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Paris With Teenagers - A Survivors Guide

Updated on March 9, 2015

Top ten things to do in Paris with teenagers. It doesn't suck here Mum!

Considering a Paris trip this Spring? Good for you! But trudging all over Paris with teenagers won't be a walk in the park. Of course not, because walks in the park suck. Right?

Art galleries? They suck. Eiffel tower? How boring. "Seriously Mum, if you make me, like look at one more museum, I'm gonna hurl myself head first into the Seine!"

But face facts "ye 'ole dinosaur", you are there for one reason and one reason only. ATM duties. Armed only with your wit and a cell phone, you're going to need help.

Viewed through the prism of teenage angst, discover the delicious delights and probable perils of a Paris far beyond the traditional attractions we all know and love. From Centre Pompidou's big red rhino, to pet ferrets on leads, teenage eyes evoke a paradigm view of the city of lights.

Still remain determined to torture them with boring culture and weird food? Then you need a plan. A cunning plan. A plan incorporating sneaky methods. A plan so well designed it coerces them not only into displaying acceptable behaviour, but also ensures an unwitting absorption of some culture along the way.

So back away from that ledge, take a leap off the cobblestone street and steel your gaze down the road less travelled. Who knows, if you get it right you could find yourself blessed with the joyous proclamation "Well done Mum. It doesn't suck here!"

Office Du Tourisme - Paris Tourist Office

Your one stop shop for everything important . Hotels & apartments, shopping, eating, tours, transport, free museum days, Oo la la!

Allez ! On y vas!

Let's take this show on the road. Discover just what and what not do with usually tired, often bored and always hungry teenagers in Paris.

Things to do in Paris with Teenagers

(click column header to sort results)
   
   
1: Canal Saint Martin
1/2 day
2: Stade deFrance
1/2 day
3: Shop Galeries Lafayette
day after day after day
4: Bastille day
Day and evening
5: Le Musee de Orsay
Half day
6: Montmartre
Full day-combine Dali museum
7: Dali Museum
Half day
8: Fontainbleu
Day Trip
9: Paris Disneyland
Day Trip
10: Le Louvre
Day Trip

1: Canal Saint Martin Sunday Markets

Reggae bands perform in the streets. This would be far from cool at home, but in Paris, it was agreed, it doesn't suck. Catch the Metro to Strasbourg. See Paris metro links further down

2 : Stade De France

For sports tragics everywhere. Tour the stadium where " Le Bleus" somehow won the World Cup in 1998. They haven't done so well since then, leaving the 2010 World Cup in disgrace, however they redeemed themselves at Euro 2012 & World Cup Brasil.

Better still stay for Le Tour de France as well.

3: Galeries Lafayette - Where to shop in Paris

Galeries Lafayette
Galeries Lafayette
The Paris Shopping Companion: A Personal Guide to Shopping in Paris for Every Pocketbook
The Paris Shopping Companion: A Personal Guide to Shopping in Paris for Every Pocketbook

Yes, you can wander happily for days, particularly with daughters, shopping up a storm. Why not target an area and deploy your attack with military precision?

 

Shop 'Til You Drop in Paris

Warning: Greek style debt crisis may ensue. Apply to Germany or China for a loan prior to departure.Whether you choose Rue Saint Honore for designer delights or the rough and ready Northern Paris markets for that bespoke must have trinket, shopping in Paris is a delight.

Markets of Paris, 2nd Edition: Food, Antiques, Crafts, Books, and More
Markets of Paris, 2nd Edition: Food, Antiques, Crafts, Books, and More

Who doesn't love a market? The French termed the phrase "flea market". Aristocrats of a bygone, pre guillotine era, donated their clothes to markets. Parisians were yet to discover the joys of hygiene ensuring the clothes were filthy and flea ridden. Hence the term. Things have improved these days.

 

"Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite".

Be there for Bastille Day. July 14th. Okay, you missed 2014. How about this year?

4: Visit Paris on Bastille Day - Paris On Parade - Arc de Triomphe

Festooned with the tri-couleur, on Bastille Day," the Champs" transforms into a colourful tribute to French pride. From flyovers to street parades, visiting dignitaries join the pomp and ceremony whilst soldiers galore take centre stage as they fill the streets.

Immerse yourself in Gallic pride and soak up the entertainment including everything from live rock bands to symphony orchestras. Top it off with the evening crescendo of deafening fireworks shooting in all directions from the Eiffel Tower. A great vantage point is from the hills of Montmartre.

Celebrations continue long into the night. Don't expect any sleep and resist romantic notions of enlisting in the French Foreign Legion. Unattended teens may also be recruited. The "it seemed like a good idea at the time" defense will not cut it with child protective services.

5: Check Out the View from Le Musee De Orsay

A don't call me " Mum" in public moment.

Whistlers Mother
Whistlers Mother

Wander the converted railway station now known as the delightful Musee D'Orsay.

Wait up dude.... Isn't that the painting Mr.Bean stole? Good grief! Whose children are these?

Remember the havoc Mr. Bean wreaked on Anglo French relations when he stole the painting of Whistlers mother? Bereft of even the teensiest sceric of art history knowledge, Rowan Atkinson's celluloid shenanigans were the only point of reference for this teen entourage.

Stumbling around corners, amazed by a masterpiece at every turn, the teens in contrast, dismissed all the Mussee D'Orsay has to offer as "like totally boring". Bestowed with the dubious honour of greatest point of interest, "like you know, ever!" poor Mrs. Whistler remains stoic in her chair, the hapless victim of Mr. Bean's adventures. Meanwhile, I needed the wine bar.

Every gallery, museum, shop, corner or indeed any flat surface in Paris has a wine bar in it, on it, or behind it.

Wander Paris streets on Friday afternoons to discover market style tables hastily assembled on every corner. Parisians neighbours and passersby congregate around them to drink wine in a convivial fashion unknown in my country.

Alarming statistics are printed regularly in "Le Monde", the respected local broadsheet, confirming Parisians are the loneliest citizens in the world. They tend to live alone with their dogs, or ferrets. Perhaps this is preferable to co-habiting with a fellow Parisian? Ask any

Englishman. Or it seems, Parisian.

6: Tour Montmartre - Retrace Toulouse-Lautrecs tiny footsteps winding around Montmartre hills to the Moulin-Rouge. Views across Parisian rooftops, bustling bis

Feet to sore to move? Stay at home and soak up the view whilst the family photoshops fluffy friends left behind, "A la Aristocats" on to Parisian rooftops . This greatly amusing pastime allows parents time to quaff back a wine or two whilst the youngsters aren't counting.

Le Tour De France

Le Tour De France - Never mind,you just missed it! How about next year? Rolling into Paris July 2015.

Congratulations to Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the 101st tour.

The Tour de France annually wheels and weaves it's way across gasp inducing scenery and collisions before rolling into Paris in a blaze of glory and the usual dose of intriguing controversy.

Check here for dates, maps and general information.

7: Salvador Dali Museum in Montmartre - Try your own touch of surrealism - fun for all the family

The sign says "Svp ne vous reposez pas sur le divan" or "Please don't sit on the couch". The French cat (left) obviously read the sign and ignored it. See right, our cats, not yet fluent in French, are photoshopped in.

Photo credit: Thoughtless teens - sleeping French cat model.

Stay in Montmartre - Saint Pierre.

With views over the city why not nestle under the meringue cloud shadows of the Sacre Couer Cathedral. Picturesque and perfect, Montmartre is ideally situated for your Paris trip. Apartments of all sizes are available for short and long term stays.

8: Day Trip - Visit Fantastical Fontainebleau Forest & Chateau - Send out the search party, you may never want to go home

Blessed by a fairy godmother, fabulous Fontainebleau, former royal hunting park, is a magical maze of palatial perfection situated just 50 klms outside Paris. Take a boat rowing expedition on the ornamental ponds before you visit the neo-classical style castle. Goldilocks had the right idea, from Marie-Antoinette to Napoleon; all tried this one on for size too. Just about every Louis from 1 -18 used the surrounding forests as a favoured hunting ground and enjoyed the charming palace as a small home away from home. Who could blame them?

