When planning our trip to Amsterdam we knew we wanted to sneak off and explore some other nearby cities. I knew I wanted to travel to whatever city we chose by train, read more on why here. Anything that was a 3hr or less ride was in consideration. Paris was, and since the hubby and kids had not been before this seemed like the perfect opportunity for them to get a taste of the City of Love. Besides Paris is always a good idea!
Getting to Paris from Amsterdam
We booked our train ride in advanced through NS International. The further out you book, the cheaper the tickets. We paid 35 Euros each for our tickets, the kids, since both are under 4 were free. Kids 12 and up pay the same price as adults but kids 4-11, for our dates were just 15 Euros per ticket. If you want to visit Paris from London you will take the Eurostar.
Where We Stayed
Since we only had one day and were taking the train again early in the morning, we decided to stay near the train station our train arrived at, Gare Du Nord. We booked the Holiday Inn Paris-Gare De Lest, which is walking distance (if you have limited luggage like us) or a short bus ride from the station.
I booked our room via Priceline the same day and just booked a standard room for 72 Euros, admittedly not reading the details. I’ve never entered the amount of guests for a hotel room and have never had a problem with all 4 of us staying in a room together. Apparently in Europe standard rooms are only for 2 people and they mean it. I explained we had our own baby crib and Jordyn would sleep with us but the check-in agent said it didn’t matter, we would need a family room but they were sold so we would need 2 rooms. This is not what I wanted to hear and I’m sure my face said it. He was so kind and realizing we were only staying for one night he upgraded us to a suite free of charge so we could sleep together. We could have easily not have been so lucky so don’t be like me and read!
Getting Around Paris
We are usually all about public transportation when visiting countries that have great systems. However, given our short time we didn’t want to run the risk of getting lost or waiting a long time for a bus or train to arrive and then still having to walk to our final destination. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour was the perfect solution for this!
We chose L’Open Tours, which in the summer operates from 9:30AM with the last departure from the first stop at each route leaving at 7PM. They have 4 different routes that take you to everything you’d want to see in Paris besides the Palace of Versailles. The Green Line drops you right in front of the Lourve, Notre Dame, Champs –Elyseee, Arc de Triomphe, Trocadero, and the Eiffel Tower. We never waited more than 10mins for a bus and typically we waited less than 5.
What We Did
Our first stop was to the infamous Lourve. When we got there they had everything blocked off due to a security issue so we were unable to go inside. We weren’t sure how long it was going to last, but after we finished our photo session outside things still showed no signs of opening so we left. I have been inside the Lourve before but my husband and the kids haven’t. It was a bummer but next time.
The Lourve is not open on Tuesdays so if you are only spending one day in Paris and going inside is a must for you be sure to come on any other day. To avoid the long lines purchase your ticket in advance online but be advised you’ll have a 30 minute window to arrive as you will have to select a time slot. Admission is free for those under 18.
Our next stop was to visit one of the most famous Cathedrals in the world. Construction started in 1163 but it wasn’t complete until 1345. The Cathedral is open every day from 7:45AM to 6:45PM. Admission is free but lines are extremely long so try getting there as early as possible. If you want to avoid the long lines you can also book a guided tour like this one from Viator. Bags are not allowed inside the cathedral so be prepared to check them.
Arch De Triomphe
At the end of the Champs Elysse is the Arch de Triomphe. Admission is free for anyone under 18 years but those over 18 must pay. You can buy tickets online here. The top is open 10:00AM-10:30PM and until 11:00PM during the summer.
After the Arch De Triomphe we headed to the Trocadero which has the best views of the Eiffel Tower. It's an open public space and there is no admission.
Is it possible to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower? The bus dropped us off in front of the green space that precedes the Eiffel Tower. This is where you see pictures and videos of people having picnics with the tower in the back. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations, but either way when we arrived it started to rain again so sitting down to enjoy some ice cream or other treats wouldn’t have been possible.
Even in the rain the line to purchase tickets was crazy. If you have limited time I highly recommend buying your tickets in advance online. The only downfall is you have to select a time slot and if you are more than 30 minutes past your time you could be denied entrance. You can buy a ticket all the way to the top or to the 2nd floor and the prices varies based on your selection. Children under 4 are free and kids 4-11 are 50% off. The tower is open from 9:30AM-12AM but allows its last visitors in at 11PM.
Sienne River Cruise
We took the 9PM Sienne River Cruise from Beautex Parisians. It is a 1 hour cruise with indoor seats downstairs and outdoor seats upstairs. Downstairs was all glass so if you want to sit indoors like we did due to weather you will still be able to see.
If you do the the 9PM Cruise like we did you will arrive back to the pier as the first Eiffel Tower Light Show starts at 10PM. It takes a while to dock and the show is only 5 minutes so be sure to be on the top deck outside to get the perfect view of the show.
While the river cruise was nice and relaxing it just passed by things we mostly already saw on the hop-on hop-off bus tour so to me it wasn't worth it and if I could redo the day I would have skipped it and used the time to visit Sacre D Ocre' instead. They do however offer a dinner cruise which would have been time better spent in my opinion.
Unfortunately there were thunderstorms the first 4 hours during our day so we got a much later start than expected. Had we not had this time delay we would have went to Jardin de Luxemburg and Sacre D Ocre’.
While US Credit Cards are widely accepted I’d recommend having a few Euros, especially coins. You will use this to pay for public restrooms as well as if you want to go on the carousel in front of the Eiffel Tower as it’s cash only.
Car seat, Stroller, and/or Carrier
We didn’t get into a car while on our trip; we took the metro, public bus and hop-on hop-off bus during our stay so there was no need for a car seat.
Since we used the hop-on hop-off bus we didn’t use the stroller, however if we were staying for a longer time I would have definitely brought it. Paris is very walkable and if you plan on walking through a lot of museums or walking through the Luxemburg Gardens a stroller could be very necessary.
I’m a huge fan of carriers and I never leave home without mine. The carrier was great for Kennedy and allowed us to easily navigate through the crowds.
Thank you to L’Open Tours for sponsoring our bus tour and to Bateaux Parisiens for sponsoring our Sienne River Cruise. As a mom of two I would never recommend something that didn’t work for my family so please know all opinions of services are my own!
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