With almost all international flights from the USA going to Paris, you’ll inadvertently stop in Paris at either the beginning or end of your Bordeaux holidays. Living in Paris versus having a trip there are two different animals and my recent trip reminded me how overwhelming Paris can be…especially with children. Here are some of my top tips and favorite things for your trip! Getting to Bordeaux from Paris is in the last part of this article.
*When I talk about 4eme or 6eme (for example), I’m talking about the arrondissements or neighbourhoods of Paris, there are 1-20 and here is a map for your reference.
Getting into Paris from the Airport
If you are a family of four, keep in mind that many metros do not have escalators and certainly no elevators so if you have a lot of luggage or a stroller, take a taxi or Uber from the airport. Many hotels offer to organize this service for about 70 EURO from Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG). Be sure to confirm with taxi they can take credit cards, some try to pull a fast one on you and then drive you to an ATM. I prefer Uber for this reason. The price from Orly (ORY) or from the train stations will be less than from CDG.
Getting Around Paris
Metro tickets can be purchased at 8 at a time and cost 2.10 EURO each. They can be used in bus or metro. Keep your ticket on you at all times until you finally exit. The bus has a method of purchasing a ticket by texting the bus number to a phone number but it only worked two out of five times for me, so tickets are more reliable. Do not keep them in your wallet near credit cards or magnets or they will not work. Buses are generally less crowded and you get to see where you’re going which is more fun if you’re in Paris a short time.
Most online maps will be able to show you where you want to go, but there are also maps in stations to help you. If you go the wrong way, just get out and cross over to the platform on the other side. Some doors you need to open manually to get off, and they close rather quickly so be sure to keep children close or have a backup plan if you get separated.
Due to the unpredictability of taxi drivers in Paris, I personally prefer Uber.
The main tourism office is near the Mairie (city hall) in the 4eme and was very easy to get into, had free maps and plenty of helpful agents. Office de Tourisme de Paris – Site Officiel • Paris Je t’aime – Office de Tourisme (parisjetaime.com) / 29 rue de Rivoli, Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris
When you Arrive to Paris
Contact your hotel or lodging in advance to see if you can get in early or in the very least drop your bags. If you are arriving early in the morning, the best thing to do is drop your bags and take a walk to get breakfast or jump on a Seine river cruise to take in the city and get your bearings. There are many options, the one we took last was Bateaux Mouches and the great thing is their tickets are transferable to different hours, so if your flight is delayed or you get lost you can just jump on a later timed boat / Pont de l’Alma, 75008 Paris / Paris Seine river cruise | lunch & dinner cruise | Bateaux Mouches® Official Website (bateaux-mouches.fr)
Where to Stay in Paris
If you only have a few days, try to stay in a small, central neighbourhood like the Marais or Saint Germain. It’s easy to get to all of the big locations from here and wont be as noisy as staying in larger streets. I’d never recommend staying right near a large train station, the noise and ambience is a bit to hectic for me at least! Keep in mind, depending on your situation, a good three star can be better than a four star hotel. If noise is an issue for you, ask for an interior courtyard room versus the main street. These are the two locations I stayed at this last trip and would recommend both, but there were plus and minus to each. Paris hotel rooms tend to be small, but youll spend most of your time outside anyway!
Which Guided Tours to take in Paris
I highly recommend The Petit Guide, who can help you ease into Paris the first days and give really helpful advice! Zoe PETIT has been living in Paris for almost two decades and will be the highlight of your children’s trip and take some of the stress on planning off of you, as she also offers travel planning services. She can even set you up with photoshoots, babysitters…you name it! Home | Zoë Petit – Paris Guide & Fixer (zoepetit.com).
The Petit Guide also offers a downloadable self-guided tour of Montmartre which is amazing! The girls loved Montmartre, taking photos with their new cameras and getting their portrait drawn. The walk is so beautiful and it wasn’t raining so that ending was a real win!
