Paris, France | Travel guide for a fun family vacation and more!

Paris, France | Travel guide for a fun family vacation and more!

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Bonjour et bienvenue!

Come with me as I take you on a tour of our family vacation to Paris, France. It was summer 2013 when we left from London to Paris on the Eurostar. This is a high speed train that literally goes underground on the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France. It is one of the coolest ways we’ve ever traveled!

The majority of our vacation took place in Paris. However, there is one place we had to experience that is located on the outskirts of Paris. It is the Palace of Versailles . You haven’t seen a palace, a real palace, until you’ve visited Versailles! This place is pure royalty. It is huge and will take you quite a bit of time, approximately 4-5 hours, to see everything. The palace consists of 4 different sections: The Palace, The Estate of Trianon, The Gardens, and The Royal Stables.
The hall of mirrors is what this hallway is named because it is surrounded by, you guessed it…mirrors. Every detail is extravagant, elegant, and beautiful. Check out the chandelier close up.

 You certainly will not be bored in Paris. There are many things to do, see, and eat! I had never had a chocolate croissant until I went to Paris. They are warm, flaky, and melts in your mouth. If you ever have a chance to taste one, do it. You won’t be disappointed. My kids loved the chocolate croissants, too! The bakeries are very popular. It is tradition to stop by after work and grab a loaf for dinner. We saw many people walking with loaves of bread. So just sit, relax and eat a pastry.
Our next stop is The Louvre Museum. Unless you plan on spending a month or more in Paris, you NEED to plan ahead before going to this museum. You need to choose just the pieces/artwork you want because this museum is officially THE largest in the world! You can download a map straight from their website.
These were the three pieces of art that we decided to make time to see:
1. “Winged Victory of Samothrace”
2. “Venus de Milo”

3. “Mona Lisa”


Shopping in Paris is a dream come true! I mainly shop for souvenirs, but here well, let’s just say, prepare to stretch your budget a bit. You just can’t help it, especially if it’s your first time in Paris. It is doable to stick to your budget, but I’m warning you, it is hard!
This street (avenue really) is the most famous shopping location in Paris. There are shops of many kinds. From souvenirs to shabby & sheek…ooh la la! You can easily grab a quick bite to eat or sit down at a 5 star restaurant. Your choices are endless here.
Speaking of shopping, this is a real neat & quaint bookstore. If you buy a book from here you can have it stamped by their company logo! I bought a book mainly just for the stamp. The bookstore has a cute little nook upstairs. Our kids were reading through some books. We left a note on the wall, too!

I highly recommend you make time & budget for a Seine River Cruise. The tour company we booked with was from this dock. Booking it during sunset is the best time for the most gorgeous photos and cooler weather.
Here are a few photos we took from our Seine River Cruise:
I love the atmosphere of the people. While we were on the cruise I took a snapshot of people dancing to music along the river. Extremely romantic!


 Notre Dame

(Source: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/ )

More than a historical monument, this cathedral is above all “the House of God and the Abode of men” because this building is loaded with human and Christian experience.
Notre Dame is very gothic in nature at first look. This highly iconic church characterizes many architectural detail and gargoyles at various corners and are meant to ward off evil spirits.
Inside Notre Dame is silent out of respect for those worshiping or praying. The inside is dark, but is inspiring nonetheless. The Rose Window is a stained glass window that transcends the light from the outside to the inside of the church. Rose windows are a characteristic of Gothic architecture.

Eiffel Tower

and now the iconic Paris building!

http://www.toureiffel.paris/

Ah, this iconic structure in Paris, France is a must see and do. There are many sites that sell Eiffel Tower tickets, but the above site is the official site where you can look up more information. It’s also best to book tickets before you leave home as they go fairly quickly, especially during the summer. You can purchase tickets for daytime, nighttime, and specify a time frame. This is worth it! We bought tickets for a daytime view and a nighttime view. The featured image at the top of this post was taken during our stay in Paris which was a national holiday named Bastille Day. The colors are from France’s flag. For more information on this national holiday see here: History and meaning of Bastille Day

Nighttime view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It is absolutely stunning!