Take your young dauphins and dauphines to visit throne rooms designed to suit the young queen, Marie Antoinette. Buy a map from the Insitut Geographique Nationale to hike the trails with confidence or jump aboard a horse drawn carriage to experience the smelly, uncomfortable transport methods of days gone by. There's fun for all the family here!

A great alternative, far less crowded than Palace Versailles and with much better furniture, a day here doesn't suck!

Hiking in Fontainebleau

Expect Robin Hood (oops wrong country, maybe the Scarlet Pimpernel?) or Bambi to leap out from behind a tree as you lose your way on a walk through the dappled shade woods .

Easily accessible via the A6 autoroute or a catch direct train from the Gare de Lyon (about 50 minutes). The train clacks to halt in the middle of the forest just outside the station for those in the know or locals wishing to partake in a spot of exercise. Don't disembark just yet, there is a bus waiting at the station to drive you the long way round through the town.

Opening days and times :

Open daily except Tuesdays

Closed on 1st January, 1st May and 25 December

Open from 9.30 am to 5pm (6pm from June to September)

Last admission 45 minutes before closure

Ride the Carousel in Fontainebleau Town

3 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Fontainebleau

9: Day Trip - Visit Paris Disneyland. - You know you want to, even if the French don't.

Hold on to your hats! - Take an exhilarating ride before you even arrive. Catch theTGV right to the door.

The RER A (Regional Express Train) drops you off just 100 metres from the entrance to the Disney® Parks - and it only takes 35 minutes from Paris! There is a frequent service to and from the Resort all day long. Or stay over.

10: Le Louvre.

What's with the Mona Lisa Mum?

Terrified by the prospect of a visit to "Le Louvre"? You should be. Even the French admit it's too big and are busy rushing about moving priceless masterpieces stolen, or err, sourced from all over the world, as fast as they can into smaller, more visitor friendly exhibits.

But the Louvre is on everyones bucket list and must be ticked off.

Be warned, that Mona Lisa is tiny, surrounded by a seething mosh pit of camera crazed fans and generally speaking hardly worth the fuss. So say the teens, and this time, they are quite right.

Take a tour, it's all too confusing if you don't.

Things You"ll Need in Paris with Teens

Travel Diaries for Teenagers - Parents won't let you join the French Foreign Legion? Well that sucks! Write it in your journal oppressed teens


Pocket Size Perfection.

Cavallini Small Notebooks Travel 4 x 6
Cavallini Small Notebooks Travel 4 x 6

Teenagers can't wait for anything so give them a travel diary. You'll be rewarded with instant silence. Anytime's the right time to fill one in detailing daily exploits, complaints and parental mistreatment. Sulking in cafes, sulking in the park, even when you're not really sulking but it's something you're good at so why not?

Better still, as my bestie loves to do, do it before turning in for the night. Then read it all back to me............

 

Speak French Fast - Best French - English Language Books from Lonely Planet

Encourage the children to speak and learn a little French. It's great to have a little book with you to help with translation. Ecoute et parle Francais mes amiis.

Take one with you or learn a little before you leave with an additional audio cd.

Lonely Planet Fast Talk French
Lonely Planet Fast Talk French

You'll have to speak to a Parisian at some stage. Easy references here for day to day negotiations. Funny too!

