Category Archives: Paris, Île-de-France

Paris with Boys 7 and 10, Episode 200

Paris with Boys 7 and 10 — Secrets to a Great Visit!

You are going to Paris with your children and wonder how to create the best experience for your kids? We’ve got suggestions for you in this episode!

Going to Paris with boys 7 and 10 can be a challenge, but we’ve given this a lot of thought and we’ve put the itinerary to the test. In this episode Luke and Max reveal the Paris venues that we’re pretty sure your kids will love too.

With children, it’s often more about not packing too much in while choosing highly engaging activities. Remember, doing Paris with boys 7 and 10 means you have to find activities that are at least as fun and engaging as video games!That’s a tall order, but Paris is up to the task.

So, listen up, we roll out the best Paris has to offer in this episode!

Hotel Recommended on this Episode: Citadines hotel near Notre Dame

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Luke painting the T-Rex: Paris with Boys 7 and 10
Photo Annie Sargent

What You Will Learn About in this Episode

Day 1: Eiffel Tower at night

Jeanne and the kids got to Paris late, so we decided to keep things simple. After catching some dinner, we took the RER from Saint Michel and went straight to the Eiffel Tower.  When you arrive at 9:50 PM there are no lines to speak of to go up, but you may have to wait a little bit to get an elevator coming down. The top level was closed that night. Bonus: we got to see the sparkle 3 times!

Practical Paris Tip #1

The RER stops running half an hour after midnight, don’t miss the last train! The metro runs later, but we were tired and we decided not to mess with it and called an Uber instead. Uber is fine in Paris especially if you speak some French (listen to our episode on tips for using Uber in Paris). Taxis are good too and their prices have come down now that they have more competition.

Day 2: Paris Natural History Museum (Jardin des Plantes)

The Jardin des Plantes in Paris offers separate activities on different tickets. We visited the Paleontology Building (Galerie de Paléontologie et d’anatomie comparée) + the T-Rex Special Exhibit (in Paris until Sept 2nd, 2018 only).

You can get a good deal by asking for a combined ticket for both attractions and a “TRIBU” ticket. This lets 2 adults and 2 kids see both attractions for 36€.

Day 3: Treasure Hunt at the Louvre and Seine River Cruise

Both kids and adults loved it! It’s not easy, you won’t find everything, but so interesting and it does keep you going looking at the art for a much longer time than you would without the hunt.

Maybe go back to the Louvre the next day and find the treasures you couldn’t get to on the first day.

Practical Paris Tip #2

Persons under 18 get in the Louvre for free when accompanied by adults who have a valid ticket. Minors don’t need a “free ticket”, they can just enter with their family members.

When you enter the Louvre you do it from underneath the pyramid and you have to choose choose through which wing you will enter. The wings are Denon, Sully, and Richelieu. It used to be that your ticket was good for the whole day, it didn’t matter how many times you exited and entered each wing.

They changed this recently because scalpers were reselling used discarded tickets. So now you can enter each wing of the Museum TWICE in the same day. That’s still plenty, but keep track. You can get from one wing to another inside of the museum also, but that’s more steps.

Day 4: Philharmonie de Paris and Music Museum

I’ve wanted to visit the Paris Music Museum for a while so it was great to finally do it! The collection of old instruments is amazing and the audio guide really engaging.

It’s a little bit out of the beaten path, will take half an hour to get to from central Paris on the metro, but it’s worth it! If your kids are budding musicians, this is for sure a place they will love!

Luke and Max enjoying the Music Museum: Paris with Boys 7 and 10
Photo Annie Sargent

The Vibe of Paris Neighborhoods, Episode 199

The Vibe of Paris Neighborhoods, Episode 199

Each part of Paris has it own feel and understanding the vibe of Paris neighborhoods is important so you can be in the best position to choose where you stay. The question of where should I stay in Paris comes up a lot especially for first-time visitors.

Those of us who have been to Paris several times have our favorites, but that doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t any good, it just means that you like to stick to what’s comfortable to you!

The neighborhoods we consider today are the Latin Quarter, Saint Germain des Près, Saint Michel, Le Marais, Montmatre, Montparnasse, the Eiffel Tower, La Défense, the Champs Elysées / Arc de Triomphe area.

There are some Annie loves and others she does not. In this episode you hear exactly why with examples of what’s wrong.

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Café de Flore in the Saint Germain neighborhood
Photo Annie Sargent

What You Will Hear About in this Episode with Timestamps

[00:22] What Paris neighborhood is best to stay in?

[01:32] This episode is for people who don’t have a favorite Paris neighborhood yet.

[02:56] Annie recorded this episode behind Notre Dame in Paris, recording in public is a first for this show!

[04:03] Annie just completed the Versailles, Giverny, Paris and Normandy tours, they were great with great customers again.

