Our 9 Days Family Vacation in Paris
Paris offers stunning monuments, streets filled with a special romantic atmosphere and history, top-rated museums, and exceptional cuisine.
I planned 9 days family trip to France. As we went with 2 kids (7 and 13 yesterday old), I had to make them have fun, and find things they’ll find interesting. That doesn’t mean my wife and I don’t have to enjoy the trip as well, so I had to find things for everyone. This is not the vision you probably have when you think of a romantic trip to the city of love, but we had a great time.
One easy decision was that we want to go to Disneyland for a few days. After knowing how many days we have for this vacation, I started reading and planning the trip.
Disney has few hotels and few partner hotels. I saw that one of them was Villages Nature Paris, from Center Parcs. We know these parks from previous trips to Europe (check out my Netherlands family trip itinerary) and we love staying in holiday parks. So I’ve booked 5 days in the park, which includes 2 days entrance to Disneyland parks (see why we choose 2 days). Villages Nature Paris is about a 15 min ride from Disneyland and offers nature, family time, quiet time, and many activities for the kids and adults.
As it’s the first time for my family in France, we can’t pass on visiting Paris, especially as it’s less than an hour away from Disneyland. So, the plan was to spend 4 more days in Paris.
After doing a lot of online and offline research, here’s what our trip end up like.
This post describes our 9 days Paris family vacation, with a 7-year-old girl and 13 years old boy. I’ll share what we did, including a map with all the pinpoints so if it fits your plans, feel free to use the same itinerary or make adjustments that fit your plans.
As always, when planning your vacation, especially a family vacation, you must do your homework in order to make sure everyone will have fun. Ones you know when you want to go, who’s traveling, and for how long, you can start planning your trip.
I’ll go right ahead and say it. I don’t think Paris is the best choice for traveling with kids.
Yes, there is Disneyland Paris about an hour away, there are other amusement parks, zoos, kids museums, and other activities for kids (as I’ll detail later in this post), but if you want to enjoy Paris museums, restaurants, cafes, shopping, gardens, and special streets, kids will quickly get bored.
With that in mind, it’s more than possible to have a great family vacation in Paris, and later in this post, I provided a bit more tips on how to make Paris interesting for kids.
Overview – 9 Days Family Vacation in Paris
As I mentioned, we booked the first 4 nights at Villages Nature Paris holiday park. We made the booking from the Disneyland website, as part of a package for the accommodation and Disneyland tickets. As the park is a Disney partner hotel, you’ll get Disney Magic Pass, which gives several benefits, including the option to enter the park an hour before the official opening time. It might not sound much but trust me, it makes a great difference as I explain later in the post. If you come with a car, you’ll also get free parking at Disneyland park.
The park provides a real feel of nature, along with modern facilities. As with all Center Parcs holiday parks, this is a car-free park and you can learn more about it on the Center Parcs website. In the park, you’ll get around on foot or you can rent bikes, carts, and family bikes. It can get expensive so if you have your car, you might want to bring your own bike or foldable scooter. Other than the Aqua Lagoon, with several pools, rivers, water slides, and activities, you’ll find many other activities. Note that most of them are at extra cost.
Landing and heading over to the holiday village
We landed at CDG (Charles de Gaulle Airport). After the landing, we took the Magic Shuttle bus to Villages Nature. It is recommended on the Disney website and offers a nice direct drive straight to the Disney hotels. I must say that there isn’t much magic in that bus, in spite of the name 🙂
The ride was ok and got us straight to the park, with no stops. But…at least from the terminal we got into, it was a very very long walk to the bus, and it’s not the best way to start your vacation.
When arriving at the Villages Nature park, we got a nice welcome, put our language at storage, as the check-in was much later, and went to explore the park and grab something to eat.
Later we got into our cottage which was much more than expected, fully equipped with everything we need, and with a great view of the park lake from the balcony and the hot tub.
Disneyland Paris parks
Disneyland Paris offers 2 parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. On our second day of the trip, we went to Disneyland Park. As we stayed in a Disneyland partner hotel, we had a Magic Pass ticket, meaning we can get to the park an hour before the official opening time, as I mentioned earlier. Use this time smartly. Pre-plan your visit, understand which attraction you wish to go to first, which attractions had the longest lines, and go to those first. In top season, the lines to some attractions could be 60-90 minutes, and in the morning you could get in in 5 minutes. Yes, you could buy FastPass tickets, but this could get very expensive.
