9 things to see in Paris with kids

 

Paris is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, add the kids to the equation and maybe the romance goes out the window, but it is still an amazing city. We have visited Paris in all stages of parenthood……babies, toddlers, teenagers, and we always go back for more. We absolutely love Paris and what it has to offer .

 

1. Eifel Tower

Of course, the Eifel tower is a must. Deciding on how to see it with kids is another thing. You have 2 options. You can take the stairs or the elevator. The walk is only about 10-15 minutes up. (704 steps)  The view from the 2 level is actually the best view of Paris, in my opinion. If you take the elevator make sure you get in the right line as there are 3 different Elevators. If the little legs get tired of walking maybe the elevator is the best option.

One year we showed up with a stroller only to be told we needed to fold the stroller up and carry it up with us (we had not purchased the elevator tickets ahead of time).

You can buy your tickets to take up the elevator. Tickets for the stairs are first come first serve. If visiting Paris for a few days, I would recommend the Paris Pass. With this Pass you can skip many lines and who wants to wait in line with kids?

A must after a visit to the Eifel tower is a picnic on the grounds. Not far from the Eifel tower there are grassy fields perfect for laying a blanket on and letting the kids run around. Some of our best memories are hours spent just relaxing on the grass by the Eifel Tower.

 

 

 

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2. Notre Dame

“I know, I know, another church to visit,” we usually say to the kids but I think the gargoyles attracted our kids to this church. If your kids are like ours (movie buffs) you may hear something about the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. The stained glass windows are breathtaking. It is easy to see how this church is one of the most famous sites in Paris.

If you are not tired of climbing stairs, the view from the top is worth it. You will need to buy a ticket to climb the tower.   Tickets are not needed to enter the church but you will have to wait in line.

 

 

 

3. Louvre

I know the thought of a museum with kids can scare most parents away but why not start them young? Our kids have been visiting museums since there were babies. I must say the toddler age can be difficult but if you are in Paris you should not pass up the opportunity to visit the Louvre. The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world and can be overwhelming, obviously, you can not see it all in one day.  We like to prepare the kids before hand. Giving them a few artists to be on the look out for etc.

 

 

 

4. Cruise the Seine

When your feet have just about had enough, hop on a boat to cruise the Seine. There is hop on hop off boat that make it nice to see Paris from the river. There is always something about a boat that makes it seem more enjoyable for the kids. We have enjoyed cruising by the Eifel Tower both during the day and night for some good picture taking.

 

 

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5. Orsay museum

The museum offers guided tours for kids that make it more enjoyable for them. Admission for kids is free. The museum itself is a beautiful site. It is easier to tackle than the Louvre because of the smaller size, but a great museum to visit, even if just for a few hours to show the kids some of your favorite artists.

 

 

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6. Arc de Triomphe

Being one of the most famous monuments in Paris, it is a must.  The Arc de Triomphe is at the end of the Champs-Élysées, which is the famous shopping street. We enjoy strolling down the street which is lined with stores for the whole family.

You can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe which has stunning views below.

 

 

7. Versailles

The Palace of  Versailles is outside of Paris but worth a day trip out to see. Maybe a good break for the kids from the city. The grounds and the palace itself are stunning.  I recommend buying your tickets online to avoid the lines. Our first visit to the Palace we waited in line over an hour just to buy our tickets.

I also recommend making sure your kids use the restroom before the tour. We could not locate a restroom in the Palace and we were forced outside again to wait in line.

The kids enjoyed the visit here very much. Pack a little picnic to eat with the kids in the gorgeous gardens.

 

 

 

8. Sacre Coeur

The hike up to Sacre Coeur may be hard for the kids but it is worth it. The church sits perched up on the hill and there are stairs leading up to it. The stairs are great to just sit and people watch with the kids. The church is free to enter and offers an audio guide you may want to download beforehand for the kids.

 

 

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9. Disneyland Paris

If the kids have happily visited all the above sites with you, why not reward them with a day in Disneyland Paris? Our first visit to the Park we were delightfully surprised at how much it resembled Disneyland California. Being California natives I must admit it was weird to be at the park in such cold weather, but our kids absolutely loved Disneyland Paris.

For us, Paris has always been a city our whole family enjoys. There is so much to do and see. This is just a short list of the hundreds of things to do and see in Paris with kids, but a good start. Traveling with kids can be daunting but it does not have to be. A little pre-planning, few pit stops at parks, picnics and breaks make the whole experience much more enjoyable for the family.

