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. Arrival at the airport and making our way through security and check-in was easy. We grabbed some snacks and headed to our gate. Luckily, we were able to find 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 again and again and again. For what seemed like forever but was about an hour. Announcements informed us we were not in danger, and they investigated the situation.
Once that settled, we were close to our boarding time, 10:30 pm. 10:30 came and went, and 11:30 came and went. Finally! We were told 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. Finally, 1:15 am rolled around, and we were called to board. To our dissatisfaction, the plane was not what we had booked. Rather than a French Bee plane, we were on a smaller Wamos plane, which had 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 a little bit 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 bit of time on their tablets but mostly slept through. Thankfully they slept because our flight ended up being around 10 hours long! Due to this and the delay, we arrived 5 hours late. Unfortunately, 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 some authentic Parisian croissants and baguettes! They walked a few blocks from our hotel and found Le Grenier à Pain. Our daughter was beyond excited; she LOVES croissants and has been talking endlessly about a true Parisian croissant. And I have to say, they were delicious, but momma’s top choice was the AMAZING baguette; I literally 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. Our plans were to visit The Palace of Versailles. Using Viator, we purchased a Versailles Palace Skip-the-line Classic Guided Tour. We took an Uber to Versailles; we just thought it might be easier with the kids. It took us about 35 minutes to get there 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 a bit crazy for taking the kids, but we don’t regret it at all. They aren’t going to learn how to act in places like this if we don’t give them the opportunity. They behaved really 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 a bit crowded, more in some rooms than others, based upon how the room was set up.
Even though the crowd, we could hear our guide, and he clearly stated which part of the room he was in if we were not near our group. After about 40 minutes of the guided tour, we decided it may be moving along too slowly for the kids. We returned our equipment and walked the rest of the palace independently. Among all the beauty within the palace, I found the Hall of Mirrors to be the most beautiful! No detail was overlooked in the palace from the artwork to the marble and gold. 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 we wanted to see it. On the ride over, I searched for a river cruise on the Seine; missing the dinner cruise the night before was a bit disappointing, so we figured, let’s try! Looking last minute was not a bad idea; there were discounted tickets, and we could tour the river on 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 us with both daylight and night views of the Eiffel Tower. The cruise sold wine and some snacks including cépes. We did not get any food, but we enjoyed a delicious bottle of rosé 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! 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 quick. 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.
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 on 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 were given our tickets and a map to find the priority entrance for our tickets. This 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.
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. I think it is something that you have to say you saw and I did. 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 fantastic detail.
From here we leisurely walked throughout the museum, keeping in mind 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 that you need a minimum of three hours to go through the entire museum. We ended up spending about two hours there before heading out. I do believe this is another must-do in Paris. I am not such a big museum person, but I did enjoy our visit.
After 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 some snacks, it was time to head toward the Eiffel Tower. Like our other tours, we preordered our tickets. There are various options; we walked up to the second floor and ordered ours on Viator. Once again, it was a great decision to preorder; we were quickly through security had our tickets scanned, and started our climb.
Full disclosure, I am not much for heights, but I decided to give it a try. 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!
After climbing all those steps, the kids had a BIG appetite! We headed to Marie Belle, a restaurant we loved on our day trip to Paris back 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 for a bit before bed.
Day 3: A leisurely day exploring Paris.
On Thursday, our third day in Paris we had no plans. Our plans were to enjoy Paris. We started walking south, then recalled a fantastic creperie from our day in Paris. We headed to L’atelier Des Soeurs; the kids decided they wanted to eat outside as Parisians do! We ordered a crepe and waffle, and they were amazing!
The crepe is Pomme Rôtie, Caramel Au Beurre Salé, Chantilly, Flambage Au Pommeau, Amandes, which translates to roasted apple, salted butter caramel, whipped cream, pommeau flambage, and almonds. Then we ordered the banane, pâte à tartiner, chantilly, and éclats 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, both 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 street was decorated and renamed Rue des Bulles, Bubble Street, for the holidays. The decor is meant to resemble 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. Unfortunately, all of the locks and fencing were removed. New fencing was installed where locks could not be hung. However, people began to hang locks on the poles and where ever possible nearby to keep up with the tradition.
As the sun began to 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!
And this ended our trip to Paris. To say it was amazing is an understatement. Although it may have been a bit of 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. In the end, I am so glad we decided to bring them; they had a fantastic time and impressed us with their ability to keep up with the long walking and long days. Now, it is time to start planning for our next adventure!