BONJOUR!!! I think it’s going to be a LONG time before I call myself fluent in French or anything along those lines, but we gave it our best shot when we visited Paris for Spring Break and I think I am still euphoric about the entire trip… I’ll be honest, I had high expectations, but it blew those out of the water and it was something none of us will ever forget. And now that I’ve shared our day by day itinerary with you [read that post here], it’s time we tackle more of the details and specifics about what made this trip so magical and memorable.
To experience Europe together as a family was more than I imagined it would be and I know we’ve got the itch to go back very very soon [especially since Carson will turn 10 next year]! But before too much time goes by, I wanted to post a few more essentials, hopefully in a short enough setting to where it will be helpful for anyone planning a trip to the most beautiful city in the world and of course share all the highlights along the way.
First things first, I have to give a HUGE shout-out to our incredible travel agent Laura Crafton and her European counterparts at Smart Flyer. This is now the third international trip she has helped to plan for us and needless to say her expertise goes above and beyond and I cannot recommend her services enough… especially when it comes to ALL the specific details, travel between tours, etc.
Now let them eat cake… a reference you’ll know all about when you visit Paris! Breaking down by category below: sharing all the experiences and excursions, eateries and shops and of course the accomodations…
I have to give credit where it’s due and this gem came from Jeff and Mimi’s hours of endless internet searching. We had originally thought we wanted to get hotel rooms for this trip, though after looking at pricing and options, we thought it would be far more advantageous [and less pricey] to book an apartment so we were all in one location. This gave us the space to use it together as a family, spend time relaxing in the living and dining room, grabbing groceries from a local market to have a few things on hand, and of course = the one-in-a-million view from right outside our penthouse terrace.
My best advice: if you’re traveling with more than 2 people to Paris, hands down get an apartment. Hotel rooms in Europe can be extremely small and this was SO much better for our 6-person group!
The Residence at Charles Floquet was impeccable in every way! The location was truly everything we were looking for with amazing views of the Eiffel Tower, easy access to a few of the local metro + bus stations, as well as close proximity to many of the museums and sights we wanted to see throughout our trip. They also have free WIFI, moden amenities + plenty of apartment options depending on how many people you have in your party. This is the 7th story penthouse we booked!
And scroll to the last photo below to see what was LITERALLY right outside! Such dreamy views and the exact picture-perfect moment Caroline wanted for her first trip to the city of lights!
It’s safe to say we could spend weeks in Paris and not see everything. My parents have now visited three times and they said they were still finding special places to make sure to check off their lists. I loved that Laura and her team spent tons of time creating a specialized itinerary for our family that combines all the traditional trourist stops + experiences with unique excursions along the way = proof that it’s never too early to introduce your kids to different cultures and new countries and now they have the travel bug = our work here is done!
Here is just a sampling of some of the incredible things we were able to see and do throughout our weeklong getaway:
L’amour de Paris Photoshoot | Hands down my favorite part of the trip. Cheyenne and Doug made this absolutely incredible in every single way. First they let you select the location you’re looking for [so many options on their website] and then you nail down the time/specifics you’re looking for… I cannot say enough great things about them and their customer service and how easy they made this photoshoot = even when it was chilly at 7AM and working with a family of 6. Do yourself a favor and book them immediately! And yes, snag Wow Factory Paris balloons too… the icing on top of a picture perfect cake!
French Chef Cooking Class | Another one of our most requested ideas for this trip was to participate in a proper French cooking class… especially one geared towards pastries and recipes the girls would enjoy! The travel team knocked it out of the ballpark with our chef — she was super warm and inviting, loved how we got to cook in her home’s kitchen and so many valuable baking lessons we all can keep with us! Each and every one of us understood our assignment and weren’t afraid to get our hands dirty. A fabiulous idea for families on European vacations for sure…
Louvre Tour + Scavenger Hunt | I had heard so many of my friends and family talk about how large the famous Louvre museum was, but nothing could’ve gotten me prepared to see this magestic sight in all its beauty. It’s absolutely breathtaking upon arrival, from top to bottom, and you could get lost for days in the halls without seeing the same statue or piece of artwork from some of the most famous artists of all time. Suffice to say, everyone’s commentary was spot on because this palace turned museum was one of my favorite excursions in Paris.
We took the advice of our travel agents and had the girls participate in a private scavenger hunt that allowed them to see the most famous pieces at the Louvre [and of course Mimi was just itching to accompany them!] while us “big kids” stayed the course and got to tackle as much as we could in the 2 hour alloted timeframe. The best thing about getting a guide is that they can show you SO many of the important pieces in a very short visit because they know the best way to navigate the stately halls. Of course I was DYING to see the Mona Lisa [along with everyone else] but it was absolutely fascinating to see the world’s most famous portrait live in person as well as the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and SO many others! Historians… you’re going to want to spend much more time here.
Half Day Trip to Versailles | I’ll be honest, I was worried about the girls on our day trip to Versailles… one because it’s a lot to understand French royalty and all their intricacies and two, because it’s a lot of giant paintings, every square inch covered in gold and I wasn’t sure they’d enjoy it. But even after we’ve been back a few weeks, Carson still says it was her favorite thing we did on our trip and I have to admit, it was STUNNING in every sense of the word. Opulence and extravagance all rolled into one “small” palace… and yes I say that oh so sarcastically, but my word it was absolutely incredible to take it all in and spend a few hours where Louis XIV and the other kings and queens lived throughout their reign [even Marie Antionette!] — just be sure to go on a sunny day so you can take in the acres upon acres of gardens… another not-to-miss wonder!
Seine River Cruise | Not only was this one of our entire family’s favorite excursions, but it was a way to see the sights from a completely different angle. Our travel agent booked a private venetian river taxi for us to travel up and down the Seine on the night of Caroline’s birthday.
It was so much fun listening to our captain and first mate, chatting about their time in Paris and learning some of the intricacies of the waterways and local details about their beloved hometown. Definitely something you want to add to your list!!
The Arc de Triumphe | another incredible vantage point of Paris is from the top of the Arc… I could sit for hours and watch the crazy cars at this notorious roundabout in the way they weave in and out with ZERO traffic signs, signals, etc. You’ve GOT to head to the top for 360 views of the entire city as well = just have your walking shoes on because there are hundreds of stairs and you’ll get tired!
Eiffel Tower Visit with Photographer | They say a picture tells a 1,000 words and you’ll agree after scrolling through these images. I’m not going to lie… having a photograhper visit the tower with us was absolutely incredible so that we were able to actually ENJOY the sights and the tour without having to worry about “picture picture picture” [I’m talking to you Pappy!!] = these will certainly be framers for this family!!!
Rather than listing these out separately, I thought it would be most helpful to create another graphic with some of our favorites from our visit…