Have you been to Paris as a family? We would love to hear what you enjoyed the most?

 

 

Castles, Palaces, Walled Cities

Traveling with kids can be daunting, especially if you fail to keep them entertained. Thankfully, there are thousands of castles in Europe. Seems like everywhere we go there is a castle to explore. The kids are fascinated with castles (think…dungeons, dragons, swords). We have explored our fair share of castles and I thought I would highlight a few of our favorites.
The Neuschwanstein Castle Hohenschwangau, Germany
One of the most famous castles in Europe
 
We have visited here a  few times, as the kids like to call it their castle. Neuenswander is a family name, so the kids feel they have a claim to it….. wouldn’t that be nice.
The castle is in Bavaria, Germany.  Since it is famous,  I recommend buying your tickets online.  We have waited hours in peak season for a tour.  A tour is included with the purchase of a ticket .
You have the option to tour both castles. The other, smaller castle, was King Ludwig II fathers’ castle.  If you want to get an idea of the time period furniture and decor, I recommend also touring the Hohenschwangau Castle.
Once you buy your ticket you have to walk up to the castle. The walk is beautiful in the summer but freezing in the winter. I recommend, especially with kids, taking the bus or hiring a carriage to the top. The horse drawn carriage was a favorite for our kids.
 
The Prague Castle – Prague, Czech Republic
The Prague castle is noted to be the biggest castle in the world.  To me, it seemed like a little city in itself. There are many churches and palaces all built within the walls.

There are different types of tickets you can purchase to tour the castle.  Decide which works best for you. A “long visit ticket” may prove too long for little kids.
* A note to the reader, the castle may appear closer than it really is. You may find that your mid afternoon stroll turns into a walk filled with tears and ice cream bribes.  It’s recommended, by me, a fellow “let’s walk – it looks close” person, to just take the tram.

 

The Sanssouci Palace – Potsdam, Germany
Palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia 
 

The grounds of the Sanssouci Palace reminded me of the Palace of Versailles, seemingly going on forever.  Potsdam is just outside Berlin and home to many summer Palaces. The above picture does not do justice. The grounds are immaculate with multiple Palaces scattered throughout.
You can buy tickets for a guided tour upon arrival.  The area is crawling with tourists during the summer, but we found  the lines were manageable.  If find yourself in Berlin and need a break from the city touring, I can highly recommend taking a break in Potsdam.

 

 

Palace of Versailles – Paris, France

It’s only fair if I make a comparison to the Palace of Versailles, I also review it.    Home to Louise XIV The Palace of Versailles is fascinating.  For our kids it was also a great history lesson regarding the French Revolution.  The grounds are just as amazing as the inside. I found this castle to be so ornate in detail, unlike the inside of the Neuschwanstein castle.
Buying your ticket ahead is highly recommended. This is a definite must see while in Paris.

 Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg – Orschwiller, France

 

Overlooking the Alsace valley of France, this Chateau has a breathtaking view.   The few time we have visited, spring and summer season, we have had no problems with the lines. You can purchase your tickets upon arrival and go on a self guided tour.The castle has some impressive furniture inside its apartments.  Our kids were kept entertained with the drawbridges and cannons along the tour.

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber – walled city in 
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
 This little city is, by far, the most darling medieval town we have visited. The town is completely surrounded by a wall. A walk around the city wall is a must. Guided walks through the town are offered to fill you in on the history.  I’d recommend the night tour with a medieval guide carrying a torch to light your way. You can visit the tourist center inside the wall to purchase your tickets. The town is also famous for the shop Wohlfahrt, another must see. 
Château de Chillon – Montreux, Switzerland
This Castle sits on Lake Leman, in the French speaking part of Switzerland. You might ask- what’s so cool about his castle? You can hire out the castle for birthday parties (weddings too). How cool is that?  Besides being able to party in the castle, you can also tour it.  You can purchase a guided tour and get an in depth history lesson.
Carcassonne – More than just a board game, 
a walled city in Carcassonne, France
Our boys asked for years to visit Carcassonne. The only knowledge they had of this city was from a beloved family game we play, Carcassonne. So, when we informed them we would take a road trip there, they were ecstatic.
The fortified city has it’s own drawbridge and 53 towers to watch out for the enemy (in the past, of course).  I could best describe the city as imagination-gone-wild for the kids.  No tickets are needed.  It’s free to explore the grounds.  You can walk through the walled city anytime but many of the restaurants and shops are closed  in the off season (winter months).
Civita di Bagnoregio – Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
 
