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Paris 6-Day Itinerary - Family of 4

We'll be arriving to Paris on a Friday afternoon. Kids ages 13 and 11. We are not into museum overkill - just the main ones. Daughter loves fashion and flea market type places - vintage clothing, etc. So do I. Husband is flexible and easy-to-please. Son likes parks, etc. Would GREATLY appreciate any feedback. We know that this is a very ambitious plan and we realized that we cannot do it all, nor are we necessarily sure that we want to do it all. This is a rough outline. We're flexible and are open to suggestions. My husband and I have not been to Paris since either of us were kids, and this will be a first time for the kids. SATURDAY * Rue Cler Walk * Trocadero and Eiffel Tower - early evening - SUNDAY * ONE of the 3 Parisian Flea Markets that daughter would love to visit - we would visit them all, but feel that there won't be enough time. Thinking of Le Marche aux Puces de Cligancourt * Historic Paris Walk Day - not all of it, just the parts that interest us * Sunset Cruise on Seine - MONDAY * Montmartre - Wondering if it's nicer to be here for early morning before tourists arrive OR at sunset for the view * Jardin des Plantes * Champs Elysee and Arc de Triomphe – is it best to be here at sunset, or does it not really matter? I am assuming that most kids enjoy going up the Arc. Is entry for children free? More to follow ...

Posted by
10214 posts

On Saturday your only plans are to go to Rue Cler, the Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower. Rue Cler (aka Rue Rick) will take maybe 45 minutes...if you really take your time. It is only a 10 minute or so walk from there to the Eiffel Tower. The Trocadero is just across the river from the ET. Doing all of this will only take a few hours. You might want to make plans for the rest of the day.

Posted by
1986 posts

I dont understand the need to see Rue Cler. What do you expect to see there? Do something interesting instead. I enjoy the view from Montmartre (or the front of Sacre Couer) over the steps, the view is very atmospheric paris in my opinion. And the funicular up from the street below is a fun way to get there. and also wandering the streets behind Sacre Couer

Posted by
2030 posts

I visited the Vanves flea market a year ago and liked it very much. (not many clothes though) I went on saturday, think it goes on Sunday also. Easy to get to, near a metro stop, accessible. Be sure to take the elevator up to at least the second level of the Eiffel Tower, go at sunset if you can and stay until dark and see the light show (from the ground). I think the Arch de Triomphe and Champs are better in the daytime, particularly for kids. Lots of kids like to climb the stairs to the top of Notre Dame where the gargoyles are, and it's a great view. I haven't done it but friends have told me you cannot be claustrophobic and do it! The Seine cruise is something you and your kids should enjoy either day or evening - whenever weather is best.
I agree, chose one park - Strolling the Tuilleries is nice and easy to get to, and there usually is a ferris wheel there, and a boat pond. After that you can stop for lunch of pastry and hot chocolate at Angelina. The Luxembourg gardens would be my other choice for a park. After 7 trips to Paris I finally went up Montparnasse tower, and found the view up there spectacular. It is relatively easy to get to, not a lot of big lines, when I went in April.

Posted by
75 posts

TUESDAY - this day seems a bit overly ambitious - guess we'll do what we can * Montparnasse Tower - RS says to go early in the day for clearest skies, or to go at sunset, but not after dark. * Left Bank Walk * Jardins de Luxembourg * Marais * Avenue Montaigne/Fashion Area * La Maison du Chocolat WEDNESDAY * Get a 2-Day Museum Pass for husband and I today??? * Rooftop Views at Galeries Lafayette and Printmeps department stores * Fragonard Perfume Museum * Orsay, Orangerie, Rodin (Garden only) * Louvre in evening THURSDAY - this is our last full day - very undecided * The area of Belleville near Parc de Belleville OR * The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont OR * VERSAILLES OR
GIVERNY DAY - although we would love to go here, train fares would be too costly, as would renting a car, so I guess this won't happen Thank you so much.

