Please sign in to post.

Need Advice on Paris Itinerary

Will be in Paris next month with husband and two kids (aged 10 and 12). We arrive at Gare du Nord at around 19:00 on a Tuesday evening, have to leave at 16:00 on Friday (so three days later). Only thing definite so far is a city bike tour Wednesday morning, which should finish around 13:00. Would like to see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Louvre and Versaille. Am thinking this is too much to fit in over three days, especially since Wednesday morning is already booked. So, what do you think? Is this feasible (without losing our sanity) or should we drop something from our "wish list"? If we should drop something, what do you suggest? And what do you suggest for what we still do and when? This will be our first trip to Paris, are really looking forward to it, and know you will all have great advice as always!

Posted by
6 posts

Ok, I hate to admit it but we might have to skip Versailles. I would really love to see it, but not if it means we have to be running at a crazy pace just to fit it in. Based on your comments, maybe we'd have an even better trip if we went at a more leisurely pace, spending the time we would be in Versailles instead at one of the parks or gardens, walking the neighborhoods, or sitting longer at one of the cafes.

Posted by
10324 posts

What do you want to see at the Louvre? You can spend as much or as little time there as you wish. Versaille will take at least half the day. More if you want to see the gardens. The Eiffel Tower can take quite some time if the lines are long. I know you can make a reservation now, but I would hesitate to do that not knowing what the weather will be like. If it's cloudy or hazy you will not get a very good view. Are you wanting to climb the Arc or just see it? If you just want to see it you will not need to spend much time there. What about Notre Dame? Climb or just see?

I would suggest you prioritize what you want to do and be realistic about how long each thing will take. Don't underestimate time spent in lines. At the Louvre don't go in the pyramid entrance. Enter at the lower level in the mall area. The lines are much shorter there. If you have Rick's Paris book (and I recommend if you don't you get it before you go) he gives very good suggestions on how to maximize your time.

Have a fantastic time in Paris and just remember...if you don't see everything you want on this trip you can always go back! I did, and even after a total of over 2 weeks in Paris I have not seen everything I want to see yet.

And don't forget to take some time to just relax and enjoy being in Paris. Sit at a sidewalk cafe and watch the people go by. That is one of the big joys of Paris.

Posted by
4132 posts

If your crew is reasonably nimble, I think you can see all those things, though Versailles makes it into a bit of a stretch.

My suggestion would be to agree in advance about the one or two sights that are least important, so you can skip if your plan gets derailed. Then you can adapt to conditions on the ground.

Personally, I'd save Versailles for another time.

I'd have a definite plan for Tuesday evening, and for a place to stash your bags on Friday (maybe your hotel) while you sightsee.

Posted by
1826 posts

Considering the ages of your children, I think you all would enjoy climbing the towers of Notre Dame to see the gargoyles up close and enjoy the views which include Sacre Coeur and the ET. If you choose to do so, get there by 9:30 A.M. so you don't have to wait forever in line.

If you skip Versailles, you can get your dose of over-the-top opulence with a tour of Opera Garnier. You can do a self-guided tour, although the English language tour provides a lot of intriguing stories. However, that tour is on Wednesdays, so you would need to switch your bike ride day if you wanted the OG tour.

The Louvre is open late two nights--I think one is Wednesday, but check their site. Also, leave yourself at least a two hour block to picnic and enjoy one of the parks. The Luxembourg Garden one is lovely, but there are others if that location isn't convenient for you.

For transportation, you might enjoy the Batobus. It's a hop-on hop-off boat that makes a continuous circuit of the Seine---more useful than the Seine boat "cruises."

Posted by
9429 posts

If it were me, I'd drop Versailles (as much as I love it - you just can't do it justice in such a short time) and possibly drop the Louvre. Instead, I would make a point to spend time in the Luxembourg Gardens. It's wonderful and your kids would really enjoy it. They have a great playground, carousel, donkey rides, marionette show, 2 cafes, plus lots more. It's a real slice of Parisian life and one of my favorite places in Paris.

Posted by
10324 posts

Cynthia's suggestion of the batobus is a great one. It is a fun way to get to most tourist destinations and a multiple day pass is not much more than a one day pass. My first trip to Paris we used the batobus for 5 days. We only took the metro twice because it was after the batobus stopped for the day. Kids will love it, and so will you,

You can buy batobus tickets at any stop I think. We bought ours by the stop at the Eiffel Tower.

Posted by
9429 posts

"we'd have an even better trip if we went at a more leisurely pace, spending the time we would be in Versailles instead at one of the parks or gardens, walking the neighborhoods, or sitting longer at one of the cafes"

You're absolutely right Cara! Taking your time, walking around, sitting in parks and cafes...is the best part of being in Paris imo.

