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Request for help planning 8 nights in Paris in June

We are spending 8 nights in Paris in June 2016, staying in Saint Germain. Two adults and two kids (aged 9 and 7), all first timers.

I've put together a rough outline of what we'd like to do while we're there. I've tried to do this taking into account which sights are closed or busy on particular days but I would really appreciate some feedback.

  • 21 June, Tue: arrive at CDG at 8pm
  • 22 June, Wed: Seine cruise, Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle, Pont Neuf
  • 23 June, Thu: Rue Cler, Rodin Museum, Champ de Mars, Eiffel Tower (bought tickets for 3pm)
  • 24 June, Fri: day trip to Versailles
  • 25 June, Sat: Arc de Triomphe, Champ Elysees
  • 26 June, Sun: Pompidou Centre, Picasso Museum
  • 27 June, Mon: Louvre, Tuilleries Gardens
  • 28 June, Tue: Luxembourg Gardens, Saint Sulpice
  • 29 June, Wed: depart Gare du Nord

Eiffel Tower is the only thing we've booked so the rest is wide open. Have we planned to go to any of these places on a bad day?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
3580 posts

There are parks and playgrounds sprinkled throughout Paris. Your children will want a daily play-time. You might schedule several trips to Luxumberg Gardens. Montmartre, the funicular, and walks in the Sacre Couer area would probably interest all of you. I've noticed merry-go-rounds at some of the Metro stops.

Posted by
13673 posts

What a great trip! A couple of comments?

Buy 6-day Paris Museum Passes for the adults on your first morning. You probably almost have enough attractions on your list that it covers to make it worthwhile. The pass also allows for multiple visits to the museums and whatnot so you could break the larger ones (i.e. the Louvre) into smaller chunks.

Some of your days are very light: Sat. the 25th, for instance. Arc de Triomphe and Champ Elysees will only take a couple of hours so you could do more on that day. Take a look at the list on your passes to see what may appeal to the family? IMHO, Champ Elysees is also one of the more overrated activities in Paris: not a fan. Your young people could get museum overload in a hurry but a couple of excellent ones which aren't on your list are the d'Orsay, Cluny, l'Orangerie (all covered by the pass) and Carnavalet (free but donation encouraged). These are smaller than the mighty Louvre and so more easily taken in.

The kids will probably enjoy Marie-Antoinette's hamlet at Versailles more than being trampled in the palace so I'd make sure to get out to that part of the estate. They may also find the Conciergerie in Paris interesting (covered by the pass): it's very old, and they can learn about how it functioned as a prison during the Revolution for persons famous (Marie-Antoinette) and not-so. Signage in English, and you should combine it with Sainte- Chapelle.

http://www.paris-conciergerie.fr/en

Also for the kids, one of Paris' public cemeteries might be fun. Head up to Montmartre to see the ‎Sacré-Cœur and ramble around the cemetery that's close by, or jump the metro out to Père Lachaise. They are wonderfully creepy 'silent cities' full of paths to explore and interesting tomb sculptures.

Lastly, keep the itinerary as loose as possible? Jardin du Luxembourg or the Tuilleries won't be fun on a rainy day nor do you want to spend all of your gloriously sunny ones inside!

Posted by
8293 posts

Jack, your list is very adult- centric. Some parks in Paris offer pony rides and I am guessing the kids might like that. There is a doll museum ( Musee de Poupee) which is small enough and interesting enough to engage children but not tire them. If you find yourselves short of time you can skip rue Cler and the Champs Élysées, both of them being over-hyped and uninteresting.

You have 6 museums on your list. That is a lot of museums for your children to bear. Don't be surprised if they get bored and cranky.

Posted by
24 posts

You are arriving on my favorite night of the year in Paris. Fete de la Musique is celebrated at the summer solstice. If you are not too tired, take some time to wander your neighborhood and enjoy some of the free music to be found in churches, public buildings and on many street corners.

Posted by
2353 posts

You might consider a bike tour - its a great way to get an overview of the city and the kids would enjoy. Paris is an easy city for biking. Look for a puppet show in the parks

Google the Louvre with kids - many have gone before you and have created ways to make it fun for kids too

Very true about the Arc de T & Champs Elysees - perhaps a picnic in a park that day - roam a market for provisions.

Definitely get the Paris Museum Pass

Have a ball!

Start playing French language CD's for the kids - they learn new languages much faster than adults!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks very much for the feedback, people.

Just by way of clarification, we fully expect to spend time in parks and doing kids things on some of those days where I haven't specifically referred to them.

As for some of the other suggestions, we might get to Musee d'Orsay on the Thursday night when I believe it is open late. We're lucky enough to be travelling with grandparents so we hope to take them up on some babysitting. Same with Louvre on Wednesday and Friday.