Posted by
9110 posts

You've got too many of the same type of thing. Cut the parks down to a couple, my choices would be the botanical gardens and Lux Garden. Cut going up high to see things to two. My choices would be Printemps or Galeries Lafayette and the top of the ET. I'd do the ET after dark. The Montparnasse tower is way out of the way and offers no advantage over the ET except you can see the ET. Kids the age of yours go up the Arc free, but I'm not sure I'd bother. I don't know what sunset would have to do with it sincee the sun sets in one direction and the bulk of historical Paris is in the other. To get to the Arc itself, down try to cross the square on the surface - - use the tunnel that starts on the NW corner of the Champs. A sunset cruise of the river doesn't make lot of sense since the river is down in a concrete ditch. It's pretty nifty at night. The Cligancourt flea market mostly has junk, but it begins setting up friday night and is tearing down after mid-day on sunday. If you're gpoing to do it, shoot for saturday. Montmartre is best early on a sunday morning. If you hadn't read RS, you would never have heard of R. Cler. The pedestrian area around Saint Eustache is much better. There are plenty of museums that don't deal with art. There's a good military museum at the Invalides, a great maritime museum in the south wing of the Palais de Chaillot (and next door a Museum of Mankind, which I've never been in), and an excellent natural history museum on the southernmost corner of the botanical gardes. The rest of the stuff seems dictated by personal interest, my opinions woudl be pointeless.

Posted by
75 posts

Ed, thank you so very much. * Are the Botanical Gardens in Jardins des Plantes (same thing)? * Good no Montparnasse, and we'll do EITHER Printemps OR Galeries Lafayette
Yes, ET after dark or around then ... * Yes, might not bother going up the Arc. I had my doubts about that anyway. * Yes, NIGHT cruise on the Seine * Maybe no Cligancourt Flea Market - daughter wants somewhere nice for vintage clothing/flea market. Will look into RS's chapter on shopping again. * Thanks so much for the Montmartre tip, as with everything. * Will look into Saint Eustache as well as all your other suggestions. Thanks again!

Posted by
1335 posts

Negin,
I would suggest making your 2nd or 3rd day your "away" day from Paris-that way you don't go Paris overboard. Perhaps look into a day trip to Chartres and Maintenon?. Giverny is absolutely lovely and there are several tour companies that can take you via minivan (I took a FABULOUS tour that took us to Giverny, we had an excellent meal at an old fashioned country side windmill, and finished the day at Versailles. It was a full day, but one of the best days of my life!) (http://www.paris-trip.com/tours.asp?id=16) I would also suggest that Paris tour group "Paris walks" for your historic walks. They give WONDERFUL tours that don't cost much at all. (www.paris-walks.com) Just some things that I found and loved when I went to Paris! I hope you have a fantastic time and DO NOT FORGET to tell us all about it!!!

Posted by
9110 posts

Yep, Botanical Gardens are Jardins des Plantes are the same.

Posted by
2030 posts

I'm sorry, I really have to take issue with Ed referring to the Seine as being in a concrete ditch. This river is one of the most photographed, popular and lovely places in Europe. If I could spend the rest of my life sitting on one of its concrete banks I would be very happy. I think most kids get a kick out of a boat ride, and when they see the bateau mouches going up and down the river, I think they will want to go on one. Check it out and make your own judgement.

Posted by
2030 posts

Negin, check some other guidebooks or websites for information on vintage clothing in Paris. There are some, I can't remember their names now, don't necessarily rely on the shopping advice in the Rick Steves Paris guidebook excellent though they are Rick is not into shopping!
Try Killiwatch (sp) on rue Tiquetonne for vintage, the Marais has some of these types of stores, and the area around Les Halles may... should be interesting to your daughter in any case.

Posted by
2030 posts

Negin, check some other guidebooks or websites for information on vintage clothing in Paris. There are some, I can't remember their names now, don't necessarily rely on the shopping advice in the Rick Steves Paris guidebook excellent though they are Rick is not into shopping! Try Kiliwatch at 64 rue Tiquetonne for very hip, new and vintage clothes and other items. A teen should love it. The Marais has some vintage stores, and the area around Les Halles may... should be interesting to your daughter in any case. Search Amazon or the itnernet for info about other books that may lead you to good shopping, but note pretty much everywhere is good shopping!

Posted by
112 posts

Since you have teens going maybe a bike ride through Paris would interest them. I did one with Fat Tire Bike Tours: http://fattirebiketours.com/paris It was a lot of fun and it ended with a nigh time boat ride on the Seine (wine included.) The most memorable thing was riding around the courtyards of the Louvre at night. Very special.