And in the spirit of walled cities I figured this city needed to be mentioned. The city itself, perched up on a hill, is a site to see.  No cars are allowed in the city,  you must park before crossing the bridge. There are a few spots of metered parking close to the bridge. From there you can walk across the bridge to the beautiful town of Civita di Bagnoregio.  No tickets are required to tour. The town is pretty secluded but it’s a great little town to explore. Not to mention, a breathtaking picture.

Trip Snapshot: Strasbourg

One of my favorite cities to visit in the Alsace regions of France is Strasbourg.  Strasbourg is a enjoyable mix of France with a German influence, from food to shops.

A must see is Strasbourg’s main attraction the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. This breathtaking church was built in the 1200s.  Visitors are always welcome, even during mass you can stand in.  Check out their website before visiting for events held. We had the pleasure of enjoying a late night performance in the catacombs, which was astounding.

 

Fly, Drive or Train?

If you are visiting Paris and want to explore more of France you have all 3 options.  Since we are nearby in Switzerland, we opted for the 2.5 hour car drive. Strasbourg has a main train station as well as an intentional airport. If you are planning on spending sometime in France you may want to consider buying a France rail pass. I find renting a car  can be cheaper when traveling in a group but remember to take France toll roads and gas into consideration.  You can also check out the discounter airlines ahead of time if you want to find a deal.

One of my main draws to France is the shopping and the food. Boutique stores are abundant with styles hard to  resist. The food, well, it is amazing everywhere.  I like to research restaurants before we visit cities.  It did not surprise me to find out that the Alsace region of France was full of Michelin stared Restaurants ,with a few in Strasbourg.  One of our favorite meals to date was a priced fixed menu at  Michelin starred Le Buerehiesel.  A must do if you are dining without little kids.

 

Where to stay in Strasbourg?
I’d recommend staying in the city center.  You can read my earlier post on finding a hotel or I have a few recommendations that we have found comfortable.  My favorite would probably be Hotel Maison Rouge (3 star), a clean, perfectly located hotel. If you are looking for something centrally located but cheaper you may consider Hôtel de l’Ill (2 star). It’s very basic but good for location and price. The most charming and romantic place we’ve stayed  is Villa Novarina (4 star), a bit outside the city center but within a 10 minute walk.  The benefit to staying at Villa Novarina was we were within walking distance to Le Buerehisel. 
 

Le Petite France is at the center of Strasbourg’s charm. The river runs along cobblestone streets with shops, cafes and restaurants dotting the way.  I’d recommend taking a boat ride. You can even board an entertainment boat for those coming for the nightlife. There is quite a night life here because of the nearby University, (largest Universality in France).

 

And my last piece of advice, you must visit all the darling cookie shops along the way. Step in for a sample or take home a box full of delightful treats. I find Strasbourg to be a charming city, and a breath of fresh air after the hustle and bustle of Paris.

Trip Snapshot: French Riveria

Destination:  Nice, France

The city of Nice is located on the French Riviera in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
Fly, Drive or Train?
We drove from Zurich to Nice.  We use Mappy to calculate what the road tolls will be. Switzerland requires a Vignette to drive on their highways. It’s only chf 40 yearly but driving in other countries can add up fast.  This paticular trip was only 6 euros ($8.50) in tolls, but, for example, driving to Paris and back costs us over 40 euros ($56) in tolls.  It’s nice to be prepared so you will have the appropriate change.

Home base?

We were just outside of Nice in a resort town called Antibes. We found our apartment, on Venere.

A must see in the area?

Nice has the most amazing water front and beaches. The beaches stretch on for miles parallel to the Promenade des Anglais,  where you can enjoy great restaurants and some fun people watching. 

A must see in Nice is Carnival.  Carnival in Nice takes place in February for a few weeks, the last day of Carnival  always ends on Mardi Gras. The floats were amazing.











 

There are plenty of day time actives for the whole family to enjoy.

 



Another must visit in the area is Monaco.  It’s about a 30 minute drive from Nice. A visit to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco is a must. The changing of the guards takes place each day at 11:55 AM., and is a big hit for the kids. 











