Paris with Teens

I have searched the internet over for recommendations on itineraries and activities that will appeal to teens and adults alike in Paris; there is a dearth.  Since I have taken my two boys a couple of times and have more trips on the docket, I thought I would share my experiences and plans.  This is my list of places and activities I have enjoyed with my boys ranging in age from 10 to 16.   Typically, I make a “half-agenda”, aiming for one museum or major site per day (tickets in advance), and then let the spirit of la flânerie take over. 

Realizing that all kids are not alike, you will have to gauge your own kids’ tolerance for some of these activities.  Mine, for instance, are not shoppers (hence the lack of shopping suggestions).  My boys are also happy to eat at restaurants, though sometimes they prefer to opt for a quick crepe or sandwich on the go.  (See notes on eating out in Paris below).  Some kids are set on the triumvirate: Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame and the Louvre.  However, if they are not (and you are not) set on those, I contend that there are sites and activities of equal or greater interest with far shorter lines and greater return on your time and money. 

(At the end of this article are some itineraries including Sweets, Revolution points, a scavenger hunt, Street Art and Atget photo points.)

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LOGISTICS

Getting Around

My advice is to make yourself a map on Google (star your saves) and you can pull it up on your phone as you walk through town.  Much less embarrassing than spreading out a huge paper map!  Below, you will find several walks with links to maps we have made for Revolution points, sweets, fun facts, and street art.  Take comfy shoes for walking- this is a walking town!

 

The metro system is moving to a card, rather than tickets. For a while longer, you may still buy a "carnet"- 10 tickets on the metro; they should get you through a day or many more depending on weather and your walking shoes.  Soon, children under 11 will ride free, so check before you go.

 

For our last trip, we experimented with a two-day Paris Museum Pass that grants unlimited entry to the permanent collections of 50ish museums and monuments.  Other than having to pick it up in person at a desk in a rather hard to find spot in a huge shopping complex, and having to plan two days of museum visits, it did save us a bit of cash.

 
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Tips For Dining in Paris:

At restaurants and popular bistros, you will likely need to make reservations.  Plus, doing so will take some of the stress out of looking while hungry.  Brasseries and cafes are easy drop in spots for salads, omelettes, and more standard fare.  For a list of restaurants to suit all tastes and ages, click the menu to the right on Restaurants.

 

A slight difference between dining in Paris (and France) and the US is the unusual sight of children at a table, and the not infrequent sight of a dog, often being fed from a fork and a plate… on a chair.  General politesse is the same, but children are not often part of the party at restaurants, so make sure your kids are well-behaved unless you like the rushed treatment and hard-glare from the opposite side of the room. It is essential to say bonjour or bonsoir when entering a restaurant, and when you leave to say merci.  Follow up with a Madame, Monsieur or Mesdames Messieurs if you feel so bold, for added bonus points. 

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The coupole at Galleries Lafayette..  If you order a museum pass, this is one of the pick up locations.  Next to the Eiffel Tower, it is the 2nd most visited site in Paris, so prepare yourself for crowds, but it is worth a walk around to see the displays.  And your kids can jump on the suspended trampoline-like net.  Don't miss the food halls across the street- especially during holidays, the displays are extraordinary.

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Easter display

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The garden and café at the Rodin museum

I like to make reservations, though at the 7pm hour, when Americans typically eat, most restaurants will not need or require such (Parisians don’t dine until 9ish or later).  But reserving does let them know you are coming, and relieves the pressure of searching-while-hungry.  (Try La Fourchette for online reservations; they often offer deals- similar to OpenTable.)  I might recommend trying your more expensive restaurant choices for lunch as their menu will be less pricey at noon, and/or a prix fixe set menu meal.  Often, it’s the best thing of the night.

 

It is okay to ask for water by the carafe- those bottles of sparkling can get expensive (though I will admit to being a fan of Badois).  Good vocab to know is, un carafe d’eau, s’il vous plait and gazeuse or plate (bubbles or flat).  Don’t expect ice, (in fact, don’t even ask) nor doggie bags (though often the volume of food isn’t, like in the US, big enough to merit takeaways). 

 

If you are pleased with the service, do leave a tip, but not an American-sized one.  (A few Euros, rounded up, will do. If you pay and they do not return your change, ask for it).  

See my page on Paris for recommendations on places to go.

