Hello Gailprentice, I'll add my cent's worth of advice:
you mentioned your kids would like to see museums. That's really admirable, as kids ususally don't. Therefore I would like to put a word in favour of the Louvre.( as a tourist guide of 30 years and as the proud grandmother of a teenager grandson who insisted that the Louvre is a must when in Paris..) February is not high season, so tourists are few, and qeues are usually short. The Louvre is not only a museum, but a palace, and it's interesting from the architectural point of view mixing the ancient and the grandiose with the modern pyramide, underground shopping galleries - and even a "food space" which is convenient for kids,before and/or after visit. One does not have to "do" all the museum. There are the highliths to be seen, the rooms to be admired. Also , from the Esplanade du Louvre, you can see that marvel of urban architecture which is the view of the Caroussel Arch, Arc de Triomphe and La Grande Arche de la Defence ( as well as the Concorde needle in between) in one straight line.
I also think your kids are right about meals: there is no much time to eat lunch "french style" . let alone searching for the "non touristic ones"., when time is so precious. There is a lot of street food,boulangeries, sandwicheries and whatnot; not all of it excellent, but kids live anyhow on carbs, and there is plenty of fare for them.
Drinks are expensive and should not be bought in cafes. Do carry bottles of whatever they like in you backpacks, big bottles bought at the corner shop in your street. Cheap and paractical. Munchies too, for when no non-touristic eating place is around. ( there are practically no non touristic places near the touristic places..). I could go on, but I'm sure you've had enough suggestion for a two months stay in Paris.
Do have the most wonderful time, - I believe first time in Paris with kids is as rewarding for the "parent guide" as for them.
Debbie & Debbie, thanks for the extra tips! I am so glad to know about the drinking fountains - the water bottle re-fill is what the kids normally do & now we know we don't have to refill at only the hotel. We will definitely be so happy to eat at the Boulangeries mostly (I will have to get one dinner in, though!); yes, the kids live on carbs. Even though they know they want to eat mostly croissants & pastries next week, they have still requested bread pudding (made with croissants) for dessert tonight (and they just had it three days ago! - DH made it; he must have been sub-consciously bumming out about not going to Paris with us).
The cemeteries sound better than I thought so the C. Montparnasse in particular will be fit into our plans & the weather looks like it is shaping up for it being nice outdoors. Big bonus! The Cluny sounds great, too, & is free admission for the moment.
simona, we are actually following your advice on the Louvre! Debbie recommended Paris Walks (I want to take them all!) and we booked for the Louvre tour. DH asked DD what she wanted to do in Paris and, like your grandson, feels that the Louvre is a must so we have to go there. The tour will make it manageable.
We are definitely excited and all your advice from this thread has truly helped with our plans as well as easing some of my anxieties. Thanks again, everyone - merci beaucoup!
Joined: 24 Jan 2006 Posts: 72 Location: Limburg Province, The Netherlands
Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:12 pm Post subject:
I'll put in a plug for the museum card. At quite a few of the museums, including the Louvre, you have a special entrance were you can skip the worst of the queues. The trick is to buy at someplace that doesn't have a long line. We bought one at Notre Dame's tour since you don't get to cut the line there. The Cluny is another good place to buy it. I would recommend going to the Orangerie to see the giant waterlily paintings. It is something to see them in person. It is also one of the places that accepts the card. You can buy them for 2, 4 or 6 days. Have a great time!
Joined: 13 Nov 2004 Posts: 899 Location: Gold Coast Australia
Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:41 pm Post subject:
I've always bought my museum card from my travel agent before leaving home. It can work out more expensive than paying entry fees only but the time saved in queus makes it well worth it. _________________ Barbara
Joined: 14 Oct 2005 Posts: 827 Location: Oakland, CA
Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:56 pm Post subject:
Hi gailprentiice - having just returned from Paris, I have a few bits of info I can add. We got a lot of info about the 7th from one of my husband's cousins, who lived there for several months last year.
I heartily recommend Cafe Constant - at the corner of rue Saint dominique and re Augereau (one block up from Blvd. de la Bourdonnais). Christian Constant is a well known chef in Paris with several starred restos. This is a very simple restaurant - a kind of neighborhood joint that serves breakfast, lunch & dinner.