Indoor photography is not allowed at Sainte Chapelle. Therefore, that is why we could only get this photo. You can find photos on Google, however, I will not recommend any as to be respectful for their wishes not to take photos. It is a sacred and beautiful building indoors. It is a quick stop and will not take you very long. So, if you have time, squeeze this in because your jaw will drop once you enter!

Sacré-Cœur

You will definitely get some cardio in while visiting this gorgeous church on a hill! You will get some of the best city views of Paris, France from the top. Their official website has some really cool information about the history and what it stands for: http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/

My hubby and I spent two afternoons wandering around enjoying the bistros, boutiques, Sacre Coure and the Musee de Montmartre. So much natural beauty mixed in with a cozy village atmosphere and of course the traditional architecture was often breathtaking.


Musee Rodin

In this museum you can find the real “The Thinker” displayed out in the garden. The museum is a lovely place to visit with numerous statues and interesting pieces of art like “The Gates of Hell” which is personally kind of creepy.

Related image

 


Les Catacombes

The history of the catacombes is very intriguing. Below you can read an excerpt from their direct site. In order to get to the catacombes you must climb down an equivalent of a five story building. It is deeper than their subway & sewer systems! Renovations have improved the lighting experience making paths easier to view while walking. I thought it was a pretty creepy experience to see all the dead from their past. This experience might not be suitable for the claustrophobic.

Source: http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/catacombs

The name of ‘Catacombs’ was given to this ossuary in reference to the Catacombs of Rome, a name originally given to an ancient cemetery situated not far from the Appian Way. The Cemetery of the Innocents (near Saint-Eustache, in the area of Les Halles) had been in use for nearly ten centuries and had become a source of infection for the inhabitants of the locality. After numerous complaints, the Council of State decided, on November 9th 1785, to prohibit further use of the Cemetery of the Innocents and to remove its contents.

Disused quarries were chosen to receive the remains; the City of Paris had in fact just completed a general inspection of the quarries, in order to strengthen the public highways undermined by them. Building work was done on the “Tombe-Issoire” quarry, using large quantities of stone, strengthening the galleries and completed by digging out a staircase, flanked by a well into which the bones could be thrown.

The transfer of the remains could begin after the blessing and consecration of the site on April 7th 1786, and it continued until 1788, always at nightfall and following a ceremony whereby a procession of priests in surplices sang the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones, which were covered by a black veil. Then, until 1814, the site received the remains from all the cemeteries of Paris.

Since their creation, the Catacombs have aroused curiosity. In 1787, the Count d’Artois, the future Charles X, made the descent, along with Ladies of the Court.  The following year a visit from Madame de Polignac and Madame de Guiche is mentioned. In 1814, Francis I, the Emperor of Austria living victoriously in Paris, visited them. In 1860, Napoleon III went down with his son.

The Paris Catacombs re-opened on June 14th 2005, after several months of closure for building work. The lighting has been adjusted, the vaults strengthened and the walls of bones put back.


Musée de  l’armée

If you love history and battles, you HAVE to go visit here. This museum has the burial place of Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military & political figure who rose to power during the French Revolution and was huge influence during the 19th century. Heavily armed battle artillery and artifacts encompasses this museum. 

 

Arc de Triomphe

Ah, the famous Arc de Triomphe! The only way to get to it up close is to go downstairs under the city street, which is a roundabout street so you can’t cross it, and then  go upstairs out of the street. You can go all the way up, if you like, but it’s a lot of stairs! It was very interesting to see that underneath the arc was a tomb of an unknown soldier. The lit torch under the arc symbolizes the respect and honor that the unknown soldier deserves.

Tomb of an unknown soldier.

Locks of Love

The meaning behind this is absolutely beautiful! However, at this present time they are just a memory. This long lived tradition does not exist anymore in France. The method was you wrote your name(s) or message on a lock and throw the key in the Seine River. While we were there, we were able to do this. So sad to hear about this tradition going away permanently. You can read more about it here: NY Times article about Paris’ Locks of Love
Love locks in Paris, France.
Love locks in Paris, France. Love locks in Paris, France.
Love locks in Paris, France.
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