I've recently enjoyed listening to Mike Duncan's Revolutions podcast so I'm hoping to get to Carnavalet and the Pantheon, as well as the Army Museum, if I can squeeze them in.

Sacre Coeur hasn't grabbed us yet but it's something to consider. I suppose the obvious day for that would be the Tuesday that we've pencilled in for the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees. Is the Arc de Triomphe an obvious fit for any of our other days?

Lastly, we're not interested in the creepy attractions. No Catacombs, no cemeteries and even the Conciergerie does not appeal.

But, apart from maybe going to a few other places, have we planned anything on an inappropriate day?

Posted by
7694 posts

You've avoided slating any museum for the day that it's closed, if that's what you mean.

Posted by
9898 posts

I will just make a comment about your plan for Thursday. If you start at the Rodin Museum you might be able to work in lunch along Rue Cler. I like this area, it's where I stay, but in my mind it's not really a destination. It's a street and it'll take maybe 10 minutes to walk it. There is a nice gelato stand!

Are any of your kids fearful of heights? If so do look at pictures of the exterior of the Pompidou. I AM afraid of heights, had not done my due diligence and only when I was on my way up did I realize the darn escalators are on the outside of the building. That was not comfortable for me.

Posted by
2353 posts

Looks like you have done your homework. Kudos for that! How nice you have grands along to help with the kiddos! I am certain it will be a memorable trip.

Posted by
7 posts

I would suggest an evening visit to the Louvre on the day they are opened late in addition to going during the day. I tend to burn out after spending a couple hours in a museum so enjoy going several times. It was also much less crowded in the evening as well. I remember being the only person in a room full of sculptures which made it seem even more wonderful.

Posted by
672 posts

I think your itinerary seems very well planned and thought out! If Sacre Coeur doesn't grab you, then I would definitely skip it. If you go be prepared to deal with a lot of aggressive petition girls, bracelet making guys, and others hawking their junk. I find a trip to Sacre Coeur not very relaxing because you have to constantly be on guard (I think the same thing about the Eiffel Tower, but that is worth it!). We love the Army Museum and the Carnavalet (although parts of it were closed for renovation when we were there last month). But it's free, so you can just go and see what's open.

If you like Impressionist art, the Orsay is awesome! I like your idea of going Thursday evening when it's open late - it will be less crowded.

We haven't been, but there is a zoo in the Jardin des Plantes that your kids might be interested in. I think you will love spending a lot of time in Paris's many lovely parks.

Posted by
784 posts

I don't have kids myself, but a couple of observations from my last two trips to Paris. First, Parisien parents are really engaged with their kids when out and about. You will see many kids the age of yours riding the razor-type scooters while their parents walk along, keeping a close eye on them. The kids will be dressed exactly like they dress in the US. If you can go to Luxembourg Gardens when they are sailing boats on the pond, I think your kids will really enjoy that, and the Dads seem to have just as much fun. I think they sail mostly on weekends, but perhaps on week days as well in the summer. Finally, I've watched French families in restaurants. The kids are well behaved and the parents encourage them to try new foods and have quiet discussions. Have a wonderful and memorable trip full of fun family experiences.

Posted by
1540 posts

One thing we had not planned on was the LARGE amount of time we spent waiting in line to get into places, Notre Dame, St. Chappelle, D'Orsay etc.
We were there in Feb. (not really TOP tourist season?) and it was over an hour into Notre Dame and another 1+ hour line to go up to the top of the tower. Over 1.5 hours in the rain to go into St. Chappelle, had Museum Pass and had to also wait the long lines.
I did not join my friends in the Eiffel tower (because I had been there), they had a time reservation to climb to the top and still had to wait in a line. Much of the time for all of these is longer because of security checks.

Posted by
15037 posts

Rodin is good - plan to spend more time in the gardens (many sculptures), less in the studio.
Champs Elysees - nothing to see. Take the metro to Arc de Triomphe, make sure the kids are up to climbing the stairs.
Versailles - agree, allow enough time for M.Antoinette's village. Rent bikes to get around or using the minitrain or whatever it is. Way too big to walk.
I wasn't impressed with the views from the Pompidou - they were all through glass plating (or plastic) that was not very clear. The museum - only if you are interesting in Modern Art. But, a block away, around the corner is the Musee de la Poupee (doll museum) and while a lot of it is dolls, there are other toys that will interest boys too. It's just meters from the Anne Frank Garden, small, charming and organic.
The Picasso Museum is walking distance to the Place des Vosges, and much of the area is closed to vehicles on Sat-Sun. Great place to spend some time, get the kids falafel for lunch for something different. Pop in at the Carnavalet Museum (free) which has collections that will interest the kids. One of my faves is the old shop signs - get the kids to guess what kind of shops they were (even at the end of the 19th c. most people couldn't read).

