Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Going to Paris With Kids--Some Advice

Bonjour!  Are you ready to hear about our trip to Paris??

Paris was definitely on our European must do list, even after our terrible experience at the airport when we moved here--and it was HORRIBLE!

I had high hopes but didn't have a good feeling about the place.  Thankfully I was wrong...

You know how you always hear the stereotype that Parisians are rude and hate Americans?  In OUR experience, this couldn't have been farther from the truth.  Almost everyone who we encountered was super nice and helpful to us. All in all, it was a wonderful experience, one of my favorite trips, and I'm excited to tell you about it!

Essentially, we have two approaches to traveling here in Europe:

*We plan out as much of the details as possible
*We don't plan at all and fly by the seat of our pants

Traveling to Paris definitely requires the first approach, especially when traveling with children (and we've got 4).

If you're already here in Europe, getting to Paris is literally just a hop skip and a jump.  I would highly recommend flying because the tolls in France are very expensive, parking in Paris can be expensive and a nightmare, and flights into CDG are frequently and inexpensive. Our family of 6 flew from Venice to CDG for under $500. Totally worth it.  We flew Easy Jet and had a positive experience.

Parking on our street at all times...can you imagine trying to fit our Suburban in there!

Lodging in Paris is also a great area where you can save money.  We also book an apartment or house whenever we travel in Europe--once again, there are six of us and two hotel rooms pretty much anywhere in Europe would be cost-prohibative for us.  I like HomeAway the best when searching for a place to stay, although we've had a lot of luck with Bookings.com and Airbnb also. Here's a link to where we stayed in Paris...

http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p391918

It was amazing, our landlord was super awesome, and did I mention...we could see the Eiffel Tower from our bedroom?

Views from inside our apartment...we had beautiful fresh flowers and a view of the ET 
 A large "parlor" with a great terrace and view

 And we could see the ET from our bedroom...

And then there was this fabulous "French" Pizza place that my kids just LOVED!  We kept reminding them that Pizza Hut is AMERICAN!!!

Our view from our bedroom of the ET at night. I loved seeing it sparkle and would have the hardest times getting to sleep because I loved it so much!

I hate to make reservations when we travel...I'm talking about reservations to see museums and sights, but in Paris it's almost a necessity.  The idea of being tied down to a certain day where I MUST see a certain place because I have a reservation can be annoying, but so would the long line at the ET, so I was glad I had made a reservation! Book things like the Eiffel Tower and a Moulin Rough show far, far ahead of time--you won't regret it.

Another MUST is this: Familiarize yourself with schedules and know on what days museums and attractions are closed in Paris.  This is a must!!  Here's a great website for knowing what's closed on which day.  We used our Rick Steves' book religiously for this part of planning and just sketched out a rough schedule of what we were going to see on which day.  As crazy as it sounds, plan to do as much as you can at the beginning of your trip and don't pass up an opportunity to see someplace--my BFF Shannon planned to see the Louvre on the same day that we did but had to postpone it when her wallet was stolen by a pickpocket.  Ironically, when she and her family finally made it back to the Louvre, it was closed because the workers were protesting the French government's lack of enforcement of pickpocketing....no, I'm not kidding...and unfortunately they didn't get to see the Louvre.


Read as many books as you can about traveling in Paris (and traveling in Paris with kids if you have kids).  As I've said a dozen times, you cannot go wrong with Rick Steves.  We used our RS Paris book constantly during the planning phase of our trip and while we were there and we were so thankful for his solid advice, recommendations, and easy to follow directions.  I also found a ton of kids' books on Paris that we read to the brats.  I really believe that the more familiar your kids are with a place, the more likely they are to enjoy it.  Our favorite kids books on Paris were:



Madeline (which I own four copies of for some reason... obviously I'm a fan)
Everyone Bonjours
This is Paris (I totally love this series)
Lonely Planet's Not For Parents--Paris
Charlotte in Paris (another favorite of mine)
Paris in the Spring With Picasso




Loved this book!!

