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American family in Paris later this month

We are spending Christmas with friends in Osnabruck Germany, flying into and out of Charles de Gaulle. I started a thread on the Belgium forum thinking we might try and visit a city between Osnabruck and Paris at the end of the month. We have a few days at the end of our trip that we had planned to spend in Paris. My purpose on the Belgium forum was to maybe find something between Osnabruck and Paris as an alternative. We are concerned about the unrest in Paris.

I wanted to ask on this forum if we're overreacting. We've never seen Paris and don't want to lose an opportunity if the issues in the city wouldn't present any danger to us. Our hotel is on quai de Grenelle which puts us roughly a half mile from the Eiffel Tower. We'll be there at least two nights (12/30 and New Years Eve) and are looking for suggestions. We aren't planning to do museums as our 16 and 11 year olds probably won't be interested. We aren't against walking long distances as long as the areas are safe.

Primary questions:
- Given the current protest activity, is that area relatively safe? If we assume no changes between now and the end of the month would we be OK staying there?
- Outside of museums, what are the must-sees in Paris?
- I really enjoy bread and wine, and am looking forward to sampling both in Paris. Suggestions?
- Is it reasonable to assume we could return our rental car at Charles de Gaulle and use shuttles or cabs for any activities within Paris as well as getting from and back to the airport?
- Any good spots to go running near our hotel?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
2567 posts
  • Given the current protest activity, is that area relatively safe? If we assume no changes between now and the end of the month would we be OK staying there? This is generally a safe area though not especially central.

  • Outside of museums, what are the must-sees in Paris? What are you interested in? Right near your hotel is the Eiffel Tower. That is not a museum but many people consider it a must see.

  • I really enjoy bread and wine, and am looking forward to sampling both in Paris. Suggestions? One year, we went to all of the winners of the best baguette contest. You might take a look at https://bonjourparis.com/food-restaurant-news/best-baguette-in-paris-2018/ for the 2018 finalists. The bread is great all over Paris. I have been to Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses, 38 rue des Abbesses 75018, Boulangerie Brun, 193 rue de Tolbiac 75013, Benoît Huré of Huré, 150 avenue Victor Hugo, 75016, and L'Académie du Pain, 30 rue d'Alésia, 75014 during our day of bread in 2016 and all were very good. You'll find good bread at most restaurants and it may not be worth a trip to a special bakery but if you are in Montmartre, do try Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses (my favorite). As to wines, where can't you find good wines in Paris? There are a ton of wine bars and I have never been to bad one. Le Baron Rouge, L'Avant Comptoir, Le Vingt Heures Vin, Les Pipos, and there are many more and of course, the wine in restaurants can be great. Les Papilles is a wine shop and restaurant that serves a single menu to all diners. Let them pick a wine that goes with the menu and you will not be disappointed.

  • Is it reasonable to assume we could return our rental car at Charles de Gaulle and use shuttles or cabs for any activities within Paris as well as getting from and back to the airport? Yes. The taxi to your hotel will be 55€ for up to 4 people and their luggage and same for the return trip. I would not bother with shuttles.

  • Any good spots to go running near our hotel? I would just run along the river and in the park near your hotel.

Posted by
28 posts

I have been to Paris 4 times and loved every visit. The most recent was this summer with my wife and 2 children (ages 22 and 14). Yes, you can definitely turn your car in at the airport. Be careful of overpriced cabs (a lesson learned the hard way). The train is really convenient and inexpensive (especially compared to the cabs) to get from Charles de Gaulle to any area of Paris, as well as from place to place in town.

On New Year's Eve, the Eiffel Tower should have fireworks (not to be missed). As for things besides museums, the churches are beautiful. Tell the kids about the Hunchback of Notre Dame and then visit Notre Dame. A block from it is Saints Chapelle with amazing stained glass from floor to ceiling. Sacre Coeur is a great church to end the day with. It is high above Paris on the north side and has a beautiful view of the city as the sun goes down. the kids may like to take the funicular train up to the church. There are wonderful parks to see too (Luxembourg and Tuileries, to name a couple). Near the Louvre is Angelina's, which has the most wonderful hot chocolate (it is like a piece of milk chocolate melted into the cup-amazing). Crepes from a street vendor are great too (banana and Nutella is my favorite). There are too many things to do in Paris to even scratch the surface. Have a great time!

Posted by
125 posts

Scott: I have stayed in that area, although in an apartment, not in a hotel. It appears to be far from the areas where there are demonstrations/riots. However that could possibly change, although I doubt it very much. Try to keep an eye on what is going on in Paris, either through a Paris newspaper, or perhaps a newspaper in England.

