3 Days in Paris

Traveling in Paris with kids requires lots of planning, so here is what we did on our short 3 day trip to Paris.  For part 1 of our Europe trip, see this post about our first 2 days in Germany.  Read below for what to do in Paris with kids!

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What to Do on a Short Trip to Paris with Kids

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On our second full day in Europe Caroline (6 years old) and I took the train from Kaiserslautern, Germany to Paris, France.  I booked our train tickets through the Deutsche Bahn website which was very easy to do…although a 3 day German train strike ended up happening during our Paris trip, so getting back to Germany was a bit more complicated than it should have been.  (If you travel by train in Germany be sure to download the Deutsche Bahn app because it allows you to keep up with changes and rebook as needed.)  More on that later, and it all turned out well!  The ICE train is the express train in the area, and it got us from Kaiserslautern to Paris Gare de l’Est in roughly 2 and a half hours.  Caroline and I had a great time on the train and loved watching the beautiful countryside flash by.

Where we Stayed in Paris

While we were in Paris we stayed at Hotel Camille, which is a Hilton Tapestry Collection property, meaning it’s a small boutique hotel that was acquired by Hilton.  It was SO charming and beautiful!  We had a great corner room with city views and it was surprisingly spacious for a Paris hotel room.  It also had a nice bathtub that we both enjoyed after long days of walking outside in the cold.  Tom travels for work often and tries to always stay at Hilton properties so that he earns loyalty points.  He got us this room on points and it also included breakfast.  We will definitely stay at this beautiful property again!  The staff was incredibly kind and helpful, the property had the Parisian charm that is hard to resist, and overall it was just a fantastic experience.  It was right next to the Gare de Lyon (train station where there is also a metro stop), which made getting around very convenient.

Tips on Planning your Time in Paris

I booked our Paris museum and sightseeing reservations a few weeks prior to our trip, which is what I highly recommend doing if you’re planning a visit.  The lines are MUCH shorter if you have timed tickets and it helps you have a little structure to your trip.  Just don’t book too many things in one day because you don’t want to feel over scheduled and having time to just wander is one of the most magical things about going to Paris.  My rule of thumb is to book 2 things a day, at most.  I keep a Google Docs document on my phone with the itinerary and update as needed.  The more details you have on there- even if you don’t do everything- the better.  On my document I had lists of things we could do on the way from point A to point B, restaurants I’d heard about, playgrounds or places she could run around, and photo op spots.  I also save items on Google Maps so that I can see where everything is at a quick glance.

Paris Day 1- Notre Dame, Nutella Crepes, the Eiffel Tower

We arrived in Paris just past noon on Tuesday and took a taxi to our hotel.  Taxis are everywhere so it was always very easy to find one and they all take cash as well as card.  After checking in we dropped our bags and set out on a long walk.  We walked across the Seine and discovered that we were very close to Le Jardin des Plantes, which is the main botanical garden in France, and it is also where the zoo is located.  We strolled through a little bit, then continued our walk to Notre Dame Cathedral.  We stopped at a café across from Notre Dame and had crepes, hot chocolate and an espresso, and then walked over to Notre Dame.  It is still very much under reconstruction after the fire a few years back, but the front is just as beautiful as it has always been.

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This is the tripod I brought with me, and I just removed the ring light for the trip.  It fit perfectly in my large Longchamp Le Pliage tote at I’m so glad I brought it so I didn’t have to take selfies the whole time.  This is the camera that I gave Caroline to use on the trip.  She loved taking her own photos!

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We continued walking a little, but then decided to hop in a taxi because we had 5:30PM reservations to go up the Eiffel Tower.  There are a few levels of security that you must go though now, but due to the low temperatures and because it was late in the day the lines did not seem to be too bad.  I’d recommend purchasing tickets beforehand but you can also purchase tickets at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

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We rode the elevator up to the 2nd platform and made it up just before the twinkling lights turned on (which happens on the hour when it’s dark).  Watching Caroline’s face light up once the lights turned on was a moment I will never forget!  It was quite crowded up on the second platform so we decided to walk down rather than wait in line for the elevator.  The walk down was not too bad at all and added to the memory-making.  After we got back to the bottom we caught a cab back to the hotel and grabbed a bite to eat at an Italian restaurant next door.  It was a magical first day in Paris!

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Paris Day 2- Louvre, Angelina, Carousel and Playground in Jardin Des Tuileries, Dior Galerie, Arc de Triomphe, Jardin des Plantes

One our second day in Paris we had 9:30 AM Louvre reservations and 2PM reservations for the Dior Galerie.  We rode the metro to the Louvre and entered through the Carrousel (the underground shopping mall attached to the Louvre), which is indoors and the lines into the Louvre are SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than they are outside at the glass pyramids.  I would absolutely recommend that everyone visiting the Louvre enter through the Carrousel entrance because it’s much lesser known so it moves much faster.  You don’t have to wait outside in the cold and the metro is connected as well, so it’s all incredibly convenient.