Disneyland Park is pretty big, with many attractions, shows, parades, stores, and restaurants. When we visited, there were 30th-anniversary celebrations and we got an amazing welcome parade, where thousands of the park employees stood at the main entrance, along Main Street, USA, and all the way to The Castle of Sleeping Beauty. They were dancing, singing, and cheering. It was a pretty amazing way to start the day.
We spent the entire day in the park, enjoying the attractions, shows, and parades. Don’t miss the main parade on Main Street, which take place every day at 17:30. Late at night, at 10:50 PM the main celebration show started with amazing video art displayed on the castle, fountains show, fireworks, lasers, and drone show, all working together to create an amazing experience.
We initially planned to spend the following day in the Walt Disney Studios Park, but since we had a very long day in Disneyland Park, and it was a bit rainy weather, we’ve decided to make a small change and spent the following day relaxing in the holiday park, enjoying some family time, bowling, pools, and resting.
On the following day, we went to Disney Studios Park, which is a smaller park. This is part of the advantage of buying an open ticket as part of the hotel package. We could choose to visit at any 2 days from the days you stay in the Disney hotel. For more detailed information about Disneyland Paris, I recommend reading this guide, detailing all the relevant information and tips.
As Disney Studios Park is smaller, we had some time left, so we went outside to Disneyland Village, which is located right outside the park.
In both parks, you’ll find endless food options and Disney stores. I found out (too late) that at least for my family, the food opportunities in the Disney Village are better than what’s offered in the parks (although there are more options in the parks). In the village, you’ll find dining options, Imax cinema, a hot air Ballon, a golf course, stores, and a nice atmosphere. As it’s right outside the parks, you can easily go out for a short break and return to the park at any time.
For the following day and a half we stayed in the Villages Nature, enjoying the animals, nature, pools, and other activities such as bowling, making dolls, riding a pony, playgrounds, and simply taking a walk around the park lake and woods.
How many days are required to visit Disneyland Paris?
It’s a bit of a personal question, as it depends on your timelines, who are visiting, are you a Disney fan, and other factors.
But, we can tell you my recommendations, based on personal experience and discussions with many other visitors. If you aren’t a Disney fan and are just going for the sake of your kids or because it’s on your list of highlights near Paris, my recommendation would probably be to just go for 1 day, spending it entirely at Disneyland Park, experiencing some of the best attractions, and enjoying the ambiance. If you’re a fan of the newest Disney characters, then go to Disney Studios park for a couple of hours and the rest of the day spend at Disneyland Park.
If you and your kids are a Disney fan, I’d recommend 3 days visit, especially in high season when there are long lines for the attraction, to take pictures with the Disney princesses, and for everything else. We spent 1 very long day (8:30 am to 11:30 pm) in Disneyland Park and another shorter day in Disney Studios park, and found it more than enough.
Arriving in Paris
Our kind taxi driver took us to Paris, directly to our accommodation at Astotel 34B hotel. It’s a nice hotel, in a great location and with great service. They offer great breakfast, and an open bar in any Astoel hotel in the city, from the afternoon until late at night. So you can grab a hot or cold drink with some cookies and take some rest.
After putting our stuff in the room and taking a short rest, we went to see Arc de Triomphe.
It is a great place to start your visit to Paris, as you can see the great view from the top. Expect long lines during the main season and get ready to climb 284 stairs to the top. It’s definitely worth the effort. Click to learn more about Arc de Triomphe.
From there, we wend down the famous Champs-Élysées, and continued to Élysée Palace, and Jardin des Champs-Élysées. This is a nice walk, and a good opportunity to sit down for a nice drink. We stopped our trip for the day at Place de la Concorde and took the Metro back to the hotel. If you don’t have small kids, you can find endless options for a nice dinner or a drink before heading back to the hotel.
For the rest of our time in Paris, we went to many of the main landmarks, took a tour on a boat ride along the Sein river, walked around the special streets of the different regions around the attractions, and especially the Latin region.
Pre-book tickets for everything
Paris has a lot of visitors. If you plan on visiting during high season, you must pre-order tickets for everything or you simply won’t have tickets available, or you’ll wait hours in line to buy tickets. I’ve seen people stand in long lines for Arc de Triomphe to get tickets, I’ve seen them stand for almost an hour in the Louvre and Palace of Versailles, just to find out that there are no tickets available. Simply go to the attraction website or buy them on ticket websites. I personally booked many of the tickets with Tiqets as I find their app and website very easy to use. On top of that, I know I have a reliable company I can trust in case of problems and I have all the tickets, with all the relevant information available in the Tiqets application. Even when we were already in Paris, and wanted to get on a boat ride, we saw there is a crazy line. I simply got into the app and bought tickets easily with no line.
