Contributing author, Rebekah Joy from Too me, To Fit in.
Just the name brings up thoughts of romance. Movies. Chocolate croissants. Glitz and glam. Art and fashion.
As part of our homeschool experience, my family was able to make the journey to Paris, France – in the middle of September. It was the perfect time to go. It was in the 50’s most days, and a little rainy off and on. We were ready and had packed rain jackets and water-proof boots so the weather didn’t hold us back.
For about a month, our library’s shelves were depleted of anything related to the France and it’s history as we prepared for the trip of a lifetime. Pinterest had some great lap book resources I printed off and I purchased this fun book from Amazon, A Kid’s Guide to France and Paris. (Most of the book we complete before jetting off, the rest we completed once arriving home.) After all our projects were complete, we descended upon the city with much excitement and eyes wide open looking for the places we’d just studied.
Paris is a great first over-seas travel experience for young families. Other than a language barrier snafu with our driver at the airport (which was resolved once my phone cooperated and I could use Google Translate) our trip to The City of Lights was a smashing success.
Taxis and Uber make moving around the city convenient. While the underground is less expensive, you do have to move quickly and it takes a couple trips to learn the system. With little ones in tow who are unfamiliar with “minding the gap” it can add a level of stress. But Parisians enter and exit, with strollers and grace.
It’s true the French have a reputation for being rude to tourists, but we found that politeness (and a cute kid!) brought out the real, friendly French character. Most people speak some level of English and will help you, but again, be respectful and polite.
The way I see it, there are two ways you can do Paris.
- Picnic in a park every day of your trip. Buy a baguette to nibble while strolling along the banks of the Seine River. Sip espresso at a cafe for an hour, or two, while watching all the frantic tourists and cute dogs pass by.
- Fill your schedule to the max so you don’t miss anything the city has to offer!
We chose option two – learning and experiencing as much as possible. (Next time though, it’s option one.)
In ten days we visited over thirty places! (Only a handful of them will be highlighted below.) About a week into the trip, we took an afternoon off to just sit in a park and enjoy a little treat while while soaking in our surroundings.
Being an educator, I look for teachable moments everywhere we go. And there is no shortage of learning possibilities in Paris. We were able to cover all the “basic subjects” – architecture and design, world history, art, science, cultures, culinary arts, communications and a foreign language.
Our first stop, after settling into our hotel, was a hunt for the perfect macaron and the Eiffel Tower, of course. We opted to not go to the top of the tower, but instead enjoyed the surrounding park while the icon loomed over us.
Since a shooting a few years back, they have installed a clear wall around the underside of the tower making it more difficult to go right up to the structure itself. There are pesky peddlers all around the area so look out if you have kids with you. But don’t be alarmed. Just keep moving or firmly tell them “no.”
The Marie Curie Museum is free and located within walking distance of the Pantheon. Here, you can see Marie’s office and the equipment she used to discover the element radium. Unfortunately, most of the actual pieces from her office and home were so highly radio-active that they cannot be on display. But, the museum found the exact, antique pieces to display for guests. For a budding scientist or history buff there was something special about this small museum.
The belly of ThePantheon might seem a bit frightening to littles, where we were able to view where Marie Curie, Louie Braille, Raphael and other famous French citizens are entombed. So much love of country and amazing minds all under one roof. The art and architecture is stunning.
No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting The Lourve. I was unaware of exactly how crowded this place would be. While we didn’t have to wait in line really, the swarms of people inside were overwhelming. The mob surrounding the Mona Lisa were inconsiderate and I nearly lost a child to their pressing!
It was an honor to see some of the most famous pieces of art in world history.
The Paris Museum of Science was very unique, and they have a children’s museum too! All forms of science are celebrated here. If you get hungry, there are a few restaurants you can walk to within the building system even an aquarium for added adventures!
The Centre Georges Pompedu is quite an experience. Their escalator scales the outside of the building leading to one of the best views in Paris! You can grab an espresso or meal at the rooftop café. If you like modern art, this is your place.
Outside the building, a street performer delighted the children with giant bubbles. A few coins were expected as a thank you.
We took a night riverboat cruise on the Seine which was delightful. Notre Dame and all the famous bridges were well lit with the Eiffel Tower lights dancing. Don’t miss out on the books and trinkets for sale in the green boxes which line the river.
If you research ahead or stumble upon a true Parisian market you’re in for a treat. Antiques, treasures and bobbles will delight! Remember to haggle!
A bit of a jaunt out of the city you’ll find the Palace of Versailles. Full of glory and history which spreads around the globe, you will be mesmerized with the beauty of this place. For a bit too much money, you can rent a golf cart and drive around the grounds for an hour or two. It was so worth every penny. You must know – the carts don’t back up and there are designated paths you must stay on. We didn’t want to leave this place. Make sure to sip the famous hot chocolate in the Cafe Angelina while imagining what life would have been like when Marie Antoinette lived there.
Paris Travel Tips:
Pack light – most hotel rooms are small.
The older buildings have thin walls – you might hear your neighbors and they might hear you.
Wi-Fi is not always included with your hotel, it might cost extra.
As a general rule, stay in the tourist areas for added safety.
Research hours of operation and plan your schedule in advance, but be flexible, weather and places you didn’t know existed will surprise you.
If you leave the city, transportation is either tricky or pricey.
Ride at least one carousel.
Add an “extra” $2-300 to your budget, do all the things you stumble upon, you’re making lifetime memories.
Yes, it’s worth paying the entry fee and only being there for an hour.
(For more of my travel tips, see this post Flying With Kids Checklist.)
French Words to Learn Before you Go:
Where is the bathroom?
How much is this?
One baguette, please.
Thanks for the ride!
Do you speak English?
I would like….
Paris Packing Musts:
Travel Sized Umbrella
Good Walking Shoes
Map of the City
Light Jacket or Sweater
Snacks for the Littles
Uber and Google Translate Apps on Your Phone
I hope your family falls in love with world travel. When your kids are grown, not only will they remember globe-trotting with mom and dad, but they will be able to relate to the world around them in a special way. Expanding one’s world-view can’t come too early.
International travel can be inclusive of many valuable elements including:
- Hands-on experience by which your child can learn how all the subjects they are learning intertwine.
- Bonding and problem solving with their parents.
- Complete immersion in life outside of their “local bubble.”
Rebekah is a Jesus-follower, spoiled wife, grateful mommy and a creatively wired Jill-Of-All-Trades. Her ministry and passions continue to take her all over the world, but her heart rests, at home.
The blog, Too Me, To Fit In, was born from years of learning and re-learning, experience and God’s restorative grace.
For over twenty years Rebekah has worked in one form of ministry or another including missions, music, teaching, content development and event coordinating.
She holds a BA in Urban Ministry and Family Crisis with a minor in Christian Counseling, an MA in Religious Education and is a Certified Life Coach.
Currently, Rebekah delights in being a homeschool mom and Director of PR for a growing non-profit, as well as hosting Rebekah Joy – Too Me, To Fit In and its community.