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Visiting Paris

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France with 6 year old - Paris and south

Jan 2010

We are considering a trip to France next summer with our six year old. Possibly 5-7 nights in Paris,and a few weeks in a low-key beach town in the south of France somewhere. We are looking for suggestions on where to stay in Paris, and also where to stay in the south of France. we are trying to combine some relaxing beach time, with getting to experience French living. We are not interested in the big resorts, etc. in Nice or elsewhere, but would prefer renting a cottage in a small village where we could walk around, enjoy some beach time, and possibly take day trips to other local towns. anon


We spent 2 weeks in Paris with our 8 year old in April. I highly recomment the Fodor's ''Paris with Kids'' guide. My sentimental favorite was the 19th century carousel at the Jardin du Luxembourg, where kids sitting on the outer circle get to hold a ''fence'' and a very nice guy that runs it makes it easy for them to spear brass rings onto it.

We didn't go to museums much (my husband and I visited Paris before, and my son wasn't that keen on them). If you ask my son, the best thing about Paris was Parc Asterix (he happened to get into the Asterix comics books right before we went). It's an amusement park centered around the characters from Asterix, with rides and shows for kids. Beware: if you buy tickets in advance and it happens to raing, THERE IS NO WAY to exchange them though.

Tour Eiffel is a must, and we all enjoyed the Paris Canal boat tours of Canal Martin.The nearby metro stations are Porte de la Villette and Porte de Pantin. The guide book recommended taking it from Parc de la Villette. I don't remember why they liked that direction better, but it could be because of the way the locks can be seen. One can also take the same tour from Musee d'Orsay though. Here is the link to the tours by Paris Canal, and also by Canauxrama which is another boat company: http://europeforvisitors.com/paris/articles/st-martin-canal-cruises.htm

OTher kid-friendly destinations are Versaille where our son loved the boat ride on the lake with swans (there was a swan nest right on the edge of the lake!). France Miniature is a little ways away from Paris, but you get to see the whole of France at once and it's kind of nice.

The only issue was that our son really missed playing with kids, and we were so happy to find a huge playground at Jardin du Luxembourg, next to the puppet theater. There's a small admission charge, but the park is large and clean, and full of kids from ALL countries. My son managed to communicate by pointing, laughing and trying to speak whatever language other kids knew. That also happens to be the park with the old fashioned carousel I've mentioned. take us with you!:)

[Editor] for more responses to this question, see Visiting France


Family Friendly Recommendations for Paris, Venice

Jan 2010

We are planning on taking our family to Europe this summer and would like to get recommendations for hotels and attractions in Paris and Venice that would be interesting and attractive for our three children, ages 6, 10 and 16. thanks!


Check out the following blog post for Paris recommendations. Our 2 yr old enjoyed all the parks and outdoor markets, the zoo, Cite des Enfants, and sitting along the Seine eating glace. We stay in an apartment by the St Paul Metro stop. Conveniently next to a supermarket AND a carousel that opened every afternoon. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/04/ten_great_things_to_do_with_kids.html Can't really recommend anything in Venice specifically for kids. Chasing pigeons in St. Mark's Square? Jora
Our son was 11 last summer when we went to Paris. One of the best things I found which we couldn't do because of dates was a treasure hunt in the Marais. Check out this web site - the site itself is SO well done; it is SO enticing as a family activity where you can learn the history of the area while searching for clues. http://www.malangueauchat.com/. Also, in Paris, we recommend the catacombs for your kid's age group - thousands of bones in the walls underneath the city - very cool. A good book we got is Paris with Kids. It had lots and lots of places to visit. Also, we really enjoyed our walking tour by Paris Walks. Our guide was fantastic. It was family friendly and reasonably priced at 12 euros for adults and 8 euros for kids. (the Louvre family tour was financially out of reach for us). They have tours of every neighborhood, all in English, and no reservations necessary so you can plan on the fly. http://www.paris-walks.com. There are a slew of natural history museums that kids like all in one neighborhood in the 5th. Look up Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle. We made a day of it. There is a great Turkish Mosque hammam nearby where we got some wonderful tea and not-too- sweet sweets. The boat tour from the Eiffel Tower on the Seine is fun too, and of course the Eiffel tower itself is a must go. Have fun! I want to go back!! octobercat
Paris is a great place for kids, but in a slightly different way. While there are kid-oriented things to do, the best part of Paris is avoiding the amusement parks and enjoying the city itself. We liked the Jardins Luxembourg, they have a GREAT playground there, wandering near Les Halles and the Centre Pompidou (and make sure to walk through le Marais on the way back), climbing up the towers of Notre Dame, exploring the catacombes, while touristy, the Bateau Mouche along the Seine is relaxing and a great way to see the river. After Notre Dame, walk East to the Ile St. Louis and hit Berthillon for the best ice cream in the city. Not far from there along the Seine is the Jardins de Plantes. It is great because it is near the Latin Quarter, has a Natural History Museum, and the zoo. La Villete, a little farther North, has their Science and Technology Museum. Places like Versailles, Fontainebleu, the Bois be Vincennes are a little farther but worth a visit to enjoy the beautiful green expanses. In the city, the Tuilleries are great. Other faves are Montmartre. Advice: in places like the Louvre, choose a small number of things to see and just wander to them. Also, make sure to have play breaks. It can be overwhelming. We hit the Luxembourg playground daily. Kiddie Koncierge

editor note: reviews also received for Venice


Paris with grandma and 5 kids

Nov 2008

My sister and I are thinking of a Thansgiving trip to Paris with 5 kids aged 2 mos to 7 years. Yes, we are crazy. We are also planning to bring the 78 year old active grandmother. Although we would prefer to do Paris in a completely different way, this is our situation.

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to stay...hotel accommodations or finding an apartment, and things to do...any pointers on flying besides packing the kids in the cargo hold while the adults fly business class?

I lived in Paris for 6 months 20 years ago and have made several ''adult'' visits since. I do prefer the 16th Arrondisement, and would like to be by the park. -Wish me Bonne Chance!