 

Top Ten Things that Suck

  1. Ad lib street performance art, including off key, gyrating rappers with boom boxes riding the Metro and demanding euros.
  2. Off key Edith Piaf impersonators riding the Metro demanding euros. Teens don't know who she was and now they don't care
  3. Performance art. "OMG Mum, I wanna, like kill these lame street performers with my bare hands. In any country." Plus moi!.
  4. Parisian Summer days-see pix
  5. Speaking French to the French. It like, so doesn't work.
  6. El fresco (is that italian?) cafes who serve bees in your lemonade.
  7. World War 2 commerative plaques (way sad) unless they commemorate the French Resistance getting a few potshots off at the Nazis.
  8. Symphony orchestras unleashing canonfire with an enthusiasm unseen since 1812, in preparation for Bastille Day celebrations.
  9. Waiters flirting with dinosaur aged Mum. Puke. Her flirting back. Double puke.
  10. French attitude.

About French Rudeness:

A charming Parisian friend, sometimes driven to rudeness Parisian friend explains:

Oui cherie, eets twue, we deeslike zee touweests, 'owever, we deeslike each erther even more. Ewe merst know zees abert Pawis. Eet ees so 'ard to live 'ere, so we are equally rude to everywern! Voila! Comprenez vous?"

What to Avoid in Paris & How to Avoid it

The # 1 Thing that Sucked the Most - French Dogs Merde! Le Problem Avec Poo.

Beware the open shoe. Don't get me wrong. I love a nice dog. But gimme a break.

Parisian dog-owners face on-the-spot fines if their canines are caught adding to the 15 TONNES of poo dumped on the capital's streets every day. Henceforth declaring dog poo "illegal" in 2002, nothing much has changed. Yep, 15 TONNES!

In all, one official estimated, Paris spends £6-10m a year clearing up its dog excrement. An in-depth 1998 study by the hygiene department calculated that the cost to the taxpayer worked out at some £3.70 a kilo, or roughly 30p a turd. For the equivalent sum, the city renovated the entire Avenue d'Italie in 1999.

Snack Deprivation Sucks

The French don't snack. Australians do. Particularly teenaged ones. Snack deprived teens are insufferable. Pack your own, let them starve, or pay about 12 euros each for a can of lemonade in a cafe. Correct. 12 euros.

Paris Transport. Getting Around Town - Teens Love Trains. Well in Paris anyway.

Paris Metro Map - Download a free Metro phone app to navigate the system on the run.

Catch the met to anywhere, or change on to RER. It's easy, affordable and entertaining. Okay so the entertainment can be bothersome .

Paris Street Maps - Don't leave home without one. Laminated is best.

Ever tried getting around a breezy, drizzly city with a non laminated map? If your answer is yes, then you know " it's like totally lame" and you won't do it again.

Streetwise Paris Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Paris, France
Streetwise Paris Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Paris, France

Put your superior knowledge on display. Demonstrate you know exactly what you're doing because YOU are the proud owner of a laminated map. Smart thinking! Number 1 best , non lame map for getting around the city of love. This map, because it's laminated, is the best map for Paris, therefore, does not suck.

 

Small free maps are available everywhere if you prefer the tried and true, pre smart phone era methods. I fit in somewhere in between and still love a weatherproof,durable laminated map in my bag as a precaution.

Paris Guide Books - With or without teens these handy guides are great for getting around town sans guides.

Lonely Planet Paris
Lonely Planet Paris

It's just a fact. Lonely Planet steers you around town with unequalled expertise and a touch of humour.

 

What's the Weather Like in Paris?

Rotten actually. But hey, I I'm a bi-urban Sydney and Marrakech dweller, where the weather shows off continuously, delighting residents with about the second BEST climate in the world. So what would I know about crappy weather? Plenty actually. Growing up in Melbourne, which has about the second WORST climate in the world, ensures I am in the know when it comes to "le temps est mauvais".

Like Melbourne, Paris is changeable, even in Summer. Layer your clothes, take the best walking shoes you can afford, at least 55 umbrellas, as the wind blows them continuously inside out, oh and a raincoat! And a coat and a cardigan! Okay, just pack the contents of your wardrobe, you'll be just fine.

Melburnians have a saying, "If you don't like the weather right now, that's fine, just wait a minute". The same applies to Paris. Go prepared.

What to Wear in Paris - Fashion tips & practical advice on how to dress in Paris

How to Dress like a Parisian? Here's how! Includes practical tips about the weather and boring stuff like that. Even for men.

