A good holiday is one spent
among people whose notions of time
are vaguer than yours.
Have you met a doorman as young as this?
What would you do if you just got back home from too many weeks on the road and your husband dares, “Can you get back on a plane tomorrow?” Do you say, “But this… but that…?” No! No! No! You book tickets the next day, tell your daughter to pack her bags, and get on a flight the day after. This sudden turn of events left my teen in a daze, “I can’t believe this is really happening!”–she thought the upcoming school break meant being glued to her pajamas and iPod. Nah!
This being her very first trip to Europe, our itinerary was designed to please her. “No museums, no shopping,” she insisted. “No Disney, no queues,” I countered. We walked to and from the Seine, taking in magnificent architecture, pink skies, and painterly scenes at every turn.
At my favorite Pont Alexandre III, I found this scorpion catching the Eiffel. For the best portraits with the Eiffel as background, wake up before the tourists, head to the Trocadero and have that fabulous marble platform all to yourself!
Stay at the Paris Le Grand Hotel
2 Rue Scribe, 75009
+33 1 4007 3232
Love this elegant atrium where a piano man plays classical or jazz tunes in the early evenings. The Le Grand has large (for Europe) rooms at a most central location. The Opera’s golden facade and the metro are at your doorstep.
Fancy seeing the city like Parisians on bikes? We did! But I must admit these electric bikes saved me from un-chic huffing and puffing! History buff Xavier (or Paris Charms and Secrets founder, Olivier) takes you around the best sites, sharing little known facts of Paris lore. Make this your first activity upon arrival so you’ll know–among other secrets I’m not telling–which Louvre entrance has less of a queue than underneath that iconic pyramid. Take the afternoon tour and they’ll time a 6pm stop at the foot of the twinkling lights of the Eiffel. My teen remarked, “If my history teacher told stories like Xavier, learning would be so much easier!” Ah-men!
Find Marie Antoinette’s last handwritten note (among other historical artifacts that belong in a museum) at the restaurant, Le Procope, 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006, phone +33 1 40 46 79 00. We spotted a waiter calling Napoleon, “Will you ever pick up the hat you left here, Sir?”
I did make an exception to our “no museum, no queue” agreement with a day in Versailles. She had zero idea what Versailles was about so she cooed at the palace’s golden gates and lavish decor, walked wide eyed through the sumptuous interiors, and it was only after we finished touring the palace that it finally dawned on her, “You know, this is like a museum!” Aha!!! ;) Here, I take a moment to commiserate with a statue underdressed for the winter’s cold.
Did I say “No ‘Buts'” when opportunity presents itself?
At the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles
If this trip weren’t such a whirlwind, I would have introduced my teen to Paris’ great artists before we got there. She would have enjoyed a scavenger hunt of scenes from Monet’s “The Boathouse on the Seine,” Marc Chagall’s “Paris Through the Window,” Van Gogh’s “Sidewalk Café at Night.”
For walking tours, there is Paris Walks for daily local variety in different neighborhoods. For guides with academic backgrounds specializing in your area of interest, book a private tour with Context Tours. And when your teen can’t walk one more step, take a trip on a bateau-mouche, the glass-enclosed boats that ply the Seine, giving you a graceful overview of the city.
To see earlier Paris travel related posts, enter “Paris” in the search box on the top right of this page. In the near future, I’ll list my favorite books set in Paris. Until then, click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your tips for Paris travel with teens. xoxox
© Sharon Birke
201 697 1947
Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother