges, but I suspect demand is still down, and hotels are perhaps a bit more willing to take what they can get than individual property owners. I think from the standpoint of lodging costs, there may well be bargains to be had for this spring.

Posted by
1237 posts

The trick to booking an Airbnb is to set the filters, e.g. price limits. I just booked an entire apt. for 5 days for $642. With a washer!

Posted by
8169 posts

When we started getting apartments in Europe 40 years ago they were dirt cheap compared to hotels and so much better -- but AIRBNB has pretty much ruined it -- things are increasingly expensive and cities, Paris in particular, are cracking down on what is essentially illegal renting. The agencies we used in Paris for years have either shut down or now just do longer term rentals from a month to 3 mos or more.

AN apartment is so much better for enjoying the city. The favorite part of my day is going out to get the breakfast bread in the morning -- I can hardly wait to take my granddaughter so she can pick out amazing breakfast pastries. And for us at least, eating in a restaurant 3 meals a day for a couple weeks is just a no go. I get sick eating that way. Having your own kitchen saves money, and lets you take advantage of the amazing produce, butcher shops and markets. But yes -- what was once a super bargain rarely is any more.

Posted by
4989 posts

Since you've asked about hotels, our favorite is in the center of town and we can get to anywhere easily. The Hotel des Deux-Iles is on Ile St. Louis itself. There are also a couple of other hotels on the same street. Cross the river and you will be in the Marais -- cross it the other way and you'll be in The Latin Quarter. Walk to the end of the island, cross the bridge, and you'll be at the back of Notre Dame -- such as it is now as some of the immediate area is closed off. The Metro is near enough that getting anywhere is not a problem. There are also several restaurants on the island. If you decided to stay there, we can steer you to a great little place for breakfast as all hotel breakfasts seem to be over priced for what one gets.

Posted by
325 posts

I loooove Paris but can't imagine staying there 10 nights. I would plan for 6 nights in Paris (4 days in the city and 2 for day trips) and spend 3 nights in another area. We enjoyed Normandy and Mont St. Michel, but others recommend Provance. Stay a few nights in Paris, then take your excursion, then back to Paris. We did that once and our hotel upgraded us on that second stay because we were valued customers. I totally love the idea of your girls choosing what they want to see though! Giverny or Versailles or Reims-all amazing!

Posted by
2339 posts

hey hey jenny
look at
put in your filters, see what comes up and check out what's available. apts hard to come by with crack down couple years ago. the three we stayed in is off the sites now. look for a family room in hotels bur an apt gives more space, some have kitchenette/kitchens, washers, balcony/terrace which come in handy.
april is a busy month with it being easter and spring breaks for many. there is so much to do in paris, know that check in is 2-4pm unless early check in, where do you put your luggage if have to wait, could be hours. look for a baggage hold place nearby. check out is usually 10-11am.
we like to stay in 1-7 arr (districts) and be close to things.
take a boat cruise on a river in paris
fly over paris and the world, virtual reality
let the guide drive you around the city to lots of sites, you pick the tour
under menu, sandwiches, fried chicken
unusual tours, take a look paris
see what locals offer paris
french quiche & crepes party. learn about cooking these in a residents home and have fun, check out what others are doing.
cooking & baking classes, food tours
rue de rivoli best hot chocolate yum, beautiful counter of bakery desserts, have lunch there
artists heaven with many cafes, people painting or buy a picture, shops, sit at cafe with glass of wine and people watch, look down upon the city from sacre couer church.
book you ticket to eiffel tower ( goes by time slots
pick your day or night tour in an old vintage car
have your twin daughters (love it i'm a twin) investigate and research for what they want.
take a river cruise but don't do dinner. walk along the river, on isle saint louis, walk down pedestrians streets with markets, shops, cafes, so much awe and inspiration
hope this helps you somewhat, ask more question, people here are willing to give you good bad and ugly

Posted by
28 posts

This is amazing! Thank you so much for all this terrific info. I have moved on from the apartment because they are just insanely expensive and we plan to eat our meals out anyway. I have found a "family room" in the 2er. It has good reviews and is considerably less $$ than other hotels. It seems like a good location, would you agree the 2nd will work well?

Do we need to book the Louvre, etc. in advance, and are we allowed to do this since we will not have our Covid pass until we arrive and get one at a pharmacy?

Finally, my girls will turn 18 while we are in Paris. We would like a super special place for them to have their first glass of champagne on their birthday (is their a nice bar at the Eiffel Tower? Or nearby with views of it? Or something else iconic like this?). We are also trying to think of a truly wonderful day and evening for them on their birthday. I'd love to hear any blow out celebration kind of things to do. They both love theatre, music, good restaurants, etc. but anything off the beaten path would be terrific!

Thanks for all. You guys are amazingly helpful!

Posted by
8169 posts

I think the top of the Eiffel Tower is closed in April to our disappointment. The 'champagne bar' on the tower is literally a closet where they sell champagne in plastic flutes. You can see a picture here -- so no loss. Definitely not the elegant place you want them to toast their 18th.
I'd go out for a nice dinner and have champagne with the meal. Les Ombres with its view of the Eiffel Tower through the roof would be a good place (book early as soon as you know your dates). I would think a glass of champagne with the Eiffel Tower sparkling above you would be memorable. For kids I think the look of the room is important -- Train Bleu, Bofinger, even Rotonde or Coupole have fancy rooms.

