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A carnival swings into Paris's Tuileries Garden each summer. (Photograph by KeenPress/National Geographic Creative)

Great Family Trips: Paris

The family vacation, like the concept of family itself, has evolved. Kids are traveling with grandma or a single parent or an indulgent uncle (or all three). However you define your kin, this Parisian itinerary is all relative.

> Why Go:

What jeune fille (or fils, for that matter) wouldn’t love a Madeline-style weekend in Paris, packed with culture, shopping, and macarons?

> The Plan: 

Shake off jet lag with a guided tour of Paris’s major attractions in a vintage convertible Citroën Deux Chevaux, run by a company called 4 roues sous 1 parapluie. Then join the beau monde for afternoon tea at one of the French capital’s posh palace hotels such as Le Meurice, centrally located across from the Louvre. It’s pricey, but the high tea’s tower of finger sandwiches, scones, and petit fours could easily substitute for dinner.

Globe-trotting restaurateur Amy Morton recommends beginning a “monumental” day with Notre Dame Cathedral. Visiting the church’s crypt with its Roman ruins “gave my young daughters a real sense of Paris’s multilayered history,” she says. At the Eiffel Tower, skip the long ticket queues by reserving online ahead of time. Commute between these Seine-side icons by BatoBus, the city’s ferryboat transit system.

Mona Lisa isn’t going anywhere. So why not try one of Paris’s insider venues such as the Gaîté Lyrique, a cultural incubator and digital-art exhibition space in a belle epoque theater? Or explore the free Cognacq-Jay Museum, a former aristocrat’s mansion with opulent 18th-century decor in the artsy Marais neighborhood. (The newly reopened Picasso Museum is practically around the corner.)

The magic word for most Parisians is not Chanel but soldes (sales). Outside of France’s biannual sales weeks, head to Monoprix (the Target of France) for costume jewelry, scarves, and casual wear; the Opera location, especially, stocks fun, tasteful souvenirs such as Eiffel Tower iPad covers. On the Left Bank, Le Bon Marché (France’s Neiman Marcus) carries Louis Vuitton and Dior, a great selection of lingerie and hosiery, and fine chocolate bars in its ground-floor grocery.

> Don’t Miss: 

Sign up for a macaron-making class (in English) in the cozy Latin Quarter kitchen of Fred and Amanda Pouillot. Or stop at a Pierre Hermé patisserie: New macaron flavors debut monthly.

This piece, reported by Ceil Miller Bouchet, first appeared in the April 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

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