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Rome and Paris Advice

thedreamydaisythedreamydaisy 206 replies7 threads Junior Member
So we have just booked the trip of a lifetime for us and our 3 teens for July (S20, S22 and D24). We are spending 5 nights in Rome and 5 nights in Paris. DH and I have both been to Europe before (I grew up in England until 16 years old), but neither of us has been to Rome or Paris. The kids have only been outside of the US on a Caribbean cruise.

Obviously, we will hit the main things like Colosseum, Vatican city, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps in Rome, and Eiffel Tower, The Louvre in Paris. But what other things would you suggest with 3 teens? Maybe some things that are different than the norm (they will only handle so many museums...lol). My middle child has autism and loves all things Disney so we will probably spend a single day at Euro Disneyland just for him.

Also, any favorite restaurants in either place? Middle child is pretty picky eater but will eat a burger and fries or chicken strips/nuggets, maybe a cheese pizza. We do know we can get McDonalds and other US type fast food in both places as a last resort for him.

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Replies to: Rome and Paris Advice

  • conmamaconmama 4642 replies335 threads Senior Member
    I thought those were the ages of your kids at first and wondered why you were referring to them as teens!

    How about this tour:

    https://www.walksofitaly.com/rome-tours/rome-catacombs-tour/


    I think tours can make your sight seeing come alive, rather than just looking at it. They are pricey, but worth it.

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  • thedreamydaisythedreamydaisy 206 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @conmama lol - yes they will be 14, 16 and 18 (definitely teens).

    I do think the catacombs will appeal to the kids and I agree about the tour thing. We are looking into passes you can get that allow you to use as much public transit as you want, along with entrance to multiple attractions, for a flat fee.
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  • conmamaconmama 4642 replies335 threads Senior Member
    The catacomb tour also goes to the Appian Way and Roman Aquaducts. I’m looking forward to that.
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  • kjofkwkjofkw 809 replies95 threads Member
    We purchased a museum pass (forgot if it were 5 days or 7 days duration). It was great. It allows you to skip the purhcase lines (still need to go through security lines). We decided to just do "a taste of" type visits. Only 4 hours in the Louvre for example. We each chose 3-4 pieces we wanted to see, and simply enjoyed whatever we passed on the way. Only spending a few hours at each venue, allowed us to visit a few that aren't typically high on the tourist list, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
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  • TS0104TS0104 1135 replies29 threads Senior Member
    There is a super early morning "behind closed doors" or something like that Vatican City tour that sounded amazing. We didn't get to go, it was booked.
    I was in Paris and Rome last early August and boy, was it crowded. August is vacation month in Europe and we definitely could tell. I hope you are going in mid July or maybe even late July is OK! It definitely would help to have your tours booked in advance.
    I found the Rick Steves books helpful for sites, touring info and tips, and even some tour company recommendations.
    Prepare for hot temps in Rome and you'll probably need afternoon rest breaks in your hotel. There is not much airconditioning so stopping in a restaurant or cafe to cool off doesn't help as much as you would hope it would! Keep this in mind too when scheduling your tours, the heat. I wish I remembered the names of some restaurants but Rick Steves books had good ideas (his app also has audiotours of the sites for both cities, nice if you can't get/don't want a tour from the attraction itself).
    Wish I could give you some ideas for teens, I was there with my D age 20 and our whole visit was very museum/major tourist attraction heavy. It was great, but I wouldn't attempt all that with my 14 year old.
    I have never heard anything great about the trains in Rome (confusing), that was the one city where we took taxis (or walked).
    The Louvre is H-U-G-E and can take all day just to hit the highlights. Definitely have a plan for the Louvre! I think that watching The DaVinci code with teens before the tip could be a fun way to pre-see some landmarks.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1867 replies18 threads Senior Member
    From Paris we enjoyed a day trip to Giverny (Monet’s garden). It’s quite easy to go on the train (an hour or so) and then you can rent bikes at the station to cycle to his villa (about 3 miles each way). A nice way to get out into the countryside. See some of his paintings at the Orangerie and/or Musee d’Orsay (which is often more enjoyable than the Louvre).

