Europe is filled with many amazing cities to visit with your kids, but Paris and London tend to be at the top of the list when parents start planning. Right off the bat you need to know that although both cities have more than enough to entertain your kids, offer food for most palettes and are easy to get to, these are very different urban centers. Let’s dive into what makes them great, but also why you might want to chose one over the other when planning your next family vacation.
For most families, London is a no brainer. The residents speak English, which makes it easy to get around, ask for direction, book excursions and meet the locals. The city also has plenty of parks and playgrounds to get your kids outside. Best of all, most of the museums are free. This gives you the flexibility to pop into some of Europe’s best art and artifact collections without feeling like you have to stay long past your kid’s breaking point. Pizza is widely available, as well as more international cuisine, as young English chefs embrace the flavors from around the globe. Thanks to the London Underground (AKA the Tube, which is the subway system for the entire city) and taxis, the city is easy to navigate so you don’t have to waste precious hours walking from one place to the other. The one downside is that the city can get crowded, the Tube is congested during rush hour, and there may be too much to see in the city, which can be frustrating for families who want to cover as much as possible. London does require multiple trips to really see all of the museums, royal history and of course nearby day trips. You have been warned.
The City of Light has long been a favorite destination for Francophiles and those looking for a gateway to the continent. There are several direct flights into Paris, and even more trains going to and from other countries across Europe. English is not the primary language, which can give this city a more international feel than its sister-city across the Channel. Food is very French, which can be a struggle for picky eaters. The Paris Metro is easy to navigate and get around on, although walking is encouraged so you can get a taste and feel for the neighborhoods. Pastries should not be missed and are great to bribe your kids with. There are several parks across the city, and multiple carousels near the many historic sights mom and dad will want to visit. Day trips out of the city, especially to Versailles with kids, are easy thanks to the RER (regional rail) and English-speaking tour companies like Fat Tire Paris. The French Revolution, WWI and WWII history in the area are ripe with educational opportunities, especially for families with older children studying European history in school. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas, but the French do appreciate if you at least try to speak some French with them, so learn the polite phrases (please, thank you, hello) before you leave home. It doesn’t take much to make a Parisian smile if you at least try.
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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