The museum opens at 9AM so it wasn’t too crowded when we got there and we hightailed it straight to the Mona Lisa because that always draws the largest crowd.  We were able to get to the front of the Mona Lisa line very quickly, and I attribute that to our early reservation.  Caroline enjoyed seeing the Mona Lisa because she has learned about that painting before our trip, and after that I let her lead the way and make decisions on which corridors and stairways to take.  She liked leading the way and I ended up seeing things I had never seen before, despite this being my 4th trip to the Louvre.  Caroline liked the Louvre, but her summary of the museum was “there were lots of paintings of naked ladies and flying babies.  and Mummies.”  (She meant sarcophagus, but she certainly wasn’t wrong about any of those descriptions!)

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After exiting the Louvre we went to the main entrance of the museum so that she could see the famous glass pyramids.  Then we headed to the Colonnes de Buren/Les Deux Plateaux (the black and white pillars you may have seen on Instagram) but it was closed off because they were filming a movie nearby.  It’ll be on the list for next time!

We decided to walk along Rue de Rivoli and stopped at Angelina, which I’d heard had great hot chocolate.  While there, we enjoyed some macarons and croissants, and I had tea and a cup of French onion soup.  All were delicious!  Angelina does not take reservations but because we arrived around 11:30 it was still a bit early and we only had to wait about 10 minutes.

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Next we crossed the street into Jardin des Tuileries and we rode the carousel and then Caroline played on the adjacent playground for a bit.  Our next stop was the Dior Gallery with a 2PM reservation, so we continued our walk through the Jardin des Tuileries, and past Place de la Concorde, Petit Palais, and Grand Palais.  I love that she was up for walking because were were able to see so many interesting things along the way.  Keeping track of steps and setting goals on her Garmin watch was so helpful!

La Galerie Dior was suggested to me by an Instagram follower and it was such a fun fashion museum to explore.  I’m not exactly into luxury brands but I did enjoy seeing Christian Dior’s timeless designs and how the fashion house has evolved over the years.  There were dresses from every era on display and the whole exhibit was exquisitely done.  Caroline loved it too and took so many pictures of the dresses with her little camera.

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After going through the Dior Gallery we headed to Champs Elysée and the Arc de Triomphe.  We took some photos then road the metro back to our hotel.

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We rested a bit and then headed to a seafood restaurant near our hotel called L’Européen.  I got a seafood tower that included fresh oysters, clams, mussels, cockles, and shrimp, and Caroline got something on the kids’ menu- kids under 6 eat free and it included a drink, an entree, and 2 scoops of ice cream.  It was a fun dinner that we both enjoyed!

Once it was dark we walked back to Jardin des Plantes for their illuminated jungle life exhibit, which we discovered the previous day during the daytime.  It was freezing but so much fun to see all of the illuminated animals!  The exhibit ran through January 21st so it is already over, unfortunately.  By the end of the day Caroline had walked over 27,000 steps and slept like a champ that night.  This is the Garmin watch that she has, and it really helped keep her motivated during this trip!

Paris Day 3- Musée D’Orsay, Strolling along the Seine

On our final day in Paris we ate breakfast at the hotel then packed up our stuff and checked it with the front desk.  Our train didn’t leave until 5:30PM, so we had time to explore for a few hours.  We had 11:30 AM reservations at Musée D’Orsay (the home of many impressionist pieces and artwork that isn’t quite as old and classic as what is found in the Louvre) and we were running a bit late so we took a taxi there from our hotel.  There was no real line so we quickly made it through security and headed to the Van Gogh exhibit, which we had timed entry tickets for.  I had never been to this museum before and I’d say it’s even better than the Louvre, especially if you are interested in the impressionists and post-impressionists.  We got to see iconic pieces by artists like Renoir, Monet, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh and I loved that it was much less crowded than the Louvre.  Caroline enjoyed the museum too, though I know we missed out on a lot.  I will definitely visit again next time I’m in Paris!  I got both of us audioguide headsets (she had the child version) and that helped us learn a bit more about the pieces we saw.

Our train out of Paris was scheduled for 5:30 PM and because we had some time to kill I decided that we should eat a leisurely lunch and then walk all the way back to the hotel.  We went to Café D’Orsay next to Musée D’Orsay and it was a cute little spot with a very nice waiter.  Caroline had a plain burger and I enjoyed their quiche Lorraine.  This small doodle kit was the perfect art kit for breaking out at cafés and on trains.  Highly recommend throwing it in your purse if you’re traveling with kids!

I knew it would be an hour walk so we meandered slowly and took a couple of rest breaks along the way.  Wandering in Paris is always fun because you never know what you will see!  Once we got back to the hotel we grabbed our bags and took a taxi to the Gare de l’Est train station.

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I knew that our return trip to Kaiserslautern, Germany was affected by the train strike so I made sure I had time to go to the SNCF (French trains) help desk, where they were able to rebook us on different trains that were still running…we thought.  By the time we finished the first leg of our return trip (out of 3 separate trains) we realized that the next two trains were, in fact, canceled due to the strike, so we ended up spending an unplanned night in Strasbourg, France.

I had really wanted to go to Strasbourg on this trip because it’s only 2 hours away from where Tom was working, but logistically I just didn’t think it would work out.  Such an unexpected surprise and even though it was a headache at first (having to quickly change plans and find a last minute hotel late at night), it turned into an incredible adventure that I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on.  I’ll share more on on time in Strasbourg in a future post!

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mom and child overlooking Seine River in Paris

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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