Posted by
12 posts

yes I think it's too much, especially with a 10 and 12 year old. I'd forget Versailles for this trip. It's about an hour out of Paris by train, and then you can really spend the whole day there. I'd include a trip to Bertillion for ice cream while you're seeing Notre Dame, and the first night I'd walk to the Eiffel Tower and catch the boats that do down the Seine in an hour. IT is all fantastic in the dark! Your bike trip sounds great- don't drop it!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks everyone for all the tips! I wasn't sure what we'd be able to do the first night there. How late does it stay light in Paris in July? Hadn't thought about trying to see the Eiffel Tower that first night, but it is worth considering! Or how about the Arc de Triomphe? Had heard they are both beautiful at night.

Posted by
1826 posts

In June of 2008 when we were last there, there were street performers and lots of onlookers in front of Notre Dame. It will definitely not be dark before 10:00 in the summer.

Posted by
239 posts

The Arc de Triomphe is very beautiful at night. I would get a gorgeous night-time view of the city from the top and discourage anyone in the family who wants to go up in the Eiffel Tower--a time-consuming endeavor.

Posted by
25 posts

We were there last week with our 13 year old boys. They loved Notre Dame, Arc, Eiffel Tower, and the Palace at Versailles. But we hiked through the gardens to go to M.A.'s little hamlet and that did them in. Plus it was quite hot that day. If you want to go to Versailles take the train out early (we were there when it opened), see the palace and leave. My boys also LOVED the Army museum at Invalides, so strongly consider it. At least my boys had done some research reports on DDay, etc. so they "knew" some of the things that were there. On the flip side, they hated the Louvre, and honestly I was a bit disappointed there too!

Posted by
239 posts

We just returned from Paris last week (2 kids ages 8 and 13)...their highlights: picnic at Eiffel Tower, bateaux mouches night cruise, catacombs, Bike About Paris bike tour. They also loved using the Metro! My husband and I had been to Paris before, so we skipped going into the Louvre because we thought they would be bored and instead walked through St. Germain/Boul Mich area and they loved all the cafes (we probably spent $400 on coke and ice cream during our 10 days in France!!) They also liked climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Have a great trip!!

Posted by
48 posts

Kids are the same everywhere, so if your two skateboard, and you can manage it, have them bring their boards. Everywhere we go in Europe, we see kids practicing on the sidewalks, the streets and in the parks. Dragging through museums before the children learn the significance of what they are seeing is down right boring.

Posted by
567 posts

Break day into parts helps you see when and where things fit for you.

1.Choose one large sight each day, do early morning when have most energy.

2.Break away to a park for a picnic; walk through an area discovering its shops, bakeries, and enjoy cafes; take a boat ride, go to department store for souvenir shopping.

  1. Eat dinner early, cafes 700-730pm, picnics are good everywhere especially on the Parc facing the Eiffel Tower.

4.Visit a smaller sight, walk the bridges and promenades and find a place to view the lights coming on at night, take an evening Seine cruise.

Days are long, sunset is 1015 pm or later; Lines are long. Mid-day/afternoon is good for breaks from main sights. It's a chance to slow down,take in the people and the city from a park, a café, eating ice cream on the riverbank, etc.
Evenings have a meal, take in a smaller sight and discover all the ways to be outside at night in Paris

Posted by
567 posts

Times of opening hours during June
Eiffel Tower: 930am -Midnight, last entry is 1115pm. Illuminates 1015/1030 pm -100/200am.

Notre Dame Tower: 930am – 1100pm, last entry is 1000pm.
Church 800am-645pm

Arc de Triomphe: 1000am -1100am, Last entry 1030pm. Kids are free.

Bateaux Parisiens boat ride (located near ET), 1000am-1030pm, leaves every 30 minutes.
Batobus boat, and Big Bus Hop-on/hop-off bus both start at 1000am.
In summer you really want to be in line early so this doesn’t help you get in a line before opening hours.

Your bike tour will give you an overview & insight into the city. If you are walkers, you may consider a single way ride for the Batobus. This reduces your cost. Maybe use it for the later part of the day when your family needs a break.

Louvre opened Wednesday evening until 1000pm.

The Orsay opened until 945pm Thursdays, kids are free.
Alternatives: The Maritime Museum, Les Invalides Military Museums, or the Carnavalet, which is free.

I would wait and see Versailles on another trip. You have 2 ½ days and 3 nights.

*June 12- August 1 Jazz festival in Bois de Vincennes cost 1-5 Euros, people tend to bring a picnic.
*June 21 is a street music festival throughout the city.

If weather is clear, try to do the Eiffel Tower your first night, especially if you are using the museum and monument pass.

Posted by
15634 posts

Maybe plan your visit to the Louvre for Wednesday late afternoon to evening, with a rest in the afternoon. Last June, I started in the Louvre late morning and it was packed. After 30 minutes, I fled. When I returned around 7, there was hardly anyone around.