Taking the family to France: Le plan de Paris

Map of Paris monuments

It’s Wednesday, and we leave for Paris on Friday night. We’re catching the red-eye from Newark. Unbelievably enough, we are actually flying Air India, which had the cheapest fares by almost half (even if Philadelphia is the more convenient airport). We’ve rented a great apartment near the Place Monge.

I spent the better part of the last week with my nose deep in books and websites putting together a plan that I’m sure would be the envy of the Pentagon. Here’s an excerpt showing my outline for our first full day there:

Sunday, June 29

Provision at the Place Monge market (and various other places – see food list for best baguettes, etc.)

Stroll over to and around the Jardin de Luxembourg
- play area that you pay for (recommended in book)
- pony rides
- merry-go-round
- puppet theatre (performances on Sundays – Marionettes du Luxembourg, 4 euros)
- outdoor café where you can get a nice beverage

Before we go home, might want to buy tickets for the bateau mouche to make sure there isn’t a line

Early dinner (more like late afternoon – 4ish) at home

Bateau Mouche ride in the evening – boats leave from Notre Dame every 17 minutes (although not at 7 p.m. for some reason). It’s a one-hour cruise, so if we want ice cream (and we do) we should try to get on a boat around 6. Tickets: 11 euros adults, 6 euros kids

Ice cream at Berthillon afterwards –29 rue St. Louis, Ile St Louis. Best ice cream in Paris (they are open until 8 – we should get there before then).

I’ve done this for just about every day we will be in Paris (I did leave a few days open). For you see, one thing I’ve learned about traveling with kids is that it’s really a good idea always to have a plan. Which isn’t to say that you should expect to stick to it. In fact, you most certainly shouldn’t. But you want a good idea of what you are going to do when and in France especially you most certainly want to check and see if things are open on the days you intend to go and see them (unless you want to look into the face of a teary and exhausted 6-year-old and explain somehow that his fantasy of going to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night is not going to happen).

Of course, I know that there will invariably be some unplanned moments when we will all feel churlish (I’m guessing right now that one of them will be about 3 a.m. the second night we are there when the younger one – Little Chick as he often insists being called these days – gets out of bed and refuses to get back in it). But happily, I also know that we will have unplanned moments of utter and complete joy.

And yes, I know that a plan in French is actually a map, but I think it works perfectly. My plan is our road map – the guide that will help us navigate the unknown. Hopefully it will also give us courage to try some side roads.

Please see Paris in its proper order if you’re interested in a chronological list of posts from my family’s July 2008 trip to Paris.

Reader Responses

1 fellow traveler had this to say

  1. Whoo-hoo! Have an excellent trip and one last thing I forgot, on the theme of jazz. There’s a fantastic jazz bar (in Paris? Whoda thought?) which has the gimmick of having real grass turf for floor covering. The gimmick, like many, is better in theory than in practice – the bar chairs sink into the turf and don’t even dream of wearing high heeled shoes. Or nice pants. But fantastic jazz. It’s called Le caveau des oubliettes 52, rue Galande, and the metro stops are Cluny-La Sorbonne or Saint Michel (which is kinda near where you’re staying, no?). Another jazz-themed activity: the Paris Jazz Festival. This is major fun – like Tanglewood for jazz. It’s in Bois de Vincennes. You pay something ridiculous like 1 euro admission to the park and you can just sit on the grass and listen. We used to go quite a bit; faite du piquenique et alors, cherie!

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