Our 5 Days Family Holiday in Paris

Visiting Paris was on our bucket list for a long time, and finally, in October 2021, we got a chance to visit this lovely city. In this article, I am writing about our experience in the city, places we visited, accommodation, travel, and more. My readers may find this information useful for planning their family holiday.

As usual, we started planning about a month before the trip. The tasks included:

  • Booking travel tickets.
  • Exploring accommodation at an appropriate location and booking the same.
  • Researching places to visit and not-to-miss experiences.

In this article, I’m writing about the itinerary we created after researching various blogs and youtube videos. It also includes our experience, my reviews, and learnings. So let us start.

Our itinerary looked something like this:

Day 1: Start from Darmstadt in the morning. Reach Paris by afternoon; Visit Visit Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and Champs-Élysées followed by dinner at the same place

Day 2: A walking tour of Montmartre and visit the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, lunch, followed by a visit to the Louvre

Day 3: A casual walk around the city along the Seine river, followed by a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. Lunch and then a visit to Eiffel Tower and stay back till sunset at the Eiffel tower to see the Lightworks

Day 4: A day trip to Disneyland

Day 5: Visit the Catacombs and L’Atelier des Lumières. Take an early evening train back to Darmstadt.

But before I write in detail about the places we visited and what we did, let me take my readers through some important information regarding travel and stay.

How we reached Paris

Since we were traveling from Germany, and our city – Darmstadt, is just 560 km from Paris, the first traveling option we considered was a car. But given the traffic and parking problems in Paris, we decided against it and decided to go by train. Within Paris, we would use public transport and cab if need be. So, we booked a morning train from Darmstadt to Frankfurt. From Frankfurt, we took an ICE train around 9:30 in the morning and reached Paris around 2 pm.

If you plan to book tickets through Deutsche Bahn, go to their official website and make your booking. It is convenient and straightforward.

https://www.bahn.de/

How we traveled around the city

We mainly took public transport while traveling within the city. It was not comfortable at all times because, at peak times, buses, trams, and metros tend to get very crowded. Moreover, Paris is famous for its pickpocketers, so we had to be careful. There were a couple of times when the metro and buses were delayed. In those cases, we booked cabs and moved around the city.

Local transport tickets can be purchased at automatic ticket machines/ticketing counters in metro stations or at the tobacconists. The lady at the ticketing counter at Paris station was very helpful and helped us get the best deal for the family. She was patient enough to understand our holiday plan and the places we wanted to visit and recommend tickets accordingly. I recommend getting your first set of tickets at the counter, even if it means standing in a queue for some time. Public transport tickets can be used on any public transport bus/metro/tram and have to be swiped every time you enter the bus/tram or metro.

For the times we booked a taxi, we used the FreeNow App.

Where we stayed

Since we are a family with kids already in their teens, having enough space for each of us is essential. Hotel rooms are not spacious enough and restrict everyone to a small room. So, off late, we have started booking through Air Bnb. We usually reserve a flat or house, preferably with an equipped kitchen and a minimum of two bedrooms, so that each of us has our own space and there is always an option of cooking something. 

We, as a family, like having a good breakfast and starting our day, and Airbnb allows us to make simple meals at home. Also, we like exploring the local supermarkets, finding what’s new, and trying out foods and drinks that are locally available. Airbnb is an excellent option for all the people who want to add this to their holiday experience. 

For this trip, too, we booked an Airbnb, and as usual, the experience was great.

Airbnbs can be booked using this link

https://www.airbnb.com/

Now, I’ll take you through the places we visited in Paris:

Day 1 Evening: Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile

After settling all our stuff in the Airbnb, we freshened up and headed to our first destination Champs-Élysées.

About Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées is an avenue known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops. It is here that the finish of the Tour de France cycling race, as well as its annual Bastille Day military parade, takes place. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

About Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe was built to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. The pillars are adorned with sculptures, and the facade of the Arch is decorated with relief panels representing crucial moments of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era.

After walking around and getting our first experience of Paris, we headed to a restaurant at Champs-Élysées and had dinner. After dinner, we headed back to our Airbnb.

My review of Arc de Triomphe is available here.

Day 2: A walking tour of Montmartre and visit the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, lunch, followed by a visit to the Louvre

About Montmartre

Montmartre is a large hill in the north of Paris. It is primarily known for its artistic history, the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit, and a nightclub district. Near the end of the 19th century, many artists lived, worked, or had studios in or around Montmartre, including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh. Montmartre is also the setting for several hit films. 