    Versailles is also a good day trip on the RER, you can walk from the station. Boat trips on the Seine are worth considering too.

    In Rome I like the Pantheon, which is easy to overlook but very impressive when you consider its 2000 years old. Also note the secret door that allows you to exit from the Sistine Chapel into St Peters. Saves a huge amount of time. The roof tour in St Peters is worth climbing the stairs for.
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  • kiddiekiddie 3652 replies224 threads Senior Member
    For Rome I recommend Brillo restaurant - the food was great and the menu was also kid friendly

    When my daughter and were in Paris we got the museum pass and hit 1-2 a day, but we love museums. In Paris near Napoleons tomb, there is an army museum that kids would love (rooms with weapons, etc.) In the building next door, is the relief map museum. A room with military models of French cities, which kids would also find very cool.

    In Paris I recommend Cafe Diane inside the Tuileries gardens. Very casual, outdoor only, with simple good food.

    Also in Paris get crepes on the streets as a casual meal which the kids will love.
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  • thedreamydaisythedreamydaisy 206 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for all the great ideas everyone!
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  • ClassicMom98ClassicMom98 235 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited February 14
    We went to Rome last June/July and Paris back in '15. You've gotten a lot of good tips. But as far as food, I think every place we went to in both cities had a cheese pizza. It was usually someone's default option if they didn't like where we chose.

    We were underwhelmed by the Appian Way and aqueduct park. However, looking at that tour, it would have been better. We took a bus/metro to see everything. That part wasn't bad, but walking the Appian Way wasn't what I expected. I expected a little path through the countryside. No, it a real road with significant traffic that doesn't slow down for pedestrians on the shoulder. And it was 100* degrees. And the walk to aqueduct park wasn't through the most beautiful neighborhood and I was expecting like a tourist type park. No, it's more like this large natural linear park and they are just kind there with no signs or anything that tell you how to get there. It was just odd. Walking back we had to take a detour because our little path was blocked by a herd of goats and the Sheppard was asleep in the grass.

    Now the Vatican museum is the best I have ever seen. I liked it better than the Louvre, and I loved the Louvre! And I also loved climbing up into St Peters dome.

    In Paris, we did a Seine river cruise which was nice. And we bypassed a good portion of the lines at the Eiffle Tower by walking up to the first level. I thought that was fun.

    We also hired drivers and did a day trip to Pomeii and climbed Mt Vesuvius. I enjoyed that.
    edited February 14
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  • taverngirltaverngirl 1356 replies38 threads Senior Member
    We did a Seine cruise as well - it's a nice break if you're doing a lot of walking. When we went my kids were 15 & 17 and they (and we) loved Musee d'Orsay. Definitely worth a good part of a day to meander through. We enjoyed it more than the Louvre. We only did highlights at the Louvre. It can be overwhelming. We also all enjoyed a day trip to Normandy. Saw the Bayeaux Tapestry and did a half day Overlord tour. Took a train from Paris. If you want to do that, book way in advance. Also if you want to do the Eiffel Tower, make those ressies in advance. If you need a recc for an airbnb, we stayed at a wonderful one in the 6th arrondissement, not too far from the Jardin du Luxembourg (also worth a stroll through or picnic). We thought that area was the best location for exploring Paris.
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 546 replies11 threads Member
    We have taken our kids, now 18, 23 and 28, to Paris twice and Rome ten times. I’ll comment on Rome only, except to say my kids loved the Seine tour we took in Paris.

    Agreed with most advice here. We found that our kids as teens really liked areas where other teens hang out. Trevi Fountain. Campo Di Fiori at night. But also in the morning when the market is open. Testavere neighborhood. They had limited tolerance for the Vatican museum (but it is not your typical museum ... stuff is PACKED in there so it is quite the visual experience). My kids all liked the Forum as long as it isn’t too hot or crowded. They studied Ancient Rome in school so thought it was cool. I would deprioritize the Coliseum. Spanish steps will take 10 mins to see (but the area is bustling).

    I like Da Poeta restaurant in Testavere when I am with teenagers. It seems like a place where a lot of exchange students hang out.

