Paris: July 16 - 20, 2016.
I love Paris. I can’t say that enough. I could go back again and again and fall in love with something new. My heart skips a beat just being in Paris.
We arrived Saturday morning and took a taxi straight to Hotel Brighton on Rue de Rivoli. We had no issues checking in early and had an opportunity to “upgrade” to an Executive Room with a view of the Jardin des Tuileries. We chose to stay in our courtyard view Superior Room because it felt roomier in there + they had the room set-up for us already + the view of the Tuileries was obstructed because the city set up a little carnival and the ride in front of the Executive Room had a scary face on it. Coincidentally, our courtyard view was the same courtyard we had to walk through everyday back in March.
We enjoy staying around the Louvre/Vendome area because there’s plenty to do and there’s easy access to transportation. During the summer, the sun sets pretty late, so late night walks in the Jardin des Tuileries or around the Louvre gave way to breathtaking sunsets. The kids love riding the ferris wheel as well.
During this trip, we wanted to check out the places we didn’t get to experience last time.
Versailles - Research, research, research! If you want a non-stressful trip to Versailles with kids, you definitely have to do some research.
We took a 30-40 minute taxi ride to Versailles at 7am because the train stop at Musee D’orsay was closed. We wanted to get there early because we read that lines can get LONG. Hours long. Instead of waiting in line for hours after opening, we thought it’d be better to wait an hour prior to opening. There’s even a line to purchase tickets, but we already pre-purchased ours online (because if you don’t, you’ll stand in the ticket line, then have to stand in another line to enter the palace).
There were barely any people on the grounds at 8am. We had a completely unobstructed view of the Palace. Because of a little confusion as to where to wait to enter the palace, we ended up like the 30th people in line (versus being second). That wasn’t a big difference because we still got to walk through empty halls of the palace. Our goal was to see the Hall of Mirrors while it was still fairly empty and we succeeded!
Our next goal was to rent a golf cart to tour the grounds because these are available at a first-come-first-serve basis. For 32 euros an hour, it was worth it with a toddler and a 10 year old in tow. It was one of their favorite parts of our trip. We didn’t bring our stroller to Versailles. While you can’t use a stroller in the main palace, you can definitely use it around the grounds.
We grabbed a bite to eat by the rowboats and headed to Petit Trianon a little before noon. We wanted to see the Queen’s Hamlet and actually walked around it to the farm entrance only to discover it was closed for the time being. We walked back around and they had just opened the main entrance to Petit Trianon. We walked through and then headed to the Queen’s Hamlet. The kids’ favorite part was seeing the animals at the farm next to the Queen’s Hamlet. We spent the rest of the time cruising the grounds in the golf cart.
PS. There are not that many restrooms around Versailles, so when you see one, use it. Especially if you have kids. Sometimes, there are lines. We never had any accidents, but we did bump into a line at the end of our trip at the cafe building next to the main palace. Other restrooms to note: the exit of the palace, the restaurants, Petit Trianon.
Cite Des Enfants - We booked two appointment slots for the children’s museum prior to the trip because I read that they do sell out. One slot was best for children ages 2-7, the second slot was best for children 5-12. We wanted to try both because science museums are one of our favorite past times. The water play feature was supposed to be closed during our visit, but we got lucky because it was fully functioning. We only wished we had spent all day on the grounds. Apart from the children’s museum, there was a mini aquarium and the main science museum.
Palais Royal - This place is stunning. I’ve always loved the black and white pillars in photos and knew we had to stop by this time. We went in the middle of the day, so there were plenty of people around. Going here first thing in the morning would probably be the best time to get great photos.
Eiffel Tower - Again, we did not go up the tower. We opted to hang around the Trocadero for a full view of the tower. Nathaniel and Olivia love the carousel at the bottom of the Trocadero as well.
Sacre Coeur - We didn’t get a chance to explore Sacre Coeur, but at the end of our stay and on our way to CDG airport, we had our taxi driver drive by it. The view of the city is amazing from here. Sacre Coeur is a beauty in itself. We definitely have to make time for this site if there ever is a next time.
Le Souffle - We had the beef bourguignon, the chicken mushroom, and the vanilla with ice cream souffles. We thought eating a souffle was going to be heavy, but it was surprisingly light! This place is highly rated and usually packed. We went early afternoon with no reservations and were seated right away.
Ebis - The fried chicken dish was good!
Hakata Choten - A ramen fix that was within walking distance. The gyoza dish with the miso paste.. yum! I had the special signature ramen with extra red miso paste.
There are actually a bunch of asian restaurants to choose from in the northeast area of the Louvre/Vendome area.
We rented a portable wifi unit from HipPocket again. It was at our hotel upon arrival. This unit seemed to lack the battery life that our last unit had, but other than that, the signal was always great. Use code THANKS10 for 10% off.
Inter-European travel is pretty cheap if you book in advance! Our tickets from CPH to CDG was $230 total for the four of us.