Voyages-sncf.com has joined forces with Accor, Galeries Lafayette and the CRT Paris-Ile de France to offer tourists great deals on getting to and staying in Paris to celebrate the #ParisWeLoveYou campaign, promoting Paris as one of the world’s top tourist destinations with its host of attractions and sites. Offers include a 30% discount on hotel rooms with Accor Hotels, a free Seine Cruise when you spend €70 (GBP56) in Galeries Lafayette and train tickets starting at £29 one way on Eurostar all bookable via Voyages-sncf.com.
With so much going on there’s never been a better time to visit Paris this season with your family and in this second newsletter of four we take a closer look at what can be enjoyed in the coming season.
Who can resist the lure of Asterix?
There are a number of exciting theme parks close to Paris but the Parc Asterix has a little extra je ne sais quoi. With 39 different attractions including many for the under fives, let Asterix be your guide taking you through the ancient worlds of Gaul, Rome, Greece, Egypt and the Viking era for a fun and different take on Europe’s history. As their motto decrees, its the only remaining place in France where the true ‘Gallic Spirit’ prevails!
Just opened this season is Discobelix where Asterix dives into the world of the Olympic Games! A true expression of Gallic humour from our comicbook heroes. Why not take a #ParisWeLoveYou selfie with Asterix or his pal Obelix?
Entrance is €39 (approx £32) for children and €47 (approx £38) for adults. The return shuttle costs €22 (approx £18) per person.
In the know:
Eat: Aux Fastes de Rome – Roman-style fast food with terraces overlooking Romus and Rapidus of course!
Drink: The Hôtel des Trois Hiboux – who knows you, might just get to share a tankard with Axterix himself.
Don’t Miss: Planète Pilote at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace – little ones can slip into the shoes of a pilot or an astronaut in this brand new 1 000 m² exhibition designed especially for 6 to 12 year-olds.
Parc de la Villette – Paris’s Largest Park
Parc de la Villette is a park like no other. The largest urban cultural park in the capital, covering some 55 hectares of space in the northeast corner of the city, La Villette was designed by architect Bernard Tschumi with a deconstructionist philosophy. It’s a mix of buildings, red enamelled steel follies dotted around the space, modern architecture, museums, playgrounds and activity areas for all the family. There are ten themed gardens – shadows, balance, dragon, childhood fears, islands, movement, bamboo, trellises, dunes and mirrors with unusual decor – think metallic birds, mirrors and even pedal windmills.
Another unusual attraction is the Argonaut submarine which has sailed around the world ten times before retiring and resting here. Visitors can also stroll along the banks of the Canal de l’Ourcq which dissects the park, originally commissioned by Napoleon to bring fresh drinking water to Paris, now very popular on sunny days with musicians, artists and entertainers – as well as boat rides.
In the know:
Eat:La Péniche Cinéma – tasty treats from all the family in the heart of La Villette and it’s on the water.
Drink:Hotel Mercure Paris Porte de Pantin – perfect for a quick pit stop and refuel.
Don’t Miss:The Cité des Sciences is the biggest science museum in Europe and contains a planetarium, submarine and silver-domed IMAX cinemas, La Géode. Build in 1985 La Géode is an architectural work of art and is one of the most striking buildings in Paris, measuring 36 meters in diameter and covered with 6,433 stainless steel triangles – entry is from €9 (approx £7). Also nearby is the fascinating Cité de la Musique – a collection of over 8,000 different musical instruments in an inter-active environment.
An Art Deco gem!
This is certainly an attraction for all the family. The monumental Palais de la Porte Dorée is a stunning piece of architecture, designed by Albert Laprade. A synthesis of Art Deco, French classical style and the art of the colonies, it was built for the World Colonial Fair in 1931.
This unique building now houses two museums. Kids will enjoy looking at over 300 different species of tropical fish at the Aquarium Tropical from the famous clown fish to piranhas and even the odd shark. You might even come face to face with a crocodile – originally introduced from Dakar in 1948! Alternatively, the newer CitéNationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration houses a fascinating permanent collection of the history of immigration, tracing 200 years of immigration history to France.
Entrance to the Aquarium Tropical is €3.50 (approx £3) for children and €5 (approx £4) for adults. Entrance to the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration is €6 (approx £5) to include any temporary exhibition and €4.5 (approx £3.5) without.
In the know:
Metro: Porte Dorée
Eat: Chibby’s Diner – an American style diner perfect for hungry children and adults alike.
Drink: Boco – enjoy a drink or a little more at Paris’ first “neighbourhood Parisian bistro”.
Don’t Miss: Parc Zoologique de Paris – get up close and personal with wild animals from the savanna of the Sahel-Sudan plain, to the rocky coasts and pampas of Patagonia, or the tall conifer forests of Europe and the tropical climates of Guyana and Madagascar. Nearby, in the Parc de Vincennes, visit the Foire au Trône, a funfair said to have its origins in the 10th century. There are rides for all ages from teeny tots to teens with scary rides such as the Power Maxxx (takes place between 25th March – 23rd May).