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Before You Go

A few books to read before you go:

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke

Paris, A Novel by Edward Rutherford

Paris by Eugene Atget (photography)

A Paris Apartment: A Novel by Michelle Gable

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz

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Museums:

Atelier des Lumieres:  While not technically a museum, this installation in an old forgery building is one of the most impressive exhibitions I have ever seen.  Anywhere.  Ever. The Klimt and Viennese artist show brought me to tears.  I cannot recommend it enough, and frankly, it outshone anything else we did.   Don’t do much research else you spoil the surprise of the feelings it will invoke; just go and let it work its magic on you.   Do go for the first show if at all possible (more room to wander, less crowded), do check to see how many elements will be shown (the first time I went I saw only one, not realizing there were several to see).  Don’t miss the bar inside (air conditioned and a nice place to sit for a bit), the mirror room and the photo booth for kicks.  Plan anywhere from an hour or more.  It is not in an area of town with much else to do or see, so mid-morning is an ideal time, to allow yourself time for lunch elsewhere after.

 

The Army Museum is worth a full morning, perhaps a day.  This is one of the most interesting, strategic overviews of WWII history I have seen.  My husband lost himself in the historical collections that fill the rest of the museum.  Kids love the armor and weapons. Napoleon’s tomb is in the back (whether it includes a certain, ahem, appendage is still disputed). 

 

The Musee d’ Orsay wins my preference over the Louvre.  While still crowded on occasion, it is open late on Thursdays making for fewer people.  Its vaulted ceilings (it is an old 1800’s train station, after all), and beautiful layout make it easier to tour and not as overwhelming.  I used to go to sketch the statues within.  (It contains mostly French art.) here. Easily accessible on the Left Bank- stop by en route to Luxembourg Gardens, perhaps.

 
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Don't miss the photo booth in the corner under the stairs at Atelier des Lumières

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The Orsay- evidence of the old train station remains

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Pompidou 

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View of Paris rooftops from the Orsay

Musee Carnavalet is housed in two old mansions in the Marais, is a fascinating stroll through Parisian history. It contains paintings, coins, scale models, signage, fragments of buildings… truly a catch-all of Parisian history.  It is easy for kids to stroll through at their own pace (though if you don’t speak French, the audio tour is helpful). Sadly, it is under construction for major renovations until mid to end of 2019. 

 

The Pompidou Center usually houses a massive collection of works from multi media pieces to Picasso.  The performers who are usually out front juggling, performing magic, lying on boards of nails are often worth the trip alone.  And the building itself, once considered a blight, is indeed an eyeful. Notice that the pipes on the outside are color- coded (blue for circulating air, yellow for electricity, green for water, red for elevators and escalator operations).   Stroll around the area (though perhaps not late at night).  Don’t miss the beautiful fountain next to the museum and the iconic piece of wall art, Chut.

Rodin Museum- Even if you aren’t a die-hard fan, the gardens will appease you- they alone are worth the entrance fee.  Pack a picnic or chose from some of the delectable salads, sandwiches and desserts at the garden cafe.  Rodin’s artwork, which speckles the estate and the mansion where he lived for a time, is a bonus.  His Gates of Hell stopped me in my tracks (not to mention the photo opp it provided when a gaggle of nuns stopped to look).  Challenge your kids to replicate some of the poses of the statues in the garden, especially the Thinker- it’s tougher than it looks.

 

Marmottan Museum and the Museum of l’ Orangerie- if you have a child interested in Monet, or would like to introduce them, you can chose from the large lily canvasses in l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens (it’s a lovely stroll to get there), or make an adventure of heading out to the Marmottan near the Bois de Boulogne. The house itself is a trip through time and lovely.   In addition to Money, it has Degas, Manet, Gauguin, Renoir and more.  Plus, the Marmottan is not far from the Chalet restaurant (see below), which requires a short ferry ride to get to it  and Louis Vuitton Foundation for some memorable architecture and modern art pieces (picture a horse hanging from the ceiling).

 

Deyrolle- a Paris institution since 1831.  A curated store of preserved and taxidermied animals that feels more like a a small museum, from pinned butterflies to stuffed quadrupeds, and other curiosities.  (There is a wonderful party scene in the movie, Midnight in Paris, filmed here. Easily accessible on the Left Bank- stop by en route to Luxembourg Gardens, perhaps.

