a lifestyle blog

london + paris itinerary

It's been a week since we got home from our trip to London and Paris. It was truly a magical trip and it still feels surreal that we were even there. I've always dreamt of traveling the world with my family, and this was a big way to kick it off. I also got to surprise my mom and bring her along, which was so special.

I had dreamt up this trip about a year and a half ago, but didn't start actually putting it all together until April of this year. I wanted to maximize the time we had in each city, so I came up with an itinerary of all my must-do's.

If you missed the travel vlogs, you can watch the London one here and the Paris one here. While I share most everything we did, I thought it would be good to type it all out in more detail in case you have a similar trip in mind.

Note: travel regulations and rules change all the time, due to Covid. I'm sharing our experience as vaccinated travelers.

November 11th, 2021
8:30 PM : Direct flight from Phoenix to London Heathrow
Since we had our two littles with us, we wanted travel to be as easy as possible. We chose the evening flight with no stops, so we could all sleep on the plane and wake up feeling refreshed in London. We had dinner, breakfast, snacks, and wine on the flight.
We did spend more on flights to be in Premium Economy, which I'm glad we did. It was super comfortable. There was more leg room, wider seats, priority boarding, and an extra checked bag. We didn't utilize the extra checked bag on the way there, but we did on the way home with our extra goodies.

November 12th, 2021
1:45 PM : Arrive at London Heathrow
2:45 PM : Covid tests at Collinson Test Centre
The UK requires vaccinated travelers (ages 5 and up) to get tested within 2 days of arriving. We decided to test at the airport to get it out of the way, especially because we had a pretty packed schedule of sightseeing. 
While the Collinson Test Centre had an efficient and friendly staff, it was a ways away from the airport. While it says it is at Heathrow, I was mistaken thinking it was in the airport, but we had to take a cab a few miles. There are other testing centers in the actual airport.
We got our test results emailed to us 2 days later. We were all negative.
Note: Before you fly to the UK, you have to schedule your test and fill out a passenger locator form with your test order numbers, where you're staying, and more info.
3 PM : Take cab to London Hilton Bankside Hotel
We were originally going to take the train to our hotel, but after a long travel day and the chaos of finding the testing center, we just decided to take a cab.
4 PM : Arrive at London Hilton Bankside Hotel.
Our hotel was even better than expected! It was so clean, modern, and in a great location. I had booked the adjoining room option for families and it was perfect for us. Each room had a double bed, so the kids would sleep with us or with my mom. We had the option of ordering a crib, but I knew Quinn would want to sleep in the bed, so I didn't bother requesting one.
I really loved how the hotel was so accommodating for littles. The lobby had a candy bar and in the room there were welcome goodies that included teddy bears, cups, blankets, pillows, and miniature robes. The kids were obsessed and got to bring a few things home.
Another great thing about the hotel was the breakfast buffet! I made sure breakfast was included when booking, which was a great perk. The dining room area was huge and the breakfast options were delicious!
7 PM : Eat dinner at The Distillery
After relaxing in our rooms for a bit, we were ready for dinner. We kept it easy and ate at the hotel restaurant. It was a super pretty gin bar with delicious cocktails and smaller bites. They gave the kids coloring sets, which kept them entertained.

