A Perfect Day In Paris With Kids

[ I’m getting lots of requests for ideas on what to do in Paris with Kids. So I thought I’d update this post from a few years ago. Enjoy! ]

Here’s a report on my little trip to Paris with Betty and Flora June. If you’re planning a trip to Paris with kids, free free to use this as a guide. We woke up on a Thursday morning, made a few last preparations, then headed to the train station at 9:00am. We were in Paris by noon and took a taxi to the hotel which was in the Latin Quarter. I had never stayed there before and it was fun to get to know a new neighborhood. We were right next to the Sorbonne, which I had never seen before! But the reason I picked the hotel was because the description said it was a 5 minute walk to the Luxembourg Gardens, and I figured that even if we weren’t up for a big adventure, we could enjoy the Gardens all day long if needed.

Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we dropped off our bags, picked up a picnic lunch and headed straight to the park. It was a gorgeous day and not the weekend yet, so not too busy (even though it’s summer). We ate lunch, sailed a boat on the pond, and spent a good while on the playground. Then we picked up an ice cream cone, and went back to the hotel because I had two phone appointments I needed to keep. The hotel break was good. Flora June ended up napping and was refreshed for our night out.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris with kids

After the calls, we took a taxi straight to the Eiffel Tower. After oohing and aahing, we decided to start with the carousel across the street. Then we ate dinner at a nearby café. Then we strolled along the Champ de Mars — the park that sits next to the Tower. Some kind of construction or replanting is happening on the Champ de Mars and huge sections were blocked off, so it was tricky (but not impossible) to find a good spot.

Then we walked over to the Trocadero to watch the Tower light up and sparkle. We ate a nutella-banana crepe while we waited. At 10:00 PM, the sparkling started and it was worth the wait. It really is magical! We lingered until the sparkling stopped, then picked up a taxi and headed to the hotel.

It was a good first day and everyone went to bed happy. But the next day was even better. It turned out to be a pretty much perfect Paris day with kids. I didn’t understand this until we were actually there, but Betty had a solid wishlist of everything she wanted to do in Paris. Betty told me everything she wanted to do, and that’s how we planned the second day. She gets full credit. I did a good job of documenting the day so you get a photo tour along with my words.

Plan for a perfect day in Paris with kids

First we ate breakfast at Angelina — famed hot cocoa, croissants to dip in the cocoa, gorgeous fruit salad, fresh squeezed orange juice. Turns out there was an Angelina at the Luxembourg Gardens, walkable from our hotel. So that was awesome.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris with kids

Then we took taxi to the Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t have pre-tickets for anything so we had to stay in line, but it went really fast. We climbed to the top and took in the views. We spotted landmarks and took lots of photos. I love the Arc de Triomphe and could stare at it for hours, but I hadn’t climbed it since I was pregnant with Ralph (18 years ago!). As you can imagine, I was experiencing all sorts of nostalgia on this visit.

kids in Paris on the champs elysees

We climbed down — stopping to look at the military uniform exhibit — and walked through the underground tunnel that delivers you right on to the Champs Élysées. We took our time strolling down the famous street, looking at window displays, and stopping at Ladurée (which Flora June had zero interest in). It was a hot day, and we picked up popsicles as we walked.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris with kids

Eventually we made our way to the Egyptian Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde. Which is also where the giant Ferris Wheel is. We took a ride — there were no lines. Totally unexpected and such a nice surprise!

Plan for a perfect day in Paris with kids

After the ferris wheel ride we continued our walk in the same direction, straight into the Tuileries Gardens. We picked up ice cream cones to cool ourselves down and spent some time on the green grass enjoying the gardens.

The Tuileries take you directly to the Louvre which was our next destination. Again, I was worried about the line, because I hadn’t bought tickets ahead of time, but I didn’t need to worry. It went really fast. We were inside the pyramid in about 10 minutes and I bought my ticket (kids are free) at a machine which only took another minute or two.