Posted by
317 posts

Sounds like a great trip! I agree about the Museum Passes - the freedom to bypass long lines and pop in and stay a short time was great for our family, and we got to see a few cool sights we might not have chosen if we had to pay admission each time. It also gives you easier access to interesting, cool (temperature) places and bathrooms if you are away from your hotel for hours on a hot day, as we were last summer.

Nighttime hours were a blessing for us during the heat wave we experienced - and we, too, had some galleries in the Louvre all to ourselves as we explored in the evening. That was really an unexpected bonus in comparison to the masses we'd experienced earlier that same day. We went to the Orsay on that museum's late night, too, and really enjoyed it. It was light for so long that we could stay until closing, and come out to twilight in Paris - and cooler temperatures. :0)

If you do go to the Orsay, I'd suggest heading first for the cutaway model of the Opera Garner on the ground level - very interesting for our kids. Then head right up to the 5th floor for the overview of the museum and talk with your kids about how the building used to be a grand train station. Then enjoy the Impressionist galleries.
On that level, you can walk right up to one of the clock faces and look out over Paris. One of my favorite pictures we took was a silhouette of our daughter looking out at Paris through that clock face. You can see Sacre Coeur from that view - and maybe that's enough of Montmartre for your family on this busy trip?

On your way out, you can pick and choose which other galleries you want to dip into, and see the sculptures as well. For me, my top priority at Musee d'Orsay is the Impressionist gallery - so that is how I've planned my visits (several over the years)

There is a Marks and Spencer store near the Luxembourg Gardens, where you'll find a lot of delicious food choices for picnics. When we returned to Paris after a weekend with friends, we couldn't check in to our hotel yet, so we left our bags there and went in search of lunch. We all found great food and drinks at Marks and Spencer. It was an interesting experience to see the international foods available! We then walked over to the Luxembourg Gardens. There are chairs everywhere - sun and shade - and it was a relaxing way to have an inexpensive and casual picnic for five. That store had a deal in the summer that if you spent 20 euro, you could choose a cooler or picnic blanket for free. We took advantage of that, and our picnic blanket traveled through Paris and then to Switzerland with us! If you think that sounds like something your kids would like, ask your flight attendant if you can keep the lightweight blankets from your flight - ours encouraged us to take them for picnicking! That was a surprise. :-)

We saw kids riding ponies, and happily pushing sailboats at Luxembourg Gardens, and also saw a place in the Tuileries where kids were sailing boats. There's a Ferris Wheel in the Tuileries - I wish we'd done that at twilight for the views we would have had. There are carousels around the city - beautiful works of art that looked like fun.

Seine Cruise thought - when we did this with our jet-lagged kids, we made the mistake of sitting in the more enclosed area. Either we were really near a malfunctioning toilet, or else the water itself had a bad smell - but it was an overpoweringly unpleasant smell. I'd recommend being out in the open air for this cruise with your kids.

Our kids had day bags that would hold a small water bottle, things they wanted to have with them, and snacks like Luna Bars and granola bars. We did bring some of those from home, because they were portable, and we needed to have some quick protein snacks on hand. We tended to refill water bottles in museums on those hot days - so I'd recommend that. They also had fun using their phones to snap pictures on their own.

Enjoy your trip!
Laurie

Posted by
3936 posts

We did St Chappelle last year and almost didn't get in before the cut off time. We got there about 1h 15m before it was to close (I think the line closes about 15 min before the church). We stood in line an hour (this was late Sept) and I think were in one of the last few groups to get in (about 5 min before cut off)...so don't show up an hour before closing or you may be disappointed. The thing that bothered me was people were coming up to the guards and asking them about waiting in the line - 'will we get in?', and the guards told them 'yeah, it's OK' - but the line was just as long as when we got there and there was no way these folks would get in. They really should close the line about 30-40 min before so people don't waste their time waiting only to be disappointed.

And yes - it you want to go to the top of Notre Dame, the lines are long as well - we were more than an hour. If you want to do the upper part, you may want to change days from Chappelle so you don't spend hours standing in line. If you just want to see the interior of the church, no worries. I don't recall waiting long to get into the church itself - the line seemed to move along...maybe we just lucked out...?

Over by the Louvre, you may want to take a peek at St Eustache - it's near Les Halles and not too far to walk - beautiful cathedral and apparently the largest pipe organ in France. Gorgeous gothic architecture and stained glass windows.

Posted by
191 posts

I might suggest doing the Seine cruise twice-once during the day and again at night when the sights are lit up. Same cruise-two different experiences! Keep in mind sunset in late June occurs around 10pm. Also, the twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower (at the top of the hour) do not start until the sun sets but it should not be missed. The kids especially will love it. A late night for sure but you will see a ton of families out and about at that time.