Gardens, Squares, Streets:

 

Luxembourg Gardens- This is one of those places I go every time I visit Paris.  Beautiful green expanses, open areas, regal statues, lakes with kids floating boats, rickety chairs on rocky paths, fountains, couples picnicking, men in caps playing boules; it’s some of the best of Paris wrapped up in a beautiful, little, verdant package.  And when they plant the flowers in Spring, it is hard to tear away from this place.  Keep in mind that the Pantheon is only steps away and there is a lovely café in the park, if you are creating an itinerary.

 

 

 

Canal St. Martin locks- this area is no longer “up and coming”- it holds its own.  The canal was built by Napolean in 1802 and connects the waters of northeast Paris to the Seine via nine locks. It was used as a supply route into Paris.  The neighborhood was used as a backdrop for the film Amelie.  My boys loved strolling along, watching the boats and the swinging arm mechanism that allows the streets to swing open and allow them through.  If your kids have never seen a lock work, it can be quite fun- stand on one of the bridges above to watch.  (Don’t get on a boat, just watch from above; my favorite spot is Pont de la Grange aux Belles).  There is some good street art around, too, so keep your eyes open. Chez Prune is a nice little place to stop for coffee-- olive and mustard-yellow paint, vinesd decorating the walls, a copper bar and very friendly folks await inside. 

 

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is in an untouristy area (be prepared for a stroll, or think of taxi or metro to get there) and will give you a taste of the “real” Paris.  Go for the view of the whole of Paris atop a butte, a picnic in the grass or a verre du vin at the café.  It is quite an extraordinary place- like none I had seen.  Built on an old quarry, the island in the center is topped by a small temple, surrounded by greenery.  This is where you will climb to enjoy an incredible view all the way to Montmartre.

 
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Cafe in the Luxembourg gardens

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The Promenade Plantee or Coulee Verte Rene Dumont is an old pathway which used to be a rail line.  It is now lush 3-mile path which proffers a lovely place to stroll (even to let your kids “get their jujus out”).  Mind you, once you are on the path, there are only exits here and there.  You might rather wander to the Viaduc des Arts, underneath the pathway, where galleries and art shops abound.  83 Avenue Daumesnil

Pont des Arts - one of the most romantic spots in Paris, but your kids will like it, too.  In spite of the tourists, and the cliché, bereted accordian player busquing for a Euro, the  tourist-filled Bateaux Mouches will float underneath you, while you stare at Notre Dame/ Ile St Louis in one direction, and the Louvre and Tuileries in the other. If you are crossing from to or fro the Louvre, don’t miss this beautiful spot.  Note: this bridge used to be so covered with “love locks” that it was suffering damage, so the locks were removed.  A new lock of love location has been established on the bridge just beyond Notre Dame.

 

One of my very favorite “secret” gardens are in inner courtyard of the Palais Royal. You may need a map to find the entrances.  Once inside this manicured, sweet, tree-lined park, you might stop at a fountain to take in the scene of flowers, and blossoms and the quiet seclusion, even though you are in the middle of the bustling city. At any age, the kids will love the Columns of Buren on the far end of the park- climb, take pictures have fun!

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Place des Vosges is beautiful little respite in the middle of the city.  Originally part of Henri II and Catherine de Medici's palace, it is the oldest square in the city.  I find myself here often to stroll through the greens, or under the cool archways.  Cafes, restaurants, shops and galleries all have large windows for gawking- some of the artwork will intrigue you, sans doute.  This square still has an old-world, luxurious feel tucked into the heart of the Marais. Maison Victor Hugo is also here, if you have any interest in seeing his restored home. See Carette Café below- one of my favorite spots or breakfast, lunch tea, or a light dinner, and Pavillon de la Reine, if you are able to splurge on a little luxury for your overnight stay.  This is also the site of 2 Scavenger hunt clues.  See below.

 

Jardins des Tuileries are impressively huge and maintained to perfection. They are what you might expect formal gardens from the 17th century to be.  There are a few cafes here and there, iconic benches and Parisian park chairs for sitting, incredible statues for mimicking, tree lined areas for shade and in every direction, a monument or piece. architecture to behold: Louvre, Place de la Concorde.  (L’Orangerie is also here, should you be in a museum mood).  That said, I don’t typically make an effort to get here… but it is often on the way to a visiting point, so wander through if it is en route.

