Visiting Paris with my husband and 2 children.
As a travelling mum, you want happy children, because happy children mean happy parents. City breaks are tiring for grown ups let alone children, but the end result no matter what, we made lots of happy memories. It was very tiring, but all worth it.
Also big mistake, I should have listened to the Hubby and booked only 2 days. I thought I was being clever and booked 3 days to make the most of the 3rd day as I had the great idea of booking the train back to london for 9pm.
Paris, after living in England for 18 + years , finally I got to visit Paris, the nearest and easiest country to travel to from London.
Well, last year I drove to Disneyland Paris but I didn’t get a glimpse of Paris life at all.
My first city break and my first time on the Eurostar.
My itinary for the 3 days was as follows
- Took the overhead train into London St Pancras, boarded the Eurostar to Gare Du Nord, Paris
- Reach Paris, took metro to Alma Maceau and checked into hotel
- Walked to Eiffel Tower
- Checked out little market on Parc du Champs de Mars
- Stumbled upon Wall of Peace Monument
- Walked to Trocadero
- Bought a Ticket Mobilis for the day
- Visited Musee Du Louvre
- Visited Tuileries Garden
- Visited Arc de Triumph
- Walked down Champs Elysees
- I finally got some macaroons
- Back to Eiffel Tower for some food and to watch it lit up
- Checked out of hotel
- River Cruise
- Bought some lunch and ate on the promenade du Cours Albert 1er
- All the cute things I wanted to buy
- Back to hotel to pick our luggage up
- And off to Gare du Nord to catch the train back to London
The excitement was too much. Walking to the train, looking for our coach and even the train ride to St Pancras was exciting.
In July, about 3 weeks before travelling, I booked the tickets from London St Pancras to Gare du Nord in Paris. I still had not decided where to stay. I thought of Paris a bit like London, and as much as I love travelling into Central London and visiting the touristic places, there are a lot of places I would not like to stay in. Therefore, I really could not decide where to stay in Paris.
Needless to say I was confused by the way the metro worked, and also the arrondissement around Paris.
After buying the train tickets I felt in a rush to book a hotel as I was travelling at peak season and I could see how the prices were going up or rooms were being sold out.
At first, I found a nice little boutique hotel on Booking.com, and I hurried and reserved it, feeling relieved that I had at least a place to stay.
I then realised that the station and shops were about 20 minutes away and I also found out that the area had lots of night clubs, something I did not want, as I was travelling with the children. This got me thinking, what did I want on this trip.
My main priority was the distance from the hotel to the metro station. I knew that for my 3 days there, I had to walk to the metro station everyday to go sightseeing.
I currently live in a small town in the countryside about 30 minutes walk to the train station and it is a huge hassle, with children, with luggage and so on. So for me, distance to the metro station was an important factor.
Obviously I wanted a good hotel too, at a reasonable price.
Then I had to narrow the hotels down, and after a lot of researching, I decided that my main reason to go to Paris was to see the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to be near it, so that even if we did not fancy travelling on the first day there, we could just walk to the Tower and the surroundings.
It’s true that Eiffel Tower is in an isolated place, away from the other touristic places but I was more or less happy with my choice. Now that I have been there, I would recommend staying around Champs Elysees.
The hotel I booked was Le Derby Alma, about 7 minutes walk from the metro station and 7 minutes walk to the Eiffel Tower. The hotel had very good reviews, from the cleanliness to the location and staff.
The weather could not have been better. As soon as we got out of the station, the children screamed in excitement. They saw the famous Eiffel Tower in the distance. The skies were blue, it was warm, and the view over the Alma Bridge was magnificent.
One thing I did not know was that the tower sparkles every hour for 5 minutes after dusk and that was a complete nice surprise to see it sparkle from the room.
Views from the hotel room
I felt really elated and as soon as morning came, I went to look at the tower. I think the kids got fed up of me saying how happy I was to be able to see the tower from the hotel room. Ok it was just the top but still.
Eiffel Tower is everything and more of what I had expected. I was never keen to see it until the Hubby convinced me to visit Paris first before thinking about other countries. Once I decided that yes we are going to Paris, I became fixated on Eiffel Tower. One week before travelling, my colleague told me she was not impressed with the tower, that it was just grey metal and did not look appealing. I wondered if I would be disappointed too but I was not.
After we checked into the hotel, guess what we did. You guessed right, we walked to the Eiffel Tower.
By the way, the hotel staff was not as I have read on hotel reviews. They were nice, friendly, efficient and made our stay more enjoyable.
One thing to be noted is that in August a lot of shop owners close up to go on their own holiday. There were not many restaurants and even then my first choice of food was fast and convenient food. My children are not big eaters and they do not tend to try new food. So it was a waste of money and time to eat in those restaurants. Unfortunately there were no other food either. The nearby bakeries were closed and there was no sandwich shop, pizza shop or anything similar.
The surrounding area around Eiffel Tower is magnificent, with the bridge and beautiful views.
We bought crepes there, as the children were hungry. The hubby and I kept hoping for something savoury but alas there was nothing.
The next day, we bought travelcards and visited Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee du Louvre, Champs Elysee. It was pretty easy to travel once you do it. I would highly recommend the travelcard as I bought a single to Musee Du Louvre but changed train at the wrong station. We could not use to ticket to get on the opposite platform and we got a bit panicky about the whole situation.
Paris is quite small and we made the mistake of trying to walk from one destination to the other. The problem with going anywhere with my daughter is patience, which she lacks. She is perfectly happy once we reach the destination and she is in awe but getting from A to B, is a nightmare. She needed to know where we were going next every 5 minutes, and we did not even know ourselves where we were going next. This holiday was why it was called a holiday, our idea was to free style and not plan every second of our day. Back home that’s what we do, what time we wake up, what time we eat, what time we leave for work, what time school starts. So we did not want the same thing on holiday.
The journeys were harder as there are no lifts or escalator at the metro stations. The going up the stairs at each station was discouraging. All in all, we had a great time and came back with lots of lovely memories, although I must have said 100 times that I would never do a city break with my daughter ever again.
Now when anyone asks her about her trip to Paris, she says she loved it and when asked about having to walk, she says that the walking was fine, no problem. So it is worth it, travelling with children.
In the evening we returned to the hotel to take a rest and then we left to go see Eiffel Tower sparkle at 9pm. There is a kind of food and artisan market right outside Eiffel Tower, and we had dinner there before the sparkling hour started.
It was a wonderful trip. Very tiring but enjoyable. The 3rd day, we checked out and left our luggage at Reception. We were so tired, I wished I had not booked the train back to London so late. Another day to roam Paris, but I felt we did everything we wanted to do. Well, except for one. So we did it on our last day, we went on a river cruise on one of those bateaux mouches, which literally translates as boat flies as in the insects.
Musee Du Louvre
I have to admit I was not so keen to visit Paris before, I wanted to visit other countries. But now, I am in love with Paris. It was the nice weather, the blue skies, the vast space, the whole atmosphere was truly wonderful.
Is my next trip a city break? No way. Only kidding, I might be saying no for now, but I might give in and book 2 days ,yes, only 2 days in Rome. I have done it now, city break and holiday resort break and I love them both.
These are the main websites I used.