    In Rome, with teens, we spend a lot of time walking around the city and making it an eating tour...pizza...gelato....more pizza...more gelato. Rest. Repeat. Kind of like New York, there are windows with food in them everywhere. So, the boys tend to want to eat pretty much continuously. We comply.

    For each of our trips we picked some sort of theme to work on for the Italian language....like everyone will be able to order drinks in a restaurant. Or learn how to ask for directions to a specific place. My kids always latched onto that and made a contest out of it. Romans are not the friendliest bunch, but most love to help an American learn Italian. If you happen to end up in the countryside and in a small family owned restaurant, if your kids try to speak Italian, the owner will come out of the kitchen and sit with them all day.

    I wouldn’t make a big deal about seeing any specific place. I think inside St. Peter’s is worth waiting for, but I wouldn’t let anything else swallow a whole day. Rome itself is what you want to see. Walk through the streets to/from dinner at night. There are people who are in charge of lighting Rome and it is magical. Wake up early and head to the local coffee bar and have coffee like the Romans do. Find a pastry shop and I defy you to not want to return for lunch. Check out all of the main piazza’s....and even the smaller ones. Always something happening there. Find out if there is a big sporting event on TV and join the locals as they gather in the piazza and watch it together (we were there once when Italy was doing well in the World Cup and it was a blast).

    Rome does not disappoint! I hope someday you can return and see some other parts of the country. I head there in November for a month to view properties for us to retire to and I am having a heck of a time deciding which part of the country we want to be in. Lots to see and lots to love.

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  • milee30milee30 2301 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Our family travel seems to work best when we involve the kids in the planning. If I ask them to research and pick at least 2 sights/activities and 2 restaurants, they not only come up with really interesting ideas but then they're also more invested in the trip because they've researched and have some ownership, plus they're excited about their picks.

    The other thing that I do is assign the kids to figuring out the logistics of travel. For example, one kid figures out the best way to get from the airport to the apartment and the other figures out how to get from city a to city b. Each has to figure out transportation to the sights/activities/restaurants they want to see as well. Turns out my kids are better at this than I am, so it's a win/win. Again, they're interested and engaged and we all benefit from their planning.

    That was a long way of saying - instead of planning this based on what you think your kids would like and what some strangers like, ask your kids. Have them do some of the planning. They'll probably surprise you in a good way. :-)
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  • garlandgarland 16173 replies202 threads Senior Member
    When we were in Paris last year, we did a night time bike tour, including a boat ride down the Seine, that was spectacular. There was at least one family with kids. It was, hands down, one of my favorite activities. Ever.

    https://www.fattiretours.com/paris/tours/paris-night-bike-tour
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  • kiddiekiddie 3652 replies224 threads Senior Member
    The night lights tour in Paris (bus with glass roof) is fun for all ages. I did it on both of my Paris trips.
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  • conmamaconmama 4642 replies335 threads Senior Member
    edited February 14
    @ClassicMom98 , were you on a tour in Rome? Maybe that was why you were underwhelmed. The Walks of Italy tours give the history and background stories to understand what you are seeing,
    edited February 14
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  • abasketabasket 20241 replies893 threads Senior Member
    Oh man, do not be in Rome and Paris eating McDonald's! I mean, just let your picky eater eat croissants every meal instead!

    Food doesn't have to be complicated. One can live off good bread and good cheese and be really happy. Throw in some gelato or macarons.
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  • International DadInternational Dad 326 replies8 threads Member
    We have great memories of the Seine river cruise and Versailles.
    Enjoy your trip 🤗
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  • thedreamydaisythedreamydaisy 206 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @abasket totally wish it was that easy! Autism is hard to understand, but I’m not talking about your regular picky eater here.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 23021 replies240 threads Senior Member
    Plain pasta with butter and cheese work? That is super easy to order even if it isn't on the menu.
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  • thedreamydaisythedreamydaisy 206 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @doschicos afraid not. Pasta is too mushy. Lots of texture issues with foods. I’m actually not overly worried about the food because we’ve been dealing with this for 16 years already and we can generally work around it, while still allowing the rest of us to eat what we want. If I have to feed him McDonalds in the hotel room before or after the rest of us eat, then I will :)
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