I have to start by saying this trip was absolutely AMAZING! Like any trip, there may have been a mishap or two, or some things we may have done a bit differently, but overall we had a great vacation.
Our travels to Paris:
Our flight was scheduled to leave out of Newark airport on French Bee airlines at 11:55 PM on December 25th. Arranging at the airport and going through security and check-in was easy. We grabbed some snacks and headed to our gate. Luckily, we found four empty seats near lots of charging ports. Kids and parents alike, we charged our devices for our flight. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the fire alarm went off repeatedly for what seemed like forever but was about an hour. Henceforth an announcement informed us we were not in danger, and they investigated the situation.
The not-so-pleasant boarding process:
Once that settled, we were close to our boarding time, 10:30 pm. 10:30 came and went, and 11:30 came and went. Then, crew members expressed we would be boarding by 12:15. 12:15, like 10:30 and 11:30, came and went! Once again, the announcements went off, but with bad news. We were told the flight was delayed until further notice. Eventually, 1:15 am rolled around, and crew members invited us to board the plane. To our dissatisfaction, the aircraft was different from what we had booked. Instead of a French Bee plane, we were on a smaller Wamos aircraft. This plane had some differences from the plane we originally booked. For example, there was no seat back screen, and our four seats in a row were no longer in a row. We paid for these seats to ensure that we would sit with the kids, and we put the kids between us, hoping that since they are smaller, they would give us extra comfort.
Here we are, on our smaller plane heading to Paris! The only pro about the delay was that the kids slept! They spent a little time on their tablets but mostly slept through. Then, thankfully they slept because our flight ended up being around 10 hours long! Due to this and the delay, we arrived 5 hours late. As a result of all the delays, we missed our Seine River Cruise with dinner. As disappointing as this was, we would not allow it to ruin our trip. After grabbing a quick dinner, we headed to our hotel, Novotel 17, and went to bed to prepare for our first day in Paris!
Waking up in Paris was so exciting! My daughter and husband were up bright and early, ready to find authentic Parisian croissants. They walked a few blocks from our hotel and found Le Grenier Ã Pain. Our daughter was beyond excited; she LOVES croissants and has been talking endlessly about a true Parisian croissant. In addition to the croissants, they also bought baguettes. And I have to say, the croissants were delicious, but momma’s top choice was the AMAZING baguette; I just sat there and ate it! It was one of the most delicious loaves of bread I have ever had!
Palace of Versailles
It was time to start our first full day in Paris. We planned to visit The Palace of Versailles. Using Viator, we purchased aÂ Versailles Palace Skip-the-lineÂ Classic Guided Tour. We took an Uber to Versailles; we thought it might be easier with the kids. It took us about 35 minutes and was an easy ride. Buying the tour tickets in advance was the BEST idea! Our tour met about five minutes away from the Palace. Once we checked in, our guide provided us with headphones and our little player so we could follow along with the tour. Once we arrived at the Palace, we saw the MASSIVE lines outside for those that did not pre-purchase their tickets. Our guide went to check us in; we went in a side entrance, put our items through security, and we were on our way.
The Palace of Versailles was magnificent! Some people thought we were crazy for taking the kids, but we don’t regret it. They aren’t going to learn how to act in places like this if we don’t give them the opportunity. They behaved well and were interested in many things as we walked through the Palace. I admit our son (4 yr. old) had difficulty walking and needed some breaks. However, it was not to the point that we regretted taking him. The castle was more crowded in some rooms than others, based on how the space was configured.
Even through the crowd, we could hear our guide, and he clearly stated which part of the room he was in if we were far from our group. After about 40 minutes of the guided tour, we decided it may be moving too slowly for the kids. Then, we returned our equipment and independently walked the rest of the palace. Among all the beauty within the castle, I found the Hall of Mirrors the most beautiful! If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it!
After leaving the Palace, we Ubered to the Eiffel Tower; we didn’t have tickets but wanted to see it in person for the first time. On the ride over, I searched for a river cruise on the Seine; missing the dinner cruise the night before was disappointing, so we figured, let’s try! Looking last minute was a good idea; there were discounted tickets, and we could tour the river onÂ Vedettes De Paris.
We could squeeze in on the top deck at the back of the boat, and the views were worth it! The tour started as the sun set, providing daylight and night views of the Eiffel Tower. The cruise sold wine and some snacks, including crÃ©pes. We did not get any food, but we enjoyed a delicious bottle of rosÃ© wine! This cruise provided us with the most stunning views! It was a great last-minute idea for a great price.
Once the tour ended, we headed towards and past the Louvre to escape the crowds. We figured this would help us to get a ride to our next destination. The view from the back step of the Louvre also provided terrific views!
Next, we decided to surprise our daughter! We headed to EL&N London, a cafe located in the Galaries Lafayette. This cafe initially started in London but opened in the mall in Paris. What is so special about this cafe is its pink theme! She was incredibly excited upon entering the cafe and witnessing it for the first time! Although beautiful, we were disappointed by the cafe. We arrived about an hour before closing, they were a bit crowded, but the manager kindly seated us.
Being respectful of the time, we decided to order something quickly. We ordered a hot chocolate, a slice of red velvet cake, and a few macarons. Unfortunately, they were out of the cake and macarons we chose. Ultimately, we just had the hot chocolate, let our daughter enjoy the beautiful decor, and headed out. Surprisingly, we were not impressed with the cafe as a whole. As I have noted, this is not the original location; I would consider visiting the original location to see what it is truly about.
