We like two-centre holidays. I don’t mean the sort where you spend a week lying on a beach and then a week hiking in the mountains or being cultural in the capital city. Our two-centre holidays are far simpler. We stay in the same place but change our accommodation and what we’re doing.
We just spent a few days in Paris, slap-bang in the middle of town, surrounded by patîsseries and galleries, then headed out to Disneyland Paris, to scream and scoff frites. We couldn’t do one without the other; the three kids can only tolerate so much Titian, and we two adults can only take so much Mickey Mouse. And I’m too timid even to go on Pirates of the Caribbean, the most gentle of rides.
In town, we stayed at the Victoria Palace Hotel, sitting very comfortably on the legendary Left Bank. It’s a splendidly old-fashioned hotel that manages to do Parisian chic and family-friendly at the same time. It was also James Joyce’s favourite 6th arrondissement haunt. (‘James who?’ sneered my 14-year-old.) The Jardin Luxembourg with its boating pond, puppet theatre and huge playground is just a brisk walk away.
Sated with obscure cultural references and soupe à l'oignon, we took a short train ride – less than half an hour – to Disneyland Paris. There, the six-year-old twins swirled around on Crush’s Coaster, inspired by Finding Nemo. But though I loved the film, just the thought of meeting Bruce the shark made me seek out the sauvignon blanc. Thankfully – unlike its American counterparts - Disneyland Paris has some restaurants vaguely resembling real French bistros, such as The Steakhouse, where we ate some fine frites.
We’d arrived at the Gare du Nord on the Eurostar. We left on the same train, but direct from Disneyland. We’ve done two-centre in other capitals, but it works far best in Paris, where you can vive la différence just a short rail ride away.
Read more about family holidays and breaks in Paris, including things to do with kids and places to stay and eat.