November 13th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel
9 AM : walk and explore
Originally we had plans to start the day riding on the double decker bus, but as we walked towards the bus stop we realized a lot of the roads were closed due to the Lord Mayor's Show. It was actually really nice to wander parts of the city and not worry about cars and traffic. 
10:30 AM : South Bank
We wandered for awhile, until we reached South Bank. We walked along the Thames, where we listened to live music and watched street performers. 
12 PM : London Eye
I bought tickets on site for the London Eye. I could have bought them ahead of time, but a lot of people suggested buying them on the day due to weather. While it was cloudy, we still had great views of the city and the kids really enjoyed it. It was my second time on the London Eye, but everyone else got to experience it for the first time.
We found a bus stop near the London Eye and I bought tickets on site. We waited a bit for our bus to arrive and found our seats up top. The kids really enjoyed the bus and it was a great way to see the sights while relaxing. We didn't get off the bus at all because we were pretty tired, but you can get off the bus to explore and then hop on the next bus that comes. Again, we were tired and the kids even took little naps on our laps.
Note : Our day was definitely "touristy," but that's exactly what I wanted. These were great activities to do for our family.
5 PM : arrive back at hotel
We took a cab back to our hotel to relax before dinner. We laughed when we realized we hadn't even had lunch, even though the kids had snacks I had packed throughout the day.
6:30 PM : dinner at Roast
We booked most all of our restaurant reservations well ahead of time, which I'm glad we did because most everywhere was packed. My mom had found this restaurant that served modern takes on classic British dishes. It was a beautiful restaurant that looks out on a busy market. We had roast beef with horse radish, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes. It was delicious and in walking distance of our hotel. 

November 14th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel
9:30 AM : Green Park
We took our first tube ride to Green Park and had so much fun walking around and taking in the fall scenery. We don't have a real fall in Phoenix, so this was new to us. The kids spent so much time running around and playing in the leaves. They probably would have spent all day there if they could.
10:30 AM : Buckingham Palace
We spent a little time exploring outside Buckingham Palace and taking pictures. We knew we were coming back the next day for The Changing of the Guards, so we didn't spend too much time there.
11:30 AM : Brunch at 34 Mayfair
I originally booked this place because I saw they went all out with Christmas decor in previous years. Unfortunately, they didn't have the decor up when we went and actually just announced they are only doing an outdoor installation this year. However, the food was fantastic and didn't leave me feeling too sad about the decor. We had mimosas, pancakes, the best chicken fried waffles of our life, eggs benedict, and these amazing wagyu croquettes with wasabi mayo that we still talk about. 
1 PM : Hyde Park
After brunch, we walked around Hyde Park, which was beautiful. The kids loved the lake, which had swans and ducks. They also loved the fearless squirrels who are just looking for a snack. We visited the Diana Memorial Fountain, which was beautiful.
3 PM : Harrods
We had to stop in for a little shopping and to see their window displays. They go all out with their displays for the holidays. We visited the toy department, which was really fun for the kids. We bought a few souvenirs, including teddy bears for the kids and a coffee mug for my collection. 
5 PM : rest at hotel
7 PM : Date night at 14 Hills
Matt and I got to escape for a little bit, while my mom stayed at the hotel with the kids and ordered room service. I found this place on Instagram and booked it because of their stellar reviews online. It was the most stunning restaurant I've ever been to. There are live plants and trees everywhere, twinkly lights, a romantic ambience, and a great view of the city as it's up on the 14th floor. It was perfect for date night! The cocktails were unique and served up like a presentation. The food was also delicious! I ordered lobster and fries, while Matt ordered steak.
9:30 PM : Distillery Bar
After dinner, we had taken the tube to the Ship and Shovell Pub, but it was closed, so we headed back to our hotel for more drinks and bed.