Since there wasn’t one particular place that we wanted to visit in Montmartre, and we were not even entirely sure what to expect in that place, we decided to book a walking tour of the place. And I am glad we did that. The best way to understand the place with all its landmarks is to indeed take a walking tour with a local guide. The tour typically lasts about 2 hours, and all the important landmarks, such as Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, and the artist’s colony, are shown. We had a wonderful experience, the guide was knowledgeable and showed us places and told us stories related to them which we could have no way done all by ourselves. recommend taking the walking tour if you plan to visit Montmartre.

We booked ours from: https://www.discoverwalks.com/tour/paris-walking-tours/montmartre-tour/

The way it works is that you assemble at a point mentioned in your ticket at the specified place. The guide takes you through the place and explains all that is important, and then, in the end, you can pay a tip. they call it a ‘Free walking Tour,’ but you are expected to pay at the end. You can decide the amount.

Our walking tour ended at the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur. The guide explained about the Basilica and ended the tour. After that, we were free to explore it ourselves.

My review of the tour is available here.

About Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur

Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur is located on the summit of Montmarte. It is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A flight of steps takes you to this beautiful church. The church can be visited from the inside and is worth a visit when in Montmarte.

My review of the Basilica is available here.

After visiting the Basilica, we headed towards the Louvre museum. We picked up sandwiches near a bakery near the Lourve and headed to the museum. Despite having our booking done online, there was a long queue at the entrance, and I would suggest to my readers to account for the waiting time in the queue when planning your visit to the Lourve.

About the Louvre Museum

The Louvre is the world’s most-visited museum and a historic landmark in Paris. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace adjacent to the Tuileries gardens and contains more than 380,000 objects, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds.

After entering the Louvre, the visitors are given a map of the museum with information about the location of the exhibits. here, I would highly recommend doing your homework and making a list of the things you want to see in the museum and seeing those first. The museum is so big, and there are so many exhibits that it is impossible to see everything in a couple of hours. Moreover, it is tiring to go from one place to other other. So, make a list of ‘the ‘Exhibits of Interest’ and see them first. If you have more time and energy left, explore more.

The tickets for the Louvre can be booked at: https://www.louvre.fr/en

Also, while researching about Louvre, I found this interesting website for kids, which my readers with kids might find interesting:

https://louvrekids.louvre.fr/

My review of the Louvre can be found here.

By the time we exited the Lourve, it was late, and we were tired. We decided to call it a day.

Day 3: A casual walk around the city along the Seine river, followed by a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. Lunch and then a visit to Eiffel Tower and stay back till sunset at the Eiffel tower to see the Lightworks

We started the third day by waking up late and heading towards Notre Dame Cathedral. On the way, we stopped by the river bank and walked along, absorbing the sights and sounds of Paris.

Then we reached the Notre Dame Cathedral.

About Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the first Gothic cathedrals built in Europe and one of the most prominent in France. Its construction took place throughout the Gothic period. It started in the 12th century and continued for 300 years. Because of the time it took to build, various styles of architecture can be seen throughout the building. Because of the parts that got destroyed during a recent fire, renovation work is still on, and the cathedral cannot be visited from the inside. However, tourists can get a good view of this prominent landmark from the outside.

We saw it from the outside. Took some pictures and then headed to our next destination, the Eiffel Tower.

My review of this place is available here.

About Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built this iron tower as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair. At a height of 330 meters, it is the tallest structure in Paris. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level’s upper platform has the highest observation deck in Europe.

Near the Eiffel tower, there are plenty of restaurants. They are a bit pricey, and the closer they are to the tower, the more expensive they are. It took us some time to figure out where to eat. Then we had a relaxed lunch and headed to Eiffel Tower.

Here again, although we had made an advanced booking, there was a long queue at the entrance. I recommend accounting for the waiting times in the queue when planning your Eiffel Tower visit.

Tickets for the visit can be booked at: https://www.toureiffel.paris/fr

Here, you can choose between a ‘Summit Ticket’ and and ‘2nd Floor ticket’. Make a choice according to your preference but make sure you make an advance booking and do not rely on ‘on the spot/at the counter booking,’ because it can get very crowded and at the last moment, you may not get tickets of your choice.

We booked a ticket for the 2nd Floor. From there, we got to see wonderful panoramic views of the prominent landmarks of Paris. There are restaurants on the 1st and 2nd Level, and you can even stop by if you like. After our visit, we climbed down and headed to the adjoining park. I highly recommend visiting the park to experience the vibes of this bustling city.

Then we walked along the river and reached a viewing platform along the bridge on the river. From there, we got beautiful views of the tower. We waited there till sunset. At sunset, the Eiffel tower is lit up, and it looks absolutely amazing. Therefore, I would recommend visiting the Eiffel tower in the evening so that you don’t miss this lovely sight.

My review of the Eiffel Tower can be found here.

After absorbing all the beauty and being fully satisfied with our visit, we headed back to our Airbnb.

