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A Q&A About Our Paris Trip

Earlier this week, I shared our full itinerary from our Paris trip but there were MANY other questions about logistics and other things that they needed their own post!

For everything from budget to food to jet lag, here’s everything to know about our Paris trip!

paris trip

A Q&A About Our Paris Trip

How long were you there?
We flew out of Salt Lake City on a Wednesday (landing on Thursday morning in Paris) and then flew back on Thursday morning, landing back in SLC on Thursday afternoon, so we has basically a full week in Paris.

Why Paris again instead of somewhere you haven’t been?
Both my previous Paris trips had been short and the two big girls had ZERO memory of visiting Paris (they were 4 and 1) and the two little girls had never been. Plus, there were some big things, like Versailles, that I’d never done! I really wanted to go as a family and experience Paris together.

How far in advance did you plan this?
We bought our tickets in mid-May and then started planning in earnest about a month beforehand.

What’s your trip planning process like?
I have a whole post about it here! 

paris trip

Travel agent or book everything on your own?
We booked everything ourselves (which, to be honest, was a lot of work – much more so than Japan because Paris is SO busy and you really need to book things ahead of time if you don’t want to either miss out entirely or stand in forever-long lines). I was really happy when we got home and realized “I don’t have to worry about Paris planning anymore!”

What attractions did you need to book ahead?
We booked our tickets for Versaille, the Louvre, Saint Chapelle, the Catacombs, our bike tour and Giverny ahead of time.

Where did you stay?
We stayed with my cousin in his (large) apartment in Paris (in the 8th arrondissement) which had the massive benefit of being free and was also super nice and convenient, with a delightful side of visiting him and his wife.

Cost vs. central location?
I almost always prioritize staying closer in and cutting costs elsewhere because otherwise you burn so much time getting to and from your lodgings every day (we did this a few times in our early days of marriage and have sworn it off since then whenever possible because it’s just so exhausting and inconvenient).

How to get from airport to hotel?
We took a taxi. We could have taken the Metro but we were all tired and had all our luggage and it felt well worth the extra cost to make it easy and convenient.

AirBnb or hotel? Do you have a preference?
Obviously on this trip we did neither, but I don’t have a strong preference – we do both depending on the trip and the options (in Japan we did an Airbnb for the first five days and then a hotel in Tokyo for the last two days). I always check out both and see which one is a better fit with location, amenities and price.

Have you been worried about the bedbugs?
The amount of messages and questions I got about bedbugs in Paris would absolutely boggle your mind. We heard about this a few days before we left, which was unpleasant, but we felt like our risk was pretty low staying with my cousin and we were careful throughout our trip (we also rode the Metro, a few trains and were in the airport and never saw a single bedbug). When we got home, we washed and dried everything on high heat, vacuumed out our (hard sided) luggage and stored our luggage in the basement storage room – none of it every came into our bedrooms at all. Can I guarantee you won’t get bedbugs in Paris? Of course not, just like you can’t guarantee you won’t get them on ANY trip anywhere in the world. Were there mattresses all along the streets and visible bedbugs on the Metro? No. Did everyone in Paris seem like they were going about their business as usual? Yes.

How much did everything cost?
Right about $7500.

Here’s a breakdown of what we spent in which categories (and we could have definitely reduced our transportation and food spending by probably half or more!). And our biggest expense for activities was our bike tour which was about $250, so if we’d cut that out, we’d have spent 1/3 less on activities as well. I looked at Airbnbs a week or so before we left (out of curiosity) and we could have stayed somewhere pretty nice and convenient for probably $2500-$3000, so we could have been at just around $10k for the whole trip and if we’d been more frugal with transportation, food, and activities, I think that, even with lodging, we could have done the whole trip fairly comfortably for under $7000.

