ome of you have probably already been to Paris at least once and can confirm that the French capital awakens a very particular nostalgia that manifests itself from time to time.
As always, when you’re travelling with children, it’s a bit of balancing act. On the one hand, you probably fancy seeing quite a few of the sites yourself but at the same time, there has to be something in it for the kids.
So here’s my idea of trying to find that ‘perfect’ balance.
Discovering Paris: Metro, Cycling and Walking.
Paris has a perfectly developed metro network and will easily reach all of the key destinations.
You can buy a special tourist card but an alternative would be buy a 10-ticket pass because it works out cheaper than individual tickets.
Another good way to discover Paris is to rent a bike if your kids are older.
Once can actually register online with a service called “Velib” which is run by the Paris town hall although there are other private companies as well. Once you’ve registered online, you’ll receive a reservation code and a PIN code that you’ll need to write down.
Then go to one of the 1800 locations around the city, enter your reservation code and PIN. Then you can choose a bike and start riding right away!
If you are looking for a practical alternative to explore Paris, the traditional Big Bus Tours are an excellent way to see the sights and by far, the easiest choice if your kids are young. If you can, it’s a good idea to buy your tickets online in advance as this will save you a fair bit of money.
Another way to explore the city is simply on foot. Although Paris is a very large and spacious, almost all the important sights are within walking distance of each other.
Places of interest in Paris
There are so many places of interest in Paris worth visiting but most visitors want to see the most famous ones including:
The Arc de Triomph and the Champs-Élysées
The Arc de Triomph is actually located at the top of the Champs- Élysées which itself is a long street leading to another famous location called the “Place de Concorde”.
So a good idea would be to start by visiting the Arc de Triomph – make sure you climb to the top for some stunning views over Paris. Then stroll down the Champs- Élysées and in about 30 minutes you’ll reach the “Place de Concorde” which is an enormous square with an Egyptian “Cleopatras” needle at it’s centre.
Jardins de Tuileries and the Louvre
Very conveniently, just behind the Place de Concorde are the beautiful Tuileries gardens. And after another 15-minute stroll through the gardens, you’ll arrive right at the entrance of the Louvre museum.
If you decide to go to the Louvre (which you should), it’s a good idea to book online if you can because the queues can get really long, especially in the summer.
The Louvre is a spectacular place but like most grand museums, it’s also overwhelming. If you literally want to see everything in a relaxed way, you’d probably need a week in there!
So if you visit the Louvre, it’s worth choosing what you’d like to see beforehand. For example, almost everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa.
Of all the sites in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is definitely top of the list for most. Just like the Louvre, however, I strongly recommend buying your tickets online and especially so in the summer.
There are just so many tourists that it can get overwhelming. And despite all the security measures they have in place nowadays, the authorities have everything well organised.
Despite these apparent hassles, it’s definitely worth it: you can’t really go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower and the kids will definitely enjoy and remember their trip.
Of course, if you’re travelling with kids, Disneyland Paris is another obvious choice. The park has 5 magical lands and is located about 20 miles east of the city centre.
It’s pretty easy to get to as well. Paris has a secondary rail system (after the metro) called the RER which is reasonably priced and easy to use.
The park is not as big as those in the USA but still immense fun, especially for the kids. All in all, and as long as you get up early, you can literally do most things in Disneyland Paris in a single day (but you’ll be worn out by the end of the day, that’s for sure).
Getting to Paris
For UK citizens, obviously you’ll probably be flying but if you live in the South East or near London, the Eurostar service is outstanding and extremely comfortable. In fact, Eurostar offer packaged services which includes their fare and a selection of hotels.
For US citizens, you don’t need a visa to stay in Paris (or at least until 1 January 2021 when the European Union will introduce it’s ETIAS visa exemption programme).
Just like any trip and especially if travelling with kids, Paris is a great choice. But because there’s so much to see, it’s worth doing your own research and making sure you plan ahead of time to make the most of your time there because it really is an amazing city to visit for adults and kids alike.