And on another, not the birthday night, for beautiful rooms and dirt cheap eating try the two Bouillon Chartiers - one in Montmartre and one in Montparnasse. No reservations for those. We are doing that with our 12 year old who eats about 3 bites of dinner; I want her to have the fancy French experience but am not willing to pay big Euros for someone who won't be relishing the meal. Both those places are beautiful and have a huge menu of okay food and adequate wine by the liter. They also have a lot of classic French dishes including snails that can be tried at minimal cost.

If you do decide to spend a few days in another region I would suggest starting there and ending in Paris -- otherwise you waste that prime vacation day before your return on the logistics of getting back to Paris for your flight. You could arrive and head that day to St. Malo if yu wanted to do Brittany -- or Bayeux if you wanted to do Normandy or Strasbourg or whatever then finish with 6 nights in Paris. I would just get a Paris apartment and do 2 or 3 days trips to add variety.

Posted by
1384 posts

Apartment companies I have used in Paris:

Cobblestone Paris,, I have stayed in two different apartments with them. Rick Steves has recommended them.

Apartment du Louvre, This company has two buildings in two different locations & both buildings have elevators. My mother & I stayed at their Le Marais building in the So Chic apartment in Nov/Dec 2021. We really enjoyed the location and apartment itself. With her limited mobility I chose this company for the elevator.

There is a book that has been recommended before on this site, An Hour From Paris: 20 Secret Day Trips By Train, by Annabel Simms. I have it on my Wish List on Amazon. She also has a, Half an Hour from Paris, book.

Added at 14:55
Roof top bar at Galleries LaFayette: View of the city including the Eiffel Tower.

Roof top bar at BHV Marais store across from Hotel DeVille (City Hall) at the corner of Rue de Rivoli & Rue du Temple

Many folks enjoy sitting on the stairs of Sacre-Couer and enjoy the sunset.

Of course if the park is open next to the Eiffel Tower there is that.
Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
73 posts

I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest you NOT spend the whole time in Paris. Could you easily spend all 10 days there? Of course. But breaking it up and spending some time in another town will give them another view of France. We took 3 teens (daughter and 2 nieces) to France a few years ago and while they all loved Paris, they all preferred our time spent in Angers. It was a slower pace and we were able to let them run around by themselves unsupervised a lot more than in Paris--not that they couldn't explore by themselves in Paris, but it's much easier to get lost there, and they were able to get to know a smaller town and feel more connected to it. I'd suggest picking a mid-size town within a few hour's train ride from Paris and explore the area. I'm partial to Angers in the Loire because I lived there for a year, but there are plenty of other lovely towns you could choose. Provence is wonderful, but a bit more of a haul from Paris. Since you're going in April, be aware of Easter and closings or changes to public transportation--also be prepared that some tourist sites (especially Versailles) will be really packed Easter weekend.

Posted by
14 posts

Hii! I have a suggestion for birth-day for your girls. Schedule a flytographer session that day. I have used them in South America, Mexico and Italy and have always been so pleased. I am traveling to Paris in May with my son and his friend for graduation and scheduled a session for the perfect “insta-worthy” shots:) the Photographer will be familiar with where to go and the kids always have so much fun!

Posted by
10297 posts

Louvre réservations, yes make them in advance.

In the before times, April was French/European spring break and school trip time. If the Pass vaccinal is dropped in April, as has been hinted by the government, you could see more spring tourism this year.

Posted by
4062 posts

If they are old enough for champagne, they are also capable of taking over some of the trip's plans. Young adults can, and should, be responsible for some research and suggestions. They will remember it as their own trip. Hardest part for mom is to follow their lead.
I've been to Paris many times, but like the rest of the country too. As an introduction, you might consider extending your arrival flight with a connection to Marseille, or even a direct flight depending on your departure city. Two or three days in the south -- with a day trip to Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Arles -- and then the TGV to Paris, flying home from there. A more rounded experience may entice first-timers to make subsequent visits. (Plan the flights as one itinerary using a multi-destination search function. They can find out how to do it.)

Posted by
10297 posts

I love Marseille, a city of contrasts, and have spent a lot of time there, but I wouldn't recommend it as a base right now, especially for first-time visitors.
Yesterday on Zoom, French friends who are there for the year described what it was like during the third garbage collectors' strike since they arrived in September. Marseille is a city that leaves no one indifferent.

Posted by
292 posts

Get the girls a guidebook or two and get THEM involved in the planning. You may love art; they may want to look for music. You may love impressionists and they may prefer modern art. You may want to go to Versailles. THEY may want to to go the the Loire ... or Disneyland. If so, its only a day to you, but it may be a week of harmony for all of you.

Always be open to what you stumble across. In 2015, we ended 2-1/2 weeks in Italy with two full days in Milan at the end. Why did I do that, I thought as we got there. Yuck. THEN, we stumbled onto 'Piano City' - a city wide music event - and enjoyed a day and a half of classical music and jazz in a lovely park, about a mile from the Duomo/Galleria

Anyway, that's my two cents.

-Fred, from Seattle

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks to everyone for suggesting getting my girls involved -- definitely the way to go! And Fred, I will do just about anything for that ever elusive week of harmony!