Another great site, is the famous, Monte Carlo Casino




If you get a chance, stroll by the parking lots near by, boat and car, they are pretty fun to look at.  The French Riviera has so much to offer besides it’s enjoyable climate. It’s an area I could go back to again and again, much more relaxing and slower paced then some of the big European cities.

And once again…..Colmar

If you come to visit chances are we will make a day trip to Colmar, France. It’s such a quaint little town and fun to get a taste of France. So Colmar was first up on my sister’s itinerary.

One of the best parts about France is on every corner there is pâtisserie or boulangerie and maybe 2 or 3 right next door, no joke, they are everywhere. So Amye, Jodi and I did what me know best, eat. And it was delicious. Now a story to tell……. We entered into one pâtisserie and purchased multiple delicious pastries and promptly began over indulging.

After our purchase, and in between bites, we went next door to bakery #2 to find a certain type of eclairs we wanted. In my non-existence French I tired to find out what type of eclairs they had. The lady seems to be laughing at me. After I stepped away, Jodi informed me I had croissant all over my face, and within the same second I informed her that her face was so messy. HA, we looked like the biggest pigs, I am sure those ladies laughed the rest of the day about those crazy piggy Americans. 🙂 We couldn’t stop laughing, I really wish we had video clip of that.

Our food journeys don’t end there. We went on to have lunch at a little local restaurant and all of us ordered delicious Tarte flambées. Then onto another pâtisserie for goodies for the boys back home and onto another for giant meringues. Finished off with a stop at a boulangerie for some baguettes. Needless to say we left France filled to the rim not needing to eat for days.

We took a little train tour around Colmar, seeing the town highlights. Top highlight…. the designer of the Statue of Liberty, Frederic Bartholdi, was from Colmar. We’ve done this many times but this time I got a new experience along the way…
We were the only 4 passengers on the train, as we were coming around a corner the whole street was torn up. If you’ve been to Europe you know how tiny streets are and how it can be impossible to turn around. Well it was impossible. So we sat on the train while the drive told off the construction crew, then the crew, took their tractors and filled in the giant hole in the road for us, so we could drive over. Not a happy day for them but an experience for us.

In between all of our over indulgence in goodies we did manage to get in some shopping and then headed off to Engusheim, France and then on home.

Engusheim is a tiny, tiny town, but not to be missed because it’s just so cute! Along with the little cutie on the right who traveled with us that day. We had a great day trip, I love France but sharing the experience with my sisters made it even better.

A weekend away in Strasbourg


While my mom was here she watched the kids so Jason and I could enjoy a weekend away. We decided on Strasbourg, France which meant amazing food and great shopping, both a favorite of mine.

We made reservations for Buerehiesel, a Michelin stared restaurant. It did not disappoint. The restaurant itself was located in the middle of a park in Strasbourg, a beautiful setting. We had the first seating at 8pm and arrived a little early to see the staff through the window enjoying their own meal. That would be a bonus to working somewhere like this, amazing food, before work. We ordered the prix fixe menu which consisted of:

Amuse bouche

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Emincé de coquilles Saint Jacques de la Baie de Morlaix au citron, topinambours à l’huile d’olive

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Schniederspaetle et cuisses de grenouille poêlées, au cerfeuil

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Bar de ligne rôti, nage de coquillages au citron confit

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Pomme de ris de veau rhônalpin meunière, truffes et purée de Mona-Lisa

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Gigue de chevreuil d’Alsace rôtie, épaule confite, fruits et légumes d’automne, purée de céleri et champignons des bois

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Plateau de Fromages

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Biscuit mirliton, crémeux et chibouste au chocolat Nyangbo, sorbet au jus d’orange frais

Neither of us speak French but Jason knows enough of the French words for food that we had a good idea of what we were eating.


Self portraits with our cell phone. 🙂 It was a first for frog legs for us. I think it’s possible to make anything taste delicious in a good reduction sauce.


The best course was the ris de veau (enlarged thymus gland from a calf). Doesn’t sound appetizing but was amazing.
The French are known for their sous-vide cooking (vacuum cooking in a plastic bag for hours) I only knew about this because Jason loves to cook and has tried this method in the past. Anyways, if you don’t want something PERFECTLY cooked, this is the way to go and the only method used at Buerhiesel.