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Paris 6-Day Itinerary - Family of 4 - asking again

Our visit to Paris is coming up. You may recall that I posted a while back re: our itinerary. Wanted to run through this once again. Would GREATLY appreciate your thoughts, comments, feedback, etc. 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 - Louvre, Orsay, Rodin Gardens and Versailles. 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 realize 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.
Itinerary to follow on next post due to space limitations ...

Posted by
75 posts

FRIDAY Arrive to Paris SATURDAY * Vanves Flea Market Not really sure what to do after Vanves ... we would like to be at the Eiffel Tower for the evening - this is the day I feel we need most help with * Pedestrian Area Around Saint Eustache and/or Rue Cler? * Jardins de Luxembourg? * The Trocadero and Eiffel Tower for sunset and after dark SUNDAY * If we can get there early enough, Montmarte BEFORE 9:30 AM – if not any other weekday morning OR for sunset * RS - Historic Paris Walk Day - Notre Dame, Sainte-Chappelle * Night Seine River Cruise MONDAY * Montmartre - either in the morning OR for sunset? * Galeries Lafayette * Printemps * Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe * Montmartre - if we haven't yet had a chance to go, to be there for sunset and to stay for dinner TUESDAY * RS Left Bank Walk * Jardins de Luxembourg * RS Marais Walk WEDNESDAY * Orsay and the Rodin Gardens * The Louvre in the evening - only doing certain parts, no museum overkill for us! THURSDAY * Versailles FRIDAY
Leave Paris Thank you all so much.

Posted by
302 posts

Hi Negin, We took our three boys, aged 13, 11 and 9 to Paris for an August vacation in 2009. Our top pics (i.e. that they are still talking about): 1) Ferris Wheel in Tuilleries 2) Seine boat ride
3) Walking up Eiffel Tower stairs - skips the long line for the lift. However, this was NOT my favorite as you are looking down through openings in the stairs. Our kids loved just being in the city, walking around, seeing the parks, having picnics eating in the bistros (BTW - you can order two or three prie fix meals and split them among the group. That way everyone gets a taste and no wasted food or expensive a la carte meals. ) We did go to the D'Orsay and they thought the view of the clock from inside was way cool. All that being said, I think I would skip the Louvre - the lines and heat may not be worth the look at the treasures inside. Afterall, they will likely go back as adults and can see it then. Rodin gardens are maybe a better choice. Just my two cents. Enjoy! Carolyn

Posted by
75 posts

Carolyn, thank you so much. Like your ideas a lot. Hadn't thought about the Ferris Wheel at Tuileries. Wasn't even aware. I can't go up the stairs in the Eiffel Tower. That would seriously scare me! Really do appreciate the meal tip. I personally wouldn't mind skipping the Louvre, but I think that my husband and daughter wouldn't like that one bit! We'll play it by ear and see ...
Thanks again.

Posted by
9436 posts

We've spent 6 summers in Paris in the last 10 yrs, since my son was 11 yrs old, and one of his favorite places has been the Luxembourg Gardens (the playground, donkey rides, carousel, marionette show, watching guys play boules aka: bocce ball) so I would recommend you go there on your first full day (you list it with a ?). He loves all of Paris but some of his other favorites: Eiffel Tower (going up to the top via elevator), walking up the stairs at Notre Dame, Hop On Hop Off bus, Mike's Bike Tour, Seine boat ride, going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysee (I hate it), Metro rides, getting crepes at a crepe stand, watching the street performers in front of Notre Dame at night, and on the pedestrian bridge behind Notre Dame leading to Ile Saint Louis (day and night).

Posted by
524 posts

Negin You and your family will have a great tme in Paris. Are you arriving in Paris directly from Grenada? If so, your second day (SAT?) has probably to much to do. You will probably all want to sleep in. My oldest was 12 when we went. Night doens't fall until 10 PM or so. We finally decided to sleep in a little and stay up late and it worked out fine. I second PP that the kids will probably just like to walk around. A fun area is the 5th and 6th arrondissement (neighborhoods) which has many pedestrian streets and is hopping with cafes, restaurants and fun! Near the Jardin du Luxembourg. Great place to bring a picnic. I would probably change the Porte de Vanve Flea Market to sunday. Also try to stay within one area of Paris each day so you can walk your itinerary. Kind of immerses you in the neighborhood. Bike tours, the metro, and the boat rides on the Seine were all big hits. Have fun and remember to keep it flexible and light for the kids. You don't want them to remember being rushed around from sight to sight with no downtime. If they need to rest, do it sooner rather than later. Same with eating and drinking. You don't want to remember them being crabby and whining! Have fun! Please et us know what you and the kids liked in Paris. Bobbie

Posted by
9046 posts

You seem to have a lot of things planned for sunset, but the sun doesn't set until about 21:30 and it isn't completely dark until almost 23:00. Seems a bit late to wait on dinner! Go on a bike tour!. The kids will love it and you all will have a great time. Do this your first day or so there, so you get a good overview of the city. Will you be there for Bastille Day on the 14th? Fantastic fireworks show. My favorite thing to do in Paris was to walk to the top of the dome in the Sacre' Couer church. Wonderful view of the city and the kids might like this too.

Posted by
32273 posts

Negin, A few comments to add to the others..... Regarding the Louvre, I'd suggest limiting your visit to the Denon Wing, which is where Mona Lisa is located. That way it shouldn't be too overwhelming for the group. Be sure to wear Money Belts, especially when viewing Mona Lisa. I was once warned by a Guide that pickpockets "work" that area frequently, as people are so engrossed with the painting they aren't paying attention to what's happening around them. Unless I missed it, are you planning to use Paris Museum Passes? Those may save you some money, but will minimize the time waiting in queues. I assume you already have the route worked out from CDG to your Hotel in Paris? Happy travels!

Posted by
75 posts

Thank you all so much. Susan, I absolutely love the idea of heading to the Jardins de Luxembourg on our first day. It would make our son, or both children, particularly happy. Love the other suggestions and have copied and pasted them to my word document that I'll be printing out. Bobbie, we'll be flying overnight from Grenada to London and will hopefully get some sleep on that flight. Then taking the Eurostar to Paris - arriving to Paris in the late afternoon. Our first full day where I posted about Vanves, etc. is the following morning. Not the morning of our actual arrival. Of course, we'll play it by ear. If we're tired, we will sleep in. But knowing my family, everyone will be far too excited. We are so looking forward to seeing late sunsets. Where we live, near the equator, sunrise and sunset can be quite boring and consistent year-round. Thanks for the tip re: 5th and 6th arrondissements. Might do the Vanves on Sunday if we're too tired on Saturday. You mentioned staying within one area of Paris each day. Do you think, based on my itinerary, we're doing that or is my itinerary totally crazy and all-over-the-place???
Thanks so much for the reminder to be flexible, etc. I will post and share after our return.

Posted by
75 posts

Jo, yes, thanks for the reminder about the very late sunsets! We'll have dinner before heading for the sights. We're not a bike riding family. Nope, won't be there for Bastille Day.
Yes, when we visit Montmartre, we are looking forward to heading to Sacre Coeur. Will walk to the top as you suggested. I'm crazy about views! Thank you all. If anyone has more suggestions or tips, please, please share. Again, based on Bobbie's suggestion, would love to know specifically, about "staying within one area of Paris each day. Do you think, based on my itinerary, we're doing that or is my itinerary totally crazy and all-over-the-place???"

Posted by
1068 posts

Just another muesum idea - have you thought about the Carnavalet, if you decide to not go to the Louvre? As another poster noted, the crush of people and the lines and the cost and the heat may make it less pleasurable if you're not museum junkies - especially with kids. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnavalet_Museum Le Carnavalet is free, it's in the Marais, and it has some very cool, kid-friendly stuff to see, including a neat model of the Bastille, a death mask of Napolean, and some awesome 18th century political cartoons that are just risque enough to be freaky and memorable for tweens. Another Louvre substitute might be the Centre Pompidou. The design alone makes it kid-friendly, and on a sunny day there is great people-watching on the plaza - buskers, jugglers, skateboarders.... and I believe there are special exhibits and activites for kids there.

Posted by
1838 posts

A few additional items that I think your family might enjoy, grouped by proximity: Jardin des Plantes, Promenade de Plante..........Les Printemps, middle building, restaurant under dome, end building-outdoor viewing deck on 7th floor, Opera Garnier tour (in English, I think on Wed. and Sat.) for over the top opulence..........Cluny Museum has Lady and the Unicorn tapestries and interesting historical items, near Luxembourg Gardens, also in that area is Arena Lutece and a great view from the front of the Pantheon.......Notre Dame is probably more crowded on Sundays, if you want to climb the towers (great to see those gargoyles up close), try to get there by 9:00 A.M. to minimize line-standing, but towers are also open some evenings...........Batobus is a fun way to travel between sites near the Seine, it moves at a rather stately pace, but it is a good foot-resting opportunity, most of the main tourist sites except Montmarte are near the river.

Posted by
75 posts

Thanks again everyone with all your very helpful replies. Kira, I'd forgotten about the Carnavalet. Great to know that it's free! Yes, am planning to go to the Pompidou - maybe on the first day if we get to go to the Saint Eustache area? I think it's in the Saint Eustache area ... Cynthia, your by-area suggestions are greatly appreciated! Perfect and just what I'm looking for. Ken, yes, most likely only heading for the Denon Wing. Thanks for the pick pocket tip! Yes, planning to get a 2-Day Pass for the Wednesday and Thursday for husband and I. Children won't need the pass, I think. Wednesday: Orsay and Louvre Thursday: Versailles
And yes, we'll get a cab to our B&B. I've been looking at the Metro map thoroughly, since after that, it'll be Metro pretty much all the time. Once again, thank you everyone. If you have more tips or suggestions, please do share.

Posted by
91 posts

Hi Negin, We went this past April with kids ages 15 and 16, and I agree Luxembourge gardens day 1 is great idea. When we arrived we headed for Notre Dame and climbed the stairs for our first view of the city. We loved it and should have remained walking around but opted for hop on hop off bus where everyone fell asleep but me. I was fearful of missing our stop on the return loop. I do have fun pictures of hubby and kids with their chins on their chest though. Our kids loved Lux gardens and just walking around. Like you I had an itinerary that we used as a starting point each day and then quickly fell apart. There is just so much to do and see. I I found that we started each day with one of the "must sees: on our list and went from there. One of our favorite days was when we rented bikes at the Velib bike rental racks located all around the city. Spontaneous decision and a great one. We rode along the Seine, Ile de la Cite and all over Paris. We returned the bikes to a location near our hotel after dinner. It was a great day. A couple other suggestions, my kids LOVED the catacombs (long line and closed Mondays) but they are still talking about it. Lastly, Versailles. I know it is on everyones list but wish we had skipped it. No one enjoyed it, a very long day and very crowded. I did love the outside gardens and grounds outside but for us not worth it. I would rather have stayed in Paris and done a bit more there. Have a great time.

Posted by
75 posts

Lauri, thanks so much for your super helpful tips. My kids have mentioned the Catacombs, so that may be a possibility. You make a good point for possibly skipping Versailles. We'll see. If we do choose to skip Versailles, that only really leaves Orsay and Louvre for us. Not sure if it's even worth getting Museum Passes for husband and I in that case. We've purchased tickets for the Seine River Cruise online. The good thing is that they can be used at anytime or any day - nice and flexible. Bought it online to save a bit and because I felt like getting organized. Hmmm ... still wondering about the Pass. We'll probably get the 2-Day one for husband and I. At least it may help with the long lines.
Thanks again, everyone.

Posted by
7578 posts

You must get the pass for Summer in Paris. There's a good chance that four museums will save money, and you will skip huge lines. You may even be able to use a non-Pyramid entrance to the Louvre, like in the underpass to the courtyard from Rue de Rivoli, or direct from the Metro stop without going upstairs - that's the Carrousel Entrance. There's even a line for the ticket machines at the Louvre! And Orsay (which may have some upper-floor galleries closed) always has huge lines. The children might enjoy the adjoining Louvre Decorative Arts department, about three blocks to the right of the main Louvre. It's usually uncrowded (by comparison), has few paintings, but many lovely objects from the middle ages to the present. They're not just in cases, but also in arrangements as if they were a room in someone's mansion. (Same pass.) You are likely to spend a lot of time in line at the Eiffel Tower.

Posted by
75 posts

Slight change in plan - probably not going to the Vanves Flea Market after all on Day 1. If anyone has any suggestions as to what to do on the morning of Day 1 - please do share. Should we just take it easy and head to: * Rue Cler/Saint Eustache area * Jardins de Luxembourg * then we have MANY hours free before the evening at Tour d'Eiffel, etc. I don't know why, but I'm feeling so indecisive about day one. On the one hand, I like to take it easy and relax and hang out in cafes. On the other hand, I feel that the family may want to do more. We like to have a plan, but then be flexible with it and to go from there. Maybe we should do one of the RS Walks in the morning ...
Thanks so much.

Posted by
100 posts

I agree with another poster that you should skip the Louvre. It's monstrous, packed and exhausting. No fun for kids. The Orsay is more enjoyable but packed with great art. Orangerie is a nice little museum with good art that takes about an hour and it's located in Tuilleries just down from the Louvre. Do consider the Museum Pass for getting you to the head of lines, but it must be used consecutive days (2, 4, or 6). We walked through Tuilleries three weeks ago. If there was a ferris wheel or carousel there, we sure didn't see it. I highly suggest "Paris Walks" for getting to know neighborhoods. No reservations required and $12E/person. You'll learn lots and the guides are very engaging.