I also love to hit up the museum shops BEFORE we visit a place, if possible, because they frequently have these awesome "Where's Waldo" type of books for kids where the author discusses a certain thing/place/person and the kids have to look for it.  I found an AWESOME one  called A Great City Game Book: Paris Hide-And-Seek For Readers With Sharp Eyes on our first day there and my kids talked about it the entire time.  I'm pretty sure I found it at the Arc de Triomphe...

And don't forget about movies, too.  We loved Ratatouille, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (there's a great Delilah story about what happened there...), and Aristocats, to just name a few. There's also an entire line of Rick Steves videos!

Buy the Museum Pass and NOT the Paris Pass, in my humble opinion.  My friend Shannon did a lot of research on this and I have to agree with her that the Paris Pass was MUCH more than the Museum Pass and was basically a rip off when you compared the two.  I also thought the Hop On, Hop Off buses there were a rip off too because they are crazy expensive and we spent a tremendous amount of time sitting in traffic instead of seeing the sights. Keep in mind that this is just MY OPINION and if you bought the Paris Pass or one of the HOHO bus tours and loved it, I'm happy for you.

Just say no!!

Although this was interesting!

Eat at small restaurants, away from tourists areas,  on the cheap...we did this a lot and always had great food and a good experience.

And take a break and sit in these comfortable green chairs.  They are everywhere in the city~




Take public transportation.  I know, I know...this scares some of you.  And the idea of it scared me too at first, but here's the thing...Paris is a big place and you will either do one of two things:

go broke paying for taxis everywhere
or
walk yourself to death trying to get from one side of the city to the other

Take the bus or the METRO! (I especially loved the METRO!!) Familiarize yourself with a map of Paris (or buy a Rick Steves book and follow his recommendations of what to see in what order) and the METRO lines and go at it!  It's very inexpensive and relatively simple. This nice fella gives some great info HERE.

 Steve and Tory making a plan... 

Happy brats on the METRO

And buy cheap fridge magnets to keep as a road map of your Europeans travels and favorite spots!

Although I don't claim to know everything about traveling in Paris, I hope this little bit of insight helps! I can't wait to go back....

Up next....Creating a must do list for Paris...

I'd REALLY appreciate your vote for my blog as the top mommy blog.  All it takes from you is one click on the picture of the smiling mommy below.  Thanks!




8 comments :

  1. We LOVED Paris and we went at bteween Christmas and New Year... cold but still loved it! We are heading back this weekend to meet up with family and I am so excited for my second trip! So glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  2. So glad you posted this! Jess & I are going to Paris when she visits in September. I'm a little nervous as it will just be the two of us and I'll be in charge of getting us around. You've made me feel better and now I'm off to find Rick Steve's book!!
    xoxo
    Selena

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  3. Yes! Apartments are the way to go usually, even for our family of three. I am having a difficult time finding one in exactly the perfect location in Napoli for an upcoming trip. Any sites besides HomeAway and VRBO that you've had luck with?
    Here is a link to a post I did about museums with children in Paris: http://3ingiro.blogspot.it/2013/01/paris-museums-with-kids-10-tips.html

    It might be useful to others.
    I did plan our recent week in Paris moreso than I usually like to do, but I think it worked out for us.
    D

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    Replies
    1. Hey there! I was tracking your vacation on Istagram :) Glad you are back safe and sound. Have you tried airbnb? I really like that one too and found an awesome place in Rome. We should meet for lunch one day!

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    2. Lunch sounds great! Give me a few days to reacclimate

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  4. Also try Airbnb.com and tripadvisor.com for apartments.

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  5. LOVE this! I was in Paris last summer and will be there again in 2 weeks! SO excited!!

    Great book suggestions! I LOVE "Everybody Bonjours"! I also love "Adele & Simon", which is a fun one for siblings! And i love movies set in Paris... I have heard great things about A Monster in Paris, but have yet to see it!

    Glad I stumbled upon your blog from Casey (from We Took The Road Less Traveled)

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