Off to Paris – four days to fight the crowds and see the sights in this sprawling metropolis. On our first night in Paris we walked the Champs D’Elysees and had dinner on the famous street. After dinner we continued our walk to the Arc de Triomphe before heading back to the hotel for the night. On the first of our three full days in Paris we attempted to tackle the Louvre with a toddler. Per our normal museum schedule we arrived at the Louvre and were in place to start the tour as morning nap time started. That piece of the puzzle ended up being the easy part. The tough part was navigating the Louvre with a stroller. The former palace is full of changes in level, mezzanines, and no ramps; which left us on a wild goose chase after evasive elevators at every turn. We have spent plenty of time carrying the stroller up and down stairs, (like every time we used the metro in Paris), but doing so in a shoulder to shoulder crowd of pushing people that are in stop and go foot traffic is something to be avoided. After an overall successful morning in the Louvre we headed out to pick up lunch from a vendor in the park outside the Louvre and picnic in the grass while someone spent some time running free.
After a return to the hotel for afternoon naps we were off to the Eiffel Tower; apparently with everyone else in the country. The normal summer season crowd at the Eiffel Tower was exacerbated by the fact that only one elevator was working. After quickly deciding that we were not going to wait in line until August to take the elevator we decided to return another day without the stroller and walk all 86,492 stairs. While wandering the area around the Eiffel Tower we decided on a lark to take a river cruise, (the cheap tourist kind, not the black tie and champagne kind), something neither of us had previously done. It wound up providing some amazing views of the city and her tourist sites, particularly the Notre Dame. Also while everyone else was crawling over each other to get an outside seat on the top deck we choose a small, all glass room at the front of the ship that we had to ourselves which allowed someone some freedom to roam a bit (or the whole time). It also happened to be the best seat on board once it started raining. After our river cruise we quickly headed back to the hotel with an ice cream dinner on the way in time for our toddler’s very European bedtime of 10:00 pm.
Guidebook – For this leg of our journey we switched out from our Fodor’s Spain travel book to our Fodor’s France travel book. We were just as happy with it and it lead us well trough Bordeaux and Paris. For European travel in general Foder’s are my go-to Travel Books.
Transportation – From the train station we purchased a metro card and took the metro to our hotel, and on all subsequent site seeing. While the metro is functional in Paris and the price is right, (compared to the other options out there), and I will continue to take it, it’s one of the poorer mass transit systems in Europe in my opinion. It will get you where you need to go, but it’s not as clean, handicap or stroller friendly, or as reliable as many of the other cities. So I do recommend taking it, because Paris is a big city and you can’t walk everywhere, don’t discount other cities’ public transportation if you find it lacking. There is a multi-day card that can be purchased to save you time and money.
Lodging – We stayed at Suite Novotel Paris Porte de la Chapelle for $150 per night including breakfast. We had originally had reservations at an Etap Hotel, but after our experience in Bordeaux we canceled and found a last minute deal which ended up being great. This is the first time we had ever stayed at a Suite Novotel; they are awesome for families! They became my first choice for hotels hands down; unfortunately they are not so common. What makes them amazing is that they have huge rooms that have a divider that can be pulled separating the queen bed sleeping area and a twin bed sleeping area. They also have a mini bar, bar sink, full bath with tub and shower, and a half bath; but it’s mostly the room divider that makes it amazing! They downside to this one in particular was the location. The walk to the metro involved walking under a major overpass and across a very busy street. There was also very little that was desirable within walking distance which means that you have to take the metro into the city for every meal. With that being said we did return to the hotel for an afternoon break each day and then back out for the evening. The location really did leave a lot to be desired, so it really depends on budget. We knew that with the budget we had we weren’t going to get any closer to the city center than this, so it was the right fit for us.
Louvre – Of course this is a must see. How much time you spend there of course depends on interest. I have been there several times in the last 10 years or so and usually get there when it opens and spend a long half day there. We did a similar schedule this time around; only we started a little later which did mean it was more crowded but it meant someone would be asleep. Family friendly travel – Taking the stroller was the right move because it kept our little one confined, but it was a pain; so just be prepared. On an upside there are so many tourists at the Louvre you don’t need to worry about your little one being quiet the whole time, because no one else is. – Must See
River Cruise – This was a first for me and was a pleasant surprise. It was a very spontaneous excursion for us and I would completely recommend it. We took a very inexpensive cruise at sunset. We passed the very expensive dinner cruise and they looked lovely, but our sunset was just as beautiful and views just as good. – If time allows this is a great addition!