Ideas for Paris Travel with Pre-Teen Kids

Paris, Arc de Triomphe, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel, view

A friend asked me what to do in Paris as she was going with her kids for a week or so.  I do not have kids but I was one once and that, coupled with the fact that I have stayed at a Holiday Inn, fully makes me an expert at recommending stuff for kids.

My brain immediately thought “Paris Disney” but I really thought this would be a criminal offense when they have the opportunity to have a much more unique experience – and ilivetotravel is all about experiences.  Like chocolate and macarons.

chocolate, macarons, maison du chocolat, Paris, France, food, foodie, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

All sorts of good stuff can be found in Paris. And I am sure kids & adults alike will enjoy!

So here is what I tell my friend to do:

  • Jardin de Luxembourg – This, the second largest public park in Paris, was part of the Palace that sits right by it.  The Palace was built in the early 17th century and is now the French Senate.  The park has many statues and fountains.  Maybe your daughter can imagine how it must have felt in the 17th century being a princess walking around the gardens!  And your son may enjoy renting a sailboat to operate in the large fountain while you sit and watch people go by as you enjoy this garden!
  • The Pantheon – This is likely a quick visit.  Some of the most notable French figures are buried here but I don’t think that will impress the kids.  However, it was free (at least when I went years ago) and seeing a building with such a unique interior may be interesting for the kids for, at least, 10 minutes.  And you, the parent, get to see it!
  • Go up the Eiffel Tower.  I don’t know if the kids will be up to hiking up as far as they let you before you have to take the elevator to reach the top but I know you are fit and can climb it with no issue!  While the climb may be more work than the kids want to do, seeing the structure up close as you go up is neat.  But, in the end, it’s the view from the top that matters most so, whether you all climb it or not, go up!
  • Walk up the Arc de Triomphe. OK, if the kids didn’t want to climb the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe is another option available to help you burn the calories of all the delicious pastries you are likely going to be eating (I will be mad if you don’t!).  It is deceiving but it is like 14-16 stories high so it is not trivial.  The view is not as cool as the one from the Eiffel Tower but you can look down the Champs-Elysées from it and, on the other side, towards the modern arc-shaped building in the distance.  Oh, and please use the tunnels that go under the road – don’t attempt to cross the street to get to it!
  • Visit MontmartreIt is a great place to and walk the narrow and hilly streets (still making you exercise with this plan!).  To get up, you can climb the stairs but I will cut your kids some slack and suggest you all ride the little funicular.  Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with the massive Sacre Coeur church.  And guess what?  You can climb it to the top!  This one, I think your kids will definitely enjoy and great views of the city to boot!

    Montmartre, Paris, France, photo

    The narrow and hilly streets of Montmartre – explore!

  • I feel obliged to suggest a museum that may be good for kids.  But I had to do some research on this.  I found the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, or the Museum of Hunting and Nature (60, rue des Archives, in the third arrondissement).  It is supposed to be interesting for kids mixing animals (dead) and art.  Let me know how it is!
  • Pompidou Center (19, rue Beaubourg, in the fourth arrondissement) has a hands-on children’s area, not sure for what age exactly but it is free for kids so you can get to check out some art under the guise of taking them to a museum that has stuff for them (even if it turns out they are too old for what it has!).
  • Notre Dame is quite impressive even for kids but it may be a quicker visit with them.  On neighboring Ile St. Louis (the island in the river near Notre Dame), there is an ice cream place that is really good.  It’s called Berthillon (31 Rue St.-Louis-en-l’Ile).  Use that to reward the kids for letting you visit Notre Dame 🙂  And you can have one too.
  • Take a boat ride in the Seine.  Some of the boats offer fancy dinner cruises but there is a batobus (boat bus) that you can take to travel up and down the river –more fun than the metro (for the kids AND you!) and you can use this to see the city from a different perspective.
  • The Tuileries Garden (right by the Louvre Museum, at the base of the Champs-Elysées almost) is one of the most kid-friendly spots in Paris, and also one of the most beautiful.  There are trampolines, a merry go round, etc.    A large Egyptian obelisk is located outside on the west side of the park on the Place de la Concorde – could be a unique thing to see from ancient Egypt in Paris.

    Paris, obelisk, Place de la Concorde, Sacre Coeur, photo, France, travel

    A view towards the Place de la Concorde and the obelisk. Note Sacre Coeur in the background!

  • Go into the many places that have phenomenal pastries and other decadent things, like these.  For the kids, you know…
    • Ladurée – several across town (one near La Madeleine, another on the Champs Elysees, etc.)
    • Dalloyau – there is one at 2, pl Edmond Rostand, right across the Jardin de Luxembourg; there are other locations like 101, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
    • Angelina (226 rue de Rivoli, right across the Tuileries/Louvre; incredible hot chocolate).  As you can see, I have conveniently picked places close to the others I have recommended so you have NO excuse for missing these!
  • Visit where Raúl lived (24 rue de Tilsitt).  OK, it’s a boring building one short block from the Arc de Triomphe.  Thinking it over, it may not impress the kids – or you – so only go if you run out of things to do 🙂

    Paris, Arc de Triomphe, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel, view

    Yea, the building I lived in was boring but this is the view from the rooftop terrace!

