Forgive me if I’m bleeding baguettes this week but my recent trip to Paris provided beaucoup material that may be helpful if you ever make the trip.
My friend, Tami, and I took our 12-year-old sons to France to visit Tami’s sister and explore Paris. In the next two posts I’ll focus on what we did besides eating, which I covered in my last dispatch.
Don’t get me wrong, eating is a highlight for kids in Paris. Jacob and his friend, Avery will remember the pain chocolat more fondly than the pain of trekking around the Louvre. But you can’t go to Paris and not take in a few museums and some of the amazing sights.
Don’t make the same mistake we did by taking your kids to the Louvre on the first day. Our boys were still jet lagged and the museum was overwhelming for all of us. We tried to break it down to just the Egyptian section and the masterpieces but that still took us nearly three hours and they were tired, bored and miserable by the time we left. The Louvre is an enormous and impressive building but difficult to navigate. Much of the art is old and austere with religious themes that didn’t interest the kids. We thought the audio tour would be a good way to engage them– especially since the equipment was a Nintendo DS– but it was confusing and not user-friendly so I would not waste money on it again. Next time, I’ll limit the Louvre experience to just the masterpieces or leave the kids at home.
After the Louvre disaster, we bravely persevered and took them the following day to the Musee D’Orsay– a much more successful experience. The museum was an old train station so the look is unique and captivating. It’s also where the “Hugo Cabret” book and movie are set so the giant clocks have become iconic for kids. The art is more modern and accessible, especially the amazing Impressionist collection. One of my trip highlights was walking through the galleries of works by Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, Renoir, and Van Gogh, conjuring up all my art history knowledge from college and sharing it with Jacob. I can’t say it was his favorite activity but he didn’t hate it and retained some of what he learned. The museum is a manageable size so we let the kids wander on their own for an hour, and they loved that freedom.
Riding the Metro was memorable for Jacob because he learned the city’s geography and appreciated the people watching– especially when some gypsies nearly pickpocketed me while waiting for a train. We took the Metro to Montemartre and walked to the funicular– a tram that takes you up the hill to Sacre Coeur. We couldn’t help but be awed looking up at the enormous church, towering on a hill above all of Paris. The carvings, gargoyles and sculpture on the church’s facade are amazing and it’s only a quick walk around the peaceful inside before you head out to the steps to take in the impressive city view. Although we chose not to, you can climb up to the top of the church, but Jacob liked the view from the front steps. There are several cute shops leading to the church and although we didn’t stop to eat, I’m sure you could find a nice cafe.
But wait…there’s more! I’ll post the rest of my things to do with kids in Paris later this week. Voila!