- More about your oliver guide: Megan Escher
- Trip type: Family, City
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: 5 DAYS TO ONE WEEK
to & from
Any way you can! We took a morning train in from Ruffec about two hours south of Paris. Getting around we did the metro, bus, uber, taxis and a lot of walking!
Where to Stay
So many options – On this trip we took a flat in the Marais in a very typical building full of Parisians. We like having the option of preparing meals at home so usually choose flats over hotels. VRBO, Air B&B, One Fine Stay & Paris Perfect are all great to research depending on the no. of guests, budget and desired area.
Where to Eat and Drink
A few of our favorites:
- Clamato - Clean Modern Seafood in the 11th and part of the Septime group - can’t go wrong with them. After MUCH deliberation, we decided this should be the first culinary experience for our children in Paris and it was a lovely lunch that led us into an afternoon of adventuring. Clamato is on the same block as the shootings in Paris in November 2015, so be mindful of those events if you pass through.
- Cinq Mars (near Musee D’Orsay) - was a great lunch after a morning at Tuileries and Place de la Concorde
- Frenchie to Go and Frenchie - in the 2nd not far from L’Opera Garnier (a must walk by, even if you don’t go inside). The Sentier district seems to be getting more polished and is a mix of older a little run down businesses and bright shiny new spaces - I would call Frenchie to go a French take on a California Cafe - was perfect for a quick tasty lunch. Frenchie Wine Bar and Restaurant is higher end and you will need reservations in advance. You can see their kitchen from the street so it is fun to watch the action for a bit if in the area.
- 6 Paul Bert - This was recommended by a local at Clamato who heard us discussing options. We were most grateful and had a delightful family dinner before our late evening walk through the lights of Paris.
- Claus Cafe - near Palais Royal - breakfast / lunch only - gorgeous space.
- Le Sant Regis - Cafe on Île Saint-Louis. Île Saint-Louis is a must wander around area and we had a beautiful breakfast here, before walking the short distance to Notre Dame to start our day.
- Late night Falafel on Rue de Rosiers in the Marais - such a fun scene up until midnight. Many options but we loved the Red Stand that was across from the famous L’As du Falafel. .
- Wild and the Moon- if you are in need of a California green juice/smoothie/kale salad
- Ladurée kiosk if flying home from Charles De Gaulle - we forgot about them on the plane, so the children were thrilled when they got to have them for breakfast on our first jet lagged morning home.
What to Do
The options are endless but we chose 1 “thing” to do a day and spent the rest of the time wandering and seeing what we found along the way. Our goal was to orient the children enough to know which landmarks were where so they got a sense of direction and quartier as we explored. We hope this was the first of a lifetime of adventures in Paris for them. We mainly did a lot of walking around to see what Paris revealed to us.
Saved for next time:
So many things! We did a lot of “pass by” visits of tourist sites on this trip. For instance we opted not to go to the Louvre but we walked around outside and picked up our rental car in the Louvre garage so they got to see the vast underground city that churns beneath the artwork. Next time we will add in some of the below choices.
- Sunset Concerts on the Seine: just walk around the Seine at Sunset and you will find wonderful gatherings of people playing music, dancing, just living and sometimes organized concerts. What we experienced in these moments was my absolute favorite part of this trip.
- Palais Royal - My mother took me here on my first trip to Paris and it has always stayed with me. It is stunning in its simplicity and beauty and the perfect place to just let everyone wander and relax and take in the grace of this city.
- Playgrounds and Gardens - just pop in whenever you find them tucked away like jewel boxes throughout the city. Our children loved the Square Jean XXIII, a small park, with a small but modern playground, just on the back side of Notre Dame. Also the bigger gardens like Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin De Luxembourg are an absolute must! I vote for Tuileries if you have to choose because I love the layout of it and its proximity to so many places to see, but they are both lovely.
- Centre Pompidou - Our son loves modern art, so we chose this as our “big” museum day. One of our favorite spaces was Cafe Little Boy - which is an interactive evolving installation inspired by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (project was named "Little Boy"). The children loved this room. There is also also have an amazing gift shop with incredible books and art supplies.
- Ballet de Paris - I love to see local ballet companies when we are traveling. If they are performing, I would highly recommend making this part of your experience.
- Plage de Paris - every summer the city sets up “beaches” along the Seine - if you happen to cross paths it
- Place des Vosges - Classic. one of my favorites squares in Paris, near Musee de Carnavalet and the Musee Picasso. Also near great shopping and can walk to Place de la Bastille.
- Palais de Chaillot /Trocadero - I think this is the only way to really “see” the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Of course you can see it from most of the city, but we walked from Arc De Triomphe to Chaillot /Trocadero so the first time the children saw the full effect was from this perspective. We used to live nearby so am a little partial to that perspective, but the video we have of the children seeing it for the first time like this is priceless to us.
- La Tour Eiffel - If you do this - Go at night (much less crowded than during the day) climb the stairs and time it so you are inside the tower during the light show (hourly).
- Shop: Tom Greyhound, L
Follow these Instagram accounts as part of your research for your trip: Paris in Four Months, My Little Paris, Parisianly Yours, Cecile Moli, Mimi Thorisson – this girl is a global Oliver type girl – she is often in Paris but lives outside of Bordeaux with her husband Oddur and seven children – they are great to follow for many locations in Europe.
I would not have done the Eiffel Tower if our children had not requested multiple times.