And if you're travelling with kids, there's an added bonus: most galleries and museums are free for children aged 18 and under. That's right: even teens up to 18 can see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre for free. (I recommend going late in the day, when the hordes around Da Vinci's portrait are at a minimum and your kids can actually get a close view.)
Because we planned to stay in Paris for five days, my wife and I bought the four-day Paris Museum Pass (56 € each), which gave us access to a long list of art galleries, museums, and attractions, including the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the palace and gardens of Versailles, the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral, and the top of the Arc de Triomphe at a fraction of what it would have cost us to pay the individual admission price.
Not only is access to these iconic sites included in the price of the pass, for most, you also get to cut the main lines to get in. Just wave your pass and you're in.
The Museum Pass does not include the Eiffel Tower, but for me the best view of the iconic symbol is from atop the Arc de Triomphe, and with the pass you can go up as many times as your legs can take you.
There are lots of sites that are within walking distance and if your kids are up to it, I suggest taking them from place to place at street level, leaving the Metro for when they get too tired or if you need to get from one place to a farther place in a short amount of time (remember, there are reduced rates on subway tickets for kids, so pay attention when you're ordering them at the dispensing machines).
We stayed in Montparnasse, near the Luxembourg Gardens, and we were able to walk to Les Invalides, and then to the Eiffel Tower, and then to the Palais de Chaillot (Trocadéro), before taking the Metro to Les Galeries Lafayette (my girls love to shop). On another day, we walked from the Louvre to City Hall, to Notre Dame, and to the restaurants in the Latin Quarter.
My kids enjoyed going up the Eiffel Tower, experiencing the cinnamon, butter, and sugar crepes, and seeing the city at night from atop Notre Dame.
I enjoyed taking them to these places without it costing a fortune.
And while I enjoyed Paris, I was glad to get away from the bustle of the big city and enjoy other parts of the country. When I visited Paris for the first time, 23 years ago, I didn't like the city at all and vowed never to return. I found it dirty, polluted, and noisy. I thought the drivers were insane and the crowds in the museums too much.
While the museums are still insanely crowded, I have found a new appreciation for Paris. Maybe my kids made me look at it through new eyes. I didn't accomplish all that I wanted to do in this city, so I won't vow to never return.
I've only shown a few photos from Paris in this post. For tomorrow's Wordless Wednesday, I'll show more. And then we'll get out and see more of the country on Thursday.