Jardins des Plantes-- Home of the botanic gardens and the natural history musuem- a fabulous stop for younger kids and teenagers alike. (We passed on the museum as we had a beautiful day, and a similar museum at home).  The gardens alone are worth a stroll if you are in the area, or want to have a picnic. 

Jardin des Plantes

One of the many statues in the garden of the Tuileries

Columns of Buren at the Palais Royal

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

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Cemeteries, Memorials, Mausoleums:

Don’t shy away from these. These cemeteries are haunting monuments to lives past.  Go for the sculpture, the history, the solitude, and even for the star power within.

 

Père Lachaise—permanent home of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Edith Piaf,  Moliere, to name a few.  It has rolling hills, lush greenery, and on the Morrison site, always some interesting trinkets.  This cemetery also has several powerful memorials to the tens of thousands of French Jews deported to Nazi death camps.  Perhaps, also of note are the lines of cremains on the back lawn, a less expensive and more “organic” option for those who wish to be buried there.

 

In the Monmartre cemetery, you will find gravesites for Edgar Degas, Leon Foucault (see the Pantheon), Adolphe Sax (yes the guy who invented the saxophone).

Montparnasse is where you will find many French artists and writers, including Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Serge Gainsbourg, Charles Baudelaire, Constantin Brancusi, Guy de Maupassant, Samuel Beckett.

 

The small, hidden, Picpus cemetery is remarkable mainly because of its most famous entombed, Lafayette.  the only way into the cemetery is through a closed gateway attached to a cloistered nunnery. If you can find the bell, turn to the right to find the entry 'official' and pay a small fee.  Find your way through a small garden to a low wall, which will lead you to the long, narrow cemetery. At the far end, under an American flag, is Lafayette

 

While not a cemetery, the Panthéon is the final resting places of some of France's most famous figures, from Voltaire and Hugo to Marie Curie (the first woman buried there in 1995!) and more recently, Simone Veil (lawyer and politician credited with advancing the women’s cause, among other things).   It is also home to awesome Foucault's Pendulum, tracing the path of the Earth. The architecture is a “wow”, and the view equal to any in Paris.  A tour of the rooftop- in-round is well worth the time, especially at the beginning of your trip where you can get the lay of the land.

Flame of Liberty- While not built as a memorial, but rather a symbol of friendship between the US and France, the full-scale replica of the golden flames held by our very own Statue of Liberty has become a monument to Lady Di as it is located just above the site where her car crashed at Place de l’Alma.  While your kids may not have a memory of her, it may be interesting for adults to see in light of Lady Di’s mark on history (and see the scavenger hunt (S) list below).

 

The Archeological Crypt, in front of the Notre Dame cathedral, at the far edge of the plaza, is a relatively hidden gem.  While not a memorial or cemetery, it is a preserved site from Gallo-Roman Paris and the medieval era.  It walks visitors through over 2000 years of Parisian (or Parisii) history and the story of Lutece. 

Le Memorial de la DéportationNext to one of the lights of Paris, Notre Dame, is a reminder of one of Paris’s darkest times.  The Deportation memorial is dedicated to the 200,000 French Jews and others who were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps  It is a short, but poignant and stark reminder of the recent past, including the complicity of the Vichy government.  What a breath of fresh air to emerge back onto the Seine with a few of Notre Dame.

 

Picpus  Cemetery

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One of the sights that always gives us a giggle in Paris. Parisians have "skillz" when it comes to parking.  My kids love it.

Churches:

 

Ste. Chapelle- not far from Notre Dame, hidden in the Palais de Justice/Conciergerie  is the more spectacular stop, in my opinion. Built in the 1200’s to house Louis the IX’s relics of Christ, it survived the Revolution and now stands regally after multiple years of restorations.  While located in   and there will likely be a line, the wait is worth it to take in its absolutely incredible stained glass windows, blue, vaulted ceilings and towering steeples, and  as a beautiful example of Gothic architecture.

