Paris with Kids: A Perfect Family Day
To me, a perfect vacation day includes visiting lots of places, eating lots of good food, and coming away with different local experiences. PERFECT = VARIETY. This rule applies even when traveling with young kids. And with a big city like Paris, France... there will not be any problems meeting all these objectives.
I recommend finding a hotel near the Eiffel Tower. It's such an awesome feeling to exit the hotel, turn the corner, and then look up to find the Eiffel Tower staring right at you. The Metro and RER stations are nearby, as are lots of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries.
Here is our suggested itinerary for the perfect family vacation day in Paris with kids:
Boulangerie Poilane (49 Boulevard de Grenelle,75015; 01 45 79 11 49) and Poupart Piquot (115 Boulevard de Grenelle, 75015).
After this delicious and simple breakfast, simply cross the street and hop on the Metro and head for the Notre Dame cathedral (Ile de la Cite; 01 42 34 56 10). Trekking the 422 steps up to the top of the cathedral offers an amazing 360-degree view of Paris. But I recommend skipping this experience as the stairways are narrow and it will be too taxing for the kids. But do line up to go inside the cathedral. Even though the line might be long, it moves very quickly so the kids will not become too antsy.
After touring the inside of the cathedral, go back outside and around to the back. There is a moderate-size park for the kids to play and run around -- and for the parents to sit on a bench and enjoy a little peace and quiet. And guess what: The only money you have spent so far was for breakfast and transportation! Everything else has been free.
After the kids burn off some calories, walk toward Ile Saint-Louis for lunch. It's a small neighborhood with many shops and restaurants. Pom'Cannelle (27 rue des Deux Ponts, 75004; 01 46 34 68 59) offers authentic French food, a casual setting, and Berthillon ice cream. The fish soup and beef bourguignon are very good. Nobody leaves this neighborhood without eating ice cream. There are couple of Berthillon ice cream shops on the street and another handful of restaurants serving this delicious treat. The ice cream is extremely creamy, and the sherbet is very fruitful. My favorite is melon.
Now that everyone is filled up, it's time to head to the Jardin des Luxembourg. I recommend taking the bus or the taxi. What I like about this place is that it has a little of everything -- gardens, fountains, a palace and a very clean playground for the kids to play in. You can spend the whole afternoon here taking a relaxing stroll, enjoying the beautiful flowers, and watching a free performance if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time. By late afternoon, the kids are probably getting tired. It's time to head back to the hotel to rest a little bit before dinner.
There are lots of casual restaurants and cafes around the Eiffel Tower area -- perfect for kids. What about mac and cheese with French fries? Or maybe a freshly made crepe?
After dinner, if the kids still have energy, I recommend taking a Seine River cruise on a Bateaux-Mouches boat. It's nice to feel the breeze and to see all the famous landmarks without having to do everything on foot. The place where you embark, the Pont de l'Alma, is near the Eiffel Tower, and there are ice-cream stands near the boat dock to make the cruise even more enjoyable. By the time the cruise finishes, the Eiffel Tower should be lit. And at the first five minutes of each hour, there are glimmering lights. What a sight to see while walking back to the hotel after a perfect family vacation day in Paris with kids!
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