Day 2: The Louvre & the Eiffel Tower
Day 2, getting the kids up, was a bit tough, but we had some big plans for our day! Our first stop was the Louvre. Like with the Palace of Versailles, we preorder our tickets onÂ Viator; again, such a great decision. The tickets we bought had an off-site pick-up spot about a half mile from the entrance. Once there, we obtained our tickets and a map to find the priority entrance for our tickets. Like our experience at the Palace, arrival at the Louvre was another smooth, seamless entry as we did not go through the main door, meaning no crowds! We walked in, went through security, and started our tour.
Touring the museum:
We decided to go directly to the Mona Lisa, as we know it gets very crowded as the day continues. There was a roped-off queue that moved rather quickly. Not to say that I don’t appreciate art or the popularity of the Mona Lisa, but it was rather anticlimactic for me. However, you cannot go to Paris without viewing the Mona Lisa. The kids were interested in the popularity of it and her eyes, so I am glad we went and had the opportunity to expose them to art. From here, we continued our tour. Similar to Versailles, the Louvre is a beautiful building with amazing detail.
From here, we leisurely walked throughout the museum, remembering that the kids may tire quickly; we took some breaks and tried to find the most engaging art for them, mainly statues and other structures. Our son loved the Greek Gods, and our daughter loved various crowns and jewels in different wings. I was most excited to see the pyramid. I’m not sure why; I find it to be beautiful! Many say you need at least three hours to go through the entire museum. We ended up spending about two hours there before heading out. Visiting the Louvre is another must-do in Paris. I am not such a big museum person, but I did enjoy our visit.
Following our visit to the Louvre, we had some time before our Eiffel Tour visit. We began walking towards where we first started our day, where we saw a Christmas market. The market consisted of vendors selling items, including souvenirs, desserts, and jewelry; there was also a beer garden, wine vendors, food, an ice skating rink, and carnival rides. The kids loved it!
After a few rides and snacks, it was time to head toward the Eiffel Tower. Like our other tours, we preordered our tickets. There are various options; we walked to the second floor and ordered ours onÂ Viator. Once again, it was a great decision to preorder; we were quickly through security, had our tickets scanned, and started our climb.
I am not much for heights, but I decided to attempt climbing the tower. Despite my fears, I made it about halfway to the second floor before turning around. However, my husband and kids made it to the second floor and loved the view!
A French dinner:
After climbing all those steps, the kids had a BIG appetite! Afterward, we headed to Marie Belle, a restaurant we loved on our day trip to Paris in April. The decor was cute and comfortable, and the staff was extremely welcoming. Our daughter had the escargot and loved it! She is braver than me!
After a long day in two of the most famous sites in Paris, we decided to head back to the hotel. We returned to our hotel and hung out in the bar area while the kids played before bed.
Day 3: A leisurely day exploring Paris.
We had yet to make plans for Thursday, our third day in Paris. We wanted to enjoy Paris. We started walking south, then recalled a fantastic creperie from our day in Paris. We ordered a crepe and waffle, and they were terrific! We headed to L’atelier Des Soeurs; the kids decided they wanted to eat outside like Parisians!
The crepe is Pomme RÃ´tie, Caramel Au Beurre SalÃ©, Chantilly, Flambage Au Pommeau, Amandes, which translates to roasted apple, salted butter caramel, whipped cream, pommeau flambage, and almonds. Additionally, we ordered the banane, pÃ¢te Ã tartiner, chantilly, and Ã©clats de cookies, which translates to banana, spread (tasted like Nutella to us), whipped cream, and chocolate cookie. Both were delicious and loved but all!
Like many other restaurants and establishments in Paris, the decor was excellent inside and out. We were even impressed by the sink in the toilet! As my husband and I relaxed with a glass of wine, the kids had the opportunity to run around and enjoy the nice day!
We then got into an Uber that dropped us off in the Second Arrondissement. We wanted to be closer to the Seine but still wanted to be able to walk through Paris and see the sites, restaurants, cafes, and stores. We walked down Rue Montorgueil, and it was the most fantastic street! Unknowingly, the road was decorated and renamed Rue des Bulles, Bubble Street, for the holidays. The design of the balloons resembles bottles of champagne.
After enjoying the vibe down the street, we headed towards Pont des Arts, or the Lock Bridge, hoping to find the lock we put on in April. Sadly, the town hall in Paris determined that the weight of the locks was too heavy for the integrity of the bridge. The city removed all the locks and installed new fencing to which locks could not be attached. However, people began to hang locks on the poles and where ever possible nearby to keep up with the tradition.
As the sun set, we continued our walk, taking in as much as we could on our last night. The Louvre at night is quite a beautiful site!
In conclusion, this ended our trip to Paris. To say it was amazing is an understatement. Albeit it was a short trip, it was well worth it. This trip allowed us to see how our children could travel internationally since it was significantly different than other trips we have taken. I am so glad we brought them; they had a fantastic time and impressed us with their ability to keep up with the prolonged walking and long days. At this time, we need to start planning for our next adventure!
I hope you enjoyed our Parisian adventure and will follow us on future adventures!
Check out our follow-up post on our thoughts on French Bee Airlines here.
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