Welcome back to Wanderlust Wednesday! Today, I’m sharing Paris in Four Days. This post has been a very long time in coming. Last summer I shared London in Four Days and promised to share our four day itinerary for Paris. Well, one of my best friends is headed to London and Paris on Friday, I had a deadline to get this up. This itinerary hits the highlights of Paris in Four Days at a good pace for families or really anyone on their first trip.
I know it isn’t always easy but if you can travel internationally with your children, I highly recommend it! It will broaden their horizons and also create great memories. Some of our most favorite family memories to date are from Paris. The one that most stands out to us all is our picnic on in front of the Louvre with the best cheese, bread and fruit from tiny shops on the Isle St Louis. The girls ran through the hedges and we drank good wine and watched the sun set….Ah…Paris is always a good idea!
Before You Go
I always purchase a travel guide or two for the city we will visit. This one has a great list of the top 10 or 20 things to do or see. I use these to create a rough itinerary for us that I keep in my phone for easy access. (I can also then share it with friends when they are headed somewhere we’ve been!) This and this are my favorite guides for Paris. I also read these again on the plane so that all the information is fresh in my mind. This Paris Guide has fold out maps and is always in my bag during the trip. Luckily, I had been to Paris before so this itinerary was much easier to create than London. Scott and I spent 8 days in Paris after we were first married and used this Eyewitness Guide to take walking tours of many of the arrondissements. The great thing about a historic city is that is doesn’t change much!
- Arrive in Paris (we were flying from London to Paris and arrived about lunchtime)
- Check in to Hotel Regina, perfectly located at the Joan of Arc monument across from the Tulleries and Louvre. (More about this fabulous hotel below).
- Lunch at Maceo a quiet local restaurant, then walk to the Palais Royale with it’s famous black and white pilars to play and visit my favorite vintage shops and a visit to the Tuileries.
- Naps! – If you are arriving from the US, this isn’t a terrible idea because my favorite thing to do is a late dinner that you’ll see below. Typically, I would keep going and stay in the clock of local time. We actually had to nap for several hours after our whirlwind tour of London and two late nights at shows. There was no way to push the girls any more. You could fill in here with the Rodin Museum and Garden and Luxemborg Gardens which we didn’t make but were on our list.
- Dinner at Les Ombres – This is my absolute favorite place to dine in Paris because you are on a rooftop with an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. It is at the top of the Quai Branly Museum. I made our reservation about an hour before sunset so that we could get great photos in the daylight as well as with the twinkling tower!
- Tuileries – This is the iconic garden near the Louvre. It is a beautiful place to take a walk, grab a drink and just soak in Paris.
- Musee L’Orangerie – This gem is located in the Tuileries and is home to 8 of Monet’s Water Lilies works. I was amazed at the size of these paintings. They are truly a must see and so many that I talk to don’t know they are here.
- Musee D’Orsay – Located in an old train station, this gorgeous museum has a large collection of the “art you know.” Think Van Gogh, Mattisse and more.
- Lunch at Cafe de Flore – Great authentic French Bistro and favorite of Hemmingway and Fitzgerald
- Walking around Saint Germaine and stopping in a few pretty shops.
- Arc de Triomphe – You MUST go to the top. It is a beautiful view down the Champs-Elysees and to see the layout of the city.
- Walk Champs-Elysees for more shopping. There was a car dealership that had a 3 story tube slide. Girls loved this! What an interesting way to sell cars…
- Dinner at Le Deauxville on Champs-Elysees
- Fete de Tuileries to play games and ride Le Grande Roen (Ferris wheel) – There was a summer carnival and the girls played games and rode small rides. We all rode the Ferris Wheel to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Truly amazing view.
Day Three – Day Trip to Versailles and Giverney and a River Cruise
Take a break from the city and see the beautiful countryside…
- Versailles -Once a small village, Versailles is now a wealthy suburb just 12 miles outside of Paris. This gorgeous, gilded chateau was home to Louis XIV and the seat of power in the 17th century. Amazing opulence. TIP: We went to the office and bought a one-year pass for one adult that includes admission for a guest and the children got in free this brought us to the front of the line and was cheaper than any other option. We did not want a guided tour. They all looked miserable when we saw them so we were glad we had not done that option.
- Giverney – This is the home of Claude Monet and where he painted his famous Water Lilies works as well as many others. You will recognize many in his studio. The home is colorful and quaint and the gardens are lush and amazing. TIP: We bought a ticket at the contemporary Art Museum down the street from Monet’s home. This allowed us VIP access to both museums and avoided the very long line at Monet’s home.
- We had lunch at the flower covered café across the street from his home.
- We returned to Paris spent the afternoon doing a bit of shopping on the Champs-Elysses.
- River cruise on the Seine – This is a great way to see many of the main sites and to take a load off your weary feet!
- Dinner at an Italian café near the hotel that was not used to having tourists! I can’t remember the name but it was such an interesting experience. They warmed up to us once my middle daughter tried to ask the waiter a few questions in French 🙂 Try something on your own. There are so many great little cafes.
- Eiffel Tower – Buy tickets there and walked the steps to the second level totally doable even with a 7 year old.
- Saw our top 10 at the Louvre – Our girls attend a classical school so seeing the Winged Victory and Marley Horses were high on their list! There are lists in the guides I recommended and at the Louvre.
- Lunch at Angelina across from the Tuileries – Angelina’s is famous for their thick hot chocolate and Mont Blanc dessert. A must even in the summer!
- Walked to Notre Dame – We had intended to attend the English Mass but had the time wrong. The stained glass is simply beautiful.
- Visit Sainte Chapelle and the flower market
- Isle St Louis – Walked around this beautiful area that has a great neighborhood feel and had ice cream, of course! The lines at Bertillion are very long and every place is truly as good. We went to Glace Des Alpes. They were so helpful with our food allergies, too!
- Picked up items for our picnic in this neighborhood at the individual shops. We felt so Parisienne!
- Hotel Regina provided us with a picnic blanket for our picnic in front of the Louvre. Truly one of our very best memories and the perfect way to end our time in Paris.
Side Trip to Normandy – Highly Recommend if you have an extra day!
Our guide was Aissi AssaAssa (pronounced Icee) , owner of Jet Car Services. We have used his company each time we’ve visited and referred many friends. Aissi knows his WWII history well and was a wonderful guide sharing all his knowledge. He handled our airport transfers as well.
- Caen-Normandy Memorial Museum – This museum gives you an indepth and complete picture of WWII. We spent 2 /12 hours here and learned so very much.
- Lunch at Normandy Hotel – Darling hotel that would be a great place to stay if you were spending more time here. Lunch was wonderful on their veranda.
- Normandy 100 days film in Arramanche – This is a must-see! My friend and photographer, Mary Summers-Hafner, told us about this. It shown in a 360 degree circular theater High Definition on 9 screens and tells the story of the terrible Battle of Normandy thanks to archive newsreel footage and images gathered from news sources around the world.
- American Cemetery at Omaha Beach – Truly sacred ground. It was humbling to stand on the beach and to walk through the grounds.
- Ponte Du Hoc memorial – Another amazing opportunity to see where the war took place. The verdant grounds dotted with sheep belie what happened here so many years ago. There are shells of Nazi bunkers that remain and huge craters that you can walk through.
Hotel Regina – Perfectly located and has family rooms/apartments. We had a family suite that was two bedroom, two bathrooms and a living area. A beautiful breakfast buffet was included each morning. I highly recommend this for families. We added a twin to the living area to sleep 5.
Hotel Lancaster – Just off the Champs-Elysees near the Arch de Triomphe. Gorgeous hotel where Scott and I stayed and many friends have stayed as well.
Saint Germain – I’ve rented an apartment in this area with friends. Great idea and location for a girls trip or couples trip.
Les Ombres – My MUST for any trip to Paris. I talked about it more on Day 1.
Cafe de Flore – Great authentic French Bistro and favorite of Hemmingway and Fitzgerald
Les Deux Magots – Another famous haunt of the Lost Generation. Definitely put this on you list.
I know there is much more to see in Paris but this hits the highlights that you must see if you only have a few days. A few essentials I’d be taking with me if I were going on Friday like my friends!