As far as dropping your car off at CDG, yes, definitely drop it there. Driving a car in Paris is a nightmare, even if you are pretty familiar with all the roads, oneway streets, etc. Metro is excellent, as are the buses. I prefer to travel by bus, as most of the metro is underground, and on a bus you can at least see some of the sights as you are traveling. If you can read maps pretty well, the one put out by the Paris bus line can tell you which line you need, where it stops, where the transfer. Get a "carnet" at any tobacco store for a discount on bus/metro tickets (same ticket is good on either one). As for bread, I agree with the writer who wrote that it is hard to go wrong anywhere in Paris vis a vis bread from a bakery. There are a couple of bakeries on Rue Lourmel, which should be not too far away from your hotel. As far as wine, I am no expert: we just buy wine from the local supermarkets when we are in Paris, and have rarely been disappointed. Peter

Posted by
506 posts

At 16 and 11 your children are old enough to look at websites and guidebooks and decide what interests them. At that age my two didn't much care for art but did enjoy military history, so Musee de l'Armee would have been on their list had I taken them to Paris at that age. The tower climb at Notre Dame gives an amazing view of gargoyles, bells, and the city. If they will each have a camera see how many different street lights they can photograph.

For more suggestions, https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/paris-itinerary

Posted by
334 posts

There are a few museums maybe an hour of your time ,that may work as they’re quick & we did them with our teens. Rodin museum has the thinker in the garden then the rest of the sculptures are in his two story home, Dali has his unique art like the melting clock in Montmartre, L Orangeire for the Massive Monet around the room. Go to Galleries Lafayette for the stained glass dome then make your way up to the viewing on top of the store for great views of Paris. Maybe the Christmas windows will still be available. I have seen lots of runners around the neighborhood by the Eiffel Tower, so run to the tower and the park surrounding. As others have mentioned use public transportation, it’s easy and cheap. I always find boulangeries close to metros. Just watch people and who’s carrying their fresh bread home for dinner. Again, can’t stress enough sign up for STEP smart traveler enrollment program to get alerts as to what’s happening and alerts you need while in Europe, step.state.gov it connects you to the USA consulate. You get emails with specifics f they have them where the protests will be while you’re in France.

Posted by
4656 posts

"Safe" is not really an issue. The protesters' quarrel is with their own government, I haven't seen any reports of tourists being assaulted. The only danger is if you accidentally get caught between protesters and riot police which is very unlikely unless you are actively looking for a close-up view of the trouble.

What is more of an issue is that if things get bad travelling around the city can be very disrupted. There's also a risk of museums/attractions being closed either due to concerns about damage or because the employees go on strike as part of the protests.

Posted by
12 posts

Having just returned from Paris I can say you should be quite safe. Check the website France24 for updates on any closures. We were there last Saturday and avoided the protest area and everywhere else was normal activity.

I second the recommendation to go to the churches, Notre Dame is a gothic and historical gem, Sainte Chapelle is a stained glass wonder, and Sacré Coeur is filled with the most beautiful mosaics. Only Sainte-Chapelle requires an admission fee. The metro is a fast, safe, and convenient way to travel to Sacré Coeur. As well as between neighborhoods. After using it just once I was impressed at how easy and fast we could move around the city.

Check the website for Paris Walks, they have at least one daily 2 hour walk, including holidays, just show up at the meeting point and join. Variety of topics and neighborhoods, and short enough that the kids shouldn’t get tired of the tour.

The Eiffel Tower is beautiful at night, and at New Years Eve should be a wonderful show.

Paris is a just a wonderful city to just stroll around in. Enjoy!

Posted by
11138 posts

Safe? Sure, if you are walking up the road and you see black smoke and hear gunfire ahead, just turn around and go the other way. No worse than Detroit.

I guess the only thing that would keep me away is that I love Paris so much (second only to Budapest) that I would hate to be limited with what I can see and do; and from what little I have paid attention to on the news, some of it is in the way of some of the city's best sight seeing.

Posted by
3 posts

May I ask which hotel you are staying at in Paris? My husband and I will be traveling to Paris in July with our 18 year old nephew. We are looking for a hotel with 3 beds; perfer not to have to use a sleeper sofa. Since there are four of you traveling, I thought you might be able to help me. Looking for a hotel is a daunting task
Thank you

Posted by
7 posts

Beanier7 - We are staying at Hôtel Yooma Urban Lodge.

Posted by
308 posts

Personally, I would not reschedule my trip to Paris. At most, you could be inconvenienced by public transportation not operating as expected or something being closed. At best, maybe the big attractions will be less crowded if others are scared away.

My husband is a runner and he enjoys running along the path near the Eiffel tower.