Regardless of what you want to do while you are in Paris, try to book everything well in advance. Allow a lot of travel time between locations, I felt like it took a solid hour door to door between each location. Also allow for hiccups. My eldest daughter only wanted to see the Louvre, so we booked our tickets and a timeslot for 4pm. We knew the ‘secret entrance’ under in the mall, and got there two hours in advance to have time to grab some food before. It still was a fail. Maybe because it was a Monday (Louvre is the only museum open on Monday), maybe because it was pouring rain, or maybe because it was French school holidays…regardless…we never got in. The lines were hours long even with tickets. So, don’t book Louvre for Monday but also take note when French school holidays are Vacances scolaires 2024-2025 – Dates et calendrier scolaire 2024-2025 (vacances-scolaires-education.fr). If you can avoid traveling during our holidays, this is going to help you have more space for yourself! American schools in particular get out earlier than French schools in the summer, which is great!
Another great tour company is Context Travel, for adults or families. I took their Revolutionary Tour (which started five minutes walk from my hotel in the Marais, a win!) and learned a lot, saw some really amazing spaces, and it certainly changed my outlook on the whole event! They over private and group tours on topics from WWII in Paris to market and food tours. Context Learning – Learn with Experts All Over the World – Context Travel
If you are wanting to visit Champagne or do a champagne tasting in Paris, there is no one better than Cynthia of Delectabulles. She knows so much about champagne and the many female producers of the area, you’ll leave knowing so much (and probably wanting to know even more!). Be sure to book in advance and ready to learn and taste some amazing small producers! Delectabulles: Empowering Women one Bottle of Champagne at a Time / email@example.com
Where to Eat in Paris
This is a hard one for me. There are so many amazing restaurants in Paris, but really not suitable for small children. So you have to gauge what your kids can handle. Places like Bouillons, casual, classic French fare are great but can also have long lines (you can book Bouillon Pigalle in advance). Chains, like Leon Bruxells who do mussels and fries are a hit and are used to families. Many restaurants will have a ‘menu enfant’ with options like chicken fingers and fries, or an entrecote (steak) with frites (fries), plus a drink and dessert. If you have a stroller with you, be sure to let the restaurant know in advance. Also be aware that child changing stations are nearly non-existent, so get ready for changing diapers in some interesting spaces!
I used to live in Rue Bonaparte in the 6eme of Paris, walking past Le Procope daily, but always thought it to be a tourist trap and avoided it. However, I love history and decided it would be a fun space to try with my girls as they offer many classics. The space is pretty and fun eye-candy, the food isn’t as expensive as I was expecting, service was really nice…but everything was relatively cold when it go to the table except for my main (which was good, the sweetbreads and chicken pastry ‘vol-au-vent’). The girls were too tired to worry about asking for them to heat up so I just let it go. They also offer tea time there, so another way to take in the oldest coffee house in Europe! Le Procope | Restaurant | Plus ancien café-restaurant de Paris | Odéon / 13 rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris
There is a lot of choice when it comes to ‘gouter’ or snack time, so grab a crepe with nutella (classic) or some Parisian macarons from Laduree or Pierre Herme!
Now, if you are childfree…go anywhere! I love best value choices, you can get amazing food and wine at so many locations and rather than list them here, I’d suggest following Wendy-Lynn on @Parisismykitchen on Instagram as she generally shares my favorite locations. She’s also a food tour guide and maybe the only one I’ve been wanting to try personally Paris Is My Kitchen | Eat & Drink Like An Insider (wendy-lyn.com). You can of course have incredible three-star Michelin meals as well, from Akrame to Alain Ducasse.
If you’re coming to Bordeaux after, keep a budget for Bordeaux as well! We have more restaurants per capita than Paris and some really great value restaurants, top chefs, and incredible, local ingredients!
How to get to Bordeaux from Paris
If you are starting in Paris, it is easiest to take the train. There are two types of train, OUIGO which is the budget option and can take around three hours from Paris. Sometimes bathrooms are broken and it can be lots of families (so more noise).
InOUI is the two hour TVG, so faster and generally more expensive. It’s also usually cleaner, newer, and has a food car. Keep in mind, train options don’t open to book until three months before date of departure.
I generally use the SNCF app to book my train tickets https://www.sncf-connect.com/
If you are flying into Paris, you might as well stick with a flight and continue to Bordeaux if possible. You wont have to collect your luggage until Bordeaux and it’s less stress, imo. Once in Bordeaux you can take the tram, bus, or taxi into town easily.
Driving from Paris to Bordeaux will have to be another post!
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out! A Bordeaux tour is always the best way to get aquatinted with the city! Plus, then I can tell you all of the shared history between the two cities! See you soon, x Anne / firstname.lastname@example.org