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Family of 4 in Paris - first timers!

Myself, husband, daughter (10) and son (7) traveled to Paris 2/21 - 3/3. Backstory - due to covid, we canceled a trip for April 2020 to Paris, Bruges and Amsterdam. We had vouchers expiring in March and April 2022 and had to act fast. I booked flights in mid January and the hotels two weeks before. We decided to stick to one country’s requirements (France) and will be visiting Belgium and the Netherlands in June.

Flying on TAP, we left Boston on February 21st and landed in Lisbon February 22nd with a 7 hour layover at the airport. I was dreading the immigration line having experienced a 90 minute wait in 2019 but we spent only 15 minutes in line and were through. Luckily we had some much needed naps, a little shopping, McDonald’s and half a dozen pasteis de nata to power through. Our connecting flight to Paris was uneventful until about 20 minutes before landing when my son exclaimed “OMG, I can see the Eiffel Tower!” After two years of canceling, waiting, re-planning, and worrying, it was finally real. We strolled out of Orly in 10 minutes and were whisked into a cab to be taken to our hotel in the 7th arrondissement.

We stayed at Hotel du Palais Bourbon which we had booked two weeks before we left. Originally I had planned a hotel in Montparnasse but after dragging my feet it was completely booked and so I had to grab what I could find. Not only was it affordable, it was so quiet, had the best boulangerie across the street (Boulangerie du Musée) and we loved the walkability of our location. Everything was 15-20 minutes away on foot and the Varenne Metro was a minute’s walk. It was very clean and we were the only people there except for one or two nights. Delightful! The Rodin museum was one minute up the street, Invalides around the corner and the Eiffel Tower could be seen as we walked back to the hotel at night. It truly was perfect for us and I would stay there again in a heartbeat. Oh, and extremely comfy beds!

Wednesday 2/23
Musée d'Orsay, Seine stroll, Churros and Nutella at Trocadero, Champ de Mars, Eiffel Tower (2nd floor), Pierre Herme macarons at the ET, dinner at Le Dome. Bought cheap black and hot pink berets from a street stand for my daughter and I. Had to do it!

Thursday 2/24
We planned the Louvre this day because it was supposed to rain between 2-5; however, everyone else had the same idea! While we waited we took pictures in a long corridor outside and at the Pyramid before entering and grabbing a quick lunch of ham and cheese baguettes. After fueling up for the Mona Lisa, we headed her way and the kids got right up front for their viewing. We saw a few more highlights and decided to head out after the rain ended. Luckily, it only showered for an hour while we were inside. A quick walk through Jardin Tuileries and we headed back to our hotel. Dinner was at Au Coin de la Rue, a bar/restaurant on our block. They were very accommodating since we had the kids and we loved it, especially the caramel cheesecake - to die for!

Friday 2/25
Disneyland Park - Tickets from 2020 were expiring March 31st so this was a major reason for going now during February school vacation. Never been to Disney in Florida so this was our chance to get some Disney in Europe and kill two birds with one stone. We were a little worried about the Metro getting there but once we were on the RER it was fine. Wait lines weren’t bad, kids loved it and we had a chilly but sun-filled day. This park was much better than the Walt Disney studios park.

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Saturday 2/26
Breakfast at Le Gévaudan (lovely), walked to Deyrolle and through St. Germain de Pres, entered Eglise des St. Germain de Pres, strolled to Ile de la Cite, hung around Notre Dame, pizza lunch at Pupetta and shopping in Les Marais. Beautiful stationery and writing store Mélodies Graphiques. After walking a while, the kids spotted ice cream cones and we stopped for Berthillion ice cream at a corner cafe. We crossed the bridge and found Shakespeare and Co. but the line was silly and we ended up leaving. I did buy some beautiful Parisian photographs from a man outside the store. Walking back down Blvd. Saint Germain, we stopped for macarons and a caffeine pick me up at Pierre Herme. Relaxed at our hotel and then headed out for dinner at Brasserie le Bourbon in our neighborhood - delicious food and a kind Polish waiter.

Sunday 2/27
Metro to Sacre Coeur, strolled through Montmarte and ate lunch at Cacio e Pepe for pizza and pasta. Walked down toward Galeries Lafayette (bought 3 beautiful silk scarves - had to control myself) and headed to the roof for a beautiful view. Since we were in the area we stopped at Opera Garnier for pictures and hit up Haagen Dazs. Walked back to the Left Bank for a Seine river cruise at 6:00pm. Chilly at night but seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up for Ukraine was poignant. Dinner at La Campanella was tasty before heading back to our hotel.

Monday 2/28
Walt Disney Studios Park - Glad we did it but a little disappointed. Very small and it was packed with lots of waiting in line. The highlight for all of us was the Ratatouille ride, which was absolutely adorable! After taking the train back, we walked down the street to Au Coin de la Rue.

