How we spent our 3rd day with 3 children in Paris: Notre Dame, the Orsay Museum, + Shakespeare & Co.

“When in Paris, the only thing one should leave to chance is the Loterie Nationale.” – Ernest Hemingway

June 8 was our third day in Paris.  Deciding the attacks with hammers were finished, we went to Notre Dame cathedral and the nearby archeological crypt (after our usual cafe au lait and croissants breakfast, of course).  We elected to skip the long line to go to the top of the cathedral, but we did use our museum pass to bypass the line to see the inside (tip:  get the museum pass.  It saves lots of money and lots of time!), taking in the French Gothic architecture from the 12th century.  The crypt gives visitors a glimpse of what life in Paris was like when it was under Roman rule and was an interesting trip way back in time (and a welcomed reprieve from heat and crowds).

We then ventured to Shakespeare & Company, one of my favorite places in Paris.  It was full of old books, old reading rooms, and old history.  I bought a book full of stories and photographs called “Hemingway’s Paris.”  I had a hard time leaving, but eventually, children want to eat.

We stopped for lunch, and my 10-year-old had her first bowl of escargot–and liked it!

Content we’d had enough happiness at lunch, we visited the Memorial of the Deportation, which memorializes the 200,000 French (mostly Jews) sent to Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. The architecture is pretty, and the exhibit is moving.  I’m glad we took our children there.

After that, we shopped the bouquinistes along the Seine and got ice cream at Berthillon, which some say is the best ice cream in the world, but I was too busy enjoying it to ponder its ranking. The children took advantage of the local vendors’ selection of berets.

The children seemed too happy at this point, so we took them to the prison where everyone awaited the guillotine; it’s called La Conciergerie.  And then for redemption, we saw over 1100 Biblical scenes across 15 stained glass windows, and Christ’s crown of thorns, at Sainte-Chapelle cathedral.  Built in only 7 years, it packs a lot of impressiveness in a relatively small space (for a famous cathedral).

Then we took the metro to the Orsay, an old train station now full of impressionists (choosing Thursday for the extended hours).  We got the audio tour for the children (we all 5 did this at most places, but it was really helpful when a museum had a children’s version), and the grownups did Rick Steves’ audio tour from his app (we also used his book–among others–to plan much of this trip, but his was the only one we carried with us every day in Paris).  Everyone really enjoyed this museum, as impressionism is pretty easy to understand and appreciate without an art history degree once you get past the nudity.

That night, we dined in the Trocadero area at an old bakery called Carette that had great food (including macaroons for dessert) and views of the Eiffel tower at night.

See how happy the full moon, Eiffel tower, and Parisian night sky made us?

This was an action-packed day with lots to see and lots of walking; it was a good way to power through my “it’s no longer my birthday in Paris, and I’m a little sad about that” feelings.

Next up:  day 4!


  1. Pretty Bride

    This was a long day, for sure. But it was just beautiful. And shopping the Left Bank booksellers was a giant highlight for me!

  2. Pingback: The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea - a weekend in Key West, FL - Dadcation

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