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Granddaughter to Paris . . . And?

We have told our grandchildren we would take them anywhere they want for a trip once they are teenagers. Our granddaughter has selected Paris. I’ve traveled Europe, but never France. I think I can figure out where to go in Paris, but ideas beyond the big sites are welcome. But, most importantly I am looking for suggestions to visit outside of Paris, specifically one place that can easily be reached by train (and car if necessary), that isn’t overrun by tourists already. Granddaughter is a youthful teenager, and she will be traveling with my wife, daughter and myself for about 1 1/2 weeks. We have not decided when to travel, but are looking at either May or a Christmas trip in 2019.

Posted by
5046 posts

1 1/2 weeks = ~ 10 days. That's only 8 days actually in France, since the first and last days are taken up by flying. If this is everyone's first time in France, and your granddaughter specifically wanted Paris, I'd stick with that and just add a couple of day trips. At the most 2 nights somewhere easily reached from Paris like the Normandy beaches or the Loire Valley. But no more than that, unless you can add extra days to the trip. And you'd want to be back in Paris on the last night before departing for home.

Again, for a first trip, and if you want to venture outside Paris, I'd definitely opt for May over December. Warmer weather, longer days, and much prettier.

Have a look at Rick's videos on France for ideas. Perhaps borrow a copy of his France guidebook from the library.

Posted by
768 posts

I took each of my kids to Paris when they became teenagers.
Here's what they liked:

Catacombs

Sewer Tour

Walking up 1 or 2 levels of Eiffel Tower (no reservations needed!)

Street markets (different days and places, Google it, I like the one a few blocks North of Arc de Triomphe)

Chez Janou , a restaurant that serves "all you can eat choc. mousse". www.chezjanou.com They are off the tourist path, don't speak much English, so bring your Google translate app--but that's half the fun!

Posted by
7403 posts

What a wonderful experience you are giving your grandchildren, and I’m happy to hear that you will be there, also. I would recommend the Rick Steves small Paris guidebook. There’s lots of great ideas with priorities marked for your maximum value of time.

We liked the 2 or 3-day Museum Pass. Besides seeing the big ones, we would drop by a few when we were walking nearby in a neighborhood, even for 15 minutes. Also, the evening river cruise (just the passenger ones; not the dinner cruise) is a lot of fun.

The month of May would give you more daylight hours and a reason to walk through the beautiful gardens.

Posted by
5004 posts

If you've not already done so, get some of your granddaughter's thoughts and ideas about where she'd like to go and what she'd to do. The trip will be much more memorable for her if she's involved in the planning. Just a thought.

Posted by
4062 posts

Fly into Marseille Provence airport as part of your trans-Atlantic itinerary, take the rattling local train to Avignon, which has walls and a citadel plus the Palace of the Popes, and a great view over the Rhone River (teach the kid the nursery song about dancing on the bridge, which is only half there). There's a free ferry across to the other side where the bridge should end .... and so on. Then whoosh to Paris on the TGV very fast train, a special experience itself. May is a nice time in both south and north.

http://www.avignon-tourisme.com/

https://en.oui.sncf/en/

Posted by
650 posts

I'm always a little puzzled when people ask what will young teens like. Teens are individuals and they like very different things. We took our daughters to Paris twice: once when they were 13 and 15; and once when they were 16 and 18. When I asked them just before the second trip, what things they would like to see again, The d'Orsay was the only item in common on their lists. They had rather different ideas about what new things they'd like to see too.

Do ask your granddaughter what she'd like to see, preferably after giving her a guidebook to leaf through.

Posted by
1792 posts

I would have said Versailles, but you said not over run by tourists so that might be out. However, I would let your granddaughter research it and see what she thinks. Very accessible by train. I agree with May instead of December. I also would let your granddaughter research Paris and the surrounding area for sights that interest her and all of you could plan together. Sounds like a great trip for all of you. Enjoy.

Posted by
11 posts

A lot of great suggestions, thank you. I am gathering information right now, and just ordered the Rick Steve’s Paris book (New France one comes out in January, and will decide if we need that later). My wife and I will be visiting our granddaughter in about three weeks, and at that time we will engage with her more deeply about what she is dreaming about and wanting to do. The suggestions provided here, along with the Rick Steve’s book, will give her many starting points as she outlines her desires. Then, I will begin engaging her in the planning.
Thank you!

Posted by
4441 posts

I would go in May and if she's not a history buff, a chateau or two in the Loire rather than Normandy. Chenenceux is stunning. You are wonderful grandparents to do this for your grandchildren!

Posted by
14580 posts

"...beyond the big cities...." I would heartily suggest going to Fontainebleau, easily accessible by train from Paris and bus. Point to the historical sites at the Chateau. When to go? Most definitely in May....weather is pleasant, the Chateau is not a site inundated with tourists.

Posted by
2475 posts

If the trip's in May, Monet's gardens at Giverny would be a lovely option.

Posted by
9786 posts

Another vote for May and for spending at least a night (or preferably two) in the Loire to visit châteaux !

Posted by
117 posts

We are planning a trip to Paris in March with our 11 and 14 year old boys. Here are the things we've settled on, after lots of research:
- A walking guided "French Revolution tour" geared for teenagers (our kids are particularly interested in history right now)
- A food tour based in Montmartre
- A guided tour of Musee D'Orsay
- A day trip to Versailles
- A guided tour of ile de la cite

We have found that our kids are at the age where they really enjoy the guided tours, so we usually plan one each morning, 2-3 hours, and then we plan nothing formal for the afternoons, although I usually have a few ideas sketched out. The afternoons we wander around, explore, sometimes dump them back at the hotel if they need downtime...

Recommend you check out Paris Muse (no affiliation and have not used them yet ourselves, but that's where we got a lot of ideas/plans).

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you for the many ideas to share with my granddaughter for planning our trip.

Posted by
129 posts

As others have said, build the trip with your granddaughter’s interests in mind. One of my daughter’s loves horses so we did a day trip to Chantilly. If your granddaughter enjoys history and art perhaps train to Giverny (Small shuttle bus from Vernon) to visit Monet’s home and gardens then, back on train to Rouen which is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, interesting half timbered buildings where plague victims were held and much more. Want a sample of medieval life? Easy day trip to Provins. Within Paris, possibilities are endless including, an afternoon matinee of ballet at Charles Garnier Opera house then (free) fashion show at Lafayette Galleries next door. What wonderful memories you will all have!