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Tuesday Travel Trouble: Big vs Little

We took our kids to London for a week two years ago and got off to a rocky start.  It took us a couple of days to remember a very important principle—not every activity is right for every age, and it’s okay to split up.  Here’s how things went down, and how we righted the ship.

The first few days on the trip, we were all together all the time, because we wanted to be together.  We’d gotten train passes and planned several day trips out of the city plus lots of fun things to do together in the city.  On about the third day we were all in Dover and it was windy with a light cold drizzle, and Dover is mostly walking and war sites that the younger kids got tired of quickly.   Read more

Jardin Villemin and Canal St Martin

Adventures in Paris: Little Amsterdam?

A few years ago I read about an up-and-coming area of Paris with a canal cutting through it—Canal St. Martin.  I read a few reviews and it seemed worth checking out.  It was frequently described as charming and authentic, a hidden gem and bohemian.  Interesting, right?  Knowing that the canal had a series of locks (écluses) was also appealing, because our boys’ mechanical minds would enjoy seeing them in action. Read more

Les Etoiles du Rex - Entrance

Adventures in Paris: the big screen and royal gardens

Paris obviously carries a reputation for glamour and glitz.  One aspect of the glitz we hear about in U.S. entertainment news are the Cannes Film Festival and movie premiers in London or Paris.  What better way to get a taste of this with a visit to the largest cinema theater in Europe, full of history, atmosphere, and art deco style!  Le Grand Rex, completed in 1932, seats 2800 people, and its 2700 square-foot screen is the largest movie screen in Paris.  Impressive, to be sure.  Especially impressive, though, when coupled with the twinkling stars on the ceiling and the host of movie stars and producers who have sat in the audience. Read more

Marche d'Aligre

Adventures in Paris: Marché d’Aligre and the Promenade Plantée

There are a lot of open-air markets around Paris.  In fact, there are whole books about them!  There are bird markets, book markets, antique markets, produce markets, meat, fish, and other food markets, and many more.  So finding a great one can feel like a big task.  In our travels, we found that the Marché d’Aligre was a great size—not too big, not too small—in a good part of town with a fun add-on kid activity just a few steps away. 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