Probably, the Louvre is one of the best known museums in the world. Housing Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and Vermeer’s Lacemaker amongst its 35,000 works of art distributed around 300 rooms, it’s certainly one of the largest and the busiest. There’s so much to see, it’s worth doing research before travel to pinpoint exactly what you want to see during a visit as the collection can be a little over-whelming for the unprepared and tiring for a family visit: its reach ranges from the Middle Ages to 1848.
Formed from two palaces brought together – the Louvre and the Tuileries, the building dates back to the late 12th century and was France’s main seat of power, being the home of the French heads of state until 1870. Known equally today for the stunning glass pyramids by architect I M Pei, the perfect modern counterpoint for the classic architecture of the palace, a great place to view this juxtaposition is on the terrace of the Café Marly. Bookings recommended. This might be an ideal #ParisWeLoveYou selfie spot!
In the know:
Metro: Louvre – Rivoli
Eat: Angelina – family friendly and home to Paris’s most lip-smackingly scrumptious desserts – all served in the faded grandeur of a belle époque salon just steps from the Louvre.
Drink: Café des Marronniers – Café in the heart of the Jardin des Tuileries near the octagonal pool and entrance to the Place de la Concorde.
Don’t Miss: The Fashion & Textile Museum within The Louvre but accessed via Rue de Rivoli. There’s 152,800 pieces including costumes, accessories and textiles from the third century to the present day. The greatest names in fashion are represented with creations by Paul Poiret, Popy Moreni, Madeleine Vionnet, Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
Arguably Paris’ most controversial building
The Pompidou Centre, designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, certainly divides opinion between its supporters and its detractors. Turning classical architecture on its head back in 1978, the design shows the structure of the building rather than hiding it – its a large transparent box with an exposed frame of tubular steel columns and trusses running the length of its circumference. Even the glass enclosed escalators were conspicuously positioned outside the columns. Named for former Prime Minister Georges Pompidou who commissioned it, the centre today has become a much-loved part of Paris.
Very family friendly, this mixed-media centre offers an inter-active Kids Gallery, Kids’ Studio and Studio 13/16 for teenagers – and until 1st August, features a Paul Klee exhibit.
Entrance €11 (approx £9) for children and €14 (approx £11) for adults.
In the know:
Eat:Chez Hanna – Hanna remains something of a locals’ secret, quietly serving up falafel and shawarma sandwiches to rival any in the world.
Drink:Hard Rock Cafe Paris – Enjoy the finest all-American treats while sitting on the outside patio like a true Parisian.
Don’t Miss:Musée Grévin – Family-friendly wax museum with lifelike models of French historic and contemporary figures.
Splashing about in the City!
Paris can be a little hot in the summer so many Parisiens travel to the suburbs with their families to cool off and have some fun. The series of pools at the Aquatic Centre of Neuilly just outside the centre of Paris is considered to be the best swimming area in the city. There is a sports pool for lengths and laps, a training pool, water slides and a fun pool plus plenty of lawns to sunbathe and relax. There’s also a spa, hammams, saunas and UV cabins. Just relax, enjoy the sunshine for just €6 (approx £5) per person.
Alternatively, visit Aquaboulevard in the south-west of Paris which features the biggest pool area the city has to offer with two wave pools, eleven water slides, Jacuzzi, a sandy beach and a lazy river. Prices start at €29 (approx £23) per adult – depending on the date visiting.
In the know:
Metro: For the Aquatic Centre of Neuilly, take the Metro to Les Sablons / For Aquaboulevard, take the Metro to Balard.
Eat & Drink: There’s a self service cafe in Neuilly and for Aquaboulevard, there are numerous options to choose from.
Don’t Miss: Paris Plages – from mid-July to mid-August, Paris is transformed into a seaside destination with beaches, deckchairs and buckets and spades.
When travelling as a family, entrance fees to attractions and museums can all add up to a considerable amount so it’s always worth while checking out alternative options such as the Paris Pass – which – depending on the itinerary and length of stay you are planning – MIGHT add up to savings around €30 a day.
Photo credit thanks to: iStock:cbpix / iStock:paolofur / Parc Asterix / iStock:Graeme Nicholson / iStock:Kali9 / iStock:OSTILL / iStock:Susan Chiang
About voyages-sncf.com: Voyages-sncf.com is a subsidiary of the French National Railway Company SNCF and an expert in railway travel to Europe and French destinations. It is a key player in the European tourism industry employing up to 1,000 people across its European business. In 2015, the group sold 78 million tickets with annual sales revenue of €4.2 billion, across more than 30 countries. Voyages-sncf.com comprises 15 websites in 8 languages, mobile sites and apps and an integrated call centre service.
About SNCF: Present in 120 countries, SNCF is a world leader in mobility and logistics. Its total workforce of 250,000 generated revenue of €32.2 billion in 2013, with over 25% of sales from markets outside France. A public sector group dedicated to public service, SNCF builds on its foundations in rail to offer a broad range of services, delivering seamless door-to-door mobility for transport and logistics operators, passengers and the regional and local governments that are its organizing authorities.