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5 days in Paris with family of 4

Hello,
We are traveling on July 23 from Ca to arrive on July 24 @ 930am in CDG. We are traveling w/ our kids 20 and 18yrs. Here is our tentative intinerary:
Staying at the Park & Suites Elegance for 5 nights need transport to hotel.

Day 1-2 Fri-sat: Tkts on hop on hop off open air bus. We will have jet-lag and thought this would be good for getting the lay of the land. Shopping at printemps/galeries lafayette

Day 3: Sun: Eiffel tower/ river cruise combo in evening or separate? Arc de triumph, Ste Chapellle in daytime.

Day 4 Mon: Louve (which museum best if had to pick one?)

Day 5 Tues: Versailles Palace Tour? Which one is the best? maybe have lunch in the Orangery?

Day 6 Wed: Go to CDG STU to visit family need transport to CDG

We are flexible the only thing we have bought is the 2 day hop on/off pass and accomodations. What would the best transportation for us? The RATP or metro? How are the luxenbourg gardens? The guys love fast exotic cars the girls love shopping. We all love beauty, gardens, history, FOOD. We want to do French things that are unique to france. We will be in Germany and England after and want the same there. I will ask questions for those areas under each country. Thanks for all your imput its valuable!!

Posted by
11430 posts

Transport to and from hotel. Offical taxi. Do not take a taxi ride from a driver at airport who approaches you, simply get in official taxi line and a taxi will be assigned to you. The official taxis are metered. Do not take a flat fare ride offered from drivers who come up to you randomly.
Have hotels full name, and full address ( include postal /area code.. starts with 750--) written down and give to driver, its so easy to mispronounce a name , and several hotels have similar names. Writing it down is best.
Guys will enjoy the car showrooms on Champs Elysees. I hate shopping so will leave the ladies to figure that one out for themselves.

I love Louvre.. but just don't funnel through painting galleries.. or cram yourself into the heaving mass that surrounds the Mona Lisa.. visit some of the other sections.. often not as crowded, and far more interesting to many . Napoleons Apartments, Medival Louvre ( basement, its the excavated remains of the moat wall that was the fort that Louvre originally was built as) , Decoratif Arts .. jewelry and pretty doo dads.. and the Egyptian section.

The Orsay is another popular choice.. I am not a fan of Impressionist work, if you are you will prefer this museum to Louvre.. but I do love the furniture section on ground floor..

Both museums have long lines for entrance. a Museum pass is not normally a bad idea.. but since they sell it as only a two , four or six day version.. its not really going to work for you. I suggest you buy tickets for Orsay the day before ( there is a ticket window separate from regular entrance,, you can buy an advance ticket there.. you cannot use it day of purchase) . Louvre is easy to avoid horrendous lines.. do not use Pyramid entrance, enter via underground or Caroseul mall and buy tickets from machines.. then you only have to line for security.

Versailles. Arrive BEFORE it opens. Lines for security can take up to an hour after about 10 am when all the tour buses arrive, so even your pass will not help.

Eiffel Tower. I prefer the view off of it during day.. but prefer the view of it at night.. River cruises are easy to get as walk up.. they leave continually ..

If lines for ET are long, climb stairs up tower, cheaper and faster then elevator line. You can only walk to second level ( which btw I think is sufficient ) but on second level you can purchase a ticket to top if you wish. Line for stairs is at base of Sud Pilar ( south foot) , not same as lines for elevators.

Posted by
5702 posts

My all purpose advice for family travel is to make sure the kids are planning some of the trip and you build at least a half day around each of their plans at a stop of this length. And consider splitting into pairs from time to time, both to have that one on one bonding time with one kid and also cater to different tastes. We have carried this over into adult family get togethers -- we always have individual times with our adult children when we visit.

i prefer the metro for getting around to distant spots like the Eiffel Tower or Montmartre and of course out of Paris to Versailles (the RER regional train); some people like the buses but I find them excruciatingly slow and never seem to get a seat. Mostly organizing your time so you are walking for the most part works best IMHO.

Have a cool trip -- we have done Paris with the family several times and it is always such a pleasure.