Posted by
4132 posts

It's pretty hard to go wrong in Paris, so I am not going to make any specific suggestions. But have you considered splitting up periodically for part or all of a day? It can cut the "must be acceptable to all" problem a bit, and is also fun--you go your ways, you rendezvous at the end of the day or over lunch, you regale each other with your respective adventures. I also think that 11 and 3 are not too young to involve in some of the planning. They can watch a RS video or read a guidebook.

Posted by
222 posts

How in the world is it possible to ride a bike around Paris??? Did you ride in traffic? It's hard enough to drive a car there! I'm really interested because I'm going to Paris soon and would love to bike ride but I can't imagine many places where it would be safe. Please elaborate!

Posted by
10182 posts

The area around Les Halles and St. Eustasche church is close to the Centre Pompidou which is a very interesting building full of activity, jugglers, musicians, etc. in front of the building. Inside, your children would like the outside escalator ride to the top with its views of the city. It houses the National Modern Art Museum. That said, I think you need to cut down on museums. They all contain famous treasures, but you really need to choose one or two at the most. Paris itself is a museum. I would definitely not go to the Butte Chaumont park on a first visit. In the Luxembourg gardens, you may be able to see the marionette show. It's fun for kids of all ages. You said you were getting a 2-day museum pass. Is Versailles included on these passes for your second day? Do you have time to walk on the Ile de la Cite and the Ile St. Louis?

Posted by
112 posts

Hi Gwen, I don't recall having a disagreeable time riding through Paris with the tour that I was on. Maybe they picked streets with less traffic on them. I know what you mean about biking in large cities. I consider myself a hybrid NY, NJ person since I live right across the river in Jersey but I spend a good deal of time in NYC and I HATE riding my bike in New York but Paris was fine. I would highly recommend it.

Posted by
9110 posts

Whoa, BG, I didn't knock the river, I said it wasn't such a big deal at sunset. At midsummer, the sun sets at about a point above the Arc when viewed from Notre Dame. The further west you go on the river, the more apparent north it becomes and you can't tell much about it. You can't argue the fact that the river's in a concrete ditch. The lower quai is maybe fifteen feet off the water and the upper quai is about another twenty feet. No boat has a deck that high. (All the boats fit under the bridges, the bridges don't have much arch, and there's superstructure above the highest passenger deck.) In the day time you can look up and down the river from a boat, but the only thing you can see abeam is the south side of Notre Dame, and the rear ends of the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais (which nobody knows what are, anyway), and the National Assembly. When it gets dark it's a whole different story with all the lights. I stick people on the batobus during the day to give them a rest and it ain't that bad, just not great - - but it's something everybody ought to do. I like the river. I know the river. I can show you where the ant-viking barricades where and which bridge abutments have the biggest rats. I've walked every quai, day and night, more times than I can count. It's a great creek, but it's in a darn concrete ditch.

Posted by
2349 posts

Kids that age love souvenir shops and candy shops. Fortunately for you they are old enough to go in alone while you sit on a bench. My girls loved the bouquenistes stalls along the upper quais. You can stroll along looking at that old concrete ditch (gotta love Ed!) while they look at cool stuff.

Posted by
75 posts

Thank you all. You've been incredibly helpful and I'm taking notes. I am now definitely re-thinking parts of our itinerary. Since we're really not into museums - we may just do the following museums - possibly back-to-back on the Wednesday and Thursday - that way, my husband and I can use a 2-Day Museum Pass. It's my understanding that a Museum Pass will almost pay for itself with entry to Versailles ... WEDNESDAY * Possibly Orsay and the Rodin Gardens * The Louvre (just 1 or 2 parts - really only going there to see Mona Lisa, otherwise, I'd much prefer Orsay) THURSDAY
* Versailles - I think that Thursday seems to be slightly less crowded than other days? - and I have been told to get tickets ahead of time All in all, we prefer sights than museums, and shopping over museums.

Posted by
9110 posts

If you want only a quick shot at the Louvre, go about an hour and a half before it closes. No lines, and you can zip by the Mona, Venus, and Victory in two shakes. My personal record for scooting people through there is thirty-eight minutes, door-to-door.