Definately check-out www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to find an apartment or home to rent for the week. I have travelled for years with kids (first my niece and nephew, now my own child) and I believe the only way to travel with small kids is to get a timeshare or home rental with a kitchen. If you get a least a one bedroom, you have seperate space for ''sleepers'' and the ability to fix breakfast or snacks, or even dinner at a home instead of constantly looking for food. I think VRBO is a safe website to use for rentals (even foreign), but check the guest comments and if the owner is really up and up, they would probably even let you talk to a former guest. We advertise our Tahoe cabin on this website, and I know a lot of people have used it to find rentals in Hawaii, etc. It would be the first place I would look. Please be careful when typing the website www.vrbo.com I received a message recently from a similar, but I think bogus website. Let me know if you find a great place, I plan to head to Paris next year also. casata
My family (me, husband, and daughter age 1.5 at the time) went to Paris for two weeks in April this year. I would definitely recommend getting an apartment instead of a hotel. It was really nice to have the ability to cook at home and I think we had more space to spread out than we would have in a hotel room. We probably saved a bit of money in the long run by eating at home some of the time. We booked our apartment from a website called Paris by Heart (http://www.parisbyheart.com/) and Ken, the owner who lives in Mill Valley, was very helpful. He seemed to intimately know every apartment. We ended up getting an apartment in the 15th I think - near the Jardin des Plantes. It was right by a metro station and was fabulous. We had a great trip and would definitely recommend it to anyone with small kids. It was not the culinary/shopping trip to Paris, but there will be other times for that trip. We had a fabulous time wandering around the city and finding every playground in Paris. Have a great time! Tamara

Paris and Barcelona with 6 and 9 year olds

June 2008

We're finally going to Europe with the kids (ages 9 and 6) this summer! We'll have a couple of days in Paris and a couple in Barcelona, along with a cruise. What are the ''must see'' things (kid-friendly) in either place? Any other recommendations? We've booked an apartment in Paris in Arrondissement 4. We'll only need a 1-night stay in Barcelona, but I've not booked that yet (2 hotel rooms is too expensive, so we'll be looking for an alternative since there aren't many rooms they'll allow 4 in). Thanks in advance for your suggestions. c_s


We were in Barcelona and Paris 3 years ago with our then 6 and 10 y.o. boys. Only 2.5 days in Barcelona and 4 in Paris. Barcelona: loved the human statues on Las Ramblas, the candy and ice cream at la Boqueria, Font Magica free water and light fountain show, Parc Guell. Hated the Picasso museum, should have tried Miro museum instead? La Sagrada Familia. There is a funicular ride we didn't take that they may like. Wished we had spent more time here. We all loved it and barely scratched the surface. Paris: top of the Eiffel tower, but only way to do this is to bypass the lines with a reservation for lunch in their middle restaurant. Eiffel tower at night when the lights go off on the hour(?). Hated the Orsay Museum which I adore. LOVED the Pompidou Center building, fountain and art, spent hours there, very modern and wonderfully different. Went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (it's tiny, mom!). We bought a Museum or visitors pass and bypassed lines at the museums. Did not like the bus tour. Loved Luxumbourg Gardens; 10 y.o. even liked the playground here. Loved the chocolates. Liked Notre Dame but didn't go to the top because of the lines. There's a fair at Tuileries Gardens, but didn't make it there. linda
I highly recommend La Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie - it's outside the heart of Paris, but still transit accessible. It appeals to a wide range of ages and interests - think Exploratorium, San Jose Tech Museum, etc. I remember going there as a teenager with my older sister and elementary-age male cousins - we all loved it. http://www.cite-sciences.fr/english/indexFLASH.htm Jessica

Paris with a teen - Which neighborhood?

Feb 2008

We're planning a trip to Paris this summer, and I know nothing about the city. Would like to recieve recommendations on which neighborhoods are convenient and fun for tourists. Will be traveling with a teen too. hb


I like the Marais. Small streets. Good food. Near the Metro, but not as noisy as the Latin Quarter. Lots of great little apartments to rent by the week. The Metro is VERY easy to use. You can get to other parts of town with little problem. If you get there on a Sunday or Monday, you can get a Carte Orange that makes the Metro and the buses very cheap for adults. I think kids are half price. One great resources is Fodors.com and find the talk page for Euarope. First check out their archives by searching for different things, then when you have a very specific question (if it isn't in the archives) post it. Or just observe the dialogue. Lots of folks on that talk page that know a ton. Just be specific when you do finally ask a question. Also, some folks get a lot out of Rick Steves' books. Go to the library and borrow some. There are also some new books out on farmers markets in Paris. Figure out what your teen is into (besides sleeping in). The museums really are wonderful, and adults often do well with a multi-day museum pass. Oh and there is a new thing in Paris where you can rent bikes for 30 minutes or more (velolibre). They are all around the City. You'd need to sign up initially and then you can pick one up in one spot and leave it in another. Kind of like City Car Share or Zipcar. On Sundays some of the streets along the Seine and in the Bois de Bologne are closed to Cars. Maman Qui Voudrait Visiter Paris Maintenant !(whine)

Paris with Teens

Feb 2008

We are heading for Paris in March with our 17 yr old boy and 15 yr old girl. Any suggestions on things that might interest them (beside the usual amazing museums etc)? j


