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Thinking of a family city break in Paris? Planning a vacation to the last detail is an efficient way for one or for the family to spend a holiday. Sometimes, however, the best experiences are the ones encountered in spur-of-the-moment decisions – which is not the case in these trying times. It has been years ago when the kids set foot on Parisian soil…We need new photos of them there, right? While we (hubby and I) have been back in between those years, the kids have had got no chance to go even in the summers, all the more so now that travel restrictions have been put.
So are you thinking of a family city break in Paris? Fortunately, after all these hullaballoos, those who feel a sudden urge for a lovely and spontaneous holiday can enjoy a city break in Paris at any time of the year. One can actually bring home a long list of wonderful memories from a short city break tour in any city – especially in this lovely and romantic city that has plenty to offer for anyone who wants to relax and have a good time. You can get inspiration from the best books about France if you aren’t convinced yet the Paris is always a good idea.
Where to Book
With the convenience of online systems, a city break or a weekend in Paris for the family can be easily booked through travel agencies, travel club websites like Voyage Privé, and even independent travel agents.
You can tailor your booking to your and your family’s specific needs, so make sure to go through the details thoroughly to avoid any untoward inconveniences.
When to Go
When is the best time to visit Paris? The better question is, “when not to go to Paris?” And the answer is, there’s not a bad time to visit Paris. You can come by in summer and it would be buzzing and pretty, you can see the flowers in spring (explore Versailles too), and be awed by the vivid colors, you can explore it in autumn and be mesmerized by nature’s wonderful display of earth tones, and even when covered in snow, Paris will always be beautiful.
Consider your sensitivities when deciding, if the cold weather is too much for you, then avoid December (end of) – January (middle of) as these days tend to be the coldest.
I’m sure you’ll agree that we all have a good reason to visit the City of Lights, well, here are some more.
Exploring the Arts
The Parisians are known for their love of art and fashion, making Paris an ideal place to house some of the world-renowned art pieces like the Mona Lisa. Visitors who would like to enrich themselves in the world of art and humanities can spend their days exploring museums. Here are some of the most popular museums in Paris you should spend time in.
To explore the largest art museum in the world is truly an exciting experience. The kids were probably too young to remember that we had a wonderful tour around it, see here.
There are 35,000 pieces of works of arts displayed at the Louvre – paintings, sculptures, drawings, archaeological artefacts, out of the 380,000 objects in its whole collection. With the vast amount of what to see, it’s impossible to take everything in if you spend less than 3 hours there.
If you only plan to see the most popular pieces, then it’s doable – take a guided tour. But if you are like hubby and daughter (both artists in their own right), or like me (art enthusiast), explore as much as you want.
If you want to visit particular curatorial departments, choose from:
Near Eastern antiquities
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman
Prints and drawings
Musee d’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world and is also one of the largest art museums in the world. These include the works of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, so definitely give it a go if you are a fan of these artists.
Musee d’Orsay is housed at what was once a railway station. It took many years from the suggestion of turning it to a museum, to approval, to designing, to construction, to decorating and fittings, and it was finally opened in 1986.
National Museum of Natural History
The museum comprises fourteen sites throughout France with four in Paris, including the original location at the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement by the river Seine.
The Pompidou Centre is a high-tech architecture, multicultural complex building that houses the Public Information Library, the Musée National d’Art Moderne and the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique).
Musée National d’Art Moderne
Musée National d’Art Moderne is France’s national museum for modern art.
Location: 4th arrondissement
It is housed in the Centre Pompidou, and is 12th in the List of most visited art museums in the world in 2020.
Paris is the birthplace of Gothic architecture with many buildings of this style listed with UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Scenic or sight-seeing trips offer a more relaxed and possibly romantic experience to tourists with the Eiffel Tower at the top of the itinerary alongside a cruise in the River Seine. Walking around alleys and boulevards to spot beautiful buildings with a side trip to the Moulin Rouge Theater for some entertainment is worth your day out.
Arc de Triomphe
One can’t miss the Arc de Triomphe, standing at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle.The Arc de Triomphe is a memorial, it honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath, you can find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Sadly, the Cathedral suffered a devastating fire on April 15, 2019 and is under renovation. It is still on this list, because although scarred and all – the part standing is still awesome and worth taking pictures of. France hopes the reconstruction can be completed by Spring of 2024.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is the second most visited monument in Paris, located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, which is the highest point in the city. While it’s been plagued by scams, tourists still go about visiting it to see the grandeur of its Romano-Byzantine features.
No Paris tour is complete without seeing and without a photo of you by the iconic tour Eiffel, the tallest structure in Paris and France’s most known cultural symbol.It’s probably a cliche, but do it anyway.
Go up the tower to see Paris from a bird’s eye view (see garden photo below). Go up the tower and eat as you watch people below. There would be different programs and events around so you can also enjoy those. You can also go to different spots around the city where the tower is the most beautiful background. Trocadero is the best spot for this.
And also don’t forget to come in the evening when it’s illuminated.
The french capital may be well known for being congested, probably warm, and when it feels like that, it’s best to stroll around the many gardens that the city laid out as a city refuge of sorts.
Location: 6th arrondissement
There are only a few places in the world that one can enjoy whenever they want and Paris is one of the best that one could hope for in a spur-of-the-moment vacation. The sights, sounds, scents and taste of this vibrant city definitely never fail to enchant its visitors.
Jardin des Champs-Élysées
Location: 8th arrondissement
Jardin des Champs-Élysées is a few minutes walk away from the Louvre.
Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes
It is the one of the oldest zoological garden in the world, second to our very own Tiergarten Schönbrunn.
Champ de Mars
Location: 7th arrondissement
This is the park and garden leading to the Eiffel Tower.
A stroll at the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain Boulevard provide their visitors with a taste of the Parisian street life and fashion.
Paris For Kids
This city isn’t just for romantic couples or adventurous art lovers though. One may also bring the whole family to the many amusement parks like Disneyland Paris and have a magical experience that only Disney can offer.
Disneyland Paris‘ could be your kid’s highlight during a Paris visit. Spending days on end on different rides, dining american, eating sweets around while walking in the streets, and the anticipation to meet Mickey, Donald and the rest will keep kids going about. Dress the kids up as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, or simply don a hat of your favorite Disney character for extra fun.
Parc Astérix is a theme amusement park based on the comic book series Asterix. It is the country’s second biggest theme park after Disneyland Paris. The park is known for the many different roller coasters it has in its lot.
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
The City of Science and Industry is the biggest science museum in Europe. That alone is reason enough to visit. Kids are naturally curious and this museum will satisfy their curiosity and peek their interest even more.
City Break in Paris autres
Aside from the many architectural greats and the vast array of art displays, walking around Paris is a joy in itself. Picturesque corners, Instagram-worthy spots, and cobble-stoned streets await those who are patient enough to go by foot and explore.
You probably know by now how much we love cats. It is our mission to visit all the cat cafés we could find. Paris has a number of them, 5 to be exact. If you prefer cats as companion for your afternoon coffee, visit one and have a relaxing and purrfect time!
Marché aux puces
Flea markets abound in Paris in the most amusing ways. While high-end shopping stores abound, and it’s of course the first spots to go too, the flea markets will make you see Paris in a different light.You can buy framed paintings, books, and other souvenirs that you might already have a growing collection of. Even just to experience the flea markets is a good reason to see them.
What and Where to Eat
Paris is not only known for haute couture, its haute cuisine is another good thing one must experience there.
A French meal is often consisted of three courses, hors d’œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) or dessert, at times, there’s a salad offered before the cheese or dessert.
For entrée Basil salmon terrine or Bisque should be your go to’s. If you’re not bothered, foie gras is the delicacy you shouldn’t miss when in Paris, or France in general.
Steak frites (steak and fries) is a main dish often served in restaurants throughout Europe, you can’t go wrong with steak and fries when in Paris. Blanquette de veau is the French’s take on veal ragout.
Don’t forget to try every colorful macaron you see, eclairs, and pain au chocolat.
What To Pack
Your list of things to pack for Paris changes depending on the season you are visiting. Classic chic to dressy stylish is the city’s look, but you can see comfy converse around too (they are cute with dresses by the way).
Paris is unfortunately home to some scammers. While the city is safe, tourists can fall prey to pickpockets and scammers because they stand out as tourists. One key thing to avoid them is appear like a local, if you can study French even a little this would go a long way.
Here are some of the known scams in Paris, that could also be the same tactics in other cities:
1. Bracelets at Sacré-Cœur – there would be people who would tie a bracelet on your arm, even when you are unwilling and demand for payment.
What to do: If you see them approaching, cross your arms and never hold your wrist out when they ask to.
2. Rose as a gift – what appears as a vendor holding a rose would too amiably give you a rose, if you take it you would be asked to pay, or if you are walking with your boyfriend or husband, the so-called vendor would demand your partner to pay for the rose.
What to do: Ignore.
3. Flyers and Newspaper Covers – those with fast hands would come over when you have valuables on the table while you’re having coffee al fresco, they would talk to you and cover your valuables and take them while you were distracted.
What to do: Keep your valuables safe, don’t put them where it could be a target for pickpockets and robbers.
4. Cup and Ball Game – you’ve probably seen this played by smart cats and dogs and it’s really cute. It’s not as nice though when scammers try to lure you to guess where the ball is from the three cups being shuffled and with the money you bet taken away.
What to do: Don’t even be curious, the other people betting and trying to guess are all into the performance.
Also, be generally careful for pickpockets when walking around the city and when riding the train. Use a sling bag or a belt bag worn across the chest to keep your valuables safe, or wear something with secret pockets to hide them. As Covid 19 is still a threat, disinfect hands as often as you can and wear face masks.
Paris could be expensive, but there are ways to save some euros if you are willing to look. You can still experience the city’s culture, haute cuisine, and even shopping if you know where to go and look.
The Louvre Museum is free on the first Sunday of the month (October to March) and on Friday evenings, people under 26 are free to enter too. A lot of other museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, if you’re big on history and museums, make sure that you come by on the first few days of the month.
Skip the taxis and go around the city using public transportation. Even coming from the airport to the city and to your hotel, you will save a lot when you take the train instead of flagging a taxi.
Find restaurants that are far from tourist spots. Research first and take note of tourist reviews, pick and list what you fancy, doing so won’t make you go hungry while looking for a place to eat.
Buy stuff at the grocery stores than at souvenir shops, even a bottle of water would cost a lot less there.
If you can find accommodation where a kitchen is included, cook for yourself. You can eat lunch out, but cook dinner to save you bucks.
Contact the tourism board to ask for free stuff, and also get discounts to tours, and certain city attractions.
It’s not really frowned upon when you indulge in Paris, just be moderate so you don’t go broke. Enjoy the city and everything it has to offer, cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, chic and quaint coffee houses, haute cuisine, and haute couture. Paris will always be Paris, a city that makes lovers promise forever, and where writers finish their masterpieces.