Boating on the Grand Canal

Adventures in Paris: Versailles

When I think of the top five Paris sites, Versailles would definitely be in the list.  After all, it is the palace of French kings that, in my mind, defines French aristocracy, glory, and excess.  To this day, it’s a grandiose demonstration of Louis XIV’s greatness, from the approach, to the Hall of Mirrors, to the gardens, and beyond to the various secondary buildings such as the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate.

The place is HUGE.  And to our kids, it’s a bit less interesting than the more medieval structures we saw in Provins or Vincennes.

But how could we miss it?! Read more

The eastern fringes of Paris—Chateau de Vincennes and Parc Floral de Paris

The last post focused on the northeast corner of Paris.  This one takes us to the far eastern edge and the Chateau de Vincennes.  This is another great combination of learning and fun, with both the Chateau and its accompanying forest, known as the Bois de Vincennes.

As we exited the Metro (line 1 terminus, Chateau de Vincennes, although RER A can also take you almost as close with stop Vincennes), we were greeted by the imposing Chateau de Vincennes, with a medieval look our boys always appreciate, and a moat to make it feel that much more like a castle.  Read more

Provins - Upper City

Adventures in Paris: a walled city

One of the things that was especially exciting for our boys when we were in Portugal was the castles.  Coming back to Europe this summer brought with it the hope of more castles.  Paris, however, is more a place of chateaux and palaces than the medieval strongholds our boys were hoping for.  They prefer the rugged, ancient, fortresses to the decorated, fragile, and gilded ones that are common here.  Lucky for us, we discovered Provins. Read more

Arc de Triomphe traffic

Driving in Paris & rental car tips

After two weeks in the non-stop city bustle of Paris, we decided to take a trip out of town.  We needed a bit of space for our boys to run and were worried about another Paris heat wave.  After exploring train options and cheap flights from Paris, we chose instead to redeem some points for a week-long minivan rental.  We found the car we needed at Paris’ Gare du Nord (north train station), and I headed there after getting the boys in bed a few nights ago.  Read more