My teenagers had a great time in Paris. The sewer tour is kind of a funny offbeat attraction that they enjoyed. They also enjoyed going to the movies and seeing an American movie where the soundtrack was in french and the subtitles were in English. The whole movie experience is a little different there. Visiting Versailles for a day was a lot of fun - we rented bikes there and had a great time exploring the huge grounds by bike - best way to see it all in my opinion. The town of Reims in the champagne region is another fun day trip out of Paris. All of the champagne houses offer tours. Pommery is one of the best, they have beautiful underground caves you get to visit. And being French, they give the kids small glasses of champagne to sample too, which made my teenagers feel very grown-up. Going up to the top of the Eiffel tower at night is gorgeous, my teens liked that a lot. They also enjoyed the steps of the Sacre Cour atop Montmartre at night - there are often musicians there at night and it's a lively scene with a beautiful view of all of Paris. There's lots to do in Paris, they won't be bored. Just letting them have some free time to do a little exploring on their own will probably be pretty exciting for them. We've always stayed in the latin quarter near Rue Mouffetard which is a young feeling area with a lot going on - great for teens. bon voyage! I remember it being very reasonable and VERY charming and clean. Good luck and have a great time! christine
The Chronicle had an interesting article on hotels in Paris recently: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/05/09/TRGBJ6G5R31.DTL One of these is the one my mother and I stayed in about 6 years ago. The Port-Royal hotel really was sparkling clean, and breakfast was in a small room on the main floor. Very convenient to the Metro, and the Bistro across the way had a very nice prix fixe menu, too. Enjoy! Jennie
We found a nice, well-located apartment at a pretty good (for Paris) price through vbro.com (''vacation rentals by owner''). Many of the owners will rent for less than a week, though they may charge a higher nightly rate. We appreciated having two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a washer & dryer. Many hotels are not set up well for families, and might insist you take two double rooms if you have more than three people, even kids. Even a ''triple + extra bed'' can be as expensive as the apartment, with none of the perks. Enjoy Paris! R.K.
Your kids will love Paris. There is so much for children to do there. I don't know about prices for lodgings, but with kids, it might be nice to stay near the Luxembourg Gardens. We have found cheaper hotels there in the past. As for food, look for pizzarias and check out the Hippopotomus chain. Both usually have non-smoking sections. If the kids are willing to sit for a while to soak up atmosphere, the street side cafes are a fun experience. Traveling Parent
This post is pretty belated, but I just came back from Paris, and found my favorite (cheap!) hotel is still as good as ever. The location is unbeatable: in the 6th arrondissement, with only a short walk to either the Odeon or Luxembourg Metro Stations, and restaurants, shops, cafes, the Jardins du Luxembourg, etc. right on its doorstep. It's right near the Boulevards St. Michel and St. Germain. I paid 45 Euros (cash or Euro travelers checks only) for a single room, but Stella has affordable rooms for groups and families too. The last time we stayed there, as a family, Stella was one of the few hotels to allow our family of (then) 5 to stay in one room, a ''quad''). Ann, the proprietor, I think, was helpful as ever - she's slow to smile, but quick to help, and an expert at navigating Paris. I got a good night's sleep, because she's strict about keeping the place quiet at night. Three things that some might consider drawbacks are: only cash or Euro traveler's checks are accepted; there doesn't seem to be an elevator, only lots of stairs; it is NOT FANCY (line-dried towels, elderly furniture and decor, oddly shaped rooms, etc.) I'm not sure whether the phones in the rooms can call beyond the front desk, but I doubt it. The Hotel's current site is: http://site.voila.fr/hotel-stella and their e-mail address, pictures of the room, etc. are on the site. They can be slow and terse in e-mail replies. Siobhan
My sister-in-law and her husband have a condo in Paris that they rent out. It's small, but nice. I haven't been there myself, but others I know have. The website for the condo is: www.levieuxparis.com Wish I were there
The best place to find recommendations for hotels is http://www.tripadvisor.com/ I have been using the consumer reviews on tripadvisor for a couple years now, and have had VERY good luck finding what I'm looking for. It's far superior to AAA for domestic hotels, and just cannot be beat for overseas travel. You'll find every price range there, from hostels to luxury resorts. anon

Paris without kids - nice 3-4 start hotel?

Feb 2007

We are going to Paris without kids in June for 4 days. Anyone have any good recommendations in either St. Germain or the Marais districts for a good, clean, middle of the road hotel?


The Relais Christine is wonderful. I stayed there in September, and the rooms, service, location, and local restaurants all wonderful. Small hotel, new, small exercise area with whirlpool, breakfast room in the cellar--beautiful, great bathrooms, and the service so friendly and professional! Leila
We like the Hotel Normandy. It's very centrally located -- minutes from the Louvre. Rooms are decent size with very nice bathrooms and a tiny balcony that opens onto the street (if you get a high enough room). The breakfast buffet is fantastic too. http://www.hotel-normandy.com/ Paris Lover

Researching an apartment rental in Paris

Feb 2007

I am planning a 2-week trip to Paris with my Girlfriend and her 5 year-old. I have found a few differnt services that offer short-term apartment rentals (which I have heard are a much better deal, and consequently offer a more personal experience vs, hotels). The two sites I found with the most information were: http://www.welcome2france.com and http://www.paristay.com
Does anyone have experience with apartment rental services in Paris? recommendations? Advice? Is it better to stay in the heart of the city or in a suburb? Thanks! Charles


We have been very pleased with chezvous.com. They have a great web site with photos and layouts of all of their apartments. Their apartments are in good, walkable neighborhoods and come with small washer/dryers (the European kind that wash 3 items of clothing in 6 hours), kitchens with basic equipment, and a notebook that tells you where your closest metro stop and recommended restaurants and services are located. I would recommned staying right in the city; public transporation is excellent and you will be able to get to the many, many sights of Paris easily. Bon voyage et bonne chance! Carrie

Buying a vacation apartment in Paris

Jan 2007

My husband and I are thinking of investing our small inheritance in a small vacation apartment in Paris. We'd be very interested in hearing about anyone's experiences in buying, renovating and renting apartments in Paris; i.e., useful real estate agents, property managers, closing costs, rental streams, up and coming neighborhoods, etc. We have two small children - 6 and 2 years old - and probably wouldn't be able to visit more than once or twice per year. We have no relatives or friends in Paris, so we'd be heavily reliant on the local real estate agent and property manager. Thanks in advance for any information Paris lover


My sister bought an apartment in Paris last year. It was mostly a good experience, but she had some troubles managing the very minor renovations from here. As for the purchase, she just spent a lot of time there researching neighborhoods and finding realtors to help her.

There was an article in the SF Chronicle back in 2005 on this subject. In it, the author gives 3 or 4 companies that help Americans buy Parisian apartment. The link to the article is given below. If the link doesn't work, go to sfgate.com and search the archives for Paris apartments...the article ran on July 27, 2005, and it has ridiculously long title: ''Finding the American dream in city of light With costs similar to New York, some see opportunity to buy homes.'' The link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/27/HOGDVDTLRV1.DTL&hw=apartment+rental+paris&sn=004&sc=680


Paris for a week with kids + grandma

May 2006

Hi there, I have checked the archives and have gotten lots of great ideas, but i have a few more questions. My husband and I, our kids (8 and 10) and my Mother in law are going to be going to Paris for a week in mid June. I know I can buy museum tickets online, but I haven't been able to find ways to reserve places or buy tickets for other activities. Is this just something I can do there? I'm worried it will be so busy there that we won't get a chance to do the things we are excited about. I want to make sure the kids get a chance to go to the Catacombs and see the underground sewers. If you know any "off the beaten path" places for us to check out I'd love to here about them as well.