Kids at the Louvre - what to see

Betty wanted to see the Venus de Milo first, and then the Mona Lisa. So we visited both of those and then explored more of the Denon Gallery which is where the Mona Lisa lives. By then we were well overdue for lunch, so we stopped at the Louvre cafeteria. It’s nothing fancy, but was just what we needed. Jambon beurre sandwiches and pasta. The meal reenergized us and we decided to do some more exploring. We sought out the French painters in at the top of the Sully wing.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris with kids - Seine boat ride

After the Louvre, we were feeling pretty beat. We had done a lot of walking already, so we took an hour-long boat tour on the Seine. The river breeze was cool and we could rest our feet.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris with kids - carousel at the Eiffel Tower

The boat tour ended at the Eiffel Tower. Betty wanted to be sure to see it sparkle again, and we basically repeated our previous evening. We started with another ride on the carousel, then picked up crepes for dinner and ate them on the Champ de Mars.

Eiffel Tower

With cheers when the Tower sparkled at 10:00!

Then it was a taxi ride back to the hotel and a quick rinse off before tucking the girls into bed. It really was such a lovely day. If you have one day in Paris with your kids, I can wholeheartedly recommend copying the exact same itinerary. If you’re unfamiliar with Paris, you may not know this, but it’s essentially a straight line from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre, and that’s basically what we did. : )

As I said, the day couldn’t have gone more smoothly. And by the end of it, the only thing we hadn’t done on Betty’s list is go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. So when we woke the next day (our last day) that was the number one thing on our list. We checked out of the hotel and left our bags, then picked up breakfast from a nearby bakery and ate it in a courtyard at the Sorbonne.

Sorbonne

Then we took a taxi to the Eiffel Tower. There was lots of standing in lines, but it was doable. First there was a security line to enter the Eiffel Tower main area (this is new — I’ve never see this security gate before), it went quickly. Then there was a line to buy tickets. We were buying the climb the stairs tickets (versus the elevator tickets). Assuming you’re in the good health, I recommend the stairs option. It’s much more interactive.

We climbed the stairs, stopped for lots of photos, explored level one, then continued on the stairs to level two. We explored level two, then stood in line for tickets that take you to the top. After the ticket line, we stood in line for the actual elevators to the top (taking the stairs beyond level two is not allowed). Those were the longest lines of the entire trip. Everything else went really quickly. We made it to the top, enjoyed the views, took a peek at Mr. Eiffel’s apartment, felt accomplished that we’d done everything Betty had hoped, then headed down. We took an elevator to level two, and then stairs the rest of the way. The whole thing — even with all the lines — took about 3 hours total.

Itinerary for a perfect day in Paris with kids

We were planning to take an evening train back to Argentan, and after we finished at the Eiffel Tower, we had a few hours left. Betty wanted to go back to Angelina, this time for lunch, and they both wanted to see more of Luxembourg Gardens. I thought that sounded perfect, because our bags were nearby at the hotel. So we went to Angelina for a late lunch and explored more of the park. Then I made one request. Could we walk around the Latin Quarter with our last hour? The girls were up for it, so we picked up ice cream cones and took a walk. We ended up walking through the tiny streets, peeking in at all the bookstores, then crossing the Seine and saying hello to the Notre Dame Cathedral. A lovely end to our visit.

Plan for a perfect day in Paris with kids

After that, it was a walk back to the hotel for our bags and a taxi to Montparnasse Station. We got back to our house just 30 minutes before the rest of the family arrived from their pilgrimage, so it ended up being a very festive night, with everyone sharing stories and feeling happy to be reunited.

Betty is number five, and that means she rarely gets to function as the oldest kid. But on this trip, she was practically in charge and she loved it. She was good at it, too. She used her French. She was brave. She had great ideas. She made her opinions known. All things that are sometimes hard to do when you have so many older siblings. Also, she is absolutely in LOVE with the Eiffel Tower. She couldn’t get enough of it. Part of her would have been fine to just hang out nearby it the whole time. Hah! It was only a short trip, but it couldn’t have been better. I’m so glad we made it happen.

—–

P.S. — I was feeling so down last week that I didn’t think I could manage a trip — even a little trip — for me and the youngest two. Deciding on a train, deciding on a hotel room, deciding what to pack. All those sorts of things feel impossible when I’m dealing with depression. But by Wednesday evening I felt a spark of motivation and used that spark to get us packed up and ready to go. And I’m so glad I did! Because I think this trip was really good for Betty and Flora June. I mean, it was good for me too, but I think it turned out to be a life-long-memory trip for the girls. For sure it was for Betty. In fact, I think if I had understood what she was going to get out of it before we left, I would have been even more motivated to make it happen.