[04:26] What is the vibe of various Paris neighborhoods and how can knowing about that help you choose the best place for you? Let’s start with four neighborhoods on the left bank: Latin Quarter, Saint Germain des Près and Saint Michel.

The Saint-Michel Neighborhood

[05:06] Saint Michel is great for people who aren’t staying in Paris very long because it’s close to everything first-time visitors should visit, but it’s a loud neighborhood.


[06:35] Saint Germain des Près is a little further, but not by much. It is quieter (fewer sirens) but still busy and very popular with visitors. A great place to rent or apartment or book a hotel, although it’ll be a bit more expensive than Saint Michel.

The Latin Quarter

[07:11] The Latin Quarter is a lot more subdued because it is the home of the Sorbonne which takes up a lot of the space.  It is a wonderful neighborhood but be prepared to walk a little more.

The Luxembourg Garden Area

[08:07] The Luxembourg Gardens are also a lovely area for you to choose as a place to stay, it is usually attractive to repeat visitors who have visited the area before. It is a little further out, but peaceful and upscale.

Le Marais Neighborhood

[08:46] On the right bank (I misspoke and said left bank in the audio) you can stay in Le Marais, a wonderful lively area, especially around the Saint Paul metro station.

Montmartre, Watch Out!

[09:58] Montmatre is a popular area that I don’t recommend. Why not? Because it takes too long to get to and from Montmartre, because it’s hilly, there are lots of stairs to deal with, and the elevator at the Abbesses metro station hardly ever works, it hasn’t gotten any better since the renovation.

Montparnasse, More Genuinely  French

[12:37] For those of you who would like to stay in a neighborhood with more French people than visitors, Montparnasse is highly recommended (I misspoke and said Montmartre several times, but I meant Montparnasse). The area has a lot of offer and is “real”.

La Défense Area

[13:38] Some people stay at La Défense when they get free hotels due to miles. There is nothing wrong with staying at La Défense but be aware that the area is lively during the day (when presumably you’ll be away enjoying Paris) and completely dead at night. I don’t recommend you stay there unless you’re going to Paris for work.

Delacroix painting in the Saint Sulpice church
Photo Annie Sargent

The Eiffel Tower Area

[14:20] The Eiffel Tower neighborhood is wonderful with good hotels, great apartments, a little bit out of the way, but not so much that it would become a problem.

Champs Elysées / Arc de Triomphe

[15:39] The Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe area is nice, but not as well served by public transportation because the people who live there are wealthy and never take the bus. This is a great area for people who take taxis everywhere they go.

Episode Conclusion

[16:24] Recap of what I covered in the episode and the vibe of Paris neighborhoods.

[18:59] Thank you new Patreon supporters!

[20:01] Quick recap of how the tours went, more to come in subsequent episodes.

[21:31] Annie is going back to Paris to spend time with her sister-in-law and her two children and will be trying kid-friendly attraction.

[21:44] Annie is getting a labradoodle puppy!

[22:36] June 2017 was stifling hot and June 2018 has been really wet.

Rant: Do Not Walk on the Road!

[23:05] RANT: do NOT walk off into the road to take a picture of the Arc de Triomphe!

[24:44] You can listen to the show on the Amazon Alexa, on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and any podcast App you may wish to use on your smartphone.

Beautiful building in the Marais neighborhood
Photo Annie Sargent

Saint Germain-des-Prés Neighborhood, Episode 196

Saint Germain-des-Prés Neighborhood

On today’s episode, Annie and Elyse talk about the things they love about the Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood in Paris. It’s actually surprising to see how long it took us to devote an entire episode to Saint Germain des Prés, and it only happened because we assumed that we had already done it!

Saint Germain des Prés is the area of Paris where both Annie and Elyse would love to live if they won the lottery. It’s never going to happen, but a girl can dream, right? Come along and dream with us, we tell you tales of the oldest church in Paris, wonderful cafés, great shopping, and the wonderful artists of the 1920s who hung out there.

If you’re interested in Saint Germain des Prés, you should probably also listen to our other episodes about classic Paris neighborhoods: Episode 27 on Le Marais, and Episode 7 on the Latin Quarter.