Also, my husband and I will get a chance to go off on our own for a night -- we need some ideas as to where to go. We can rent a car, or take a train, or, ideally we would bike somewhere. If you know of anything really cool, special or unique with in a few hours of Paris please let us know! Thanks cris


Ahh, Paris! I would just buy tickets to everything there. I'm sure you know that kids get in free to all the museums.

A few things I would do with kids are both near the Bastille. One is a boat ride on the Canal St-Martin. The boats are smaller and less touristique than the Bateaux Mouches on the Seine (although those would be fun too, especially at night), they go through locks and the canal goes through more residential areas of Paris and the ride stops at Parc de la Villette which has an Exploratorium type museum, movie theatre, etc.

The other, since you mention biking, is a bike rental store right along the marina. I would rent bikes on Sunday (?) the day that the roads along the Seine are closed for bikers, roller skaters and pedestrians. Attention-you need your passport to rent the bikes.

As for your date night, I would not leave Paris! I would go to a nice restaurant and stroll all night, but that is just me! For an all-family country day trip you could take the train to Giverny and visit Monet's house and gardens. Bon Voyage allison


Apartment or pension in Paris

Feb 2006

I will be traveling to London and Paris with my 6 year old daughter In August. We will be staying with my sister in London and I am looking for lodging recommendations in Paris. (We will be there 9 days.) I would like a pension type place or an apartment which is well located...a place where we can really experience Paris. We don't need the Ritz...just something safe and comfortable. Also, I want suggestions on things to do with kids in London & Paris including day trips. I have visited both cities pre-children and am looking forward to taking my daughter. Thanks! Sarah


A few years ago my cousin and I stayed in an apartment in Paris she found through http://www.rentvillas.com/ The place was clean, small, well located, sleeps 4. Here is the link to the apartment. Not cheap. http://www.rentvillas.com/PropertyDetail.aspx?Catalog=479 It looks like they have about 65 apartments available in the Paris area.
Try the web site AhParis.com for apartment rentals. I am renting an apartment through them in May, so I will know more when I return, but I can say that the owner of the site John Fay answered every last detailed question I had (and I had Many - as I had never rented before like this on the internet). He is very nice and easy to deal with, and if the photos are correct, I am very excited about the place I found. I will be back in the USA the end of May/beginning of June, so feel free to contact me after for the full story. If you contact him, please tell him I referred you as I am sure he will be happy to hear it after all of my e-mail questions! Bon voyage! Susan

Small romantic reasonably priced B&B in Paris

May 2005

My husband and I will visit paris next spring. Does anyone have any suggestions for small, romantic, and reasonably priced hotels or B&B's? We'll also be in Lyon for 5 days if anyone has stayed there as well. I welcome any advice. Thank you. ljf


I've stayed at the Hotel Sevigne in the Marais (4th arrondissement--very quiet area, right by Metro St. Paul). it's rooms are small, clean, just the basics. The location gives you easy access to lots of areas, especially if you like to walk. You can e-mail them at contact@le-sevigne.com or fax (sometimes the e-mail doesn't work) at 011-33-1-42-78-68-26 and they'll send you the current rates. Please write me if you would like more suggestions. Joanna
I was in Paris for 10 days in April, and stayed at the Hotel Brighton (right bank 1e, Rue de Rivoli, next to everything and across from the Tuileries). They have very reasonable rates; I would recommend booking with them directly, though you can book online through most of the usual services. I'd also recommend the Langlois (9th and.), which is quite charming and extremely reasonable! The best reviews I've found (from both American and UK travelers) are on the TripAdvisor website; I would definitely look through before booking anything, especially for the month fo July. Melissa
Ahhhh Paris. My favorite city. Please! Go to www.eurocheapo.com Seriously, they have a great selection of Pensions (little hotels, most often than not with a European breakfast) wonderful reviews and on-line reservations. I have booked two rooms through this site and have been pleased both times.

Somthing else to think about: Craigslist Paris. There are a lot of listings for short (as short as a week usually) term sublets. I think staying in an apt. is much cheaper when you figure in eating. Plus you get to play house... which to me is a load of fun. Shopping for your dinner is the ultimate Paris experience... if you eat at nice restaurants for lunch, and cook your dinner, you will save loads of money.

I have a lot of budget tips for Paris... I have been seriously poor and had the best times of my life. Feel free to email me. Sarah


Apartment in Paris for 5 days

Feb 2005

We're travelling to Europe this summer and will be in Paris for 5 days and are looking for an apartment to rent. Can anyone recommend a rental agency they had a good experience with? slpb


www.rentavilla.com (formerly Villanet). Through them we (family) rented an ADORABLE apt. in a farmhouse in Provence and a very cool and comfortable apt. in the St. Germain area of Paris. They were super attentive and responsive. cjp
We spent a summer in Paris a couple summers ago and we rented our apartment through lodgis.com They do shorter term rentals too. It was great. You can look at each room in the apartment on the internet, and it came with everything we needed--dishes, pots, towels, even an ironing board and iron. They met us there on the first day and again on the last day. The place was great. I'm not sure about daily rentals but our monthly rent was not much more than the rent around here, although it was a very small place. The agency was really great and the agent spoke English on the phone and helped us choose an good neighborhood. Good luck! cconry

Places for a family to stay in Paris

June 2004

Hi there, My husband, my mother, my two kids, and I will be in France for a few weeks in August. We'll be in Paris from aproximatley the 20 to the 25 and would like recommendations on inexpensive places to stay. The less money the better, although nothing seems cheap in Paris. I'll be staying on for five more days for a conference and if it was cheap for signles or doubles that would be great to. I have heard you can rent apartments I don't know if that would work thought since we will be there less then a week. Any recomendations about activites or places to eat with a 6 and 9 year old would be much appriciated as well. Thanks, Liz


A few years back my husband and I did a lot of research for places to stay in Paris - we found some great books: Cheap Sleeps in Paris and Cheap Eats in Paris. And, not all of the recommendations were funky cheap - some were down right great! We stayed at a place called Port-Royal and loved it. It was run by Monsieur et Madame Giraud. They were great. The address is:
Port-Royal Hotel
8, boulevard Port-Royal
Paris, France  75005



Paris on a shoestring?