Posted by
10 posts

Your post is very timely for us -we are looking to travel to Paris with our two kids (similar ages) in October, so we may copy a bit of your itinerary. I was wondering if you could tell us where you might be staying. We were told that the Latin Qtr (?) is a decent area, but might be too noisy. Also, trying to find hotels that can accomodate 2 kids and 2 adults in one room can be a challenge (and we always look for a place with breakfast included - since it seems to be easier to start the day with the kids that way). Any help (from anyone) would be very much appreciated! Thanks!
Tim

Posted by
96 posts

Hi Negin, Just a few thoughts based on our trip to Paris last summer with our boys, who were then 12 and 15. Definitely do the museum pass. We loved having it. It made everything easy and allowed us to skip many lines. It gives you the flexibility to, say, go to the Rodin Museum, decide that the museum itself is really crowded, so just do a quick visit to the garden there without feeling worried about getting your money's worth the admission. Re the Louvre, I would go, but I would skip the Mona Lisa (as others have said, ridiculously crowded), and instead go to the things that our boys (and I think a lot of kids) found more interesting, like the Napoleon Apartments, the basement level fortress, and the Egyptian exhibit. Look online and have the kids each pick 3 things they would like to see there. The Louvre can be great if you go in knowing what you want to see and where it is. We had a great time at Versailles, but enjoyed the gardens, grounds and Marie Antoinette's l'hameu (I'm sure I'm spelling that wrong) much more than the crowded apartments. We went on a Saturday when the fountains were on and it was very neat. And we rented bikes down at the Grand Canal and rode them all over the grounds, which was incredibly cool, and a nice counterpart to the days in the city itself. With kids your ages, I think you could even skip the King's Apartments and go right to the gardens, canal, bikes, hamlet, etc. and have a great day. Have a great time!

Posted by
96 posts

Oops, sorry, just noticed that you're not a bike riding family. Maybe take the little train thing around the grounds instead.

Posted by
799 posts

I have a different perspective, as both of our kids (now 16 and 12, but younger when they first went to Paris) love museums. And none of us really likes shopping. But here are some other ideas/pointers. Try to spread your museum time over several days. You can buy tickets (untimed, undated) for the Louvre and d'Orsay ahead of time, from their websites, that will allow you to skip the ticket lines. That works better for us than buying the Museum Pass. The Musee d'Orsay is undergoing renovation of their Impressionists floor; much of the works are still there, just crammed on the ground floor. The pieces were still wonderful, but it was a bit of a madhouse when we were there last October. Use the RS book for the best way to enter the Louvre. Keep in mind about parks, if your kids like playground equipment, it's mostly for younger kids. We were able to schedule the kids' first view of the Eiffel Tower from a Seine boat ride; the time of year that we went, it was dark, so they first saw the twinkling lights. On Sundays, there's a bird and small animal market on Ile de la Cite. We had a macaron-tasting game going on. We'd stop at various bakeries and try some of their macarons. Yum! (If you don't know about macarons, google them to find out.) Probably on your first day (or your first afternoon), you'll want to see everything you've heard about. So plan the RS walking tour then, or just mosey on over to places like Notre Dame. I can't remember - are you planning on climbing the towers? Both of our kids loved doing that; the gargoyles are great. I like the RS tour of Montemartre; it gets you off the busiest streets and past some cute houses on quieter streets. Enjoy!

Posted by
799 posts

On rereading your itinerary, I have some other pointers. The Champs Elysee isn't so great; it's a bunch of the same stores that you see almost everywhere. The Arc de Triomphe is VERY fun, however. We visit almost every time we go to Paris. To watch the cars whiz around the Arc, with about 12 streets feeding in and out, is hilarious! You'll always see some very fearless motorcycle riders, as well as a couple of timid folks stuck in a lane they can't seem to get out of. (The Arc itself is pretty interesting, but we like watching the cars more.)

Posted by
2400 posts

LOL about cars driving around the Arch, that was me many years ago, circled it so many times my son's friend asked to be let out of car so he could takes pictures. It was a very Chevy Chase moment.

Posted by
12 posts

us 2 a fam of 4 will be visiting for only 4 days- we are opting for trying to go to loire valley vs versailles. Also must see the Arch-so funny to watch the cars. we are looking for ways to break up the day, so that we are not in bldgs all day and enjoying Paris in the summer time.
i loved staying in latin qrtr/ very lively and close to so much- using hotel points this time and @ hilton :(

Posted by
12 posts

us 2 a fam of 4 will be visiting for only 4 days- we are opting for trying to go to loire valley vs versailles. Also must see the Arch-so funny to watch the cars. we are looking for ways to break up the day, so that we are not in bldgs all day and enjoying Paris in the summer time.
i loved staying in latin qrtr/ very lively and close to so much- using hotel points this time and @ hilton :(

Posted by
33 posts

We found a huge flea market on Saturdays and Sundays in St. Quen just NW on the tube.... unbelievable... we traveled for 7 days in Paris and the kids needed lots of down time.... time to read, play, rest, help with the itinerary...The kids needed to visit our old favorites (mc D, starbucks, burger king)... We also had them bring along their books to read, and ipads to use while traveling or during down time..