  • Flights: $584 each (our tickets were economy, non-stop from SLC to Paris), so multiplied by 6, we spent $3504
  • Lodging: $0. Staying with my cousin SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the cost of this trip and made it much easier to feel more free with some nice meals or getting a taxi home at the end of the day.
  • Transportation (Metro tickets, train tickets, Uber/Taxi tickets): $683 ($200 of that was our taxi ride to Giverny which we could have WAY reduced by taking the train and metro instead).
  • Food: $1688.
  • Activities/Tickets: $701. This included our bike tour, tickets to the top of the Eiffel tower, Catacomb tickets, going to the Dome at Sacré-Cœur, tickets at Giverny, and our Paris Museum passes (which got us into the Louvre, Saint Chapelle, Arc de Triumph, Versailles, and more).
  • Cash: $700. Bart got just under $700 of cash at the beginning of our trip and we used this to pay for souvenirs (the most expensive being our portraits we had done in Montmartre – that was around $260), carousels, some food that wasn’t included in the above food total (which is just what I could track with our credit card spending), bathrooms (which sometimes cost 1 euro), and some other things that I didn’t track (because Bart had the cash and I wasn’t monitoring what he spent it on).    

How do you budget for food and manage it for the trip?
Our general system is to have breakfast on the go (in Japan we went to a grocery store most mornings; in Paris we did a patisserie most mornings), a nicer sit-down meal for either lunch or dinner, and then a faster grab & go meal for the other one (whether it’s sandwiches from a boulangerie, a fast casual restaurant, street food or getting items at a grocery store (I LOVE shopping at grocery stores when I travel – it’s so fun to see what’s the same and what’s different in another country!). And then usually a treat or snack at some point during the day. We don’t strictly budget for food but we have a general idea of what food will cost with that system and have enough of a budget buffer that we don’t have to stress about it if it ends up being a bit more than we anticipated.

paris trip

How was the time change adjustment?
This was the easiest time change adjustment I’ve ever had in Europe (by a long shot). I bought melatonin (both for kids and adults) before we went, which I’d never used before, and it was an absolute game changer. We landed around 9 a.m. and got to my cousin’s apartment around 11 and then we all took a 2.5 hour nap (no melatonin). Then we got up and headed out into the city to explore and stayed out until nearly 10 p.m. and then everyone took melatonin and slept straight through the night until about 7 or 8 a.m. (Massive difference from our London trip where I was awake staring at the ceiling every night for hours and the girls were loudly playing card games at 2 a.m. the first night).

Favorite place you ate?
Berthillion is Bart’s family’s FAVORITE thing in Paris – their ice cream is so incredibly good and we went twice while we were there (the mango was my favorite this time). I also LOVED going to Angelina’s for their hot chocolate and also the Eggs Benedict, plus the whole atmosphere. Worth the lines in both cases!

How much planning ahead for meals did you do vs. whatever was nearby?
I’d say about 75% whatever was nearby and 25% places we were trying to hit. Usually, we’d just pull up Google Maps and look for something highly rated nearby. The good news is that it’s hard to go too wrong in Paris food-wise.

Could you get by not bringing car seats?
Oh, absolutely. We walked 90% of the time and you don’t need them on the train or Metro.

Is taking the metro hard?
Nope. If you’ve taken a metro before in basically any city, you’ll understand how it works and it’s not hard to figure out. And Google Maps makes it VERY simple because it tells you what station to go in, which line to get on, how many stops you’re going and when to get off.

Did you rent a car?
No, and I wouldn’t rent a car in Paris – like any big city, parking is going to be an absolute nightmare and it’ll almost certainly be much more hassle than help to have a car. Plus, their public transportation is excellent and Paris is very walkable.

How did you get around?
We walked a TON (about 18,000-22,000 steps per day), rode the Metro usually once a day, took a few trains and took an Uber back to my cousin’s place most nights.

Must do if Paris is only a 2-3 night stop?
This kind of question stresses me out because it’s so dependent on your budget, if you’re traveling with or without kids, how hard you can or want to go and what you are interested in! You’re better situated than I’ll ever be to know what is going to be the best fit for your time.

How did you tell your kids? Did you wait till after Japan to tell them about another adventure?
We didn’t tell them in any special way this time. And we didn’t book our Paris trip until after we were home from Japan.

