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France: Paris, Family Vacation Travel Advice - Getting Around Paris.Grand Train Station Paris by Jaques Leber The best way to see Paris is on foot even with kids. The compact city center offers wide boulevards, parks and shady community squares with oodles of nooks, art, bakeries, and cafes to be discovered. 

Navigating any city can be an adventure in itself and with kids it can be challenging but also rewarding. When my children were young they were in charge of directions in any city where we were on foot. We did so by compass. It was great fun to navigate through parks and along sidewalks – a challenge on a cloudy day. I still carry a compass when I travel. Yes, I have an IPhone but old habits are difficult to break. Paris is an easy city to walk even with a stroller. The buildings and landmarks are memorable and the parks and benches plentiful.
If the idea of navigating Paris with your kids seems a bit daunting consider using the services of a local guide who relates to the challenges of vacationing families. In Paris my connection is Elizabeth Southgate from DiscoverPariswithKids.
Here’s the scoop. In addition to walking, economical and efficient options include buses, boats, city bicycles, and trains. To make sense of the city and the transportation routes purchase a copy of Paris Pratique – an essential map guide found at local bookstores and newsstands. But even before leaving I suggest getting an Eyewitness Paris Guide. The pictures and colorful maps are terrific to share with young ones. To get a sense of the city I have transcribed my notes for use as a quick transportation overview.
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Located about 15 miles northeast of the city, Charles de Gaulle airport offers visitors reliable and efficient ground transportation into Paris. Three aerogares (terminals) anchor the transportation complex. Terminal one services most non-Air France international flights, plus Lufthansa, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. The terminal two is complex is actually six smaller terminals (A-F) and supports most Air France flights, as well as American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air, and Northwest Airlines. Terminal three supports budget and charter flights, including Easy Jet Ryanair. Here’s the deal. Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle offers free wireless internet hotspots.

Paris Orly Airport.  It is located about 10 miles south of Paris. Orly services mostly domestic and European flights including some including Air France and many charter flights. I have no opinion to share on the facility because I have not been there in 15 years.Paris Tramway by Marc Bertrand

Using Paris Metro - No paper money, please. The automatic ticket distributor at   Metro or RER stations only accepts debit cards (or coins at a few locations). Any other form of payment must be transacted through a vendor at the "Vente" (sales) desk. Plus, when using Paris buses, if you do not have a ticket in hand, you will need exact change. The "information" booths at the stations are for information only and not for ticket sales. Tickets are sold at self-service machines. Bonus points: It is possible to change the interface language of the self-service ticket machines to English if need be.
RER – High speed in the city. Paris has five higher-speed commuter trains that offer much faster service because they have fewer stops than the Paris Metro. Châtelet-Les Halles Station is the primary hub and other secondary major hubs include Gare du Lyon, Gare du Nord, and St. Michel.  Tickets may be purchased at any RER, tramway Paris Metro Station or at many newsstands or tabacs (tobacco sellers) throughout the city.
Bus Tours - Hop on, hop off. To see the top sites and attractions and get the most out of any visit use the double decker, hop-on, hop-off bus service that moves passengers several times a day to the most popular attractions, and museums. Between the stops headphones provide a running commentary in your language of choice. It is an ideal way for parents with young children, or visitors with disabilities or limited mobility to see the city because the Paris metro system is not always stroller-friendly. Here’s the deal: This service is more expensive than the Metro but less expensive and more flexible than a standard tour. The Les Cars Rouges, red-and-white buses, offer a set route of 2 hours and 15 minutes with stops at nine locations in the city center. L’OpenTour covers a more complete overview of Paris by offering four sightseeing routes. A single pass provides access to each of the four routes for as often as time allows. 

Cruise the Seine – A Paris boat tour. Romantic and always memorable, cruising Paris via the Seine River or navigating the countless canals and secret water passageways is a great way to enjoy the beauty and feel the rhythm in the city. The main river-boat shuttle service is Batobus which stops at eight of the most popular locations in the city. Tickets may be purchased at stops along the way as well as RATP and local tourist information offices (Port de la Bourdonnais Paris, 75001. 08 25 0101 or Another popular and perhaps more famous is Bateaux Mouches with more than a dozen boats, some of which offer lunch and dinner service. (Bateaux Mouches Pont de l'Alma, 8th arrondissement (Metro Alma-Marceau, Line 9, or RER C Pont de l'Alma, Paris. 33(0)142 259 610)

Velib' - Bicycles in Paris. Rent a bike for a day or a week and pay an economical flat fee for as many trips as time allows. The self-service stations are open 24/7 and Velib' is a great way to move about the city. The Velib' fleet includes more than 20,000 bikes stationed at 1,800 rental stations around the city. Note: Please do be aware that no bike helmet rentals available with Velib' so you decide.  (
Content by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Editor FTF. Images courtesy of Jaques Leber for the Grand Train Station and Mark Bertrand for the tramway. This information was accurate at time of posting. Because things often change, we suggest that you confirm details directly with the locations before making plans. Copyright 2013.