Parisians will be less rude to you if you represent sartorial elegance. It's simply fact. Don't believe me? Try it and see!

My typical mid-summer day in Paris. Open toe shoes were not the best plan.
My typical mid-summer day in Paris. Open toe shoes were not the best plan.

Travel Umbrellas for France - It's raining, it's pouring.......

GustBuster SunBlok 58" Umbrella (Silver/Black)
GustBuster SunBlok 58" Umbrella (Silver/Black)

This one is perfect! Gustproof for the belligerent breeze, sunproof for the hot days and rainproof for the dreadful drizzle!

 

Up Up and Away- How to Get to Paris - Paris Transport. How to get in and out of Paris.

Fly, ferry, chunnel or take the train to Paris. Or drive. It's all up to you and depends where in the world you are of course.

What's an arrondissment?" An administrative district of French cities, in particular Paris.

Michelin Map Paris by Arrondissements (saddle-stitched) No. 62 (Maps/City (Michelin))
Michelin Map Paris by Arrondissements (saddle-stitched) No. 62 (Maps/City (Michelin))

Bash this bad boy around in your travel bag. This tough guy doesn't care one bit!

Standard issue for the French Foreign Legion. They won't go home without it. Actually, they won't go home fullstop. I believe it's the whole point of enlisting?

Buy one anyway. Paris is full of tricky arrondissments in need of exploration.

 

Is Marrakech the 21st arrondissment of Paris?

No. But it could be. Sshhhh....Don't tell the Moroccans.

Why not see for yourself? You certainly won't need the umbrellas but can re-use your "Speak French Fast" books. Fly in and fly out, like a true Parisian, for a long weekend. It's all you need and well worth the trip.

Ryanair and other budget carriers fly for virtually nothing direct from Paris.

Visit my blog on the subject (links below) to discover why to visit this "glam and gritty, Islamic, desert city" so close to the hearts of the French.

Marrakech rooftop view
Marrakech rooftop view

Henri le Chat Noir

Buying these products probably won't restrain the growing ennui in your soul...but it can't hurt.

More French Cats

Watch and listen as Henri the French cat articulates and wrestles with the pain of existence.

Will you drag your teenagers to Paris like me, or sensibly choose to ditch them in favour of a civilised holiday?

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    • NellyWerff profile image

      Nelly van der Werff 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Great lens. I'm in favour of a civilised holiday, but lots of teens will like many of the sights mentioned. I know I did.

    • aaxiaa lm profile image

      aaxiaa lm 3 years ago

      Disneyland and the ''stolen'' painting by Mr. Bean - that's what I need to see. Great lens!

    • Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 3 years ago

      Lucky kids! And great lens, I feel like I took a trip too!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 4 years ago

      You are a brave women! Good for you for dragging the kids to Paris. I'm sure they had fun in spite of themselves. :-)

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      We had the good fortune to move to Paris for three years when our sons were teenagers. It was the best thing we ever did, I think.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 5 years ago

      As the mother of two teens, i give you credit for even attempting a visit to Paris! This is such a fantastic lens - witty and well-formatted, it made me want to keep reading. Great job!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Parents have a moral responsibility to be a persistent, huge embarrassment to their teenagers. This causes them to leave home - it's part of the human fledging process.

      When we were in Yellowstone our (then) 14 year old remarked, "Are we going to see ANOTHER waterfall?"

    • FionaCarroll profile image
      Author

      Fiona Carroll 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      @JoshK47: Thankyou for dropping by.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very well thought out lens here - thanks so much for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • FionaCarroll profile image
      Author

      Fiona Carroll 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      @PaulaMorgan: Hmmm....I spent a fair bit of time in the "galleries de chaussures" myself. And once you've seen one cathedral and chateau you've seen them all. So say teenagers at least.

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 5 years ago from Sydney Australia

      I took a 12 year old who was pretty well behaved although she did prefer shoes stores to museum and we did have to curtail our church visiting.