If there was something that all my family really fancied doing for a long time it was visiting Paris, so in this post I’ll explain what our experience was like in the city of love with Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation.
On family trips, it’s essential for me to enjoy a pleasant stay, discover new places and different cultures, and travel in the utmost comfort, so I was really sure that the train was our best option for visiting Paris.
We left Sants station on time on Friday morning. We were a little over 6 hours from our destination and had 4 days ahead of us that we expected to be full of adventure. The journey was really pleasant: we played cards, took pictures of the scenery, and took advantage of the fact that we had seats with a table in the middle to eat at. And when it felt like we were getting a bit tired, they announced our long-awaited arrival in Paris.
Interior and facade of the Gare de Lyon station
As I’d booked a hotel really close to Gare de Lyon (one of the advantages of the train dropping us off in the city centre is being able to choose accommodation really near the station), we went and left our suitcases as soon as we arrived, and decided to wander leisurely towards the Île de la Cité to get a first impression of what the city had to offer us, and find a place for dinner. Strolling around the streets, we passed by the Bastille monument and arrived at Rue de Rivoli, where we got swept up in the atmosphere and shops. You wouldn’t believe how much I like this street!
View of Notre Dame from the Saint-Michel bridge
Seeing what time it was, and with the kids feeling a bit tired, we had a snack in one of the district’s typical restaurants. Before returning to the hotel, we took a short detour to admire the magnificent Hotel de Ville and a little further on the incredible Notre Dame cathedral, a real symbol of Paris, which the kids took in enthusiastically. Seeing something they’ve always seen in pictures or in the movies was a very special moment for them.
The Je t’aime wall
Next morning our plan was to visit the Montmartre district, one of the most charming and beautiful areas in Paris. As soon as we got out of the metro station in the Place des Abesses, we could hear music and see a group of people in a corner, which caught our eye. As we approached, we got a big surprise: the Je t'aime wall was there! Can you believe that I had no idea where it was? Considering the number of times I've been to Paris...It's an immense tiled wall with “I Love You” written in all (or almost all) the languages in the world. It’s a really special place that you just have to visit!
Once we’d taken our photos, we walked up towards Sacré Cœur. To admire Paris’s grandeur close-up, it’s essential to make a little effort to climb the 300 steps leading up to the top of the Dôme and enjoy the incredible views of the city from up high. Wonderful!
The Sacre Cœur Basilica and the view from the top of the Dôme
At lunchtime, we opted for the surprising Balls, a restaurant whose menu is based around meatballs in different sauces, and which left a very nice taste in our mouths - not just because of its great food, but also thanks to its lovely atmosphere and the staff’s friendliness. Highly recommended!
After taking refuge in the wonderful Galeries Lafayette, a Parisian shopping MUST (and an essential place to visit if you’re unlucky enough for it to rain when you’re in Paris and can’t go to any outdoor sites), the moment arrived that my littlun had been looking forward to since Santa Claus brought us tickets to Paris at Christmas. You know what it was, don’t you? Right! Going up the Eiffel Tower at night, seeing the city at our feet and enjoying the spectacular interplay of lights illuminating the French capital every night. An unforgettable experience.
The Eiffel Tower seen from below and Paris from the second-floor viewpoint
Next morning, taking advantage of the fact that it was the first Sunday in the month, we were able to enjoy many activities and spaces free-of-charge, including one of the best museums in the world: The Louvre.
Interior of the Louvre Museum
For nearly 4 hours we enjoyed classical statues, Italian paintings, Egyptian sarcophaguses and of course the Mona Lisa, hidden behind a bunch of mobiles taking pictures. What a thrill! I must tell you that during our visit we explained the meaning and history of some of its works of art to the kids, so it was a totally cultural visit.
Place de la Concorde
The rest of the day went by between the Tuileries Gardens, where we saw the swans and played in the children’s park, and the Champs Elysées, where we enjoyed a hot chocolate crêpe and another outstanding visit that was free-of-charge that day: the Arc de Triomphe.
This spectacular monument’s terrace allowed us to admire the views of Paris at sunset once again. One of the best moments of my life!
Views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe
Next morning, we made the most of our hotel’s closeness to the train station to go for a walk around the district and do some last-minute shopping.
We left Paris just as it was beginning to snow, and we covered part of the trip in the midst of a completely white landscape: an incredible image from what was a superb family weekend.