 

There are several reasons you may want to duck into St Sulpice for a looksee:  1) it is in the path from the Luxembourg gardens to St. Germain; 2) It is a stunning piece of architecture; 3) it has an enormous organ, world-reknown, and often around 11:30 there are recitals; 4) it houses several orginal Delacroix pieces; 5) Hugo was married here; and 6 ) it is the setting for Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

St. Eustache- is a stunning piece of Gothic & Renaissance work, and houses the biggest pipe organ in France.  Check the schedule online for organ recitals- it is worth it to coordinate your visit.  Even a few minutes of the window-rattling, heart-grabbing chords of that machine will move you from the inside out- and likely, your kids will be riveted, too.  Sit close enough to see the dance the organist performs moving feet and hands like a mad scientist. It is beautiful.  Outside is Les Halles, the walking/shopping/dining area of Montorgueil, cafes, a reflecting pool and mist sprays for kids to run in, and a park for strolling.

Mosque

This is more a piece of art than a building- the tiles, detail work, carvings have intricacies that could engage your eyeballs for hours.  The garden in the center is a quiet respite from the horns outside.  If you are in this neck of the woods, it is absolutely worth a 10-20 minute stop in.

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St Eustache and the parc at Les Halles

The Grand Mosque

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More touristy, and may require some waiting:

 

Notre Dame Towers- Construction of this church began 1163.  Stained glass windows are incredible.  Line is always long, but does move somewhat quickly (people tend to stop in the entry as soon as they get in, so don’t hesitate to push on by).  I might suggest, however, forgoing the line inside for a climb up the towers and/or a stop at Ste Chappelle nearby. Note: Since the fire in 2019 parts of the church are inaccessible. 

Catacombs- This is an impressive historical site, which your kids may love if only for its morbidity.  These unmarked, unnamed bodies were disinterred from overflowing Parisian graves and placed in the catacombs in the ….  The first few moments may very well take your breath away, as you descend into a dark, cold, tomb of corridors lined with bones.  The problem, as I see it, is that the one hour tour is far too long. Five minutes underground with bones for company and you will never forget what you see; after an hour, it is too much cold, dark and dampness, and frankly, I would have rather been above ground learning my history.

Tour Eiffel-  if you must go, consider buying your tickets in advance.  Alternatively, you can walk around it, or better, head to the Trocadero for a beautiful view of it, then pop over the a café nearby (the sister of the Carette in Vosges is here).  Beware pickpockets and such as this is a super touristy spot.  (A very enjoyable book for adults and teens alike is a historical novel about Paris during the building of the Eiffel Tower; it may be in order for your plane flight over: Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd)

 

Louvre- if you decide to go, here are some notes.  I contend that if you simply MUST see the small and crowded Mona Lisa, that you at least turn around and enjoy a glimpse at the art on the opposite wall, which, in my opinion, is worth more attention (The Wedding Feast by Veronese).  And if you do go, there are more entrances than the one at the pyramid, often with smaller lines.  Start at porte des Lions (on the street closest to the river), and if closed for some reason, head to the underground entrance near the carousel du louvre (there is an underground shopping mall).   The museum is open late on Wednesday and Friday nights, and children folks under 26 are free.

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L’Arc De Triomphe- As with the other “Big 5” sites in Paris, you will encounter lines.  But the view from the Arc is quite lovely, and if you time your visit, you may encounter a memorial service, as we did.  Quite moving.   The Arc de Triomphe is bit harder to plan in your day because there is not much around it… it takes a concerted effort to get to.  IF you are in the area, by all means, hitch up your trousers and put on your walking shoes, and make the hike up the stairs.  Otherwise, perhaps save it for another trip.

Versailles- If you are drawn to opulence, and have a day to spare, then book a tour at Versailles.  Do not make the mistake of “winging it”… the lines curl around for hours, and in the heat of summer, it is a miserable wait (no shade and long restroom lines).  The palace, as one might imagine, is grandiose, impressive and full of riveting historical significance (see French Revolution below), however, there are other options for  chateaux in the area.   And, truly, unless you love Disneyland-esque crowds I can think of a million better ways to spend a day in Paris.

l'Arc de Triomphe

View of the Tour Eiffel from the Arc de Triomphe

Notre Dame before and after the 2019 fire

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The line at Versailles (yes, thi sis all one, shadeless, winding line)

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Book stall on the Quai Voltairse 

Shop n Stroll- Markets and Such:

 

Visiting Les Puces de St. Ouen, including marché Paul Bert & marché Vernaison is an experience that is almost a sensory overload…. stuffed foxes, bin upon bin of silverware, copper pans, chandeliers, vintage posters and old Ricard sets, and oh, let’s not forget the people.  Try to guess what things are- there is some good history for kids- bed pans, copper bed warmers, silverware, posters, etc. 