Posted by
75 posts

Thanks, Ed. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Posted by
9420 posts

The Louvre is open late on, I believe, Thursday and it's significantly less crowded that day, after 6 pm. The Luxembourg Gardens are one of my favorite places in Paris, you and your kids will really enjoy it. Allow plenty of time. Be sure to check out the kids area. There are two cafes, bathrooms, and music on weekends.

Posted by
39 posts

Hi,
Whilst we are older than your children, My mother and I found the Jardin des Plantes very "ordinary" last August, but maybe an area for the children to run around if they need to let off steam. Maybe we visited at the wrong time of year. We only walked the gardens themselves. Whilst my children were a couple of years older than yours (14 & 16) when I took them, they certainly enjoyed the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie and we probably spent a good half day there. We walked the Champs-Elysees and looked at the Arc de Triomphe from the "other side" of the street on a busy Saturday and they were happy with that.

Posted by
75 posts

Susan, I think it's Wednesdays that the Louvre is open late, although I will obviously check. Yes, looking forward to the Luxembourg Gardens. Thank you. Robyn, thank you also. I will keep that in mind about the Jardin des Plantes. Maybe as a last option.
We may or may not do the Cite des Sciences. We do so much of that sort of thing every. single. time we visit the U.S. Plus, we'll likely do that in London also, where entrance is free. Good to keep in mind, however. Thanks so much everyone.

Posted by
9420 posts

You're so right Negin, Louvre is open late on Wednesdays, and also on Fridays :)

Posted by
146 posts

Negin, A pretty busy schedule. You might want a little wind down time in there somewhere, just to sit, eat, and watch people. The kids can recharge a bit. And Ed, where do I find the anti-viking barricades?
Also, can you name any of the hotels you stay at around the Saint Eustache area?

Posted by
75 posts

Crash, yes, we do realize that the plan is very ambitious. We don't plan on doing it all. Just what we can. Sitting in cafes and parks, etc. sounds very, very appealing!
Thank you.

Posted by
15581 posts

Can you split up an hour or so? Your daughter would probably enjoy the doll museum - Musee de la Poupee - which is only a couple minutes' walk from the Pompidou Centre. So perhaps you could go with her, while the menfolk enjoy the engineering aspects of the Pompidou.

Posted by
2114 posts

LOVED Rue Cler. Don't miss it, especially if your hotel is close. Sunday morning is a great time there, as locals shop to prepare their Sunday meal.....good time to explain to your kids how people in Paris generally have small living quarters and purchase fresh food frequently. Sunday is the big family meal, so extra special bakery items,meats, etc. are purchased. Rue Cler's fresh produce (first time we ever saw unhulled almonds), bakery items, flower shops, butcher shops, cheese shops, olive oil/spice shop......we just could not get enough of it. Would be fun to purchase items for a picnic (and let the kids do the buying) by trying French with translation guides to help, if they are not fluent...the French will adore them :) Be sure to explain to the kids that the French love their dogs and teach them how to compliment dogs....smiles will result. Evening cruise on the River is magical, especially as the tower lights come on. What a fabulous family trip....you've done a lot of good research. Lucky kids :)

Posted by
8939 posts

No one has mentioned it, but if you are waiting to do things at dusk or after dark and you are here in the summer, you might have to wait awhile. In June and July, it isn't completely dark until almost 23:00. So your sunset and dusk are going to be more around 21:00. The bike tours with your kids sound like one of the best plans for seeing Paris. Do it your first day there to get a good overview of the city.

Posted by
75 posts

Chani, Margaret, and Jo ... thank you all so much. I've copied and pasted your tips to read and add to my word document. :-)
Chani, we'll be visiting your country shortly after Paris. Cannot wait! We love it there.

Posted by
15581 posts

Guess I'll miss you then, I'll be in Berlin. Have a great trip.

Posted by
79 posts

So agree with Jo. Our bike tour with BikeAbout Tours was the best thing we did in Paris with our kids. Gwen, Paris is a surprisingly bike friendly city - and the tour takes you through alleys and less busy routes - I even felt comfortable with my 6 year old riding her own bike....and my 65 year old mother! We have done bike tours in Paris, Munich, London, Barcelona and Rome, and Paris was one of the easier ones.