November 15th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel
11 AM : Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
We arrived about an hour early to find a spot to watch the Changing of the Guards. We decided to watch from the Victoria Memorial because it was less crowded and gave us a great view of the music, marches, and horses. You can obviously stand right at the gates of the palace to watch the guards ceremony, but we were able to sneak peeks from where we were. The kids really enjoyed the whole thing. I thought they might get a little bored, but they were super into it!
11:45 AM : Royal Gun Salute at Green Park
We started walking through the park to get to our next destination, but luckily stumbled upon the Royal Gun Salute for the Prince of Wales' Birthday. It was a really neat experience. Horses pull thirteen-pounder guns through the park where they are set up by the troops to fire off 21 rounds. While the kids covered their ears, we all thought it was really cool. What a lucky day!
While looking for fun experiences for littles, I found this tea party that looked so cute. It's definitely pricey, so this was a splurge. The venue was so pretty under a glass roof with fresh flowers and green tables and chairs, and a super cute candy cart. We were served smoking pink lemonade, champagne, tea, finger sandwiches, and the prettiest desserts. At the end, the kids were able to fill their bags with candy from the candy cart.
To be perfectly honest, Quinn was in a mood, so the experience was a little stressful trying to keep her happy. And as beautiful as the set up was, the food was just okay in my opinion.
2 PM : relax at hotel
5 PM : Covent Garden
The main reason I wanted to visit London at this time of year was to see the Christmas lights and they did not disappoint. The Apple Market at Covent Garden was beautifully decorated and we were able to find a few gifts at the market. Outside they have hourly snowfall in the evenings and a ginormous Christmas tree. 
6 PM : Regent Street
This was just magical. The street was lined with lit up angels as far as the eye could see. We really enjoyed just walking and soaking it all in.
7 PM : Hamley's
We had to stop in the Finest Toy Shop in the World. It was seven floors of toys, which was so exciting for the kids. It's the largest toy shop in the world and we were able to find a few gifts there, but really it's just fun to explore with the kids even if you don't buy anything. They had some beautiful holiday displays and large, intricate LEGO displays.
We had no dinner plans for this night, so we wandered around near our hotel hoping to find a good restaurant. We stumbled upon Albie Restaurant at the Hoxton hotel. I ordered the Chicken in a Bun sandwich, which was huge, but so delicious. If you like buffalo sauce, definitely try this. The kids picked off our plates because there was so much food, and they also didn't have a children's menu.

November 16th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel
10 AM : St. Paul's Cathedral
We wandered around outside for a little bit, but didn't pay to go inside. It's massive and very beautiful. I would have liked to go inside, but I don't think the kids would have been that interested or quiet enough to spend money on it.
Kids eat free here, which was awesome! But besides that, the restaurant was beautiful and the food was delicious. It was busy at lunchtime, so keep that in mind. We had Fish and Chips, which were so good paired with a crisp beer. The kids had chicken and chips.
We took the tube to Kensington, and right outside the station is an ice skating rink, a carousel, and the Natural History Museum. We took the kids on the carousel, which was beautiful, and then headed into the museum. Admission is free (except for limited exhibits), but they do encourage donations. It was beautiful inside and the exhibits were really cool. We really enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit and the mammals exhibit. I've never seen anything like it and the kids were really into it. Plus, we had recently watched Paddington, so the kids were excited to see the museum that was in the movie.
4 PM : Peggy Porschen
From the museum, we walked to Chelsea. It was starting to get dark, but we were able to see some of the cute and posh neighborhoods. I would have liked to spend more time in Chelsea and Nottinghill, but we couldn't fit it in this trip. We were on a mission to get to Peggy Porschen, which is a super cute and Instagrammable bakery. We ordered a few cupcakes and rested in a booth after so much walking. We tried the Chocolate Heaven Cupcake, the Sea Salt Caramel + Popcorn Cupcake, and the Sugar Plum Cupcake. My favorite was the Sea Salt Caramel by far!
5 PM : rest at hotel
7:30 PM : dinner at Gloria Trattoria
I found this restaurant through the blogger, Alyson Haley. I booked reservations way in advance, because it is a popular place, and I can see why because I literally dream about our dinner there. I also have to call out the impeccable service. The staff was so friendly and amazing with the kids. As soon as we arrived, the host grabbed Jax by the hand and walked him through the restaurant. He let Jax pick our table, which made Jax feel very special. We ordered cocktails and the server gave the kids apple juices on the house. My cocktail was The Basic B*tch, which came in a fun glass and had cotton candy on top. We ordered the Frittatina Alla Mortadella, Big Autumnal Chopped Salad, Margherita Pizza, Pesto Pizza, and the Mafaldine Al Tartufo. Everything was absolutely delicious. I had to go back and look at the menu to tell you exactly what we got because it was perfection.

