My friends consider me to be a bit of a Francophile and it’s precisely for that reason that I’ve been reluctant to write a blog about France; I know I can’t do it justice. I have been traveling to France since 1996 (if you’re doing the math, my first trip was with my family when I was 12). France is home to some of my favorite memories – Marseille, Paris, Corsica, Nice – I’m in love with the country and culture. I started this blog, because I wanted to be able to share fun things to do and see in various places and because I wanted to keep a written account for my kids. This year, my oldest began keeping a travel journal but my little one is still in preschool and I want him to remember details about our trips, so this blog will help to complement our photo albums. They already ask about places they’ve been as infants and I wish I had a little more than our photos for them to review. Anyway, over the last few weeks, I’ve been asked by several friends what I’d recommend in Paris (there are some incredible flight deals from the United States to France right now) and I decided to post one of the emails I sent. Hope it inspires (allez!!):
For hotels, my first choice is the Pullman Paris/Eiffel Tower. As the name implies, the rooms have views of the Eiffel Tower and you are within walking distance to the Eiffel Tower (literally a 2 minute walk). It’s nice because you can tell if your cab driver is heading in the right direction from pretty far away, because the Eiffel Tower is so visible (obviously). You can also walk along the Seine and walk to the aquarium (although it’s a terrible aquarium, especially compared to the Georgia Aquarium or Monterey Bay Aquarium – I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have to kill time). I also like the The Hotel Raphael near the Arc de Triomphe, The Trocadéro and Champs-Elysées (a few years ago we stayed there, construction interrupted our sleep and they upgraded our room, great service).
I’m sure you have most of these activities already in mind but:
LOUVRE, NOTRE DAME, EIFFEL TOWER, JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG, ARC DE TRIOMPHE, AVENUE DES CHAMPS EYLSEES
MUSEUM NATIONAL D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE, LES CATACOMBES, CLIMB THE SACRE COEUR, MONMARTE
Personally I would prioritize the first group of activities above. And I only listed the Louvre but if your boys have any interest in/tolerance for art, there are a lot of other really great art museums (when I am with my Parisian friends we usually stop by the Musée National d’Art Moderne). I would also definitely recommend the SEINE RIVER CRUISE (public or private- I’ve done both and think both are great options; private was nice with the kids because they got to “drive” the boat and ask lots of questions).
There are so many wonderful places to eat in Paris, you can’t really go wrong (you can also take cooking classes – first and only time I’ve ever made macarons haha). You know I chase Michelin stars and on my last trip we tried (and loved) L’Epicure. We had the kiddos with us and didn’t have a sitter that night (most of our friends had already left for the wedding in Corsica) but we put their little suit jackets on and brought them. Six and three is really too young for the experience but the chef tweaked the menu for them when the course involved something too adventurous. Overall I’m glad we brought them rather than missing out and I think my older one really appreciated it!
Finally- some “casual” restaurants:
Enza e famiglia – for good truffle pasta
Brasserie Lipp – old French bistro
Creperie des canettes – for good crepes
Racines – good French
La fontaine de mars – good French
I might recommend making an advanced ticket reservation for the Eiffel Tower if you decide to go up- the line to buy tickets can get a little long (and we know how much little kids love waiting in line haha). And the fancier the restaurant the farther out you need a res, same as NYC.
P.S. I’d be happy to help you practice your French — everyone speaks English but speaking French goes a long way! You know I have my boys taking French lessons; what a difference immersion makes! xx