It's a tiny space, tables cheek by jowl. the staff are attentive and most speak English, but were happy to speak French with me (pushy American!). We did not have reservations and wandered in at 9:00 on a Wednesday evening, after tramping about all day long. We got a lovely reception and had a terrific meal. We shared an entree of artichoke and mushroom salad. (Next time I would order the ceviche of salmon, scallops and oysters in lime juice - eaten by the woman to my right.) For the plat principal, I had quail with lentils YUM and Sam had the scallops - my mouth waters thinking of them...so simply prepared with butter, lemon and parsley. It would be a great place to go for lunch and there are Many Many traiteurs in the neighborhood where you will be able to buy something simple to eat in your room in the evening. Plus, of course rue Cler has an amazing open air market nearly every day I believe.
I also would recommend the Petit Palais Musée des Beaux Arts de la ville de Paris. It's a very interesting collection of medieval and Renaissance objets d'art, tapestries, drawings and 19th century painting and sculpture. Admission is free (there is a charge for the audioguide) and it's a lovely space with some wonderfully interesting pieces -The collection includes Poussin's The Massacre of the Innocents, Ruben's Prosperpina, and Rembrandt's Self-Portrait with Poodle (quite amusing). There are also Impressionist selections from the nineteenth century by Pisarro, Morisot, Cassatt, Manet, Renoir, and Gauguin.
We had never been there and it was a lovely 2-3 hours for us - and we saw almost everything!
There is no ice skating on the Eiffel Tower this year. There is still a rink in front of the Hotel de Ville and it was quite crowded every day we were there. Of course - this was LAST week. Who knows about next week?
I should mention what a shock it was to deal with such a weak dollar. Even with les soldes (Winter sales) and keeping to the low road, we were astonished at the cost of things. On the advice of Debbie (she of the lovely smile) we shopped at Franprix rather than Monoprix (a difference of 20-30% for many of the items we looked at) for food goodies to bring home - and even there it was very dear. We bought only food souvenirs! And a French placemat for the cat!
I was very nervous about trying to bring foie gras back to California so we didn't even try. However we slid through the inspections at the airport with a minimal amount of questioning (and an x-ray) regarding our purchases. I probably could have managed it - but if I hadn't, I would have been devastated.
Have fun! I hope you get the AMAZING weather we had - 30's at night and 40-50º during the day. Sunny with not a SINGLE cloud for the whole week! _________________ L'appetit vient en mangeant. -Rabelais
Joined: 14 Oct 2005 Posts: 827 Location: Oakland, CA
Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:02 pm Post subject:
I forgot to mention that if you are architecture fans (my DH is an architect, so we spend a lot of time with our necks craned and come back with pictures or flashing details or carpentry) - there is an AMAZING Art Deco building on Avenue Rapp (maybe between rue Valentin & rue Saint Dominique). Just OVER THE TOP with lizards and beautiful women. Very lovely. worth a stroll by, in any case! _________________ L'appetit vient en mangeant. -Rabelais
Joined: 18 Oct 2004 Posts: 1654 Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound
Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:37 am Post subject:
We brought a jar of way sketchy looking wild boar pate home from Italy with us and some haggis soup without the fun bits, cooked and sealed in a can from England and you'll never guess which one they took away at customs.....strange customs regs. _________________ "It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."
Just wanted to post my thanks to everyone here for all of the tips and advice! We had a great time and the kids especially loved the Louvre & the d'Orsay...some of the other museums were closed since we went mid-week but now we are planning to return so will be able to use the rest of your suggestions another time! DD also was told by her seatmate on the plane that the weekend flea markets are not to be missed. Not my thing but she likes to shop. So much to do!
I loved the bakery, especially...our favorite was Secco (Poujauran/Secco on rue Jean Nicot - I think the sign just says Secco) for the croissants, financiers, & baguettes. Their brioche was also much better than others' nearby. I think we went to Jean Millet for lunch (sandwiches & ham napoleon-type-thing) the first day. Excellent. We went to a wine bar the first night and had a nice light meal: wonderful sausage, cornichons, fried potatoes, & rillettes - the mustard served along side was the surprise - just wonderful. At lunchtime, we happened to be near St. Michel at lunchtime two of the days (DD had to return to a shop there to buy a purse!) & the kids ate gyros for lunch both days! Cheap & the kids were very happy. We ate dinner one night at Tribeca (rue Cler) since we had no reservations anywhere & it was close. Not too expensive but the food wasn't great. The kids had pizza (it was pretty good but the kids didn't like the goat cheese on it) & I had duck confit which tasted a bit scorched. So, not all French food, but, mostly we did eat well. The boulangeries kept us in snacks & the kids liked the waffle & crepes stands, also.
One of the nicest things about the trip was that the Parisians were all extremely friendly & helpful!
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