When I was a little girl my mother started taking me to Europe every summer. I don’t have endless detailed memories from my childhood, so these trips traveling through France, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and beyond were some of my most treasured. I remember the way my first scone tasted and the thick clotted cream I slathered on top served with a warm cup of tea that felt incredibly grown up at the time. Marching through countless museums, standing under the Eiffel Tower with wonder and amazement or the simple feeling of hearing a foreign language spoken and how I desperately wanted to learn it. My parents didn’t have gobs of money for these trips, so we would stay in bed and breakfasts or hostiles a few nights in a row and then splurge on a “fancy” hotel that I appreciated even more because it felt special.
I was lucky enough to live in Paris for several years on and off in my late teens, but those memories were much more about discovering the city on my own. I’ve been looking forward to creating new memories with my kids, while taking part in one of my favorite pastimes: travel!
Last summer I took Chloe to Paris for 10 days and we had such a life changing experience we decided to go again this summer, but this time we took 3 days to zip off to another beloved city: London.
I posted my travels on Instagram and so many people were headed there this summer as well, so they asked me to share where I had visited and eaten. Below is a list of some personal favorites, but I will say you can’t go wrong as both cities are an absolute treat.
* Bring a scooter for kids. I did a post on it here, but It’s a total game changer for cutting down on complaints and “I’m tired” when discovering a new city. You can pack one in your luggage, in the over head compartments on planes, or at gate check.
* Buy all your tickets ahead of time. You will save tons of time avoiding long lines and occasionally get tickets at a lower price. Great news if you’re bringing kids as many museums offer free passes for little ones.
* Take your time and slow down. There’s no need to rush. I find with kids doing one to two major attractions a day can be enough as it can be overwhelming for kids and you want them to enjoy the experience.
* We’re big picnic-ers! Paris is an especially picnic friendly city where you can grab a baguette, slices of cheese and fresh fruit to eat under the eiffel tower, along the Seine or in one of the gorgeous parks.
* In Paris it’s a right of passage to grab a crepe at a street stand and a baguette or croissant at your local patisserie. Chloe and I never met one we didn’t love!
* Metro. It’s safe and the best way to get around the city. Buy books of ten or twenty tickets at a time.
* Batobus – The boat is a wonderful way to get around and see all of the sights. There are many Batobus stops along the Seine and you can buy tickets at the stop. You can get on and off the boat as many times as you’d like with any of the passes but it’s probably best to buy a two day pass so you don’t have to rush.
* Paris Walks – Great tours of Paris that are only 2 hours. You’ll learn about specific areas – history, food, art, etc… Reasonably priced, well worth the time and great for a child’s attention span.
Musee D’Orsay: my favorite museum in Paris especially for impressionistic art in an old train station.
The Louvre – Buy tickets ahead of time and avoid the lines by entering at the “secret entrance” which is an entrance on the map called “Port de Lions”. Make sure to set aside hours for this treasure as there’s a lot to see.
Eiffel Tower: shh… this tour is a secret to most, but truly special getting to go in the underground bunkers on the Eiffel Tower grounds and then getting a private tour around and up the tower. A great way to beat the lines too!
Atelier Des Lumières: light museum focused on 3 artists and super kid friendly.
Versailles: it’s a quick train ride from Paris and worth every moment. The palace is gorgeous (visit in the afternoon) and head to the gardens before to avoid long lines, rent a boat, walk through the manicured mazes and grab a soft serve ice cream cone.
Below is a list of restaurants I’ve been once or more and felt were great for kids and adults alike. I’ve lived and stay in the 7th arrondissement most of the time, so many of these spots are in the 1st, 6th or 7th. Excited to hear about your favorite parts of the city, too! Tell me in the comments below.
Marlon – 7th
Cafe Central – 7th
Malabar – 7th
13 A Bakers Dozen – 6th
Angelina (a Parisian classic)
Les Deux Magots – 6th
Cafe de Flore – 6th
Le Comptoir – 6th
Frenchie – 2nd
Yam’tcha 2nd perfect for parents and a true treat. May be too “out there” for kids
Clover Grill 1st
Le Village 7th
La Fontaine De Mars 7th roast chicken dinner on Sunday’s is a must!
La Bonboniere 8th insane chocolates
Berthillon 4th classic french ice cream
Amorino 4th my favorite gelato
Pierre Herme 6th macarons and deserts
Laduree 7th macarons
The Bon Marche 7th a must for any food lover. The endless culinary products are mind blowing plus the shopping is off the charts!
Go see a show! If you’re traveling all the way to London, seeing a play is the way to go. Chloe and I went to Matilda and I have to say it was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been known to take the occasional nap in plays. That’s our secret. Ok?)
London Eye The most incredible view of London and a treat for kids
Westminster Abbey buy tickets ahead to avoid the 45 minute line that I got caught in. It’s next to the London Eye, so easy to do both in a morning or afternoon.
Buckingham Palace If the flags are up and out the queen is home.
Victoria and Albert Museum The collection of jewels is reason enough to go.
Tate Modern Modern art for days, large rooms to explore and artists that will blow your mind.
Claridges I mark this not as a restaurant or hotel, but as a true experience for afternoon tea. This is a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget doing with my mom. You can dress up, lay back and let the endless amounts of sandwiches, scones, tea, champagne and desserts take over.
Borough Market from food to events to all around great shopping.
The Wolseley I’ve been here 5 times and it gets better each time. The service is out of this world and super kid friendly menu.
Where to stay: Just my 2 cents, but unless you’re using points for a lovely hotel stay, I’m a big fan of Kid and Co! You can rent family friendly apartments all over the world and live like locals.
If you have any questions or favorite spots in either city, please leave them below. I know I’ll be headed back again in 2019!