Paris with Children
I have written blogs about Paris before, but it’s a whole new experience traveling with my five-year-old. I was amazed at how well she did on the long plane ride, many modes of transportation, and walking for miles each day. Here are some trip highlights.
In preparation for our four-day museum pass, I created a few scavenger hunts, using photos I found on the Internet. I printed out a page of images for the Rodin Museum, the Louvre, and the Musee d’Orsay. The Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre websites have images of works from their collections, which made the task easier.
My daughter happily pranced around the museums in search of the specified artwork, with her pen at the ready to check off each image as it was found, and I was able to wander and marvel in relative peace and quiet. We also visited the Pantheon, Musee de l’Orangerie, Versailles, Sainte- Chapelle, Arc d’Triomphe, Notre Dame (free entry to chapel), and Pompidou Centre on our Museum pass.
Monet's House and Garden at Giverny
We did a few day excursions on our own, and one place I wanted to revisit was Giverny. Being a huge fan of Monet’s artwork, a couple days before our Giverny expedition, we caught a bus out to the Musee Marmottan, which has a large collection of Monet paintings. You can also get a combined ticket for Monet’s gardens at Giverny, which would cut some time waiting in line there.
I pointed out some of the famous water lilies to my daughter and explained we would be visiting Monet’s house at Giverny. I admit I neglected to read the book, Linnea in Monet’s Garden before our trip, but rest assured, we have been reading that book, as well as several others, since our return.
There is a lot of helpful information on Giverny, including how to arrive by various means. We took a train from Gare St. Lazare, in Paris, to Vernon in about 45 minutes, and then a shuttle bus to the gardens. There are occasional reduced train fares when traveling with children.
One of the best quotes from my daughter on this trip: “My favorite place in Paris is Disneyland.” I had told her that if she did well visiting the museums and Versailles our first week, she would be rewarded with a trip to Paris Disneyland. Of course, I had already purchased the tickets online at a discount.
We changed our itinerary a bit to catch the best weather and caught a train to the happiest place in Paris. Having been to California and Florida Disney resorts, I had fairly low expectations, but the Paris parks had smaller crowds, shorter lines, and all the fun! Yes, it also had higher prices, but by this time, a week into our trip, we were beyond price comparisons, having acclimated to Paris rates.
We rode most of the familiar rides, Small World (features the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign), Dumbo, Pirates, and Buzz Lightyear, with the added bonus of characters and operators speaking French. (The French Buzz Lightyear and C3PO made us chuckle.) My daughter loved Star Tours (her first time), and also enjoyed new rides at Walt Disney Studios Park in Toy Story Playland.
One day was enough to see both parks, and it was about a 35-minute train ride from central Paris. There are helpful directions available for taking the train from Paris to Disneyland too.
The Eiffel Tower
No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower. We had fun spotting the tower from wherever we were in the city, and climbed all 674 or so steps to the second level, hoping to catch the elevator the rest of the way to the top (the lines for tickets by elevator to the top were crazy long).
Alas, it was a very rainy day, and they closed the top level after we made the hike. But to me, that only means we will have to return to Paris again someday.
Books to Share with Children
- The Inside-outside Book of Paris by Roxie Munro
Captioned illustrations depict noted sights in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, the Metro subway, and a puppet theater. A section of text provides information on each sight.
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
A classic that I read to familiarize my child with the sights and sounds of Paris.
- Charlotte in Paris by Joan MacPhail Knight, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
The young daughter of American artists living in Giverny, France, in 1893, records in her journal her exciting trip to Paris to attend an Impressionist art exhibition. Includes biographical sketches of the artists featured in the story. We also read Charlotte in Giverny by the same team.
- This is Paris by M Sasek
A fun pictorial tour of the City of Lights, a bit dated, but a classic.
Photos credit: DeAnn O.
DeAnn O. was last in Paris some 15 years ago, and is happy that not much has changed.