Day 4: A day trip to Disneyland

About Disneyland Paris

Disneyland is an amusement park that provides a fun-filled experience for the entire family. it is located about 45 km from the Paris City center. One can easily spend an entire day here and still not be bored.

On this day, we got up early and headed to Disneyland. It can be reached by car, but if you plan to reach there by train, you need to alight at The Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy train station, which is situated a few meters from Disneyland. It takes about 2 minutes by walk to reach Disneyland from this station.

Please note that Paris’s local public transport ticket cannot be used to reach Disneyland. A separate ticket for the same has to be purchased, which can be bought at the train station.

We spent an entire day in Disneyland. It was a fun experience. Here, I recommend that my readers be aware that Disneyland is usually very crowded. Visiting Disneyland on weekends can mean waiting in long queues for rides, food, toilets, etc. So, if you are on holiday in Paris, you can plan a visit to Disneyland on a weekday. On weekdays, the tickets are also a bit cheaper, and the place is less crowded. Also, download the Disneyland app and plan the rides you would like to take in advance. It helps in spending your time effectively in the park. The app is a very useful tool for finding your way around the park and understanding estimated wait times etc.

Tickets for your visit can be purchased on their official website: https://www.disneylandparis.com/en-usd/

My review of Disneyland is available here.

Day 5: Visit the Catacombs and L’Atelier des Lumières. Take an early evening train back to Darmstadt.

On our last day in Paris, we wanted to visit 2 destinations. The first was the Catacombs, and the second was L’Atelier des Lumières.

About the Catacombs of Paris

In the late eighteenth century, major public health problems tied to the city’s cemeteries led to a decision to transfer the bodies of the dead to an underground site. Paris authorities chose an easily accessible location that was, at the time, located outside the capital. This location is the present-day location of the catacombs. It holds the remains of more than 600 million people and is open to visitors. A flight of 131 steps takes to deep down to the place where you can see skulls and bones of people buried long ago. Unlike the catacombs in Rome, these were not made based on any religious practice or intent, but it is worth a visit.

Tickets for the visit can be purchased at:

https://www.billetterie-parismusees.paris.fr/content#

My review of the Catacombs is available here.

After we visited the catacombs, which lasted about 1.5 hours, we headed to L’Atelier des Lumières

About L’Atelier des Lumières

L’Atelier des Lumières is an artistic experience of a different kind. Although there are no real paintings that are displayed, the use of projections on the walls creates a larger-than-life experience. The hall is huge, and artists’ works are projected along with music to go along with. It is a different experience, well worth it. When we were there, there was a show of Dali’s works, and we found it pretty interesting.

Tickets can be booked at:

https://atelier-lumieres.tickeasy.com/fr-FR/accueil

Please note that this place is not very crowded, and last-minute tickets are cheaper than tickets booked in advance. If you want to take a chance, you can book the tickets for the visit on the same day a few hours before your visit, and you can get tickets at a much lower price.

My review of L’Atelier des Lumières is available here.

After our visit, we headed to the train station to take our train back to Darmstadt.

Our Paris trip was a memorable one. It gave us so many new experiences and opportunities to have a fun time with our family. We wanted to add a few more places to our Itinerary, but unfortunately, that was not possible. However, we visited as many places as we could in these 5 days, enjoyed the local cuisine, and even tried out our broken French on locals 🙂

Before I end my article, I have a few tips for my readers:

  1. Plan your trip in advance and make your bookings ( for the places you want to visit) before you come to Paris. Paris is crowded with tourists, and it is hard to get anything at the last moment.
  2. Be prepared to stand in long queues despite advanced bookings.
  3. Public transport is crowded and sometimes unreliable too, so have a backup plan (Like a taxi app downloaded on your phone when you arrive).
  4. Don’t miss out on trying local delicacies ( Try the macarons, eat at local bakeries- cakes, pastries, sandwiches, all taste yum)
  5. Beware of pickpockets, and always watch your belongings.
  6. Dress appropriately according to the weather and be ready to walk a lot.

Check out my gallery page for many more photos of Paris.

Also, read my article about the Top 10 Places to see in Paris.

2 responses to “Our 5 Days Family Holiday in Paris”

  1. Ruchi-Singh avatar

    Great, Quality Content, A lot of thanks for sharing, kindly keep with continue !!

    Like

    1. padmini2403 avatar

      Thanks for your kind words Ruchi! Do consider subscribing 🙂

      Like

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2 responses to “Our 5 Days Family Holiday in Paris”

  1. Great, Quality Content, A lot of thanks for sharing, kindly keep with continue !!

    Like

    1. Thanks for your kind words Ruchi! Do consider subscribing 🙂

      Like

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