Do you do anything beforehand to teach your kids about the things/ places you will go?
Yes! We listened to Who Was biographies of Marie Antoinette and Claude Monet, plus The Mona Lisa Vanishes on a family road trip a few weeks before we left and Bart showed the girls lots of videos about the places we were going to visit so they had a feel for why they were famous and what to expect.

How do you structure tourism days if anyone still naps? (May not be the case for your kids!)
Happily none of our kids nap anymore (our youngest is six), so that’s not a consideration for us, but back when it was we tried to go back to our lodgings for an afternoon nap most days or make a stroller nap work.

Do you speak French? If not, how was it just with English?
Bart speaks decent French and I speak maybe four words of French. It was obviously convenient to have Bart be able to speak French, but 100% we could have gotten around fine without any French speaking ability.

paris trip

Do you have a credit card that helps with points for trips or just look for great deals?
I just watch for great deals on Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). If you don’t have a free account, sign up for one immediately! It’s how we got our London tickets in 2021 and we also got our Japan and Paris tickets through their notifications!

Of all things, our kids are terrified of the food on the airplane. What did you/the kids eat on the plane?
They mainly just ate the airplane food and we packed a few snacks too (beef sticks, peanut butter crackers, fruit leather, etc). I heard that on some airlines you can request a kid’s meal ahead of time, but I’ve never done it. And the good news is that no one is going to starve to death on a 9 hour flight.

How do your girls handle the long flight?
They did great! One huge benefit of keeping screen time fairly limited at home is that a personal screen is REALLY fun for them. They also read or listen on their Kindles and usually the little girls sleep some of the trip.

Were people nice to you?
VERY! I think the French get a bad rap because we seriously had so many people go out of their way to be nice to us, from stopping to chat on the streets to slipping free desserts into our orders to giving Ella an aspirin when she had a bad headache and the store didn’t sell any medication.

How do you document these trips aside from a video? Do you make a dedicated photo book? 
I make a video (hoping to get to that this weekend – details about how I make them here) and then I include some of the best photos in our annual photo book.

Do your girls use a travel journal? What kind of things do they write?
We took travel journals on our trip to Japan when we had a lot of train rides, but we didn’t bring them on this trip. They usually draw pictures of things they’ve seen and write about what we’ve done each day. Nothing fancy.

How do you miss school? Here you are kicked out of immersion program. 
Our schools have been very easy to work with – we just let them know we’ll be gone and it hasn’t been an issue, even in an immersion program.

How have you felt safety wise with 4 kiddos in tow?
Totally fine! I never felt unsafe in Paris.

What the youngest age child you would do this kind of trip with?
We did international travel with a 20 month old (a month all over Europe) back in 2014 and it was GREAT! I’d absolutely do it with a baby too.

Did your 6 yo appreciate it? My girl loves it, I want to take her soon. Too young?
I would definitely say it’s not too young! Our six year old LOVED Paris and I loved making those memories with her.

Cole Hann vs. Kizik vs. Ecco shoes comparison
They’re all good options and I’ve worn all of them for big walking travel days (15,000-20,000 step days) with no problem. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. Right now, my favorite are the Cole Haans – I like the look of them the best and while they’re almost 50% off right now, they’re by far the least expensive (almost half the cost of the Eccos), even though at full price they’re the most expensive of the three. If I had to choose one pair, it’d be the Cole Haans, hands down (I wore them 6 of the 7 days of this trip).

How do you track your steps? Smart watch, pedometer?
My phone just automatically tracks it in the health app and my girls get a big kick out of seeing how far they’ve walked each day.

What did your kids love the most? 
Ella (13) said Giverny and Musée d’Orsay
Ani (10) said Eiffel Tower and Giverny
Star (8) said Giverny and Eiffel Tower
Tally (6) said Saint Chapelle and climbing to the dome at Sacré-Cœur

Any other questions about our Paris trip? Leave them in the comments and I’m happy to answer!

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