April 2004

Does anyone have any suggestions for an inexpensive trip to Paris in early June, with a 2 1/2 year old? We have very little money right now, but are expecting our second baby in early August, and are desperate to have a nice (if fairly brief) vacation before this happens and we are unable to travel again for a couple more years.

We are not ''hostel'' type people (my husband would never be into that sort of ''roughing it,'' as privacy is very important to him.) But I was thinking about trying to rent an apartment for 7 - 10 days. It would probably be easier anyway with a toddler, in terms of cooking more meals, napping, etc.

I'm actually starting to think about willingly going into debt to do this - something I would normally never do! So I figured I really must look into the alternatives to a pricey but comfortable hotel.

Does anyone know of any place to start looking? Know of anyone with an empty apartment they'd like to rent? Does anyone have an idea of the going rates, and maybe neighborhoods that are better than others for both saving some money and staying with children?

Any advice/recommendations appreciated! desperate to get away


A good combination of the privacy of a hotel with the pricerange of a hostel might be the Centre International de Sejour de Paris (C.I.S.P.) http://www.cisp.fr which is more like a dormitory where you have a private room and shower. My husband and I stayed there for 10 days in spring of 2000. We stayed at the Maurice Ravel location, which is a short walk from the Metro. They have a second location, but I have not stayed there. The rooms were simple, but very clean and bright. The pricing includes breakfast (croissant, boiled eggs, orange juice). According to the website, a room with a shower and toilet is 30 Euros per person, if you take a room with a shower in the room, but no toilet, the price is 24 Euros per person. This is what my husband and I did, and found it very easy. The toilets are ''dorm style'' with a long row of stalls. Those also seemed quite clean. We didn't have any problems with noise when we stayed there, and there was a wide mix of guests -- a study abroad group from UC Santa Barbara, an Italian high school girls soccer team, young families, etc. etc. We found it a great, and affordable way to be able to see Paris. Actually, can I come with you? :-) Please feel free to contact me with questions. Thanks! Jennifer
Try rentparis.com. I stayed in one of their apartments in the Marais last summer. Jennifer
Would you consider a home exchange? There are lots of Parisians who want to come to the Bay Area. We've had great experiences with home exchanges. It's free, you get the experience of living the way the ''natives'' do, you get a free housesitter for your own home, and you make new long-distance friends (even if you never get to meet them in person). It's especially good when you're traveling with kids. You can exchange with someone else who has kids, which means you'll have toys, a crib, a stroller, etc. where you're staying. There are lots of WEB sites for home exchanges. I can personally recommend www.homeexchange.com. Patty
My cousin has used rentvillas.com to get an apartment in Paris (and later Florence) near Musee D'Orsay. I stayed with her in Paris. The apartment was nice and she had no problems with the agency. It was in the 7th district.

If you do a websearch for Paris, apartment and rental, you'll get a whole bunch of sites that offer apartments. I can only vouch for service my cousin used.

The 6th and 7th districts are both decent areas to stay in. We felt safe walking around at all hours. And as long as you stay near a subway stop, everything of interest is easily accessible. And the reality is that just about everywhere is close to a subway stop.

Also, you could get hold of a Rick Steve's book. He usually lists inexpensive, yet totally functional (and non-hostelish) places to stay. I know he recommends one neighborhood that is about halfway between Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower (don't remember the name right now). We happened through that area one day and it was very pleasant. All the grocery shops and cafes that you'd need located in one spot. Bob


I'm hesitant to respond to anything but your direct question, but want to warn you that some airlines may be unwilling to fly you at 7 months into your pregnancy. The cutoffs seem to vary by airline -- having flown ''very pregnant'' I can tell you that it won't be comfy, even if your husband is taking care of the 2 year-old.

BUT (and I'm still not answering your question directly) you might be surprised at how easy it is to travel a year from now, with an infant and a 3 year-old.

I've been to Paris with small children, while living in another part of France. The good news is that the French are wonderful to little children -- nicer to people with children than without.

If you decide to go this year, you can easily get a week's entertainment out of walking around town (bring a stroller), visiting the museums and the Zoo, eating bread and cheese by the Seine, etc. We also spent a day or two at EuroDisney -- even if you HATE Disneyland -- a Mickey Mouse who speaks French, and surly cast members at ''the happiest place on Earth'' is a wonderful experience. Heather


I recommend to look into house swapping, a great site is www.digsville.com It takes a bit of planning but it is a great alternative to staying in a hotel or rent an appartment. Nicolette
Have you considered a home exchange with another family who lives in Paris? There are programs on the web that advertise such arrangements. I have heard positive feedback from friends who have made such arrangements - saved tons of money and got homey accomodations suitable for families. You could even negotiate exchanging vehicles and pet care. Bon voyage! Liz D. has a pond where you can rent toy sail boats. It used to be the royal gardens. The Eiffel Tower can have a long line, but she should enjoy the view from the top. Also, try a street market like the one on Rue des Mouffetard. And, she might enjoy a trip to Versaille (a REAL castle) that also has alot of grounds/gardens. Oh, and a boat trip down the Seine. Karen H.
Our then-6-year-old loved the science museums in the Jardin des Plantes: there is a paleontology gallery with skeletons and fossils, basically the same display that's been there since the nineteenth-century, and a flashy new ''gallery of evolution'' in the main building with dramatically lit displays of animals and lots of audio-visual stuff. Nice snackbar too. Both galleries are also interesting for adults. There is a geology gallery as well but we didn't have time to visit it. They are all under the aegis of the ''Museum d'histoire naturelle'' but there is a separate admission fee for each.

On previous visits we've all also enjoyed the ''Cite des Sciences'' which I think is in Vincennes, just outside Paris at the end of one of the metro lines (out of the way, but easy to get to). That is part of a new museum and activities complex which also includes a museum of musical instruments.

