1. Climbing the Eiffel Tower – This was number one on both their lists. Because we did not buy elevator tickets in advance (shame on me, I knew better), we opted for the much shorter line to take the stairs. There was no complaining about the hour long wait, or the 668 stairs to the second level, the highest you can go without an elevator ticket. Though we weren’t at the very top, the views were amazing, and the kids were just thrilled to be there. 2. Old buildings – That’s exactly how they both put it. They thought the bridges and buildings were cool, because “they don’t make stuff like that anymore.” And that they looked completely different from what they would see at home. They especially liked all the bridges crossing the Seine, and the “love locks.”
3. Great food – Even the fussiest of eaters (my daughter) can appreciate French cuisine. Or maybe everything just tastes better when we're on vacation. But even familiar dishes like frankfurters & frites or ham & cheese sandwiches were a bit different from what we got at home, which made them extra yummy and fun to eat. My son, the adventurous eater, was in heaven, even willing to forego fries in order to try ratatouille. And we all agreed the gelato was outstanding. (Does it get better the closer you get to Italy?) I just know that we all feel much more sophisticated now that we can talk about our favorite place for [insert food here] in Paris.
4. The Louvre – I had considered skipping the Louvre, because I wasn't sure my kids were going to enjoy it. But the second I mentioned the Mona Lisa was there, they said we had to go. (I did have advance tickets this time, which meant we got to skip a very long line outside.) We spent four hours in the museum, going through just about every wing. I know many will cringe at the image of us briskly walking through the halls without stopping. But I left the pace up to the kids, and when they saw something they liked, we stopped and savored it. (They especially liked the statues.) My son confessed that he was surprised by how much he liked the Louvre: “I expected it to be boring, but the huge paintings were impressive.”
5. Walking along the Seine – My daughter liked strolling along the river, because it was "just like what I see on TV and in movies." And in fact on the flight home we saw The Tourist, with opening scenes shot in Paris and Gare Lyon, where we had just been a few days earlier. Seeing these places on the big screen was, and always will be, a treat for them. The kids also had fun checking out the souvenirs offered by the vendors along the river. And we ended our trip with an evening cruise to see the city lights.
What's great about traveling with kids is that they are generally happy just to see new things, and they are easily pleased. The key is to let them make some decisions, and go at their pace. This is actually a good thing for us parents, because it forces us to slow down & enjoy the moment, rather than rush through trying to see the every highlight in the guidebook.
For help with planning your dream family vacation, contact Suzette Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.