We had the opportunity to travel to Europe this summer. We told Ellie she could pick any European city to visit. Of course being a 6 year old little girl she choose Paris. So we packed our suitcases full of berets and jumped on a plane to the City of Light. So how do you see all of Paris in just 4 days with a 6 year old in tow? Well you don’t, but I definitely have a few tips to make it a little easier.
1. Where should you stay?
Of course I would have rather stayed in 5 star hotel in the heart of Paris, maybe right next to Eiffel Tower. No wait, right next to the Louvre with a view of the Eiffel tower. Let’s be honest, I don’t have $600 a night to do that. So instead we decided on the luxury hotel Sofitel in La Défense.
La Défense is the business center of Paris and though it is not walking distance to most of the tourist attractions, it is a quick metro ride. There’s not traffic in La Défense because all of the roads are built beneath of the city. This makes for a very quite sleep.
The Sofitel is beautiful and the metro is pretty much right outside the front door! The rooms do not feel cramp. As a matter of fact we had a king size bed plus a cot and still had plenty of room to walk around. It is definitely a business hotel, so there are not a ton of kid amenities. Let’s be honest, it’s Paris, are you really going to spend a ton of time in the room?
2. Where should you eat?
Do us both a favor and do not eat at the tourist restaurants! Ok, maybe just once for the fun of it, but find yourself a little side street and walk into one of the neighborhoods. There are so many small amazing restaurants.
Amazing little pizza restaurant not far from the Eiffel Tower.
3. Do we tip or don’t we tip?
This confused us at first too, but let me save you the confusion. You do tip, but you can’t include tips on credit cards so make sure you carry a few euro’s with you.
4. Schedule tours ahead of time
This is going to save you so much time! It is crazy crowded! EVERYWHERE!
Most of the Louvre is this crowded. Some exhibits, such as the Mona Lisa are even worse!
Not only did the tours save us time because we didn’t have to wait in lines, Ellie loved them! She stuck right by the tour guides side for every moment of the 3 1/2 hour tour of the Louvre.
Schedule a tour at the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and other sites using Louvre Museum Group. This way you get to skip the line and learn a little history about each location. We did this for both our Louvre and Eiffel Tower tours and they were amazing. It saved us hours and Ellie loved hearing all the stories.
TIP – There are pick pockets swarming the crowded tourist areas. Make sure you are very aware and hold tight to your belongings.
5. How do we get around?
You’ll need to know about transpiration. At first the metro can seem a little overwhelming. Make sure you know the difference between the Metro and the RER Train. The train doesn’t make as many stops and travels further out of Paris. It’s very easy to confuse the 2 when you’re in the stations.
TIP – Second thing you need to know Sortie means exit! So look for the green sortie signs. If you stay in La Défense just look for M 1. It will take you to Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, Concorde, and the Louvre. From there everything is pretty much walking distance. Purchase a pass for everyday that you’re there. Don’t buy individual trip tickets.
To make your way up and down the Seine river purchase passes to the Batobus. No only scenic, but it was easiest way for us to get from the Eiffel Tower to Norte Dame and then to the Louvre. Tip, if you get on around sunset you’ll get a number of great pictures and it’s really charming to see all the Parisians sitting along the Seine river eating dinner, enjoying a drink and watching the sunset.
6. The French Smoke
They smoke ALOT! There were cigarette butts everywhere. Honestly, I didn’t smell it everywhere nor did I feel like I was constantly breathing in cigarette smoke. Be aware, but don’t let it deter you.
7. Sit back, relax
There are cafe’s everywhere! Grab a seat, sip on a yummy drink, live in the moment, and just relax!
Let the kids do what they love best. Electronics! It will give you a moment for a little adult talk and it will give them a moment to decompress too.
8. View Paris from their level
Take a moment and ride the ferris wheel that’s by the Louvre. Let them place a lock on the bridge. As them what they would like to see. Paris has a lot to see and do. It can be overwhelming for adults, imagine what it’s like for them. Give them a chance to decide which road to take or which restaurant to eat as well.
My favorite Apps for Paris
Paris Metro – This was for sure one of my most used apps! It was great to have a metro map with me at all times. It helped us locate entrances and figure out which stop we needed.
Paris Map and Walks – Loved having a little map to help me with lesser known attractions.
Camera+ – Let’s be honest, Paris air is not the clearest in the world. I used Camera + to clear up and sharpen some of my pictures I took with my iPhone 5.
Also, pick up a Mophie Juice Pack! It was great having that with us so we could charge our phones/cameras through out the day.