Tips for specific attractions
Pre-book your tickets, expect long lines, and don’t forget to check out the 1st floor on your way down. The kids would love it.
Other than the time waiting in line, I would save at least 1.5 hours for visit to the 1st and 2nd floors and 2.5 hours for a visit to the top. The view from the top is beautiful, but, if you’re short on time, I would skip the top and visit the first two floors. I think the view from the second floor is more interesting, as it lets you identify the city’s iconic structures.
Another tip that will save you a lot of stress and time is to take a private tour. It’s more expensive, but some options will get you past all the lines and save you valuable time. You can find some great options at Viator.
To view the Eiffel Tower, you can find many interesting spots all over Paris, but the best view is from Trocadéro Gardens across the river. Try to get before sunset, so you’ll see the Eiffel in both daylight and dark. The Tower lights and beacon are lit up every evening from dusk until one o’clock in the morning. As soon as it gets dark, the Eiffel Tower will light up with blinking light for 5 minutes, at the beginning of each hour. Don’t miss it.
The Louver Museum
Before or after your visit to the Louver, take a walk or make a picnic in the nearby Tuileries Garden.
Remember that kids can get bored in this huge museum so pre-plan your route (you’ll find routes by time on the website) and don’t try to see everything.
Take pictures with the pyramid. Make it fun for kids by making them look big, touching the top of the pyramid.
Take a picture with the Mona Lisa and maybe even let them draw it or any other painting they like.
Palace of Versailles
This place is huge, and the gardens are even bigger. You can’t see the whole place in one day so don’t try to.
We took a short walk along with the palace and admired the amazing rooms and art. Then we went to the gardens to enjoy the amazing gardens, fountains show, statuses, and grab a small lunch in one of the hidden restaurants in the gardens.
You can ride a boat in the lake, rent bikes or golf carts, and catch a train ride back to the palace.
We haven’t made it to the other castles in the Versailles huge area so I can’t give tips about these areas. This is one place I would love to get back to see more of.
So, is Paris Child Friendly?
I mentioned at the beginning of the post that I don’t think Paris is the best choice when traveling with kids. Yes, you can find things to do for kids, but when doing these things, this means you won’t experience Paris. For kid’s attractions and activities, there are better options, but if you want to see Paris and travel as a family, Paris could definitely be a good option. You just have to split time between activities they like and activities you’d like. It’s always good to explain before the trip about the places you’re going to see and try to get them interested. For example, tell them the story about The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so when you’ll see it, they’ll be more interested.
My kids like watching Miraculous TV series. I noticed that the Grévin Museum (a Wax museum depicting French history) has Miraculous features in it. I kept this attraction to the last they and at least the young girl was looking forward to seeing it. It was also a good choice for the last day as it was less than 5 minutes walk from our hotel so we put the luggage in the hotel and went traveling until we had to live for our flight.
There are other attractions for kids, other than Disneyland Paris. You could find other theme parks, zoos, science museums, and other attractions you can all enjoy as a family.
Choosing your accommodation
As I mentioned, we initially stayed with Villages Nature Parcs as we wanted to be near Disneyland and since we love holiday parks for our family vacations. I definitely recommend booking one of Disneyland’s hotels or partner hotels. They provide good quality and are close to the park. The advantage of Villages Nature is that it offers quiet time, many activities, and great pools for the days when you’re not in Disneyland. The main disadvantage, compared to Disney hotels located right near the park, is that you need a car or taxi to get between the two. The problem is not the short ride, it’s the fact that you can’t take a break during the long day in Disneyland parks. Our first day at Disneyland started at 8:30 and ended up after 11:30 PM and we couldn’t pass on the amazing shows late at night. If we were staying in a nearby Disney hotel, we might have taken a break at lunch and go regained our powers.
In Paris, you can find many hotels in different price ranges, quality, and locations. If you want to travel in the more touristic places, book a hotel close to this attraction and avoid long walks, but if you prefer a bit farther away hotel, it shouldn’t be a problem as it very easy and affordable to get around in public transportation or taxis.
I found that the best way to look for hotels in Paris is with Booking.com.
