By Paulyne Fermin
Bonjour! After 14 hours of flight, we finally reached our vacation destination – Paris! It’s the first time for the whole family to travel to Europe, and boy, did we have fun! The kids, who are both used to going to North America during the summer, were only mildly excited when I told them about the trip. But by the end of our month long adventure, M & R were the happiest kids in the planet.
In planning our itinerary, I researched the net for top tours and must-try activities for families. Girlfriends who have visited France before also shared helpful advice. Now I’m sharing tips for you to consider in planning your own vacation.
Have a Picnic by the Eiffel Tower
While first time visitors are all too excited to take pictures at the iconic tower, we had picnics with our Parisbased cousins in parks near the attraction. We were so lucky to witness the 130th anniversary celebration of the Eiffel Tower where the iconic structure became the canvass of a half-hour lights and sounds show. With mats laid out, we ate sandwiches and had champagne in Jardin du Trocadero some hours before the spectacle. We had the best view of the show from where we sat. There’s also a playground so the kids had fun there prior. We also enjoyed another picnic outing, by day this time, with a view of the tower on the opposite side at Champ de Mars.
Unleash your inner kid at Disneyland Paris
Paris Disneyland had a limited Marvel attraction and we could not miss that! My son M is a big Avengers fan and he really enjoyed the various live superhero shows. We lined up and enjoyed our favorites rides: The Haunted Manor, Star Wars and Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters. The good thing is that French and English are used in most attractions so you won’t miss out on anything.
Sit on the upper deck of the HopOn-Hop-Off (HOHO) Bus
The most convenient way to see the city sights is to ride the HOHO bus. Do take the red Big Bus and City Sightseeing double decker because it offers the best route (2 in fact!) and has better audio information. We went down at Notre Dame. Sadly, a month before our trip, a part of the famous church was engulfed by fire. We said our prayers and took photos outside. Another stop of the HOHO bus is close to where the upscale mall Galeries Lafayette is located. After a quick lunch and some shopping, we crossed the street to François Debret’s Palais Garnier. We were lost in the opulence of it all. The architecture and golden decors made us imagine what it would be like to live like royals.
Visit Versailles with a tour guide
An expert tour guide makes all the difference. Our British guide Alexandre told us a hundred facts even before we could enter the gates. He took us back in history and made every room come alive. I noticed how attentive the kids were the whole four hours. (We learned that the French royalty produced many Louis–18 in all!) The tour ended at the beautiful Versailles gardens.
Appreciate art at The Louvre
Bask in the magnificence of the glass pyramids and grand fountains outside the Louvre and take in all the beauty of the masterful works inside. My son M took his time appreciating three different paintings of David and Goliath, while my daughter marveled at the Roman statues of gods and goddesses. We also saw the Monalisa up close. What a truly awesome experience for us all! Travelling truly enriches the mind, body and soul. There’s so much more to discover about the world and we are happy to do it as a family!