37 thoughts on “A Perfect Day In Paris With Kids”

  1. What a fantastic visit! I’m so glad you were able to rally and have such an amazing time with the girls. We only have 4 kids-but we’ve planned a weekend in LA with just our younger 2 next weekend-and I’m really looking forward to it. I completely understand what you were talking about the younger kids not having a voice when there are older siblings around.

  2. Sounds like a perfect trip! And so special that you could share it with your youngest two. I’m sure they reveled in all the undivided attention from their mom. I’m curious since you said your French is weak, and Betty is more fluent, did she do a lot of the conversing with waiters and other folks? And if so, did she enjoy being able to use that skill?

  3. What a wonderful trip! Loved that one of the youngest/middle children got to take the lead. The picture in front of the painting is so sweet. So the matching clothes – whose idea? I enjoyed seeing them together in these pics. I felt like I was reading a French storybook with pictures about their Paris adventure!

  4. I really like these kinds of posts, especially the insight into how you managed your stress/anxiety and still made it a great trip for your kids. The girls’ matching outfits are adorable and your photos are great :)

  5. How wonderful! I feel that I’ve just now had my dream trip to Paris!!! Loved every word and every place. Glad you’re all safely home and together. Excited to get details about the Pilgrimage. Beautiful, life time memories for all of you.

    Enjoy some rest now.

  6. Absolutely lovely! And thanks for the uber tip. The last time we were in Paris, we either walked everywhere or took the Metro and never considered taxis due to our limited French. Good to know we have a ‘new’ option for our next trip.

  7. What a poignant post, thank you for sharing! So much of what you write about here hits a tender spot with me.

    Your ability to accept and accommodate that fact that you are not feeling well while still digging deep, pushing a little, and finding motivation to get out into the world and have a wonderful time with your girls.

    Betty being at just the right age to benefit from this kind of “leadership” opportunity. I can just see how pleased and proud she is in these pictures. And in your writing I hear how pleased and proud you are to be able to give this to her.

    The coordinating sister outfits are just so sweet! The lovely girl time over delicious breakfasts and lunches. Makes me, as a mom to all boys, feel wistful for the daughter I’m not going to have.

    The “modest” plans resulting in the most pleasing results.

    The sweet photos capturing the relationship of just 2 of your 6. I’m sure they each have their individual and special connections to each other.

  8. Bravo! What a lovely stay! So glad you were up for Paris and June got to live out her ideal itinerary! You did quite a lot in the time you had. Uber is really gaining users in France now that the lawsuit is over (sorry, disgruntled taxi drivers!). My family spent two weeks in Paris last year and had a great time with our infant, 3-year-old, and 6-year-old. Here’s our itinerary: http://intentionalmama.com/home/two-weeks-paris-our-14-days-family-vacation-activities. (Merci to you and Jordan for the tip about le Centquatre!).

  9. Planning to stay near the gardens in case you weren’t feeling well enough really struck a chord with me. I’m used to making these in-case-of-anxiety plans for myself, but am nervous with a little one on the way how I will incorporate this into the mix. How much do you explain to your kids about what you’re feeling or may potentially be feeling? Sometimes if I tell my husband “we *might* need to leave the party early”, having that teeny tiny ‘out’ makes me feel well enough to stay the whole time. He understands how this whole thing works, but I don’t want my child to have to worry about this. Any advice on how you handle this? I’m glad you felt well in Paris!

    1. I’m sorry if it seems I’m hijacking your question! I just couldn’t pass you by. I too have spent much of my life learning ways to cope with anxiety/depression, and I have an 8yo son. The most important thing I remind myself is that even though I am far from perfect, I am the perfect mother FOR HIM. His moods have seemed to sync with mine since he was born, but I think he’s only become consciously aware of my struggles in the past 2 years or so. I read somewhere about analogizing anxiety to a fire alarm to explain it to kids- how sometimes an alarm goes off even though there is no fire, but that it can still be scary when the thing is sounding off in your chest. He understands that perfectly, and every now and then when he’s nervous about telling me goodbye he will grab my arm and whisper in my ear, “My alarm’s going off.” I’m glad I’ve been honest with him in a way he can understand and that he’s been able to use it to name his own feelings too. Congratulations to you! I may not know you, but your words already convey an awareness and sense of altruism that make a great mom.

