I will be going with my kids to Paris and Barcelona in the first 2 weeks of May next year. I've been to Paris once before and never to Barcelona so I'm looking for suggestions on what to do in the evenings. I know some museums are open late but are there other places we can check out? I read on another post about checking out street performers in front of the Notre Dame at night, so we will probably do that. We are staying in the 6th in Paris and looking for a place by Las Ramblas in Barcelona. We are staying 6 nights in Paris and 5 nights in Barcelona.
In Barcelona, you will find the interesting experience of not even eating dinner until after 9:00pm. The Tapas bars are really cafes where you 16yr old will do just fine. We've seen families with young children in pajamas having tapas at 11:00pm. Several times we have returned to our hotel after dinner at midnight. A great experience. For suggestions on where to stay, I would suggest considering two. Both are very near La Rambla. First is the Hosteria Grau. Very reasonable but I now see on their website that they are closed for rennovations. I suspect that this could mean an increase in rates. They were very reasonable and about a block off La Rambla. Second is the Hostal Campi. It is really inexpensive. The showers and toilet are mostly shared. If you want to step up a bit, the Hotel 1898. We've stayed at this hotel. It's right on La Rambla and in the middle of everything. From the airport, you can take the Aerobus to the Plaza Catalunya and easily walk to any of the three locations mentioned above. If you arrive by train at the Barcelona Sants train station, its a 15-18Euro taxi ride. For one thing to do in the evening, the Sagrada Familia is open from 9:00am to 8:00pm from April to September according to their website. You'll need to take the metro there from La Rambla. For a great tapas bar, I suggest Bar Lobo. It's right behind the Hotel 1898. It's rated in the top 10 of 1,800+ restaurants in Barcelona by www.tripadvisor.com Great breakfast (I liked the Churchill). Great and innovative tapas.
In Spain you are going to be dining later in the evening than at home. The meal may not be finished until 10 p.m. Go with it; that's the evening's entertainment. Most Parisian restaurants are finished by 10 or 11 p.m. although a few operate later, so again the dining table can keep your family away from the international TV in your hotel room. Both these cosmopolitan cities will have concerts in the evening, classical and pop.
Paris is also one of the great cities for cinema. You will see plenty of movie theatres with North American titles; look for the designation V.O. (original version) to get the English sound track. The theatre experience is just different enough to be novel. Comedies offer the curious treat of the English-speakers laughing a split-second earlier because they don't have to read the jokes. Check the listings in Time Out, which may also include some English-language stage theatre. http://www.timeout.fr/paris/en
In Barcelona I strongly recommend catching a concert at the beautiful music palace. http://www.barcelona.com/barcelona_directory/monuments/music_palace
We saw a very entertaining, humorous and lovely concert with 4 guitarists there in October. A nice place to grab some tapas ahead of the concert is the 4 Gats, about 10 minute walk.
In Paris take a night time boat ride on one of the open top boats. Boats with closed tops are stuffy and block the view. In Barcelona they have a night time open top bus tour that is fun. Get to see the city and all the lights. Paris has one too. Hop Off Hop On buses have night tours. Beaches aren't that good around Barcelona. Take a daytrip to Stiges. Really nice beach city about an hour outside Barcelona. Trains run back and forth several times a day.
I second the idea of films in Paris. You'll be close to the cluster of cinemas on and around the Rue des Ecoles. I saw my first Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton films in Paris at those places. Also a lot of interesting American and British films from 30-40 years ago.
I liked Hostal Campi in Barcelona. It's just a block off the Ramblas and a couple of blocks from Placa Catalunya. Call them and see what they have available that fits your family. My favorite tapas spot in Barcelona was the local name of Champagne (Xampana?), it had the best prices as well as the most local feel of the (many) places we visited. Most of the tapas we had were in nice places, but expensive. Many were recommended but seemed more like a chain than a local establishment. I think one day in the Bari Gothic is a good idea, great walk available through the TI. Another day for modernist architecture (including Park Guell and Sagrada Familia). A day of shopping from Placa Catalunya down the Ramblas to the beaches (keep an eye on your stuff, this place is supposedly the most notorious pickpocket center). If the weather had been nice enough when we were there, we would have caught a train up to Arenys de Mar for a beach day. Another nice weather trip would be a daytrip to Montserrat. Take the tram up and hike down. There are bustrips available out of Barcelona. It's worth a visit, but not nearly as enjoyable, when the weather is bad.