November 17th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel   
9:30 AM : arrive at St. Pancras International Train Station
It was recommended to arrive at the train station 1 hour to 45 minutes before the train departs. We went through customs and security pretty quickly. France doesn't require you to get tested before or after entering, so they just checked our vaccination cards and passports. Online it says they require a sworn statement that we printed and filled out, but they never asked for it.
10:30 AM : train departs to Paris, France
The Eurostar train ride was wonderful and easy. It's about 2 hours long, so the kids played on their tablets, I read, Matt napped, and my mom was on her phone. We took the kids to explore a little bit on the train, which they enjoyed. Quinn was free because she sat in our laps, but the seats were roomy enough to sit next to us.
1:45 PM : arrive at Paris Gare Du Nord (1 hour time change)
We booked a driver to pick us up at the train station and drive us to our hotel.
Note: After hearing how confusing the Metro is, we decided to walk and cab the rest of our trip.
2:30 PM : arrive at Hotel Monge
Our hotel was beautiful! Definitely smaller than London's, but it is such a nice boutique hotel. Very quaint, clean, and nestled in the Latin Quarter. As the hotel is smaller, there weren't interconnecting rooms, but I booked two rooms right next to each other. I loved the colorful wallpaper and the balcony overlooking the street. I made sure breakfast was included when I booked here. The breakfast selection wasn't as big as London's hotel, but it was still great for our family with fresh fruit and cereal and baked goods. Oh, and coffee! I had a chocolate cappuccino every morning and I miss it.
3 PM : wine and snacks at Le Petit Cardinal
This was a super cute cafe we stopped in for a quick snack of bread, cheese, and wine. The staff was super friendly and so kind to the kids. They brought over little books for the kids to enjoy while dining.
4 PM : find pharmacy for French Health Passes
My mom and Matt ventured out to a nearby pharmacy to obtain their French Health Passes. France requires French Health Passes (for ages 12 and up)  to enter restaurants and museums and other venues. You can obtain a French Health Pass by going to a pharmacy and showing your vaccination card and passport. It costs 36 euros.
I already had my French Health Pass. You used to be able to apply online for free. I had applied for all three of us at the same time. About a month later, I received mine by email. My mom and Matt did not. As of November 5th, you can no longer apply online and it is no longer free. You have to pay at the designated pharmacies in France.
I don't know why there passes didn't go through like mine did, but I was happy they were able to obtain theirs pretty easily There was some miscommunication at the pharmacy due to the language barrier and also, because no one can keep up with all the rules and regulations.
Note: There was only one place that didn't ask for our French Health Passes. They are necessary to do anything.
4:30 PM : rest at hotel
7 PM : dinner at Le Petit Pontoise
My mom found this bistro with high quality french cuisine. It was in walking distance of our hotel, which was convenient. We ordered foie gras and escargots, which to be honest are not my favorite things to eat, but I gave it a try. I did try this eggplant and artichoke tart, which was delicious and I had a nice steak with wine. This is definitely not a "kid meal" restaurant and they mostly ate bread, but we enjoyed ourselves. It was quiet and empty because everyone eats later there.