      1. Hi Shelley, thanks so much for your encouraging words! I love the fire alarm analogy, and think it’s wonderful that you’ve turned a potentially negative situation into a way to make your son more in tune with naming his own feelings. Thanks again! :)

  10. Gabby, much love to you. Much much love. What a great day for Betty and June. I am so amazed you were able to make it through. Their matching red and white checks are the cutest as is June’s flower dress. Could you share where you got them? I’m hoping that you are able to feel better soon. Sending light and love and peace.❤️

  11. This was such a lovely pick-me-up post to read. What a wonderful trip! I admire your attitude so much, and how your love for each of your children comes through in so many different posts. Thank you for being a great example, Gabby!

  12. Heather Wright

    What a lovely trip for the three of you! And I can’t get over the two girls in their match ensembles. SO sweet!

  13. I absolutely love the magic of this… well done to you!!! Inertia is so much easier and you got up and made a difference… and it all looks wonderful!!!

  14. What a beautiful post. I really admire you for putting that special visit together for the three of you when you were feeling low. It’s difficult to coordinate trips on a good day.

  15. Your post made me so nostalgic for Paris! My family were supposed to be going there in September but I have delayed our trip (for a number of reasons). Your Uber tip is great, we found Uber such a great way to get around New York last year. Sadly it is not operating where I live. I am curious Gabby, do you use the Metro?

  16. This trip really sounds so amazing! I would love to be able to take my kids overseas once we have the money to afford the plane tickets! You’ve really inspired me to want to travel more with my family. Also, those matching outfits? Adorable.

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  17. I really appreciate how honest you are about your depression. Not many people are willing to share that openly thanks for your courage! This trip sounds so fun! I love how Betty got to be in charge. :)

  18. A perfect day in Paris! Hope the energy and joy stay with you :)
    Quick question, if you don’t mind, how did you get into the Sorbonne courtyard?
    I studied there ages ago and went in with a ‘student pass’ of sorts each time. It breaks my heart not being allowed back in when I visit Paris, now that I am not their student anymore.

    Thank you!

  19. What an amazing trip! I’m glad you decided to go, even if you weren’t feeling it at the moment. The picture of your girls posing in front of the painting- priceless! :D

  20. As someone who loves watching my kids experience new things (don’t we all?), this was just fabulous to read. I especially loved to hear about Betty’s turn as the oldest and how well she fared (also not surprising!). And I really love when things just go smoothly and the long lines don’t take the fun out of it. Congrats! You have a unique way of taking us on the adventure with you.

  21. I am taking my daughter to Paris for her 8th birthday in a couple of weeks. I am so excited! I had not thought about using Uber; it seems you relied on uber quite alot. Will payment link right back to my United States paypal account with Uber, do you know?
    Thank you!

    1. Because of competition with Uber, the taxi services have really improved and (since they are actually tested on their street knowledge whereas Uber drivers are not) generally the trip is much quicker. there is a similar app for G7 taxis you can also download

  22. What a fabulous post! I read it with my youngest last night as he is in French school and is super excited about going to Paris at some point! Thank you for inspiring him!

  23. Thank you for sharing this. I’m taking my twin girls with me in 2017. While I’ve been, this will be their first time. And, it is in honor of my 50th birthday. The girls will be eight so streamlining visits and walking will be important. Angelina’s is already on our list and so is the carousel by the Eiffel Tower. I’m not 100 percent sure about the Louvre — we may do Muses d’Orsay instead. I know the boat trip is a great idea, too.

  24. This looks so amazing… now i’m dreaming of doing this same trip some day with my toddler & on-the-way little sibling! Can you remind me of how old the girls are so I can get a better timeline on my dream?! :)

  25. What a fabulous idea! As my two boys get ready to take a 50-mile hike next week, this is especially touching to me. As I read your adventures in life, I’m curious how you and Ben Blair have remained so flexible in your job choices. We are looking for a way to move abroad, and the opportunities seem difficult to find. To be able to share experiences like these must be amazing. Does anyone know of an expat group either through Facebook, etc. in order to connect with opportunities? An experience of a lifetime! Hoping they all had a great time.

  26. Awesome Place. If you’re in love, strolling over the bridges at dusk as the wrought-iron lamps cast a sepia glow on the darkened water, sipping champagne in olde-worlde hotel bars, and dining à deux (as a couple) in candlelit bistros make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a giant film set – with nonchalant waiters the supporting actors and buskers providing the soundtrack. If you’re alone, fall in love with Paris as the curtains fall towards the day’s end.

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