Posted by
6 posts

We're a family of 4, been to Paris 7 times, have never taken a taxi. Strongly recommend against it - you are subject to traffic & idling when you could be sightseeing! Metro is way cheaper, runs on a fantastic time schedule & you can plan.

PACK LIGHT and use the Metro even coming from the airport, then use it whenever you aren't walking. Super easy once you figure out how to use it: Down in the Metro, check where you want to go on their map (in every station) & the nearest stop to it, then read the END destination/stop name on that color line in the direction you are going. Then to board, go in the entryway marked with that stop - it's all about direction so that's the stop you head toward, then get off when you want. (there are charts on the metro trains) You may need to change sometimes to a different "line" - marked in different colors on the map.

We've always traveled with only a carry-on suitcase each and a personal other pack/backpack/bag even on a 2-week trip. That way you can carry it with you on/off metro. Do laundry one day while you eat lunch nearby. Easy.

Eiffel Tower - DO NOT MISS the sparkle or as I like to tell people, you will have missed Paris! It's that magical and gorgeous. Each night after dark, every hour ON the hour, it sparkles like a million flashbulbs for only 5 minutes. It's a must-see, seriously :)

Also, leave time to just wander - browse thru one of the many fruit/veggie markets, check out the restaurants & patisseries, stand on a bridge & look at the scenery. Stop about 5pm each day for a glass of wine or beer at a sidewalk cafe & people watch with the Parisians.

Make a picnic lunch one day by going to a boulangerie & buying 2 baguettes (1/2 for each of you), then a fromagerie for some sliced cheese they will cut for you, then a grocery store (or do it all at a store, just less fun and French) to get a small packet of sliced meat & some chips & drinks. Take to a park or along the Seine and rip the bread open with your hands, shove the meat & cheese in (no mayo or anything - trust me), and enjoy one of your most memorable lunches! Jambon Fromage - DELISH

EAT A PASTRY EACH DAY! Seriously! We do not have this quality of desserts in the US - treat yourself to these sweet works of art. Your mouths will be hanging open when you see a really good patisserie & their selections.

Have fun - you will probably want to come back :)

Posted by
173 posts

Just a reminder - the Tour de France ends in Paris on Sunday, July 26. It will be crowded on the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde through most of the day (need to be there early to claim a spot for the afternoon finish) and some nearby metros will be closed completely. I will be there for the finish and am thinking of staking a spot at the "Swedish corner" where the race (for eight rounds) turns up to the Champs near Concorde. Hope you don't have to be Swedish to go there (guess I'll have to tell people my name is Sven Svenson)!

Posted by
13958 posts

Since you will be traveling from CDG in the late morning on a weekday, it's probably not going to cost a lot more for a taxi than for 4 people on public transport. Your hotel is a 3-4 minute walk from the Line 7 metro. You could take the RER from CDG to Chatelet-Les Halles and then the metro, but if you have more than carry-on luggage, it may be more trouble than it's worth, since Chatelet-Les Halles is a big station and you may have to do a lot of walking and going up and down stairs.

Going back to CDG depends partly on the time of day. Once you're over the jetlag and familiar with the metro, it may be better to take the metro to Chatelet-Les Halles and the RER to the airport.

RATP is the Paris transport company, metro, RER and buses. Use their site (getting around > planning your trip) to find the best routes around the city. Buses are often better because you see Paris while you're on them and you usually walk less. Once you descend into the metro you may have a 2-3 block walk and a flight or two of stairs before you get to the train platform in the stations nearer the center, especially the stations that accommodate more than one metro line.

Monday is usually a bad day to visit the Louvre. Most other museums are closed, putting more pressure on the one big one that's open.

Allow sufficient time to get to Versailles. There's no simple way to get there from your hotel. The RATP site suggests taking the train from Gare St. Lazare (you'll need 2 metro lines to get there) and then a tram to the palace entrance. Most people take the RER C line (which runs along the Seine in Paris) which stops very near the entrance. But you'd still need 2 metro lines to get to an RER C station. In the end, it may be better to take the RER since it's pretty straightforward, even if it takes a few minutes longer, you are much less likely to get confused or miss a connection.

What is STU? Do you mean Stuttgart? (STR) I'd have chosen the train.