November 18th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel 
The hotel requests you choose a time for breakfast to keep the dining area from being too crowded. We chose 8 AM.
10 AM : Louvre
Matt and I ventured to the Louvre to enjoy by ourselves. My mom has been before and said she would stay with the kids. Matt has also been before, but it was my first time. I booked tickets in advance and when we arrive there was barely anyone there. We were able to enjoy the pyramids and and take some photos before we got in a very non-existent line to enter the museum.
We made our way to the Mona Lisa, which was really neat to see in person. It's actually not as small as people made it out to be, but it's not big by any means. Matt said it was a very different way of seeing it because it used to be a big crowd before, but now they have a line to help with social distancing. I think it's better that way because you get a clear view. The line didn't take long at all.
We ventured to other parts of the museum, but definitely didn't have time to see the whole thing. I really enjoyed the Egyptian wing. I find that time period fascinating.
1 PM : Notre Dame Cathedral
We met my mom and the kids at Notre Dame. They were happy to see us and vice versa! We did a little sightseeing there. I was able to see it years ago before the devastating fire, which I'm happy for because now it's covered in scaffolding and blocked by walls. It's still beautiful from afar, but definitely a different experience up close.
2 PM : Lunch at Vins Des Pyrenees
My mom found this spot online and it's known for their croque-monsieur made with truffle gouda . It did not disappoint...at all. We all ordered the same dish, and it was absolutely delicious. The kids downed theirs too!
4 PM : Covid tests
In order to fly home to the United States, everyone (including the kids) is required to get a Covid test within 72 hours of flying. We went back to the same pharmacy where Matt and my mom get their French Health Passes. They wouldn't test the kids, but they would test us adults there on the spot. Once we were done, we headed to two other pharmacies to get the kids tested. The first one said no, the second one said yes.
The kids sat great for testing. The staff was so friendly and warm to us, which made us feel very comfortable. I wish we had all gone to this pharmacy for all our needs.
We received our results immediately - all negative!
Note: There were pharmacies everywhere and so many tents set up for testing, which makes it convenient. However, you have to look a little harder if you have littles.
5 PM : rest at hotel
7:30 PM : date night at Maison Sauvage
Matt and I headed out on a date to a restaurant he found for us. I had booked a reservation in advance, and I'm glad I did because it was packed. We sat on the patio under the heaters and enjoyed some delicious cocktails and appetizers. We weren't starving after lunch, so we just wanted small bites. We ordered the Crispy Cauliflowers and Beef Tacos. Everything was very good and we loved the atmosphere.
p.s. My mom and the kids enjoyed takeout in bed!
9 PM : drinks at La Rhumerie
We wanted to get another drink, so we wandered and found this bar and restaurant. They had a huge drink menu full of rum cocktails. We aren't rum drinkers, but we stayed and had a drink anyways. I mostly didn't want to seem rude, but we probably should have checked the menu before entering. The name should have given us a clue ;) It was still a fun and busy place!

November 19th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel 
10 AM : Eiffel Tower
It was really beautiful to walk around and enjoy the sights of the Eiffel Tower. The kids enjoyed running around and we snapped quite a few photos. We had Christmas cards in mind, so we got some good family photos for that. We had plans of going back the next day to go up the Eiffel Tower, so we didn't stay too long
We had booked the river cruise ahead of time, and we were looking forward to seeing the sights without too much walking. Randomly, my achilles tendon was starting to hurt by the time we arrived in Paris, so walking was starting to become painful for me.
Our boat left from right near the Eiffel Tower and dropped us off back at the same spot. I loved our tour guide. She was very informative and I have a lot of things I want to read up on out of curiosity. We enjoyed some champagne on board and the kids enjoyed some snacks. I highly recommend the tour we took!
1 PM : lunch
We were starving after our cruise, so we chose a random restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. I don't remember the name and it wasn't that memorable. Jaxin did enjoy some ice cream, but I suggest finding a less touristy area to eat.
3 PM : rest at hotel
7:30 PM : mother + daughter dinner at Pamela Popo
My mom and I enjoyed some one-on-one time, which was really nice. She found this place online and it was lovely. It's a very cozy atmosphere. I loved the area where we sat with an eclectic bookshelf and a cozy booth. We enjoyed cocktails and wine. The food was delicious with a contemporary twist on French Dishes. We started with the autumn ravioli with pumpkin and ricotta and  the duck foie gras with fig and toasted brioche. For our main courses we enjoyed braised beef cheek and roasted wild sea bass. We ended the evening with pistachio creme brûlée, which was amazing.
Matt and the kids enjoyed McDonalds in the room, which I think was a nice break for them!