Enjoy Paris and be sure to let me know what the kids enjoyed – from this list or otherwise!

Food Pleasures in Paris

Paris, cafe, France, the life, chairs, red, ambience, food, Canon EOS Rebel, photo

There are SO many places to go and enjoy a meal or a drink in Paris.  Whether it be haut cuisine, a pastry, a glass of wine, or coffee, you will never run out of options in Paris and, many of the options, are quite good.  Exploring these places is one of the guilt-inducing pleasures of any trip to the City of Light!

Paris, cafe, France, the life, chairs, red, ambience, food, Canon EOS Rebel, photo

Cafés in Paris always beckon!

What grabbed my attention and palate?  Here they are…

Hot chocolate anyone?

My all-time favorite, and I have tried hot chocolate in quite a few places, is Angelina’s in the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, just across the street from the Tuileries (226 rue de Rivoli, 75001).  Conveniently, they also have great pastries so I can kill two birds with one stone…  I wish it had an outdoor sitting area but given where it is, that is not possible.  It has become a little over-priced due to people like me raving about it.  I am sorry…

Paris, Angelina, hot chocolate, pain au chocolat, breakfast, food, Paris, France

Hot chocolate and pastries in Angelina’s in Paris, France. Heaven for ilivetotravel!

Best little former secret family restaurant

Well, I say former because I have even seen it on Anthony Bourdain’s travel/food show a couple of years ago…  But I went there before the show, for the record! This place called “Robert et Louise” is a little gem of a restaurant in Le Marais district (64, rue Vieille-du-Temple 75003).

Robert and Louise were the owners who started the restaurant in the 1950s.  Robert has since passed away and I believe the restaurant is owned now by others.  But, last time I was there, Louise still lived above the restaurant and would come down to get food…

The place is tucked away on a street with small antique shops, etc. but on a part of the street that at night is completely dead… except for Robert et Louise.  The red and white checkered window curtains hide the restaurant from the passerby.  You almost have to know it is there.  My friends Chris and Wendy had discovered it two days before and took me there.  The place would not pass governmental health regulations in the U.S. and I am so glad it is not in the U.S.! (Please don’t be scared away by that statement.)

The dish to go for is the steak to share by 2 or more folks – it is cooked in the fire pit right next to the main wooden table in the back of the restaurant (there are normal tables in the front of the restaurant).  The fire pit, the nights I have been there, is fed by wood from a crate that the cook is breaking apart as needed to keep the fire going.  The fire pit is located next to the small sink used by people to wash their hands (yes, this may sound gross to some but you will soon ignore it once you begin to enjoy the casual, non-touristy ambiance and eat the food!).  Another spot in the back is the salad maker who is also the potato cooker.   (The first I went the lady who cuts the meat was having a heated argument with the salad/potato-maker; she was the one with the big knife.  We prayed they were only arguing about how much seasoning the meat should have…).

The dishes are simple but when simplicity is delicious, who needs anything else!    Advice:  Go early to avoid a long wait since the place is small and no one is in a hurry to leave.

A Supermarket with Flair

Paris has les Grands Magasins, the big fancy department stores that everyone wants to go shopping at.  Galeries Lafayette near the Old Opera is my favorite.  Colognes, clothing, you think?  NOOOOOOO!!!  The food section!!!  It has a supermarket in it, as do other big department stores in Europe.

Galeries Lafayette, Paris, food, France, photo, spices

The spice section at Galeries Lafayette

But this one has a special place I like to go to every time I go to Paris.  Their focus is Spanish ham  (I forget the name, if it has one; but print the picture below if you are going and you will find it!).  They serve other things but I love going to it to get me some Spanish ham, paired up with a good red wine!!  You sit at the counter, order, and people-watch while you enjoy.  Or tweet 😉

Galeries Lafayette, Paris, food, France, photo, spices, ham, Spanish

My hangout within Galeries Lafayette

And… More Chocolate!

I have to say that a real treat in Paris for any chocolate-liker (and, definitely, for chocolate-lover!) is to try the fine chocolates at any of the fine chocolate makers in the city.  Some are on or near the Rue St. Honoré.  Viator.com also offers some chocolate tours that are well worth the price.  No need to name names, try any of the “maisons du chocolat“, and you will NOT be disappointed!  I highly encourage tasting with a theme in mind whether trying only pure chocolate, trying different ones with different perfumes, trying only ones with nuts, etc.  It can be overwhelming and you cannot have too many as they are filling!  Bon appetit!

Hugo and Victor, Paris, France, chocolate, chocolatier, maison du chocolat, delicacy, food, photo, delicious, decandent

Pieces of heaven at Hugo & Victor

More about Paris and places to eat at from my friend’s Chris’ guest writeup!  Check it out, lots of good info for those planning – or wanting – to go to Paris!

 

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