 

Marche aux Fleurs (flowers and birds) Marche des Fleurs, Reine Elizabeth II- on Ile de la Cite- hosts birds, garden trinkets, flowers and more beautiful flowers. It is sheltered by plane trees and a cast-iron Art Nouveau pavilion.  While it is only a half a block long, the smells and sights are such a lovely change from the tourist sights and throngs of bodies nearby. On Sundays there is Le Marché aux Oiseaux, where you can shop for live birds.  Stroll through the flower market before or after your visit to Notre Dame. 


Quai Voltaire (books) If you have seen a movie set in Paris, you have likely seen the bouquinistes, the wooden book stands along the walls of the Seine.  While many of the wares are touristy gimmicks, you can still find some true gems.  While you take in the views of the water, the activity below, the boats, the Louvre and Notre Dame, enjoy stopping here and there to gaze at a few charming pieces of history.

 La Grande Épicerie, part of Bon Marché ,is, yes, a department store.  But, oh, what a store.  I feel as if I have walked into the adult version of Willy Wonka's factory when these doors swing open.  It is shiny (and expensive), with shelves stocked floor to ceiling with delicacies, gifts you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere, and never, ever, have I had the fortitude to walk out empty handed.  It is a wonderful place to buy gifts to bring home, many of which will fit easily in your carry on. 

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Sennelier Art Store was a supplier for Picasso and Cezanne because of the unique colors- if Sennelier did not stock the color an artist needed, he woudl make it.  This store, especially for artists who make pilgramages here, is a mecca of art supplies.  Pop in for an eyeful, and if your kid has artistic tendencies, grab a pad of paper and some markers or pencils, and head over to the Orsay a few blocks down for some sketching.

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Puces de St, Ouen

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La Grande Epicerie

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Art supplies at Sennelier

 
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Rue Mouffetard

 

Marché aux Enfants Rouge – a historical market, perfect for people watching. Saturday Morning.

 

Marche d’Aligre – A nothing-fancy Flea Market in the middle, Farmers Market on the outside.

 

Rue MouffetardJust down the hill from the Pantheon. Every day except Monday and half-day Sunday… an eye- and nose-full.  Great little pop-in restaurants and pubs (raclette wheels will beckon you; succomb)! On Wed, Fri, Sun, it bumps right in to the Marché Monge, so you get a twofer.

 

Marche Bastille- large selection of produce and on Saturdays, trinkets, clothing, paintings, up the Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week

 

An up to date listing of all types of markets, click here

If it is rainy, cold, or you just want a little historical throwback, wander through one of these lovely covered passageways.  Some of them are easy to miss if you aren't looking, and kids love the almost secret feel to some of the entrances. 

 

PASSAGES COUVERTS

  • Passage Jouffroy

  • Passage des Panoramas

  • Galerie Vivienne

  • Galerie Véro Dodat

  • Galerie Colbert

  • Passage du Caire

  • Passage Brady

  • Marché Beauvau/Aligre 

  • St. Quentin and St. Martin

  • The Passage Choiseul

  • Cour de Rohan

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Market at la Bastille

 

Entertainment

Jazz brunch on Sundays at La Bellevilloise.  This is truly a hidden gem as you will not likely see it in a tourist guide.  It is on the outskirts of Paris in a working neighborhood.  Light and airy, sprinkled with potted olive trees, there is not a bad seat in the house.  The brunch spread is as tasty (and slightly eclectic) as it is colorful.  The "stage" feels more like a friend's backyard.  Make reservations before your travels.

How to Become a Parisian in One Hour by Olivier Giraud is at once cheesy and delightful. It is in English and draws an international crowd (plus a few Parisians who inevitably, get picked on a bit by Giraud, to the audience's delight).  My 13 year old laughed out loud for an hour. The theatre is done in plush red velvet, if a bit worn at the edges and a bit old-timey - but it is cozy.  Giraud has been performing now for years, after once being told his one-man show would never fly.  If you are looking for an alternative to the bateaux mouches or an ultra pricey cabaret, this is quite an amusing and more affordable option!

