Paris is, since I first visited it about 15 years ago, my favorite city. Maybe that's why I always instilled the desire to know the city in my children. That and, of course, the huge desire to go to Disneyland Paris.
After the years of the pandemic, which delayed our trip, the time has finally come to plan the much-desired trip.
After the first person experience of taking a trip of this kind with children, I bring you some of the most useful tips (at least for us) to facilitate and make the experience the best possible.
You can see more photos and videos of this trip on my instagram
TIPS FOR PARIS
Plan your day-to-day
This is possibly the most important tip. Planning the day to day of what you want to do allows, on the one hand, to make an initial selection of what you really want to do, taking into account the time available, and on the other hand, it allows you to book/schedule a series of activities with time.
Through Google Maps, you can also plan routes and have a clearer idea of the time it takes to travel and which is the best transport route.
Book and buy your tickets in advance
One of the sites we discovered and decided to use, after the necessary verification, was Get Your Guide.
By selecting the destination/city you want to visit, it shows a series of activities to do and tickets can be purchased right away. Tickets are available by email or through the app.
Bear in mind that the platform shows all available offers, so it takes some work to see the different options in order to find the offers that really suit you and/or are more favorable.
Another piece of advice is to really think about your day-to-day planning to avoid buying tickets for activities that you won't be able to do later. Personally, I advise you to buy tickets in advance for those activities you really want to do - like entering the Louvre, e.g. - and leave the optional ones or those that are less "crowded" to decide at the time.
Another important task is to book all meals (via The Fork or directly with the restaurants) also in advance and, once again, planning is essential here because it allows you to book the restaurants according to your itinerary each day. The best restaurants will surely be full if you arrive without a reservation, especially at dinner, and especially if you are a large group.
Do not go up on Eiffel Tower
This is a tip that may not be popular, and of course, the final decision is yours. However, I do not recommend going up the Eiffel Tower at all for several reasons. Firstly, the queue is absolutely huge - at least in high season (is there any other season in Paris?) - and spending more than 1 hour with children is not something you want to do (unfortunately we made this mistake and we regret it). Secondly, because, in my opinion, if you want a beautiful view of the city, there are several other points where you can do it and from where you can see this view with the Eiffel Tower included.
Alternatively, I recommend climbing the Montparnasse Tower, preferably at sunset. No queues, no overwhelming crowds blocking the view (as happens at the Iron Lady) and with the advantage of a lounge with music, drinks and a fun space for the kids.
After sunset take the metro to Trocadéro and see the Eiffel Tower light show - the tower glows every hour after sunset for 5 minutes until 1am
Bright coloured T-Shirts for kids
Oh... the best tip of all (also valid for Disney). Especially if you have more than one child with you this is the easiest way to spot them in the crowd - and that in Paris is really something!
Bright blue one day, strong orange the other and so on. In addition to helping you identify the kids quickly, the people around also understand that you are a group and facilitate passages, etc.
Needless to say, comfortable footwear is mandatory and preferably already used and tested.
In the planning of Google Maps everything seems very close and fast, but the truth is that even the central area of Paris (Île-de-France) is huge and you can find yourself walking many kms a day.
I recommend to buy Paris Tour Travel Pass for zone 1-3 which allows using the metro and bus, among others, in central Paris and is valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days.
Backpack with an essential kit
I am very practical and uncomplicated, but I highly recommend a backpack with:
- Bottled water (very cold in the summer months)
- Band-Aid Kit - no matter how comfortable the shoes are, you will really need it.
- Lipstick with SPF for the lips
- Sunscreen to reapply
- Wipes - the essential utensil to have in the suitcase with the kids.
And of course sun hats / head caps.
Eiffel Tower gardens picnic
One piece of advice I give you when planning is to bear in mind that you have kids with you. They don't have our physical capacity or our resilience and that's why it's important not to make the days/tours too heavy or you will risk turning a dream trip into a real tantrum nightmare. Adapting the days to them is very important and that's why trying to combine more "heavy" activities with moments of relaxation and rest is really important.
We knew we were going to suffer in line at the Eiffel Tower so we planned that for the morning and for the rest of the day we opted for something that didn't involve too much walking. After climbing the tower, we opted for a picnic in the tower's gardens where the adults relaxed and the children could play. And then we took the boat ride on the Seine, ending with a ride on the carousel and an ice cream. And despite the queue and fatigue in the morning, we managed to compensate very well for the kids' state of mind.
Be aware of pickpockets
We were always very attentive - also because we had been warned - and we were even the target of a failed attempt on the subway. Bags always very secure and facing forward and never make it easy. Oh, and avoid carrying luxury bags on the subway - if you want to take it, put it in a backpack and only take it out when you are no longer inside the subway.
We also witnessed the theft of a backpack in Trocadéro, around 7 am, when there were very few people and a family facilitated it, having placed the object on the floor while they were taking pictures. It was a matter of seconds and they were unable to retrieve their belongings. Therefore, always be very attentive and do not facilitate under any circumstances.
Bonjour and Merci
Similar to what happens with our Good morning and Thank you. Sometimes in a foreign country, where we use English, we tend to use Hi/Hello first (at least I do). But even using English, always use Boujour/Bonsoir and Merci for a better local experience.
Note that the use of English is not very popular so if you can speak basic French the experience will be better.
Paris first and Disney after
The Disney park is very tiring, and it is preferable to keep kids' spirits with the idea that the fun is to come. Otherwise, you may end up with children who are already too tired to visit museum.
TIPS FOR DISNEY
We chose to stay in one of the Disney hotels. Our initial choice was the main hotel (Disneyland Hotel) but unfortunately it was under construction so we stayed in Newport Bay Club. However, if you have the chance and if it is no longer under construction, we recommend staying in the main one as this is the closest to the parks - in Newport we still walked quite a bit and, particularly after an intense day, it became quite tiring.
But the main tip is: opt for the all-inclusive option. It may seem like it is very expensive, but the prices are so stupidly expensive inside the parks that you will surely regret it. Unless you go from abroad and can bring lunch/dinner/snacks, any fast food meal can easily cost you hundreds of euros.
Download the app as you will be able to see all the details of your reservation, as well as reservations and all the necessary information about the attractions as well as the waiting time at each moment for each of them.
Premium access to attractions saves you hours (and legs) in your day. Through the app you can buy by attraction, and you are told which time slot you can access it and you will wait a maximum of 10 minutes in line. In many attractions the lines can have 2 hours of waiting!!
However, it is not worth buying Premium Access to all in advance as it only allows you to go 1x per attraction. It is preferable to buy on the spot for those you really want to go to, as many times as you want.
Book restaurants with at least 2 months in advance
It may seem like a lot but it's not. Especially restaurants for dinner like the Figures or Pirates of the Caribbean get crowded long in advance. Reservations are all made from the Disney app.
On the first day, you will be amazed to see people sitting in front of the Disney castle at around 9 pm, booking a place for the show at 11 pm. Of course, later when they have to watch from the back of the park, with a corridor full of people, you will understand why they did it.
The show is - believe me - a really beautiful and impressive thing to watch. And especially with children, if they don't stay in a good spot they won't be able to see almost anything - and neither will you.
My recommendation is that you bring something to entertain the kids with for 2 hours (iPad with a movie, e.g.) and sit in the central area next to the mini gardens fence. This area is perfect for kids because no one will ever be directly in their line of sight. Don't forget to take them to the toilet first, because the street quickly fills up and it becomes difficult to pass.