Does your 16 year old like to cook? In Barcelona, I took a cooking class at Cook And Taste. It was a lot of fun and I got a nice meal. http://www.cookandtaste.net/
I'm not sure how many street performers you'll get on weekday evenings in May in Paris. The Seine cruise is a great idea. You can also just walk around and enjoy Paris in the evenings with the lights turned on. As for taking in a movie that is in "VO" - I want to make sure you, and anyone else reading this, understands exactly what that means. What you will actually get is "VOSF" which translates to original version language, but sub-titled in French. That means that anything written on the screen will be in French. For example, in the movie "Argo," when Farsi is spoken, the translation will appear on the screen in French. At the end of the movie, when they you on what has happened since then, it will all be in French. That's in addition to having the entire movie sub-titled in French. If you can read French, or you see a movie where nothing needs to be written on the screen, it's not a problem. But I don't want anyone to be disappointed when they go to a "VO" movie and it isn't just like they would have seen it in a US theater.
FAT TIRE BIKE TOURS, they have them in Paris and Barcelona! I have taken the FT Paris by Night tour and loved it, its easy( central Paris is pretty flat) fun and everyone had a hoot, It also includes a boat cruise! It was the first time I had been on a bike in 30 years so no need to be nervous it will be "too hard" for you. It meets at 7 and you don't actually start biking till 730 or so , so the evening traffic has died down, and the tour leaders are great at leading you around , admittedly its a light tour , but the kids love it, and I did too. I am not sure if they do a night one in Barcelona , but definately try the night one in Paris, runs from 7-11 .
No reservations needed, just meet at bottom of Eiffel Tower at 7pm. so its easy to pick a night its not rainy. They have a good website, check it out, it is run by American expats, so language is not an issue, most of the guides are younger Americans who have just finished colllege in States, so they are interesting and funny , often telling about their adventures living in Paris .
Thank you everyone! I now have lots of great ideas to fill up our evenings. Keep them coming :D
I am in Paris now. There are nights when the museums are open late, so tonight we went to Musee d'Orsay and didn't get back to the hotel til 10 p.m. The Bateaux Mouches (boats on Seine) are a great way to spend an evening. If you like classical music, there are concerts that you can find out about when you get to town (I recommend going especially if the concert is in St. Chappelle). The Champs is fun at night, and all the shops are open. Have fun.
I second the suggestion for just walking around, taking the boat trip, or attending a musical concert. For the latter, get a Pariscope newsletter (available at any kiosk selling newspapers) or its equivalent once you arrive in Paris. Peter
Can't speak to Barcelona, but Paris is great for young people! I took my HS choir here to sing in 2008, they loved it. At night: walking around the monuments, which are all lit up, is awesome. Be sure to catch the Eiffel Tower on the hour at night, as it puts on a spectacular light show, twinkling with thousands of lights for about 10 minutes. Also, catch dinner in front of the Stravinsky Fountain next to the Pompidou Center; excellent street theater there as well. An unusual but fun evening we did with my 14-18 yr olds was to attend a concert on the Peniche El Alamein, a music boat in the Seine. We saw a terrific Gypsy-rock-French folk band there for 5 euros a person, and were the only native English speakers there amongst a friendly, music loving crowd. Include lots of walks across the many bridges across the Seine. The view is different from each, and always beautiful. Teens love Montmartre, especially sitting on the steps below Sacre Coeur and watching the sun set on Paris. Enjoy!
Definitely the Fat Tire bike tour at night in Paris, if the kids are older than 10/11. We had a family with a young boy on our tour, and he had a really nice time. We went while there the first week in October, and my husband, son, and I thought it was one of the best things we did in Paris.....had a ball. The guides are a lot of fun, they stop and go, so it's not very difficult at all, and the ice cream at Berthillon was unbelievable. My son insisted we go back 2x for more during the five days we were there. Enjoy !