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STREET ART

 

While you are wandering Paris, keep your eyes out for the ever-changing street art.  One day it is there, another it is not, which is why I might counsel against making a special trip to see them.  However, if you find yourself in the areas of the Canal de l’Ourcq, especially rue Germaine Tailleferre, it is lined with murals, brought to reknown by the Hip Hop Festival several years ago (artists influde Marko 93 and Kouka).  If you are headed to the Catacombs, the area of Butte aux Cailles is home to a number of poignant, political pieces such as the pregnant mother on Passage Boiton and the double bass player and stenciled women by Jana and Js.  Near the Pompidou, next to the fountain is Jeff Aerosol’s now iconic “Chut”.  Below is a list of locations or click here for a map you can download and take with you.  

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WALKS (or Points of Note en Route to Your Next Snack):

 

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

After inheriting the throne in 1765, King Louis XVI grew to be a king of the most lavish of lifestyles, blind to the suffering of the poor whom he burdened with heavier and heavier taxes.  Power was concentrated in his hands while he got richer and they grew more and more destitute.  People decided it was time for a change and began to question the traditional powers bestowed on the monarchy, the aristocracy and the Church.   The French Revolution was the beginning of the separation of powers in government, the creation of a proclamation of human rights, the fall of the monarchy... the beginning of an “Enlightenment”.  Philosophers such as Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau were spurring on the uprising.  Said Robespierre, it was 'the most beautiful Revolution that has ever honoured humanity'.

Itineraries and links can be found here.

 

 

 

SCAVENGER HUNT

This is a list that is fun to use during your walks through the city. It may give kids a say in the itinerary and make your flâneurie a bit more fun for them.  Click here for a full, downloadable list and a link to the locations.

Examples:

SEE IF YOU CAN FIND:

 

  1. THE OLDEST SQUARE IN PARIS

  2. THE OLDEST GRAFFITI IN PARIS

  3. NARROWEST STREET

  4. THE OFFICIAL CENTER OF PARIS- POINT ZERO

  5. AN ORIGINAL EGYPTIAN OBELISK (over 3,000 YEARS OLD)

  6. OLDEST STONE HOUSE

  7. A TABLE MADE OF HUMAN BODY PARTS

  8. BRIDGE OF LOVELOCKS

  9. CANONBALL STUCK IN THE WALL

  10. THE APARTMENT WHERE EIFFEL LIVED FOR A TIME

 

CAN YOU FIND THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS:

Q: WHAT IS ON DISPLAY AT THE LEGO WINDOW IN LES HALLES?

Q: WHAT IS WRITTEN IN THE MOSAIC FLOOR IN GALLERIE VIVIENNE?

Q: WHAT MADE THE HOLES IN THIS BUILDING? On the east side of Luxembourg parc, at 60 Boulevard Saint-Michel

A: (bullet holes from both world wars)

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Meringue pastry from La Carette 

In Search of Sweets

For my kids, nothing lights a fire under them like a trip to try a new pastry or chocolate shop.  Download this list and map for a "bribe in your pocket", a guide to some of my favorite stops in Paris.

 

Photography/ Atget Itinerary

 

Eugène Atget was a French photographer (1857 -1927) who was determined to photograph the architecture, and by default, also the quotidien life of Paris before it became too modernized.  His black and white photographs I find endearing and and love his perspective.  

As I walked through Paris, my kids and I found some of the places he took his photos and made our own modern replicas.  Should you have an interest in seeing his work, click here. For a dowloadable map of some of his locations in Paris, click here.

 

 

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Itineraries:

RIGHT BANK

  1. If you are going to Atelier des Lumières or the Père Lachaise cemetery, consider stopping at these nearby spots.

  • Picpus (revolution) (a tad out of way but on this side of town)

  • Coulee Verte (Viaduct des Arts)

  • Bastille (revolution) & Aligre markets

  • Revolution Points: 49 Boulevard Henri IV, 75004 Paris, France, 5 r. saint antoine

  • Sweets: Boulangerie Bo, Ble Sucre, Patisserie Cyril Lingac, Chocolat Alain Ducasse, Creperie Bretonne

  • Rougier & Ple art store

  • Street art: 50 Boulevard Voltaire, 75011 Paris

 