November 20th, 2021
8 AM : breakfast at hotel 
We really enjoyed walking the grounds of the museum. There were beautiful trees and garden areas, and little areas for the kids to play. They especially enjoyed this large shrub with little tunnels for them to walk through. It reminded me of The Secret Garden.
They were also finishing up a huge art and light display of colorful dinosaurs, animals, and sea creatures throughout the gardens. The kids really enjoyed seeing everything and I bet it is beautiful lit up at night.
When we finally ventured into the museum itself, I was blown away by how beautiful it was. The kids were in awe. We really enjoyed the taxonomy wing. I think Quinn stopped at every animal and said "wow." I wish we had the whole day to explore the museum!
Note: You do have to purchase tickets, but they are not that expensive and it's worth it.
12:30 PM : lunch
I wish I could tell you where we ate lunch, but we just hungrily stumbled in. I enjoyed mushroom risotto, which was very good and Quinn loved it too. Jaxin actually took a nap in Matt's lap while we ate.
2 PM : wander into bakeries
On the walk back to our hotel, we stopped in a few bakeries to get our fix on macarons and pan au chocolat. The desserts are so pretty - almost too pretty to eat.
5:30 PM : Eiffel Tower
The original plan was to ride the elevator up to the summit. I had booked our tickets well in advance, but the night before our reservation they emailed me to say they had to close the summit due to technical reasons. I was definitely bummed out, but happy we would be able to go to the first and second floors.
Honestly, once we got up to the second floor we were all a little spooked by the height, so I don't know how we would have done way up at the top. Matt and I are scared of heights and my mom is scared of elevators, so this was a true test for us all.
Besides all of that, it was beautiful up there. We loved taking in the sights and the kids were so excited to go up in the elevator. We enjoyed champagne and the light show that goes on every hour. We got a few souvenirs too, including another coffee mug for my collection.
It was such a memorable experience and perfect for our last night. I think it all hit us that we were actually there and that we had made such a big trip happen.

November 21st, 2021
6 AM : breakfast at hotel
7 AM : go to airport
We booked the same driver that picked us up from the train station to take us to the airport. The airport is about 45 minutes away, so we all just rested because it was early.
7:45 AM : arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport
We arrived a little less than three hours before our flight. In the line to check in, we had to do some last minute paperwork as the UK requires you to do a Passenger Locator Form even if you just have a connecting flight in London. After they looked at all our paperwork, we went through security, and headed to our gate to wait.
10:30 AM : flight to London Heathrow
10:50 AM : arrive at London Heathrow
The airport was a little stressful and felt so redundant. We lost track of how many times we went through passport checks and security was a nightmare. They were very meticulous, which did make me feel safe, but we also just wanted to get through it.
Once we were able to head to our gate, we did a little shopping and ate lunch. For some reason, we lost track of time. When we finished lunch, we saw on the screen that our flight was closing. We started running through the airport, went down elevators and escalators, rode on a tram, and somehow made it to our gate on time. We were the second to last on the plane. I can't even tell you how panicked I felt in that mad dash. We are people who are always early, so the fact that we were that close to missing our flight was very odd for us.
2:30 PM : flight to Phoenix, Arizona
The majority of the flight home was good. We all watched movies, ate our meals, read books. We tried to stay awake, so when we landed in Phoenix at 6 PM we would feel tired for bed. I stayed awake the whole time, Jax slept quite a bit, and everyone else took little naps. Towards the last third of the flight, Quinn and I got nauseous and threw up. Afterwards, we felt a little better, but being sick on a plane is the WORST. You feel so trapped!
6 PM: arrive in Phoenix, Arizona
We were so ready to get off that plane and get home. Customs was quick. Our bags took forever, but we eventually made it to the curb where Matt's dad picked us up.

And that was our trip! I hope you enjoyed seeing our itinerary and hopefully it was helpful if you have a  similar trip planned.

This was definitely a dream trip and is is something I will always remember. I'm so glad we did it! I thought traveling with kids would be a lot more stressful, but truthfully they were amazing. They definitely had their moments, just like any kid does. All in all, they were truly troopers and had the time of their lives. There's something so special seeing everything through your children's eyes. I hope to travel more of the world in the future.



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