Posted by
3699 posts

One long-established Seine cruise is Les vedettes de Pont Neuf, docking at the bridge you planned to see, so you can cross two items off your list at once. http://vedettesdupontneuf.com/home/ It's a five-minute stroll to Notre-Dame, too.
As others have noted, walking the fairly mundane Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe certainly is not a full day's activity. The shopping boulevard, while broad and sweeping, is a little over a mile long.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks again for all of the feedback.

The Rue Cler inclusion is mostly due to my wife's enthusiasm. If it doesn't suit the kids, I'll take them somewhere more suitable so my wife can take her time.

Same really with the Champs Elysees - that could well end up being mostly shopping time for my wife. I believe the summer sales may have started by then - is that right?

One kid is scared of heights but willing to face her fears. The other loves heights and can't get enough of them. We'll assess the Pompidou before ascending.

The Musee de la Poupee sounds like it might be worth checking out so thanks for that.

I think the Fête Foraine du Jardin des Tuileries starts on 25 June so that should provide a few things for the kids to do!

Thanks for the warning about Saint Chappelle. I've read that it's quieter on the weekend so, given it's so close, maybe I'll carve some time out on the weekend to go. That first day is really just to orientate ourselves and to stretch our legs, so if Notre Dame is too busy, we'll just have a wander around and try again another time.

Thanks for the cruise tip. That looks very convenient.

Posted by
15037 posts

If Ms. Jack wants to shop, Blvd Hausmann (Galeries Lafayettes, Les Printemps) is better and a much nicer walk.

One kid is scared of heights but willing to face her fears. The other loves heights and can't get enough of them. We'll assess the Pompidou before ascending. You'll be on an open roof at the Arc de Triomphe, though the stairs are more of a claustrophobia issue. Going up the Pompidou is escalators, completely glass-enclosed. I think there may be elevators too.

For me, the best way to see Sainte-Chapelle is to go to an evening concert. Be among the first to enter, select seats (the expensive ones aren't really any better) and then you'll have time to walk around and take photos, then continue to enjoy the stained glass during the concert. They are fairly short, often there are two concerts a night. If you have a choice, I think you'll have more pre-concert time at the earlier one. And being there at sunset is good for the effect of the setting sun through the windows.

Keep in mind that if you want to see Paris illuminated after dark (and you must!!), sunset isn't until 10 p.m. The Eiffel Tower will only start to light up after that.

If you plan to climb the towers at Notre Dame (another challenge for your kid), there's always a long line.

I also like Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf. If you buy tickets online (good for any time, any day) you save a lot. A friend took her daughters to Paris (ages 10-13) and the one thing they wanted to do a second time was the Seine cruise. It's especially lovely if you get the one that leaves right around sunset, then you see the lights start to go on as you cruise.

Posted by
3936 posts

I just want to throw in that Notre Dame is really lovely all lit up at night - of course, you are there in June with long daylight hours. We were lucky I guess getting in St Chap later in the afternoon in late Sept as the sun was a bit lower in the sky and the sunlight coming thru the windows made it glow.

Posted by
2466 posts

You might want to double-check this - but I believe that due to security concerns, there is currently no public access to climb the Arc de Triomphe.

The EURO Finals begin 10 June, and the City will have a "fan zone" set up on the Champ de Mars for one solid month. The area around the Eiffel Tower might be a little intense, especially if you aren't crazy about soccer. Some of the Metro stations in the immediate area will be closed during the time the fan zone is open. If you've already booked tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower, you should get in line a little in advance of your scheduled time, because of security concerns.

A boat ride on the Seine is nice, but frankly, during the summer months, all the trees block 90% of the view. It is a relaxing way to pass an hour, though - and especially lovely at night. Remember that the sun will set around 10h30 or 11 PM at night during June.

I would leave off Sacre Coeur - it's a tiring climb, extremely crowded, and not much fun for all the effort it takes to get there. You've got many better choices already selected.

Posted by
8293 posts

I agree that Sacre Coeur is not worth the climb, BUT, you can take a bus or the funicular. You needn't go on foot. And yes, it can be crowded but the view over Paris is wonderful.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have taken the Seine boat trip several times and was never aware of trees blocking the view in the summer. My photos show great views of the city from the river, summer, autumn and spring.

Posted by
109 posts

Laurie
I will be in Paris for a few weeks this summer with my 7 year old; your post was more informative than nearly everything else I have read! Thank you!!

Posted by
353 posts

are you and your kids soccer fans? You will be in Paris during European Championships - a huge event being held in several cities around France. There will be a giant fan zone set up at the Champs du Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, as well as individual country displays along the Quai d'Orsay. Visit the UEFA website for schedules and prepare for crowds.