  2. If you are going to the Pompidou, Picasso, Metiers & Arts, Chasse & Nature or Carnavalet museums…:

  • Place des Vosges: La Carette, Grafitti (scavenger), Victor Hugo house

  • Miznon

  • Breizh Creperie

  • Gallerie de l’instant

  • Revolution site: Hotel de Sens, Hotel Amelot de Bisseuil

  • Atget: 26 Rue Geoffroy l'Asnier, 133 Rue Saint-Antoine, 25 Rue Charlemagne

  • Street art: 2 Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais

 

  3. If you are going to see the Canal St Martin or Parc des Buttes:

  • Street art rue st marthe, jean poulmarche

  • Marche St martin

  • Du pain et des idees

 

  4. If you are going to the Louvre, Jeu de Paume, L’Orangerie or Pompidou:

  • Les Halles (scavenger legos)

  • Galerie Vivienne

  • Donuts

  • Palais Royal

  • Passage Choiseul

  • Tuileries

  • Le Souffle

  • Metro station (scavenger)

  • Atget: 4 Rue du Jour, 9 Rue de Beaujolais

Louvre area- Mosy through the Louvre’s outside courtyard and take notice of the figurines and facades, remembering that this used to be a chateau.  You may want to take a spin on the Arc du Carousel and wander the gardens of the Tuilleries.  In spite of the crowds, it is a lovely introduction to Paris art and architecture.  Wander farther beyond the Louvre to the Gardens of the Palais Royal for one of the best places to evidence the emergence of Spring- folks lingering on every available bench, trees in bloom, beautiful grass that no one is allowed to step foot on.  The kids may want to climb on the Colonnes de Buren art installation in the inner courtyard.  And what better time to grab un petit nerveux, to get a little caffeine coursing through those jetlagged veins, than a quick sit at the cafe at the Place Colette. It is a lovely, if somewhat busy, place to stop, with a view of the metro Palais Royale glass work adorning the metro entrance. The waiters all have a third eye and crawl out of the woodwork if they sense a tip coming their way (hey, at least we Americans have one good bit of reputation working to our advantage). Oh, yes, and they have an easy-access bathroom- no charge.

 

 

  5. If you are headed to the Sacre Coeur Basilica, check your map for:

  • Passage clichy

  • Montmartre cemetery

  • Passe murail

  • Wall of Love

  • Dupere basketball court

  • Dali museum

  • Street art: 62 Rue Custine, 49 Rue Gabrielle

 

  6. In the general area of the Arc de Triomphe, Trocadero and Grand Palais:

  • Petit Palais

  • Sewers museum

  • Moma

  • Marmottan and Chalet des Iles (a bit farther)

 

LEFT BANK

  1. If you are headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, mark your map for:

  • Ballon (make a reservation to float (tetherered) above Paris

  • Rue du commerce

  • Sewers Museum/ Tour

  • Army Museum,

  • Rodin Museum

  • Rue du Commerce in the fifteenth has a charming small-city feel with good food shopping, local cafés, and several family-friendly parks, all within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.

 

  2.  If the Musée D’orsay is on your agenda, these are nearby:

  • Le Bon Marche

  • St Germain cathedral

  • Art store

  • Les Deux Magots Café

  • Deyrolles

  • Medicine museum

  • Le Procope (revolution)

  • r. de l’abbaye (revolution walk

 

3.  Strolling through the Luxembourg parc, check these out, too:

  • Pantheon

  • St Sulpic

  • Montparnasse cemetery

  • Street art: Rue des Thermopyles, 75014 Paris, France

 

  4. Near the Grand Mosque:

  • Jardin des Plantes 

  • Arenes de Lutece

  • Mouffetard market

  5. Near Notre Dame is also:

  • Ile de la cite, Ile saint louis area (Ile de la Cite was settled over 2000 years ago by the Parisii, a fisherman tribe (see the Crypt Archaeologique and the Musée Carnavalet for more info). 

  • Sainte Chapelle

  • Flower/bird market

  • Bertillon

  • Deportation memorial

  • Pont Neuf (the new bridge) is Paris’s oldest.  At the square du vert galant you can sit on the tip of the island and wave at the folks in the bateaux.

  • Atget:

  • 57 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris

  • Marché aux Fleurs

  • The Archeological CryptNotre Dame Towers- 

  • Le Memorial de la Déportation

  • Quai Voltaire.