Tuesday 3/1
Took RER to Versailles, pretty cool to see but only spent 4 hours here for the chateau and a little of the gardens. Quick McDonald’s stop in Versailles to feed the littles and then Metro to Arc de Triomphe. Went up to the top and admired the glorious views. Strolled down Champs de Elysees and got ice cream at Jeff de Bruges. Dinner at Pedra Alta was ok - we are Portuguese-American and wanted to try it in another country and it was right off Champs de Elysees. We have better Portuguese restaurants in our area in the US!

Wednesday 3/2
Croissants and covid tests, negative results in 20 minutes and a quick walk to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Walked to the Abbey bookstore - amazing if you have the time to peruse - and strolled through the Latin Quarter stopping for lunch at Safran for Indian cravings (very good). From there we went to Shakespeare and Co. which had no line and I bought some books, my favorite kind of souvenirs. Strolled along the Seine one last time and saw an Amorino which my kids love from when we were in Lisbon in 2019, so they indulged in one last sugar high. Took Metro to Catacombs for a 4:30 entrance. My little guy really enjoyed it! Checked into a budget hotel by Orly and passed out for an early flight the next day.

Thursday 3/3
Flew home happy, exhausted, relieved and thankful for the memories!

Covid - Right after we booked our flights my daughter and husband tested positive for covid but my son and I never did. Because Portugal does not recognize the US CDC card, my husband and I had to test just to transit through Lisbon. I was extremely worried about getting results quickly so we did 3 PCR tests on Sat. 2/19 (my town’s testing site, CVS and Walgreens). Received negative results from my town’s site early Sunday morning and the rest came in late Sunday night. I also had a rapid antigen test scheduled the morning of our flight just in case my husband was still testing positive on the PCR test.

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The night we arrived in Paris we headed to the pharmacy on our block to get the vaccine passes; they were requested everywhere except stores. We masked and sanitized, especially my son and I. Tested for US entry 24 hours before at the same pharmacy. Negatives all around and instant relief. I did have doctor’s notes for my daughter and husband but after reading some things about trying to use them with the airline, I felt better having everyone test. Everything that I worried about never happened.

TAP - My original flights were with TAP and I received vouchers plus 20% of the total to use by April 2022. I tracked flights for a long time and played around with days to get the cheapest prices. We paid exactly the same for RT Paris as we did for our original trip which was BOS- AMS and PARIS-BOS. TAP had no delays, no cancellations, food was good and flights were packed! Completed PLF for each flight leg but only had to show it in Boston going to Lisbon then Paris.

Things I did not fit in - Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb, Rodin, Jardin Luxembourg, Pere Lachaise cemetery, Picasso museum, Angelina’s…. NEXT TIME! I did not book any tickets until the day of or the day before based on weather and what was available. We ate at restaurants based on what we felt like and found around us and did fine!

Most importantly, my kids - This was really about Disney for them and they had fun there but were just as happy strolling through Paris with an ice cream cone. For the flights they brought their books from the “Who was ?” series and read up on Marie Antoinette, Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso. I always let them eat what they want on trips - pain chocolat, pizza, ice cream. I wore my fitbit and we logged between 20,000 - 25,000 steps a day. When my little guy needed a break, we would sit and get a treat and then all would be well again. He loved the Catacombs, the bug specimens at Deyrolle, picking out coins/medallions as souvenirs, and collecting rocks from Versailles. My daughter loved picking out postcards of her favorite paintings, eating macarons, seeing the ET, planning her Parisian outfits with her new beret and getting caramel pops from the hotel front desk.

This was our third trip to Europe as a family and we have done multiple road trips in the US and Canada. When they were younger, people often said why travel with them since they won't remember’s not always easy but we could never leave them behind on an adventure. And as a mother, the memories I have of them in these places will always remain.

Now it’s time to plan the next trip! :)

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3529 posts

Thanks for the trip report and happy you had a great time. We cancelled our trip to Paris way back when and haven’t been able to re-schedule yet. Luckily it is because we have other trips and family obligations planned. We hope to get there next year. They only time we have this year would be early December. PS - I would go to Paris Disney but will have to convince my hubby since our children are grown and our grandkids are too young.

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2037 posts

What a wonderful, detailed report. Sounds like a great trip. It sounds like we have a similar travel style with our kids. Frequent “treat breaks” keep the energy going and everybody happy.

It’s hard to find a hotel in Paris that sleeps 4 in real beds, so I appreciate the review of this one.

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3714 posts

It makes me very happy to read this trip report! It makes it seem like the world is returning to normal. Thanks for writing it. I especially liked reading what your children liked about the trip. Good luck planning Belgium and the Netherlands.

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1655 posts

Thank you so much for sharing. I loved traveling with our kids when they were young! They are 28 and 30 and still remember a lot. Even if they didn't, like you say it was worth it to US. We first took them to Paris when they were 8 and 10, so I really related to your report:)

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6183 posts

Lucky kids to have experiences like this and so much fun and food along with the culture! I'm sure you will all have happy memories of this trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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6408 posts

Sounds like you had a great time in my hometown! Thank you for the report.