Home UK Travel From cold England to sunny France

From cold England to sunny France


Our unplanned trip to England in May was cut short by the amazingly efficient British passport service. Only 2 weeks after submitting the application, I had my new British passport in hand.

We had been on our way to Wales, but the weather had turned unseasonably cold and we were both a little sad.

It’s not fun to ride bikes or walk around with the kids in cool, wet and windy weather if you don’t have the right clothes to go out in the cold weather day after day.

Europe – France – Paris – Notre Dame
From cold England to sunny France
So we decided on the spur of the moment to leave the UK for France. Our first stop was Paris – where we spent a wonderful three days exploring the city.

Europe – France – Paris – Seine River
Exploring Paris by camper van
Paris is such a beautiful city and I am so glad to be back. sunny (the camper van) is a large vehicle and the idea of driving him into the big city was a bit daunting.

It’s not quite the same as renting an apartment in the city or staying in a family friendly hotel, but we found a great campsite in Maisson-Lafitte in the western part of the city. Our site was located on the banks of the Seine, and we took a direct train to central Paris every day.

Exploring Paris
Cities are expensive places to visit. When Matt and I visited Paris years ago, we felt less pressure to visit each of the major sites. Our view was that the kids would likely visit Europe as adults, so we didn’t need to cover every landmark. Despite this, we still had a very busy three days because there was so much to do in Paris.

We tried to do multiple activities each day to keep the kids engaged and not tire them out quickly. Between walking the streets, taking in the sights and enjoying the food, some of the highlights for us were

Notre Dame de Paris
We visited Notre Dame de Paris on our first day. I thought the kids would enjoy being near the gargoyles that jumped out of the roof. I had read about the lines in Paris, but I figured it wasn’t peak season, so it shouldn’t be too bad. I was wrong! We arrived around 10:30am and waited in line for over 1.5 hours to walk up the tower to the roof and bell tower. I was surprised the kids stuck it out.

When we finally made it to the front of the line, everyone enjoyed the dazzling walk up the gorgeous circular stone steps. The view was spectacular. Once we had absorbed the cityscape, we ventured out to explore the nearby cities.

Europe – France – Paris – The Stone Ghost
Eiffel Tower
We learned our lesson from the lines at Notre Dame de Paris and made sure to get up early to visit the Eiffel Tower. Amelie had been telling me how much she wanted to visit Paris and the Eiffel Tower for as long as I can remember, so it was a very exciting day.

Europe – France – Paris – Eiffel Tower

We opted to take the stairs to avoid some of the lines, which was a great decision. This meant that we could slowly walk up the 669 stairs to the 2nd floor and enjoy the breathtaking views of Paris from every angle.

The walk really wasn’t that strenuous: it meant we could see the elevators fly up from the sides of the tower and we could still take the elevator from the second floor to the top. The kids loved it so much that they named it their favorite outing in Paris.

The gardens
In between our daily sightseeing, we made sure to visit some of the city’s wonderful parks. They are a great way to end the day and give the kids a chance to burn off some energy.

One of our favorite parks is Jardin du Luxembourg. We visited the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The park is definitely a favorite with the kids because you can rent wooden toy sailboats to sail on the big pond.



For 30 minutes, the children are the captains of their own little sailboats. They had a wonderful time going into the water with a big stick in their hands, chasing their boat around the lake, pushing it back into the sea and trying to predict where it would sail to next.

It was a wonderful afternoon – so many kids gleefully chasing their boats around the lake (waving their sticks), a band playing in the stands not far away, and the sun shining. Experience has taught us that we made the right decision to head to the mainland!

The Musée d’Orsay
Although the kids were reluctant to visit the gallery, I was able to entice them to visit the Musée d’Orsay. The gallery has a large collection of art by Van Gogh and Monet displayed in the spectacular old train station.

Amelie was studying Van Gogh at school and was thrilled to see Vincent Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles.

Europe – France – Paris – Art

A great tip I read to keep the kids interested was to first go to a gallery store and let them choose their favorite artwork from the available postcards.

Then they spend time looking for original artwork in the gallery. Unfortunately, Harvey couldn’t find his artwork, so we also let them choose their favorites in each room. I love this gallery and only wish we could have stayed longer.

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