Our daughter loved the carrousel and swings in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and there are lots of small parks with play areas scattered around Paris. And I think her favourite thing of all was going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Just don't try to buy anything to eat up there -- the food they sell is overpriced and bad.

A good child-friendly place to eat is the food court in the ''Grand Louvre'' complex. It's like a food court in an American mall, but the food is more interesting. The couscous is especially good, but there are lots of different options. Hannah Ginsborg ginsborg@socrates.berkeley.edu


We have taken our son, now 5 years old to Paris three times now. There are loads of things to do in Paris for children that age. Especially check out the Luxembourg Gardens. They have an truly fabulous park with amazing climbing structures to work off energy. My son enjoyed looking at the cathedrals. The stained glass windows facinated him. Also consider taking some day trips on the train. We had good success at Versailles, for example. He enjoyed having his own earphones to listen to the tour, although when he got tired, he had some trouble. There are loads of other nice parks too and carousels galore.

Restaurants can be a problem for kids in Paris, but there are some kid friendly places. Mine really liked a chain called Hippopotomus.

I think the key to traveling to a place like Paris with a child around this age is that the parents have to realize that they aren't going to be able to do all adult stuff. We tried to work in as many playing opportunities as possible, then hit the art museums while he slept in his stroller.

Vive la France! parent of a world traveler


When my brother and I visited Paris as children with our 
parents, my mother always did a marvelous job of planning each 
day.  I really can not recommend highly enough that you do a lot 
of research and have a coherent plan for each day -- with 
activities for everyone.


Mom's plans generally included a museum or monument, a kids 
activity, and a special treat -- something like a visit to the 
Louvre, sail boats on the pond in the Tuilleries, and indulge in 
hot chocolate at Angelina or a Nutella crepe in the gardens.  
And, every fourth day or so, we would venture out of the city on 
a bigger adventure.


MUSEUMS
Museums really don't have to be drudgery and, even if they are, 
they leave such lasting important impressions. If your child 
reports to despise them now, she will probably cherish the 
memories years later.  Activities to make museums more fun 
include allowing your child to visit the giftshop first to 
purchase a postcard of a work of art.  You can then go on a 
scavenger hunt to find the work.  You can play a similar game as 
you enter each gallery, just scan the room for a picture of 
something that would interest your daughter -- then ask her to 
find the picture with a dog, red flower, etc....


In addition to the Louvre, the Picasso Museum, the Orangerie, 
and the Orsay, you might also consider the following museums:
-- Modern art museum in the Pompideau Center.  Modern art can 
really appeal to children... and the spectacle outside the 
center -- street performers, a children's library, interesting 
water fountains.... is great.
-- La Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie - One of the world's 
largest and most visited science museums is an impressive modern 
site in northeastern Paris. The Parc de la Villette is a unique 
area of culture and leisure in Paris. 
-- If your daughter likes dress-up, you might try The Musie des 
Arts de la Mode et du Textile which houses a collection of 
roughly 30,000 costumes from the 18th century to the present. 


MONUMENTS
All of the regular monuments -- Notre Dame, Sacre Couer, Eiffel 
Tower, Sainte Chapelle, etc... should be relatively enjoyable 
for your daughter. If you have read any picture books with her 
featuring Paris, then she should particularly enjoy seeing the 
real things.  


Additionally, I highly recommend a tour of the Seine on a Bateau 
Mouche.  The tour gives you a great overview of the city and is 
quite enjoyable for any age.


KIDS ACTIVITIES
Believe it or not, Paris really has tons of kid venues.  A few 
ideas include:
- Sailing boats on the pond, a carousel or pony ride in the 
Tuilleries gardens.
- One of the above activities and playing in the park or seeing 
a wonderful puppet show in the Jardins de Luxembourg.
- A couple of years ago, Paris erected a HUGE ferris wheel in 
the middle of the city, I haven't seen it, but it is supposed to 
be fantastic.
-- One of the best parks for kids is the Jardin d'Acclimatation. 
There is an admission charge for the park but it's worth every 
penny. This park is best visited on Wednesday. 
-- What about a Zoo? Though the largest zoo is at Bois de 
Vincennes, the most appealing is the small but wonderful 
Menagerie du Jardin de Plantes in the 5th arrondissement. 


GETTING AWAY FROM THE CITY
Versailles is a wonderful day trip from Paris....  The palace is 
interesting, but the gardens are really the highlight and a 
wonderful place for kids.


I also highly recommend a visit to Giverny (Monet's Gardens).  
This would be especially delightful if your daughter has enjoyed 
the book or video Linnea in Monet's Garden by Bjork.


SPECIAL TREATS
Who can think of France or Paris without thinking gourmet?  A 
highlight of my early trips to France was sampling all kinds of 
gourmet treats.  You might:
- allow your daughter to sample a different fancy pastry each 
day from a pastisserie
- go on a search for the best hot chocolate in the city 
(definitely try Angelina's on the Rue de Rivoli... an ornate tea 
room that serves ''hot chocolate...'' basically a melted chocolate 
bar.)
- Sample a different kind of crepe each day from a sidewalk 
vendor
- Try going to or three times to Berthillion's ice cream on the 
Ile Saint Louis for the best ice cream in the world in original 
and delicious flavors!
- do all of the above!

Bon Voyage!
Connellan

We went to Paris two summers ago with our two boys, then 9 and 5. We had a wonderful time. I bought a book -- 60 Things to Do in Paris with Kids (or something like that) -- and gave it to my 9-year-old with the mandate to plan our activities. Only EuroDisney was off limits. He picked some great things. Some were obvious -- like the Eiffel tower and the Louvre (where we spent most of our time searching for the mummies). But the off- beat things were best. Both kids loved the creepy tour of the catcombs -- a series of underground tunnels with walls made of bones. The tour of Les Egouts, the Paris sewer system (right on the Seine near the Eiffel Tower), was stinky, but a big hit with the younger one. The science museum (northeast corner of the city) was great, especially on the very rainy day we spent there. The kids loved climbing the stairs of Notre Dame and taking pictures of the gargoyles on top. We watched the Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame movie before we left, and tried to find as many details as we could that the film got right (and wrong). The Bateaux Mouches boat ride along the Seine was fun. We sampled every crepe stand we passed, drank Orangina at cafes and rode the Metro a lot. Our kids are not ambitious eaters, so we didn't try nice restaurants, but subsisted on french cafe foods like croque monsieurs (basically grilled ham and cheese) and pommes frites (french fries) and ordered in french. It was a memorable trip, especially seeing that great city through the eyes of the kids. Leslie
Lots of good responses to 'Paris with a six-year old'. A few additional things:

The city website lists all the summer events, including those for kids: www.paris.fr. There are, among other things, free outdoor movies at La Villette (this also happens to be where the Science Museum is). There is also ''Beach in Paris'' where the city brings in sand, parasols and beach chairs and sets up a mini-beach along the Seine.

