Paris is such an old city, full of history and beauty. There is so much to do there you cannot possibly do it all in one visit. We tried to fit in as much as we could without overwhelming the kids. We saw the Eiffel Tower (duh!) and the Louvre but we also did some non-touristy stuff too. We went to a few places where we were just hanging out with the French locals. It was pretty cool. Those times were honestly better for me than the crowded tourist traps, but I don’t like crowds so that makes sense. The tourist attractions in Paris were great and some were must sees, but honestly if I had to do it again there were some parts I would leave out.
Pros: Okay, this thing is massive! I really thought I was going to be underwhelmed by the Eiffel Tower but I was pleasantly surprised. What an iconic structure. If you go to Paris, of course, YOU MUST GO TO THE EIFFEL TOWER! Sorry for yelling, I got excited. If you’re travelling with kids there are playgrounds carousels, places for picnics and strolls. We lucked out and saw the tower on a beautiful day!
Cons: Everyone told us we had to go the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was a “must-do” if we were going all the way to Paris. But honestly, the lines were ridiculous (and we even had skip the line tickets) and it wasn’t worth it to me. I would have been much happier to take a step back from the crowds, lay down a blanket and look at the tower instead of the city. But I’m weird so maybe it’s just me. There were also lots of people in this area trying to sell you something. Of course, that’s what you get in an area as touristy as this one.
Tip: We got up early and went to the Palais Chaillot at Trocadero for the sunrise. It was nearly empty, had great views of the tower, and the sunrise was simply stunning. I know, I know, you’re on vacation and don’t want to get up early, but it is so.worth.it.
Just playing on a playground right in front of the Eiffel Tower
Pros: Wow! What an absolutely stunning place! Every room we walked into my jaw just dropped at the beauty this place holds. Little Big Guy loved looking at all of the art, it really was mesmerizing! There were huge rooms that looked like temples filled with the most exquisite sculptures. The walls were lined with masterpiece after masterpiece after masterpiece. The place is simply huge. We saw such a small portion of the museum since we got there late and the kids were just about done. But I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Cons: So, so, so crowded. It’s hard to appreciate the art when you can’t stand and admire it. We got there before 9 on another morning because I wanted to take pictures and already there were crowds. Not nearly as bad as late afternoon, but still I have a feeling this place is just always busy. Still worth it.
Palace of Versailles
Pros: It’s pretty. It’s famous. It’s got lots of history.
Cons: It was so, so, so , so crowded. We were just trickling through the rooms like herded cattle. If this wasn’t a whole day trip, I would do it again. But by the time we got there then got back to Paris the kids were done. Don’t get me wrong, Versailles was simply gorgeous. It was extravagant, magnificent, splendid. If we didn’t have the kids with us and we were able to leisurely listen to the guided tour maybe I would have enjoyed it more. But there are so many castles that are just a day trip away from Paris that, while not as famous, are much less crowded.
Can you imagine living here??
Pros: It has a kid area that was pretty cool! The kids really enjoyed it, and it was very engaging.
Cons: It was hard to navigate with the stroller. Aside from the kid area it was a very posh art museum. Our little ones were pretty done by the time we got here so we didn’t get to explore as much as we would have liked. But we did get to see a very expensive urinal.
Kid Museum Area
Pros: We watched the sunrise at Notre Dame so we beat the crowds. The cathedral is simply stunning whether you’re standing in the front or the back. We didn’t go inside although it opens pretty early. You can go in at 7:45 so you can definitely beat the crowd.
Cons: The green area in front of Notre Dame was closed off since we got there so early. I would have loved to get a closer look at the front, but we were cold so we just kept moving. Hubby was on a mission to find a Starbucks so he could have some drip coffee since most of the coffee shops we went to only served espresso drinks.
Sacre Coeur Basilica
Pros: Another beautiful area! There is a gorgeous view over Paris, and if it wasn’t so cloudy I bet the sunset would’ve been stunning. There are so many stairs but they have a lift that takes you up so it’s still relatively stroller friendly. The lift uses the same tickets as the trains and metros so it was very convenient to use.
Cons: Even though there was a lift, there were still so many stairs and hills. Be prepared to get a workout in if you’re taking a stroller. The pickpockets were also really bad. Hubby and I both noticed them scheming so we were able to avoid them but I’m sure there were others that were not so lucky. Be aware!
Arc de Triomphe
Pros: It’s a lovely walk from the Tuileries down Champs-Elysees to get to the arc. It is a beautiful structure but we didn’t get too close because the tourists and traffic was a little overwhelming. Instead we sat on a bench and had a little picnic while taking in its beauty. You can pay to go to the top and see views of the city but we were happy to stay on the ground and admire the arc.
Cons: No cons really. The traffic is crazy but if you want to go to the arc you can go through a tunnel that takes you under the road avoiding the traffic.
We saw quite a few of the “touristy” places in Paris. We went off-season and it was still pretty crowded so I can’t imagine how crowded these places would be during late spring and summer. While we enjoyed seeing the sites, our favorite parts of Paris were the local, lesser known places. We loved exploring the neighborhoods and trying new foods. Check back on Friday to hear about some of the off the beaten path places we went to!
Have you been abroad? Did you enjoy the touristy stuff most or trying to immerse yourself into another culture? What is your favorite way to enjoy your everyday adventures?