We are two architects on our 2nd visit to Paris (1st visits were separately, and 20+ years ago) with two girls, ages 10 and 13, visiting 4 full days, and 2 part days in August. We're staying in an apartment in Le Marais. We definitely want to soak it in, rather than dash about, but we're young-ish and energetic. Breakfast generally in the apartment, with another meal each day on the casual side (boulangeries, fromageries, creperies, picnics), and perhaps a cafe / bistro / brasserie for the 3rd meal, not necessarily dinner. We're foodies, but neither wealthy nor fancy, and even the girls love good cheese. This is a first pass, and we're open to switching things about:
Monday: Thalys train from Amsterdam arrives around 15:00. Get settled in apartment, then walk about, maybe to Paris Plage nearby, and/or Place des Vosges area for dinner.
Notre Dame (the church only, no tower climbing)
Ste Chapelle (a highlight for me!)
Wander Ile St Louis, get lunch and/or ice cream
Wander over to l'institut du monde arabe (for my dh the modernist), 15 minutes, just to look at the exterior
Perhaps a shop or two for the girls (which leads me to a major question - where can we take them, that will stay at the H&M / Forever 21 price level, yet be a new and exciting brand for them? The 10 year old is even more fashion oriented than the "teen". They don't "get" vintage, at least not this month. We could work a shop in here and there, over the course of the trip.)
Walk past the courtyard au Louvre, just to peer at the pyramid (skipping the museum!)
Walk through the Tuileries to L'Orangerie, visit this one
Lunch in the vicinity
Walk over to Musee D'Orsay, visit this one too
(These two could trade places, or trade with Rodin below)
Eiffel Tower (taking the stairs, and it's fine if we only get to the first level, this is mostly for the kids.)
Rodin museum and gardens. Cafe stop
Or, we might do a little shopping, then Rodin, then the tower in the late afternoon. If we shop this day, DH may step out to the Cartier Foundation, in Montparnasse, also for the modern architecture. Or we could all go if there is teen shopping nearby, as a lure.
Friday: a chateau!
My other big question - which one? My first Versailles experience, even 25 years ago, was overcrowded. So, we could go to Versailles, but try to visit the Palace late, at 3:30. Or, we could go to Fontainebleu (or Chantilly.) Not so much worried about the slightly more complex travel (my French is very rusty, but should be improving by this point), but I've only been to Versailles, so can't quite tell from the photos if my girls will be adequately impressed with the "chateau-ness" of the other two. It will be their first real "castle", more or less. A secondary aim will to be to see a bit of a smaller French village.
Mostly packing up, checking out, heading to CDG around 1:00 pm (how long should we allow to metro / Les Halles train to CDG? Int'l flight is 4:30) but we could maybe have a last little walkabout.
We're skipping a Seine cruise (taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam is enough), the Louvre, don't really care about Champs Élysées or Pantheon (it might be nice to catch sight of it at some point.) Not interested in giant department stores unless we get a big heat wave, and are in search of a/c. But if you have specific recommendations for food near any of the above, or feel we're missing out on something major, please chime in!
Oh! One more question - I don't think a Museum pass really calcs out for us - either the 2 or 4 day. But we could spend an extra 5ish euros each on the 4 day pass, for the 2 adults, to skip most lines. Or, we can buy most of these tickets online or elsewhere (from home? doubt the apartment has a printer.) We definitely want to eliminate lines to the extent possible - thoughts? Thank you in advance!