The Eiffel Tower sparkles for about 5 minutes on the hour after dark, and is quite a thrill.

If it's really hot, there's a fabulous ''dancing'' fountain at parc Andre Citroen in the 15th (metro Lourmel), which kids run around in in their bathing suits--good free activity.

The play structure at the Luxembourg IS amazing, but costs money. Almost every single other park in Paris will have free play structures to climb on--a good one is in the Champs de Mars, near the Eiffel Tower.

Chartres cathedral is only about an hour away by train, and has stained glass windows that entrance even a two-year old, in our experience.

Do six-year olds like shopping? THE street for reasonable kids' clothing/shoes, and some toy stores, is rue St Placide in the 6th (and summer sales last until August 2nd this year). Aimee


Medium-term housing in Paris

October 2003

I am looking for a medium-term rental in Paris for summer 2004 (6-8 weeks). 1-2 bedrooms, prefer in 3rd 5th or 6th, or close to the Gare de Lyon. Does anyone have or know of or has anyone had experience with (positive OR negative) a rental property or an agency? There are so many sites and ads on the web, I would be grateful for any particular recommendations. Thank you! J


If you are able to exchange houses, check out www.intervac- online.com We did a house exchange to Paris in August and it was wonderful. The exchange included cars. Ours was only 2 weeks but I've seen many done that are longer. From now on, we think it's the only way we'll travel! mrsairzim
You might try the advert/classified section of the International Herald Tribune, where there are always ads for short term/long term housing in Paris. Try the Internet for house exchanges - not necessarily meaning that you have to put your home up for short-term adoption, but that there are people who offer their homes for rent during their absences. My family did that for a month in Paris when I was 10 years old, and we lived in Neuilly (a posh suburb on the outskirts, or ''banlieu'', of Paris) - it was a fantastic place and something I've never forgotten! Paris apartments are notoriously tiny, but you might get lucky - my brother and I each had our own rooms in this place (unheard of!). Bonne chance!!! Andrea
Check out www.chezvous.com. They are reputable, run locally and have very nice apartments throughout Paris. - RK

Paris with a 6-year-old

July 2003

We're visiting Paris this summer with our 6 year old daughter. Any ideas on fun kid things to do? After dragging her to MOMA too many times as a toddler, she doesn't want to set foot in another art museum. moni


I went to Paris with my mother and my five-year-old son in November of last year and we had a great time. There are obvious things to try, such as the top of the Eiffel Tower (the elevator ride is a big hit), the large ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde, and the Luxembourg Gardens (great running space, lots of other kids and pigeons, as well as the marionette theater). To make the usual less crowded, you can try doing what we did -- we went at night. The Eiffel Tower was fabulous at night, and much less crowded. Though you said your child would balk at a museum, I think she might manage to get up some enthuiasm for the mummies in the Egyptian section of the Louvre and the outdoor gardens at the charming Rodin Museum (my son, no museum-goer, loved both). Plus the French bring their kids to the Rodin Museum to play outside. We found a good playground at the Jardin des Plantes, where our son got to play with other kids on a ''pirate'' play structure. There's also a modest playground at the Place des Vosges -- we liked it because it's such an extraordinarily beautiful square, and there were other families there with their kids playing on the teeter totters and climbing structures. In general playgrounds are good for talking to people and letting off steam (yours and the kid's).

When we wanted to go for a little toy bribery, Le Nain Bleu (The Blue Dwarf) was the place -- both wonderful old-fashioned toys and all the modern junk your child's heart desires, on three floors (!) of an elegant building. Wonderful service (you feel like you're in a design clothing store or a jewelry store rather than a toy emporium).

Finally, just life in the city -- running across the grand squares (my son likes to chase pigeons and indulged this on the Place de la Concorde and at Notre Dame), sitting down to dinner at a less formal but still delicious place, snacking on great pastries in the park -- nothing fancy, just life in general -- is great fun.

We went to Disney-Paris, but I wouldn't recommend it necessarily. Big crowds. Some fun stuff like an Alice in Wonderland maze, but I think my son enjoyed the train ride to the park most of all. Trains, subways, and boats! They were good. Amusement park rides... well, we have the same at home.

Bon voyage!

Linda R


The Jardin de Luxemberg (Luxemberg Gardens) has carousels, play structures, alot of room to run and is where Parisians take their kids on Sunday. Also, the Les Touillieres (sp) near the Louvre

Places to Stay in Paris & South of France

April 2002

I am going to travel to France for two weeks in June with my two children. My daughter will be almost 9 years old and son almost a year old. The first week I think to spend in Paris and the second week somewhere in the south. Can somebody recommend a good place to stay in Paris, which is comfortable to be in with a baby and in a convinient location? I am not looking for luxurious and elegant place (though it will be an additional bonus :) ) but rather for a comfortable and nice hotel/apartment, near Metro and/or RER station, near park, with easy walk to restaurants and stores. Also would greatly appreciate recommendations on the places to stay in Southern France. I didn't decide on the exact place yet, so open to all suggestions. Thank you. Natasha


Last year my husband, infant son and I stayed at Novotel Les Halles. Very centrally located. Close to all the major sights, a Metro station, tons of cheap, good food. Geared toward families, etc. Danielle
Chez Vous, an outfit that operates out of Sausalito, rents apartments all over Paris. They range from modest (with the typical minimalist French kitchen) to quite opulent. We stayed last year in the apartment called Le Rossignol. It is a two bedroom place in the 7e arrondissement (Metro: Ecole Militaire), a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. The place was modest (we didn't want precious antiques our kids could trash), but reasonably comfortable and it was great to have an apartment as home base.