Food in Paris
I won’t discuss food options in Paris, as there are endless posts and apps to find restaurants. For example, you can read this great guide on where to eat and drink in Paris.
If you’d like to experience unique culinary experiences, definitely check out Eatwith.
In Villages Nature park you will find a few restaurants and a supermarket, which offer many products and meals you can heat in the cottage microwave oven. You can either eat in the restaurants or buy and prepare your own food in the very well-equipped kitchen in the cottage. If you have a car, you can find more places in the area, including in Disneyland village, a short drive from Villages Nature.
When in Disneyland parks, you have many restaurants and takeaway options. If you want to seat down for a quality meal, you should probably pre-book your table in the Disneyland Paris app. We brought some sandwiches and snacks with us and ate one meal in the park restaurants.
Shopping in Paris
Paris has a lot of shopping areas. Some offer small boutique stores and others offer long streets with shopping malls and street stores, with all the brands you know and love.
For a cheaper shopping experience, you’ll have to drive away from Paris.
Near the hotel, there are some small passages. Don’t miss them. You’ll find interesting specialty stores.
Right next to Astotel 34B hotel you’ll also find Montmartre street with many stores and the Westfield shopping center on the south end of the street. Along that route, you’ll also find interesting historic buildings and around the Westfield mall, you’ll also find a small market and a lot of activity and fun in the evening as people go out to enjoy their evening.
Useful Apps When Traveling in Paris
If you plan on visiting Disneyland Paris, you must install this application at least a few days before your trip. Use it to plan your visit, mark the rides you would like to visit and link your ticket details. During your visit, you can use it as a map to get to the attractions and restaurants you’d like, use it to see the lines on the different attractions, and book Fast Pass to skip the lines.
When visiting Paris, you’ll probably go up a few places to view the city from the top. With the Magnicity application, you can get an interactive city guide in augmented reality. Check out which observation decks are supported before going on your trip.
You could get around in most places in Paris in English, but you’ll probably encounter some non-English speakers at least a few times during your trip. Google Translate app will make it easy to translate the conversation. You can also use it to translate signed and restaurants menu when needed. Download from Google Play or App Store.
Maps and Public Transportation
First, you must download Google maps, as it will help you navigate by foot, car, or public transportation. Make sure you download the map before going on the trip to make sure the map is available offline and save on data costs. Download for Android | Download for iOS.
If you plan on using public transportation, there are few apps that will help you plan and stay informed on the best routs (other than Google Map which is great):
- Citymapper – easily plan routes on public transportation, taxis, walking, and even cycling with Vélib (Paris bike system). Citymapper app cannot be used offline, so if you don’t have a data plan, make sure you plan your journeys before you start and take screenshots to refer to later. You can download it from Google Play and App Store.
- Paris Metro – the official metro map and train times. Download from Google Play or App Store.
- G7 – the largest Taxi company in France. It’s a good, easy-to-use app. It will help you avoid the need to speak to drivers who don’t speak English. You can book the ride in the app, pay in the app, and have English-speaking customer service if required. Download from Google Play| Download for iOS
- Bolt and Free Now are other Taxi companies in Paris with great apps and service.
- Uber – allows you to order a car with a driver whenever you want, 24/7. Download from Google Play | Download for iOS
I’ve recommended the Tiqets website several times on this post, as I found them very good. On their website and app, you’ll find tickets to attractions, guided tours, and events in Paris. You’ll find all the information you need for each activity, electronic tickets, and great service. Visit Tiqets.
Paris is a beautiful, magical, and great vacation. Yes, it took us some time to get into the Paris state of mind, and each one of us loved other parts of the trip more than others. Some loved the attractions and famous landmarks, some enjoyed taking a boat ride on the Sein river, and others enjoyed the museums, food, shopping, small passages, etc.).
In the itinerary, you’ll find more places and details, even though there are one or two places we ended up not going to. We skipped them either since we enjoyed another place and preferred to spend more time in it, or we felt it was too much for that day and preferred to get some rest or take things more easily.
Don’t just go to the tourist places. Walk around, visit the small streets, get into the passages and find magical stores.
Now that I’ve finally been to Paris, and after following a lot of research, I’ve written an itinerary for a family trip to Paris, and Paris Travel Guide, which includes everything you need to know when planning your trip to Paris. You’ll find things to do, tips for traveling to Paris with kids, transportation information, and much more.
Last update: May 2022
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