Dreaming of Travel: Paris
The City of Lights – a city like no other! The allure of Paris is apparent, but what is it really like? A major metropolis city with character and so much history in its streets. What you see in movies, really is what you get – from classic buildings painted in lights, a laissez-faire approach to life, and a bustling array of activities to partake in. If Paris is on your bucket list, make sure you move it to the top!
How to Get to and Around Paris
Flights to Paris should be easy to come by, especially from the northeast or a major US hub. But to get the best fair you may have to settle for flying with a layover. To maximize your trip, try to book a red eye so you can get some sleep as you cross the Atlantic and hopefully wake up feeling less of the time change.
Paris has two major airports right outside the city limits – the renowned Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORL). When searching for flights, be sure to price out both options, and maybe another major airport near you. Or make plans to fly into a city that flies direct to Paris and spend a few days there stretching your legs before the miles of walking you will do in France!
Once you’re there, your best bet is to navigate around using public transportation. Their metros are some of the most pristine we have ever seen and easy to ride. But don’t overlook hailing a cab if needed – especially if you run into a late night with little kids. When we visited, we were trying to get back to our hotel after a late-night excursion and the taxi driver hailed us to the front of the line to “get the bebes home!” The city of love indeed!
Where to Stay in Paris
The city of Paris is divided up into arrondissements, or subdivisions, and this is often how you will hear them referred to. We stayed right by the Champs Elysses, near the Arc de Triomphe, and in the 8th Arrondissement. The Hotel Balmoral provided to be a perfect Parisian home away from home, in proximity to many places to eat and around the corner from a marché to pick up food as needed.
You will find that in Europe most accommodations are smaller than we’re used to in the United States, and booking a family will often put you in a suite of some sort. We were on the top floor of this boutique hotel, which gave us a spacious bathroom, a bedroom for the adults, and a living space with a sleeper sofa for the kids. Plus our own little balcony to enjoy the views!
If location is key for you, the 1st Arrondissement is home to the Louvre and very central to a lot of great kid-friendly places. The 6th Arrondissement is considered everything typical of Paris, and we found it to be charming with its neighborhood offerings. It’s also very close in proximity to the Eiffel Tower in the 7th Arrondissement. Many families enjoy finding rentals in the city to get the ultimate experience in Parisian living!
What to Do in Paris
A Seine River Cruise should be one of the first things you do once you arrive! It’s a great way to get acquainted with the layout of the city and find areas you’re looking to explore. We boarded at the Port de l'Arsenal and right outside the boat docks spent our time at Port de l'Arsenal Garden. The location allows kids to play in the flowering paths and playground while waiting to board.
Once boarded, depending on which type of sailing you book, you can enjoy drinks and snacks for purchase. And if you book a sunset sailing like us, you'll pass the Eiffel Tower and see it lit up at night!
Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) is a beautiful park in the 6th Arrondissement perfect for strolling and enjoying a lovely day out. Some favorite activities included sailing boats in front of Palais du Luxembourg and then strolling the massive grounds.
An added bonus to visiting is stumbling onto a wonderful nature-based playground found within its grounds. Ludo Jardin comes with a small fee to use but is worth it for the size and scores of things to do. Finish it off with a visit to the vintage wooden carousel (also pay per use), which is absolutely magical!
Jardin Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens) is located in the 1st Arrondissement, right on the grounds of the Louvre. And it is a perfect little park to stop in while exploring central Paris. Located right outside the pristine Vendôme, you will find this park with a playground for the kids to explore! Added bonus, another carousel right on the grounds!
Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) is the main attraction, and no reminder should be needed to visit and climb the iron beauty. But it should be noted that the Champ de Mars, the grounds around the tower, is a wonderful spot to enjoy a picnic right under the iconic landmark. If you decide to make it an evening fest, you can time out your plans to watch the tower sparkle – it does so every hour after nightfall until 1 a.m.!
And if you want to make the best of your time here, check out the playground. Thoughtfully placed with stunning towering views, it’s a great place to have a little run while waiting for the tower to light up!
Montmartre is the highest point in the city and offered everything from bird’s eye views from beautiful Sacré-Cœur to strolling past the iconic Moulin Rouge. The funicular railway that takes you from bottom to top can be accessed with your subway fare ticket. Also be on the lookout for Le Petit Train de Montmartre, a guided tour that takes you either uphill or back down to explore the area!
And it goes without being said, you have to pay a visit – even if only accessible outside – to legends like Notre Dame and the Louvre. Highly recommended is Musée d’Orsay as it is much more family-friendly (for younger kids) than the scale of the Louvre.
Lastly, if you have a chance while here, take a trip out to Disneyland Paris! The sister parks may be something you have visited while stateside, but the experience is a little different than what you’re used to! The parks move at a much slower pace, including later opening times and limited seasonal crowds. You can easily make it over for a day trip from the city and back, with the RER train to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy, which puts you right outside the park in 45 minutes from Paris! If you opt to make a few days out of it, there are various hotels on the property, that make accessing the parks easy – and great any onsite benefits like early park admission to beat the crowds!
We visited Paris expecting all the romance that the city prides itself on, but ended up falling in love with this city as a great family destination. Ready to take your kids to see the world? This is a great place immersed in culture and history, but also a beautiful play place for all family members!
Has your family been to Paris? What did you think!? If you have any great photos of your family enjoying a day out here (or anywhere for that matter!), be sure to tag us on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!
Looking for other fun family vacation ideas? Check out our Dreaming of Travel posts on Costa Rica, Virgin Islands National Park, Maui or Puglia, Italy for some inspiration!
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