Re South of France: That covers a lot of ground. I have one suggestion. I have old friends (a family I spent two summers with as a kid) who run a little auberge (Auberge de la Ferme de la Caille) in a small town called La Balme de Sillingy in Haute Savoie. It used to be a farm, and they still raise much of the produce they serve in the restaurant. There are campsites, several nice rooms to rent by the night, and a dozen or so cabins with kitchens that rent by the week. It is quite reasonable I believe -- perhaps $600/week for the cabins. They have a tennis court and swimming pool, and the town is up against a little mountain that is fun to hike up. The family that runs the place -- a brother and sister (Jean Paul Daviet and Marie-Claude Sottas)-- provide traditional French hospitality and are the nicest people you ever will meet. They live on the property with their families (as does another brother, Francois). There are lots of kids there, mostly from France but some from elsewhere in Europe. Some families have vacationed there for 15 years. My kids took off with a bunch of French kids (some resident and some guest) and disappeared for hours. The food is regional fare, very heavy on the cheeses and potatoes. Annecy, a jewel of a city on Europe's cleanest lake, surrounded by mountains, is about 15 minutes south. If you go there, it will be real French experience -- this is a little place that does no real advertising, no Americans have discovered it, and no one speaks much English. But I suspect it will be a blast. It was for us. The website is auberge-de-la-caille@wanadoo.fr. Phone: 04 50 68 85 21. Tell them Leslie sent you. Leslie


My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Paris. I did a lot of research before our trip and found that the Fodor's website was really helpful. The rants and raves section (about hotels and restaurants) helped me to choose our hotel. Also, the discussion about Paris and France is very, very active. If you post a question there, particularly about traveling with children, I'm sure you'll get many useful responses. Check out www.fodors.com

We liked our hotel, Hotel de L'Abbaye, very much. Room was not large, but of high quality and it had the nicest European hotel bathroom I have seen. (Keep in mind our last trip to Europe was the backpacking/hosteling variety). Breakfast room was lovely, service was very good. If you are looking to spend $150-$250 per night, I would recommend, Hotel de L'Abbaye in the 6th. We did see a couple there with a baby who was about 14-15 months old. A major benefit for you would be that it is close to the Luxembourg Gardens where there is tons of open space and play equipment for kids. If you are looking to spend less, you can learn more about other hotels on the Fodor's site. If you want more info, email me and I'll send you my list of restaurants we liked and our best new ''musee'' find. Whitney


Looking for Apartments, Villas in Paris

2001

I am planning a family trip to Paris next spring, and am looking for recommendations as to an apartment/villa to stay in. Can anyone recommend a place they stayed in, or a website they found helpful? Looking for somewhere that sleeps six and is close to public transportation, in a fun location. Thanks!! Kristin


There are several services that rent furnished Paris apartments by the day or week, including Sausalito-based Chez Vous. There are also several "apart-hotels" that provide apartments with daily maid service, including the Citadine hotel chain. The FUSAC publication (French-USA Contacts), a magazine of advertisements published in New York, lists many of the rental services and apart-hotels. Andrew
We are trying, at the last minute, to take advantage of some great fares and take our 3 year old to Paris for a week with friends of ours who also have a 3 year old. Does anyone know somewhere we can stay in Paris where we can get a suite with a common room and two bedrooms, or adjoining rooms, or something where we can put the kids to sleep and still have somewhere for the adults to stay up an enjoy? And, of course we are looking for something reasonably priced and near enough to the main attractions! Also, any suggestions of things to do in Paris with kids in March would be much appreciated. I have checked the archives, but didn't find much. Thanks.
There is a chain of apartment hotels in Paris called "Citadines" -- they range greatly in price depending on the location, but some of the ones in less fashionable neighbourhoods are relatively inexpensive. They used to have a web site, www.citadines.com, but the last time I tried it it was down. I recommend them for travelling with a small child since they come with a small kitchen and you can eat there if you don't feel like going out. They have suites with a small bedroom and a living room with fold-out bed, which means that your child can sleep in one room while you hang out in the other. The ones we've stayed in are child-friendly and have cribs. In my experience having a portacrib is not a necessity in London or Paris since a lot of hotels have cribs, but it's nice not to have to rely on them and it also works as a playpen if necessary. Hannah
As a French girl growing up in Paris, my brother and I loved to go to:

- Le Palais de la Decouverte (in the "Grand Palais", near Champs Elysees), abit like the Exploratorium in SF but a lot better (more hands on science demos)

- Le Jardin d'Acclimatation / Le Jardin des Plantes: huge natural history museum with dnosaur bones and green houses full of exotic plants from the jungle

- Berthillon: best ice cream/sherbets in Paris, located on Ile Saint Louis

- Bateau-mouche: motorboat cruise on the Seine river (best at night)

- you can also visit the sewers and the catacombs (2 separate tours) for a spooky and interesting side of Paris history, always a hit with the kids!!
Caroline



I lived for several years in the Paris region.
There is also:

- Le Musee d'Histoire Naturelle , after several decades of closure and recent
        renovation it reopened about four years ago, many stuffed animals and
        a dinosour skeleton (I think)
- Jardin du Luxembourg, Park with lots of people and many small attractions for
        kids, might be expensive since you have to pay every time
- Buttes Chaumont, Park with artificial rocks, hills, lake, waterfall, sort of
         "caves", very Parisian atmosphere, from high point view to Montmartre
- Chateau de Versailles

Petra
One great thing I did with my wife and then 1.5 yr old was in Versailles, where, instead of visiting the palace, we rented two bikes (one with child seat-no helmet though) and rode bikes, on a beautiful hot summer day, in the park/gardens. It was a lot of fun: we rode around the 1K long "Grand Canal", got to see the Petit Trianon and the Hamlet, where Marie Antoinette played farm. The bike rental place is at a gate called "porte St Antoine" I think, access to which would require a car. There they have kid size bikes and the rentals are reasonable. As a kid, I had to be dragged inside the palace, and it has left no fun memories, but I also got to have picnics and take my bike to the park, which I remember with great fondness. Eric
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