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Saint Germain des Pres neighborhood in Paris, Saint Sulpice church at night
Photo Annie Sargent

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

  • [03:48] Saint Germain des Prés is beautiful and very expensive part of Paris. The prices went through the roof there 60 or 70 years ago.
  • [06:47] What do we mean when we say Saint Germain des Prés? What are the boundaries? The definition is a bit amorphous and it depends on who you ask, but it includes a lot of the 6th arrondissement.
  • [07:27] The word “prés” means meadow, which it used to be, this is an old area of Paris. The tower of the Church of Saint Germain des Prés was part of the oldest churches in Paris.
  • [09:04] The Merovingian Kings established the Saint Germain des Prés Abbey and it included a lot of land.
  • [10:10] Definition of Early Middle Ages (500 to 1000), High Middle Ages (1000 to 1400), Late Middle Ages (1400 to 1500s), then came the Renaissance.
  • [11:38] Merovingians made Christianity the official religion and funded Abbeys and Monasteries.
  • [11:58] In Roman times, many people were literate, but in this period of the early Middle Ages, few people in France were literate, so it was vital to have Monasteries to keep literacy alive.
  • [13:15] The Saint Germain des Prés Church becomes a Royal Abbey in 558 and the necropole for French French Kings before Saint Denis.
  • [14:04] They built the Saint Germain Church over the top of an old Roman Temple, which is something that happened a lot.
  • [15:03] The Saint Germain des Prés church is set a quarter to half mile away from the river in order to protect it from flooding.
  • [16:10] The vital importance of relics in the Middle Ages, and the worship of relics as a driver of economic growth.
  • [17:23] The Saint Germain area was raided and burned by the Vikings three times: in 845, 856, and 861.
  • [17:50] When they rebuilt the church, they added the Romanesque tower in 990, and that’s still the one we see today. This is also the time when it became a Benedictine Abbey.
  • [18:57] Benedictine Monks were always as the center of intellectual knowledge, and the area has retained its reputation of being the place for intellectuals.
  • [21:05] The Procope, one of the oldest cafés in Paris where people like Diderot and Voltaire used to go argue about ideas. This was the beginning of café culture in Paris and is mostly super touristy at this point.
  • [23:41] We’re not sure if they’d let you sit at a table at the Procope and write all day.
  • [24:21] The Procope is also where the people who fomented the French Revolution sur as Danton and Marat hung out.
  • [24:48] Rue Danton where Danton really lived is two streets away from the Procope. Back then the area was not fashionable or touristy.
  • [25:13] You just have to walk these streets. Most are small narrow streets except for Boulevard Saint Germain des Prés which has Haussmann buildings.
  • [26:48] Worth visiting, the Delacroix Museum where he had his studio.
  • [28:22] The Saint Germain des Prés area is famous for book stores. A couple that are famous today are L’Écume des Pages and La Hune.
  • [29:12] Several of the most prestigious French Publishing houses such as Gallimard and Seuil were also started in this area because it was always the book area.
  • [29:35] Saint Germain des Prés is the area where authors would hang out, lots of the famous ones you’ve heard of such as Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Simone de Beauvoir, etc. It must have been like in Midnight in Paris!
  • [32:05] Jazz clubs opened in Paris in the 20s and were popular with French people.
  • [32:34] The 1920 were paradoxical times: racism and prejudice were pervasive and yet there were vibrant communities of artists in Paris. Many had left their own countries to come to Paris where they could mingle.
  • [35:40] Brasserie Lipp is also an interesting place where filmmakers used to hang out.
  • [36:10] None of that is going on in Saint Germain today because it’s become too expensive. How the gentrification process worked in this neighborhood.
  • [38:25] The Beaux Arts school is on rue Bonaparte and has been there for a long time. It gave a lot of prestige to the area.
  • [41:19] Even rich French people mostly don’t patronize cafés like Deux Magots and Café de Flore because they know the prices are ridiculous. But the area has lots of little wonderful cafés that are more approachable and just as nice.
  • [42:52] Also explore the church of Saint Sulpice, technically in the Odeon neighborhood, but a must-see in this area.
  • [43:03] This is the church with the “gnomon” which can easily be missed if you’re not paying attention.
  • [44:21] Saint Sulpice also has free concerts every Sunday morning.
  • [44:52] Rue de Rennes is a big shopping street in this area, and so it rue Bonaparte.
  • [45:46] The Saint Germain neighborhood is a great place to go buy food for your picnic, then head down towards the river and enjoy it.
  • [48:34] At Saint Sulpice once a day you can go up to see the organ. Check their website to know what time.
  • [50:14] Annie has seen some tour guides come into Saint Sulpice and spend 2 minutes and leave. It’s like speed dating except that it’s speed tourism!
  • [53:42] This is a neighborhood where you will find unique clothes and things you won’t find in the big chain stores.
  • [54:01] Great shopping streets in the Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood: rue de Buci, rue de Rennes, rue Saint André des Arts. You could also visit the Bon Marché, the expensive department store.
  • [56:56] Great neighborhood for walking, great neighborhood for looking around.
  • [57:47] Despite what popular guide books recommend, both Annie and Elyse would much rather stay in the Saint Germain des Près or Latin Quarter area.

Saint Germain des Pres neighborhood in Paris, panneau de la rue Bonaparte